April 8 at 7:18am

Longtime ICS volunteers honored at luncheon

From the very beginning, volunteers have provided the foundation upon which Interfaith Community Services was built.

That was the message delivered by several ICS staff members to about 20 volunteers from Interfaith’s social services department who were recognized for their service April 4 at an appreciation luncheon held at the agency’s nutrition center in Escondido.

In the room were some of Interfaith’s longest-tenured volunteers. Several of them have retired in recent months. Also saluted were some new agency volunteers, including one beginning her second day.

“We so appreciate you,” said Bob Adams, Interfaith’s director of development. “We want to express our appreciation for what you do here every day – putting your heart in, and the impact you have on clients.”

Six of the volunteers, some of whose experience goes back to the early days of the agency, were tabbed for special recognition. They received individual plaques featuring a story written about the contributions of intake volunteers to Interfaith.

Among those was Caroline Hoffman (pictured, top), who just turned 94. Hoffman and her late husband, Morris, began delivering food to people in need even before Interfaith was officially incorporated in 1982. After completing a counseling program offered by Temple Adat Shalom in Poway, she became a stalwart of the intake department, directing new clients to the resources they needed to move forward.

She was still doing a once-weekly shift every Friday until her recent retirement.

“Reaching out to people needing help was the greatest thing,” said Hoffman.

Also recognized were Giselle Zanders (pictured, right) and Dick Beym, both of whom volunteered for nearly 30 years at Interfaith, as well as Bill Pease, June Crosby and Diane Schafer. All recently retired from Interfaith.

“They’re awesome,” said Christine Carrick, chairwoman of the Interfaith Community Services board. “That’s the epitome of dedication. It is people like that who make Interfaith work.”

Faith center liaison Mary Ferro paid tribute to the founders of Interfaith, notably clergy and members of Temple Adat Shalom, who created an all-volunteer organization.

“When the decision was made to create the organization, they brought in oodles of resources, food, volunteers, board members,” said Ferro. “Everything we did had a connection to the founding (faith) communities, particularly Temple Adat Shalom.”

The Lee Turner Milk Fund and kitchen, the Betty and Mel Cohn names on Interfaith’s Escondido headquarters, Merle’s Place and Tikkun Home were all cited by Ferro as evidence of the temple’s contributions over the years.

“It really was the cornerstone,” she said.

Hoffman, Zanders and Beym were all Temple Adat Shalom members when they began volunteering at Interfaith.

“It all goes back to where it began: faith centers and volunteers giving what is needed to fill gaps (for people in need),” Ferro said. “It started at Temple Adat Shalom and I hope it never ends. Know that all of you are a gift to this agency.”