(Photo: Sheri Schiff and Micki Grossman at an interfaith event.)

“If Micki were here to accept this award, she would probably start out saying that she would prefer there wasn’t an award to receive because Sheri was still here volunteering.”

These poignant words were shared by Marci Grossman during the May Annual Meeting of the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee (JCRC/AJC). Grossman, the daughter of the late Micki Grossman, a pillar of the community, was accepting the inaugural Sheryl “Sheri” Terebelo Schiff Heart of Gold Award on behalf of her mother.

Early last year, the community lost a beloved member and lifelong volunteer in Schiff. Throughout her life, she served as either a volunteer or board member for countless Jewish, women-focused and interfaith nonprofits in metropolitan Detroit, including JCRC/AJC. That is why the organization knew they needed to honor her giving spirit following her passing.

They joined with her husband, Charles, and daughters, Carly and Stephanie, to develop the Heart of Gold Award in the hope that Sheri and the annual awardees would inspire others to give of themselves for the benefit of Jewish Detroit. More specifically, the awardee would be an unpaid volunteer for any local Jewish organization that has not only contributed to and for the general good of the Jewish community, but also has demonstrated dedication, knowledge and care in the provision of their services. The Award also would be allowed to be given posthumously.

“What better way to remember my mother, Sheri Schiff, the ultimate volunteer, than to honor her memory by applauding others who have donated significant time to our Jewish community,?” said Carly Schiff during the awards ceremony.

Sadly, just days before the nomination form was to be distributed this past January, the community lost Grossman, who also served on countless boards, including with JCRC/AJC. Over the following weeks, several nominations came in specifically for her and, for the Award Committee, choosing the volunteer extraordinaire as the inaugural recipient was both the obvious choice and extremely fitting.

Also speaking about both women during the awards ceremony in May were Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) CEO Perry Ohren and former JCRC President Jeannie Weiner.

Said Ohren, “Micki was a force of nature! She showed up decades ago at JFS with her sleeves rolled up, started doing, and never stopped…While she did this and understood the importance of Boards and fundraising and the like, Micki’s real currency was her heart and her hands, always ready, willing and able to do.”

During her acceptance remarks, Marci Grossman echoed many of the sentiments that Carly shared. “She passionately loved her volunteer engagements, and the people she volunteered with and for. She lived Tikkun Olam and made the world a better place by her work. She would sit in board meetings, mentor volunteers, tutor students, pack boxes, rake leaves, serve food, whatever it took with the same energy and passion, 100 percent.

Micki would…implore you to continue reaching out, to connect with more volunteers and to support more people and communities that would benefit from your assistance to make their lives better. Build connections, build bridges. Together we can repair the world.”

Both women are and will always be greatly missed.

The nomination form for the second annual Sheryl “Sheri” Terebelo Schiff Heart of Gold Award will be available in early 2022 and awarded at JCRC/AJC’s May 2022 Annual Meeting.