A Day in the Life: Volunteering with Bat-El Trabelsi


Helping people stay safe, healthy and nourished during COVID-19 through food deliverywoman in front of a door

Nearly every day of this pandemic, Bat El Trabelsi wakes up and prepares for a full day of staring at her four walls of her apartment.

“I’m getting stir crazy,” admitted the Jewish Federation shlicha (emissary from Israel). But once in a while, Trabelsi rises with a sense of purpose and marches out her front door. Those are the days Trabelsi performs an essential, life-sustaining service: volunteering for the Jewish Federation’s Mitzvah Food Program.

“It only takes about two hours, but it’s the best,” she said, laughing. “I get to do something to help people, and I get to leave the house.”

Older adults and families throughout this region rely on nourishing food from the Mitzvah Food Program pantries and Jewish Federation-supported KleinLife — and in the current public health crisis, the need for food has increased. At the same time, the stay-at-home order has meant volunteer shortages. Thus the crucial need for healthy volunteers like Trabelsi to help pack or deliver food.

On a recent volunteer day, Trabelsi began her shift by driving to Mitzvah Food Program Center City, where volunteers were ready for her with seven prepacked grocery bags, a printed delivery route and a pair of gloves. For everyone’s safety, all deliveries right now are “no contact” deliveries, meaning that Trabelsi called each client beforehand to let them know she was on her way, then knocked on their door and left the bag on their front step.

“People are so lovely,” she said. “When I call them on the phone they can hardly believe you’re bringing their meal right to their home. They’re so grateful.”

More volunteers are needed to pack and deliver food, so sign up for a shift today:

Mitzvah Food Program: Drivers are needed from the Mitzvah Food Pantry sites in Center City, Main Line and Northeast Philadelphia. Deliveries generally take less than two hours. Once you sign up, someone will be in touch to schedule your exact pickup time. To sign up, contact Brian Gralnick at bgralnick@jewishphilly.org

KleinLife: KleinLife Home Delivered Meals program is an essential need for 700 homebound seniors. In the KleinLife loading dock in Northeast Philadelphia you will be given gloves, meals packed in freezer bags and a delivery route. After delivery, emptied freezer bags should be returned to KleinLife. Your exact volunteer time will be arranged beforehand. To volunteer, contact John Eskate at jeskate@kleinlife.org.

For more Jewish Federation resources on COVID-19, including more ways to volunteer, visit jewishphilly.org/covid19.

Jewish Philly Podcast: Special Mini Episodesgraphic

Jewish Philly is coming to you every week during the coronavirus pandemic with special mini episodes.

Each episode features an in-depth look at the lifesaving work taking place in our local Jewish communities and connects listeners with opportunities to donate and volunteer their time. The co-hosts close out each episode by quizzing each other on Jewish trivia and ranking their favorite Jewish films and characters. Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday to learn more about the Jewish Federation’s work and to also have a little fun.

The Jewish Philly podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play and at Jewishphilly.org/podcast.


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