If you have the opportunity to make someone else’s day just a little bit brighter, you should take it, said Flo Morgan, the 2015 recipient of the Shem Tov Community Volunteer Award.
The award, which recognizes an outstanding volunteer who, through many years of service, has contributed to the enrichment of Jewish life in Ottawa, will be presented Wednesday, June 17, at the annual general meeting of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.
Morgan, a native of Winnipeg, moved to Ottawa in 1968 with her husband, where they raised their three sons.
“I think I got into volunteering because I didn’t know anybody and that was a good way to meet people,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve done and I just find that people are lovely. I’ve enjoyed my volunteer time.”
An eternal mother-figure, Morgan has helped guide and support the community, at all ages and stages, as it has continued to grow and mature through the years.
She taught Yiddish and Jewish history at Ottawa Modern Jewish School for 28 years, was a substitute teacher at Hillel Academy, and also taught Yiddish at Akiva School.
Morgan served as president of the Agudath Israel Congregation Sisterhood and treasurer of Negev Chapter of Canadian Hadassah-WIZO and has been a dedicated volunteer with AJA 50+ since its inception, serving as registrar for the organization and its programs for Jewish adults over 50.
Morgan, who spoke Yiddish at home while growing up, said she also enjoys visiting Hillel Lodge and speaking and singing to the residents.
“You sing songs and you bring a smile to their faces. It’s a good feeling,” she said.
Morgan also assists with events and programming for the Hillel Lodge Auxiliary, a group of volunteers that fundraises to improve the quality of life for Lodge residents.
“I guess I just can’t say no. So, when somebody phones me saying, ‘Oh, we need a hand with this or that,’ I say, ‘Sure.’”
In the broader community, Morgan has volunteered at CHEO for more than 40 years, and at the Ottawa Public Library in Centrepointe.
Her husband, Joel Morgan, said there is so much more to the work that she does than simply putting in the hours.
“She’s open-hearted and brings cheer wherever she goes,” he said. “She does so much for people, one-on-one, that no one knows about. She’s just a very giving person.”
Her son, Steven Morgan, added, “In spite of everything that she did for the community, there was always that dedication to family and the Jewish holidays. It was all very important … She has nine grandchildren, and I can’t tell you how many of my kids’ friends call her ‘Bubbie Flo.’ She’s a bubbie to so many people.”
Morgan said it is a good feeling to see the spark of light in someone’s face while volunteering for a meaningful cause, and encourages others to get involved as well.
“I think the community’s been good to us, and we just have to give back.”