Meet Our Hillel Connections Intern, Jackie Kamin

As a rising junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Marketing and Theatre, I began exploring options for summer internships in Marketing or Sales. My goal was twofold:  to be exposed to a new environment and to add more meaningful work experience to my resume. I wasn’t “looking for” an internship at an agency like CJFS, because I am not a Social Work major, and care of older adults is a career path that frankly had never entered my mind. If it hadn’t been for Hillel Connections, a program of the University of Alabama’s Hillel chapter, I am certain I wouldn’t be spending this summer working as an intern at Collat Jewish Family Services – but I’m so glad I am.

My time at CJFS has already been extraordinary and I am only half-way through the summer! I have witnessed the direct impact of the CJFS staff in a way I’m sure most people never get a chance to experience. I have had the opportunity to conduct in-home surveys of clients receiving Personal Care from CJFS. The CJFS Personal Care program is for older or disabled people who need help with cleaning, laundry, bathing, and meal preparation. The program is geared toward low-income individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford these services and who, without CJFS, might have to move prematurely to a Medicaid-funded nursing home.

I was surprised by the warmth and immense gratitude I encountered when visiting the clients. Without exception, they had wonderful things to say about the staff and services of CJFS. I found that as thankful as they were for the Personal Care services, they were even more grateful knowing that CJFS would be there for them in ANY situation. They felt truly cared for as people, not just as clients. Not only did I hear gushing reviews of CJFS, I heard fascinating personal histories and stories just waiting for a willing ear.

In addition to conducting program evaluations, I have worked closely with the CJFS Development and Outreach team in the office, applying my marketing knowledge and skills. I have also been a part of the CJFS CARES respite program for one day each week.

At CJFS, I have learned so much about the importance of kindness. Even before this internship, I believed that being smart or talented is not nearly as important as being kind. This experience has shown me how much people in this world need more kindness, and how my own compassion can make a difference.

Any time I get to meet a client of CJFS, either by visiting the CARES program or conducting a Personal Care survey, it is the highlight of my day. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be doing work that is changing lives.

Thanks to Dr. Roxanne Travelute, Bloom Hillel at the University of Alabama and the Birmingham Jewish Foundation for all they did to make this year’s Hillel Connections internships possible.