Volunteer of the Month: Dan Appelrouth
When one begins a career, he or she may expect to eventually become an expert in his or her given field. But what that person might not expect is how an expertise can lead to the discovery of philanthropic causes that become passions. For Dr. Dan Appelrouth, a native of Key West who has been living in Atlanta since 1977, this is exactly what happened. He moved here to begin his career as a rheumatologist. After practicing for many years, he found he had a passion: feeding the hungry and caring for those in need.
“In my medical career I saw firsthand the detrimental effects hunger can have on health,” Dan says. The experience led him to be an advocate for solving Atlanta’s hunger issue and ultimately brought him to chair the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Hunger Walk team four times. On a mission to help feed Atlanta’s hungry through song, Dan founded the Atlanta Hunger Relief Fund in 2005, raising and distributing more than $108,000 to date.
Dan became involved with JF&CS primarily because of the Kosher Food Pantry, a recipient to date of $80,000 from his Atlanta Hunger Relief Fund. Last year alone, the food pantry gave out 5,450 pounds of food to more than 1,525 people in 860 households. All of these recipients are members of the Atlanta community and clients of JF&CS. Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta confirms a substantial number of Jewish families living below the poverty line. “So many of us do not realize the amount of people who are hungry in our community,” he says. “You don’t always know who they are. These people are our next door neighbors. They can quickly develop a health issue or lose their job. Suddenly, buying food can become a problem.” For this reason, Dan has gone to great lengths to raise funds, increase awareness about hunger and get more people to donate food to the pantry “The issue is twofold for me,” he says. “Educate that Jewish hunger exists, and distribute the money raised.” Dan has unquestionably done just that.
Dan’s community involvement certainly has not been limited to fighting hunger. He is active as a docent with the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum, has taught literacy in elementary schools and even coached Yeshiva High School baseball. But he has another passion, which happens to be the same program that introduced him to JF&CS. For nine years, Dan has been a Bikkur Cholim volunteer in the Chaplaincy program. These volunteers spend time visiting Jewish patients in area hospitals and provide companionship, special attention and nurturing to those in need at a difficult time. To this day Dan visits patients at the Emory Midtown hospital once a week to schmooze.
“Dan is one of the most dedicated and consistent volunteers in our Bikkur Cholim program,” says Rabbi Judith Beiner, JF&CS’ Community Chaplain. “He brings in his Shabbat each week with his visits to Emory hospital on Friday afternoons. In his fulfillment of the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim, Dan brings light and blessings to others.” For Dan, visiting patients at Emory Hospital is his favorite part of being a volunteer as he tries to reduce pain and suffering and loneliness with his personal touch. Dan says "Even after dealing with patients for my entire medical career, I am still struck by how meaningful it is to visit with these patients.”
For more information on volunteering with these programs, please contact 770.677.9448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.