Meet the Putchats

Five-year-old Marlye Putchat understands why her family volunteers at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. “It’s a mitzvah,” she says with assurance.

Maryle, her one-year-old brother, Colby, and their parents, Doug and Caryn, are part of a VolunTeam through Jewish Volunteer Connection. VolunTeams are groups of people who make an ongoing volunteer commitment. The team “adopts” a project, but each individual member has flexibility in deciding when he or she volunteers.

After taking part in a family volunteer project at Community Mitzvah Day on December 25, The Putchats volunteered to organize an ongoing intergenerational program for families with young children.

Every other month, a few families with children, birth through preschool age, spend a Sunday morning with the nursing home residents at Levindale, singing songs, reading books and inspiring smiles. The residents watch the children, clap along to their songs and some use instruments to accompany the singers. The families bring Jewish content into the program by reading PJ Library books and sharing the themes addressed in the books.

For Doug, the chance to play his guitar for the volunteers and the residents brings back pleasant memories of his days songleading at synagogues in his native Pennsylvania and here in Baltimore. Caryn likes the idea that her children are learning from an early age the impact of volunteering and how happy they can make someone by just visiting and showing some kindness. “I think we are really brightening the day for the residents,” she says.

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