Volunteers of the Month: Debbie Derby & Ted Taylor
When people come to JF&CS seeking volunteer opportunities, they often have in mind a specific cause or interest in which they want to focus their volunteerism. Sometimes it is a program or division of JF&CS and sometimes not. For some it is supporting and “growing” the agency as a whole. Debbie Derby and Ted Taylor both have found that their professions have provided them with the expertise they feel enables them to best help “build” JF&CS—literally.
A mother of two, Debbie is a commercial interior designer. She grew up in Philadelphia and has been living in Atlanta since 1984. In the late 1990s Debbie was approached by The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta about doing pro bono work for one of its affiliate agencies—Jewish Family & Career Services. At the time, JF&CS was located in Midtown. It recently had purchased a new space on Chamblee Dunwoody Road that needed a little TLC. Debbie was just right for the job. "I believe I should use the skills I have to benefit the community," she says. "I agreed to do this as soon as I was asked. JF&CS does so much for the community, and I feel connected to it." She took the time to work with JF&CS' directors and CEO, Gary Miller, to discuss their needs and best design their optimal work space.
Everyone agrees that Debbie did an absolutely phenomenal job with the design. But as JF&CS continued to grow as an organization, it needed to expand its building. In 2001 conversations began about adding an additional wing to the facility. Ted, an architect, was contacted about doing the design for this expansion. After his introduction to the organization, he immediately agreed to do the job pro bono. "When I was given a tour of the facility and saw the programs JF&CS is involved with, I knew it was an opportunity I wanted to come in for," Ted says. In 2003 the addition was completed, with credit for its tremendous outcome largely going to Ted. "I feel like I sort of adopted the building," he says. With his work so highly regarded, JF&CS asked him to design the new Ben Massell Dental Clinic. The new state-of-the-art BMDC was finished in 2008 and continues to impress with its magnificent and modern design.
Debbie and Ted are true supporters of the JF&CS mission. Many staff members feel they are a part of the family. "They are a fantastic team that we are so fortunate to get to work with," says Debi Rice McNeil, JF&CS' Chief Financial Officer. "They are true professionals and continue to go above and beyond in the time they give to the agency." Recently, JF&CS approached the two about the Tools for Independence WORKS (TFI WORKS) building in Dunwoody, which is currently a rented facility. The future of its location is under review, with talk focusing on how a new site can help to best grow the program."I'm hoping whatever we do can accommodate future growth," Debbie says. "That can allow synergy for future programs." Ted agrees: "We want to create something that is positive for the users of the building. It's a tiny effort to make the world a tiny bit better."
For more information on volunteering with these programs, please contact 770.677.9448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.