Jody Goldman JFCS.jpg

Jody Goldman, JFCS volunteer coordinator, is working with public speakers to make the community aware of the organization’s resources.    

According to a 2014 poll conducted by the Washington Post, America’s No. 1 fear is public speaking.

It’s not hard to understand why it terrifies most people. Conveying a proper message to an audience is intimidating, and a muddled speech can sabotage an organization’s good intentions. 

But the Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) is serious about getting its message across through effectively told stories, and that’s why they’ve started the JFCS speakers bureau. The newly launched bureau provides access to engaging speakers who will offer informative presentations designed to prompt discussion on health and social service issues impacting the community.

The speakers bureau will offer presentations that support the organization’s mission to “repair the world and build communities through acts of kindness and doing what’s right.” The presentations will provide an overview of JFCS’ many programs, including older adult services, Jewish community services and child and family solutions. These presentations can be customized for any group size and are available to businesses and community organizations.

Jody Goldman, JFCS volunteer coordinator, said the speakers bureau presentations will be a great way for organizations throughout the Valley to learn about the important work JFCS does. 

 “We are often called to provide a speaker for a community group or organization,” Goldman said. “By formally launching the speakers bureau, we now have knowledgeable volunteer speakers well-versed in topics such as wellness and aging, social and behavioral health services, and addiction and recovery, available to speak throughout the Valley. ”

Goldman said the idea for the bureau came from the former vice president of philanthropic services, Frank Jacobson. He often spoke at different organizations and synagogues about JFCS and found that there were many people who didn’t know much about it. So he pitched the idea of getting volunteer speakers to talk about the organization more formally. 

So far, the JFCS speakers bureau has five speakers who hail from all over the Valley. All of them have had professional public speaking experience. They also went through a two-day course with JFCS in November 2018 to learn how to present the various programs and benefits of the nonprofit. 

For one of the speakers, Carolyn Perlow, the key to being a great public speaker is passion.

“Whatever energy you’re giving to anything is stimulated by your feelings about it,” Perlow said. “I was very happy to get involved with JFCS because I have a true passion for the organization. They do so many wonderful things for so many people, and I feel it’s a gift for me when I can participate in it.”

Perlow is the owner of the event planning company Eventmakers. Despite a long career as a public speaker, she found she still had more to learn -- like how to create an effective PowerPoint presentation. During the speakers bureau training, all the volunteers had to design PowerPoint presentations about a JFCS program. Perlow did hers on the Just 3 Things food pantry, which supports youth who are transitioning from foster care to independent living.

Since completing the training, Perlow has spoken at numerous events around the Valley. One of her first presentations was at Pardes Jewish Day School. Understanding the audience was key to leaving a strong impression, she said.

“We spoke just very briefly to the school about what JFCS does for the community, but we also had some activities for them,” Perlow said. “We created a bingo game that related to food, and as we pulled the cards we talked about how important this is nutritionally and how some people don’t have access to this.”

She hopes the students learned something new and will be encouraged later to donate. 

Goldman appreciates having such dedicated speakers who can represent JFCS in the community. 

“It helps create awareness in the community for people who don’t have food or need mental health services or are trying to flee a domestic violence situation,” Goldman said. “The more we can make people aware of these services that we provide, the more we can help.” JN

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