Local | Volunteer Salute

Winter resident active in Tucson, East Coast communities

Nancy Lefkowitz

Nancy Lefkowitz is a “winter resident.” But the six months of the year she lives in Tucson, “we really live here,” she says, and her community engagement certainly proves it.

“Having worked with Nancy over the last several years, I know she is always ready to take on responsibilities —even when others are sitting on their hands hoping you won’t look their way,” says Carol Weinstein, president of Congregation M’Kor Hayim, where Lefkowitz  currently serves on the board and chairs the social action committee. “She is efficient, organized, and has seemingly boundless energy. Now that I am president, I am more aware of this than ever before, and I am especially appreciative.” 

Lefkowitz also chairs M’Kor Hayim’s initiative to pack and deliver food to needy elementary school families over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, part of Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s “Making A Difference Every Day: The Homer Davis Project.” She also spent three years on JFSA’s Senior Task Force and looks to rejoin when the group reorganizes.

Lefkowitz and her husband, Joel Alpert, made the move to Tucson 12 years ago. They return to Massachusetts for the summer months, where she is equally committed to volunteering in her community. There, she spends months working on the High Holidays Honors Committee, assigning 350 honors for members of Temple Emunah in Lexington. She also volunteered for four years with the Schechter Holocaust home visitation program in Waltham and for 15 years has co-chaired it’s Family Table program, with Temple Emunah, that helps feed 350 families in the Greater Boston Area. And, she’s chaired Ivrit la Kol- Hebrew for All adult education at the temple for a decade.

In Tucson, she volunteers with JFCS’s annual Matza & More program, where she was the chair for eight years. She still volunteers to pack and deliver food for the program, which provides holiday food on Passover for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford specialty holiday food items. She led the volunteer committee for the program, conducting outreach to partner agencies and the community and coordinating fundraising through various congregations.

Among her favorite “jobs” in Tucson is being a docent at the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center. Since 2017, she has chaired the volunteer development committee to identify new docents and generally “keep things going. I’m very happy at the museum, not just for the content but also for the people that come to visit. More than half that come are not Jewish. They ask lots of good questions and offer good information. I always learn from them,” she notes. “What a place — with wonderful people and activities. They’ve done a marvelous job in the last three years. Being in on the ground floor and seeing it flourish has been very special.”

In 2010, Lefkowitz delivered food for Meals on Wheels and started volunteering at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. She organized the food bank’s volunteer appreciation event for eight years, helped organize annual events recognizing donors for four years, and volunteered in the administrative department.

She’s also a volunteer reader for Sun Sounds of Arizona, a radio station for the visually handicapped. “I’ve read several novels, a non-fiction book, short stories, and poems since 2011.” In 2018, she participated with hundreds of volunteers in Tucson’s Point-in-Time homeless count of 1,017 sheltered homeless and 363 unsheltered homeless. “It starts at 6 a.m., and we literally walk the streets in a group, looking under bushes and everywhere,” she recalls. She would like to participate in the annual project again

Diagnosed last fall with breast cancer, she completed surgery and treatment before returning to Tucson. “So far, so good,” she says. This experience hasn’t diminished her interest in community action, walking, biking, and hiking. “We try to do physical activities, and we love the cultural activities in Tucson. We try to do that as much as we can,” she says, explaining that traffic back east, crowds and expense makes it near impossible to enjoy. “It’s great to be able to take advantage of these things. We are fortunate to be here.”