Cheryl Greenwald: Everywhere, All at Once
On a busy day in the LifeTown Shoppes, Cheryl Greenwald seems to be everywhere, all at once. She’s greeting school groups, getting them oriented and settled and on their way into activities; she’s checking in with volunteers and dropping off water; she’s answering questions and observing the scene from a spot at the back of Arthur’s Coffee Shop, and she couldn’t be happier as she drops by the popcorn kiosk.
Greenwald, whose connection with the Friendship Circle began almost ten years ago when she started volunteering, has grown over the years. She has led Torah Circle on Sunday mornings. She has prepped and packed mailings, set up rooms for programs, delivered Shabbat kits to hospitals. She and her husband donated the musical stairs in memory of their daughter, Molly; and they’ve been honored at the Friendship Circle gala.
Last fall, she took on a new role, joining the staff as LifeTown Shoppes coordinator.
“I have a major passion for Friendship Circle,” she said. She discovered Friendship Circle when her older daughter started volunteering in high school. They attended the orientation together, and she was hooked. “It’s such a positive setting where kids can learn and grow, and at the same time, parents get some respite and siblings can take advantage of some of the programming. The volunteers are amazing and the kids themselves are amazing. I fall in love with them all the time.”
They both volunteered, and even after her daughter graduated high school, Greenwald stayed.
At the beginning, coming to Friendship Circle helped Greenwald manage her grief over her younger daughter’s death at the age of 10 from cancer. “It was my therapy,” she said. “Once I caught the amazing feeling here and the miracles that happen every day, I got my husband involved. We were both in major awe. The idea that we can all find a connection with every person and become a friend, that we are all valuable and can be valuable to the next person – it’s just spreading so much positivity. It’s an endless loop of helping one another.”
In her new role, she loves getting to know the staff in a new way. “I really feel like part of things. It’s a continuation of what I’ve been doing, but with more frequency and accountability. And I have my own desk. It’s like my second home.”
She looked completely at ease on a recent Thursday, as a group of 56 students drifted seamlessly from the bikes to the pet shop, crowded the Shop Rite, purchased ice cream and popcorn and Twizzlers and headed into the movie theater. She’s thrilled they arrived on schedule and that orientation went smoothly. She tries to gently steer some older kids to the doctors’ offices, answers some questions, and checks in with the volunteers – because now it’s her job to ensure that the miracles happen without a hitch.
Her face glows as she drinks in the best part of her job: watching the kids having fun. “It’s amazing. It’s such a normalized setting so they feel comfortable and not stressed. They’re having such a good time!”
Any onlooker can see what makes her so good at her new job: her joy matches theirs, and her smile is just as big.