Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series showcasing volunteers making a difference in our community.
Erin Stiebel is an educator for Partners Detroit’s Young Professional Division and director of NCSY GIVE, an annual volunteer-focused Israel summer program for high school girls from across North America. Listing off Erin’s titles alone showcases why she was among the first volunteers to be nominated by readers. However, according to David Stiebel, Erin’s husband of nine years, it’s really just who she is. “Naturally she is very good at helping people. I think she finds value in it. She really will drop everything to go do whatever,” he said.
David said he believes Erin takes after her late father, Dr. Louis Cooper. “He just cared about every single person around him, whether it was a kid or a high schooler. He was the big brother of his whole family. I’m sure it came from him.”
David says he’s still amazed to see how Erin impacts people. Just recently, the couple went to a NEXTGen Detroit event and when they walked in, people immediately came up to Erin.
“It’s not that people are flocking to her because she’s some popular celebrity. It’s the people who she’s personally impacted. I see it every time we go out. It’s a really nice thing to see, and it kind of just shows you what the type of person she is in these people’s lives,” he added.
Making an Impact Wherever She Goes
Erin offers Jewish educational opportunities and hosts Shabbos meals at her home for anyone and everyone. (Let her know when you’re free for Shabbos dinner!)
“If you’ve met Erin Stiebel, odds are she has invited you over for a Shabbat meal,” said Jackie Yashinsky. Jackie met Erin during a Partners Detroit Jewish Poland trip, which Erin staffed. “In fact, the first time I met Erin, she said… ‘Hi, I’m Erin. Would you like to come over for Shabbat dinner?’ I thought, who is this stranger and why is she inviting me to her home?”
David says Erin and Jackie’s friendship has continued to grow ever since and now Jackie is a regular guest at their Shabbos table.
When the message got out that the JN was highlighting Erin, we got a flood of emails from people sharing how Erin has personally impacted their lives.
“Erin has this amazing ability to welcome everyone and enrich their lives in the best way possible. She is one of the most authentic people on this planet and a master of Jewish outreach,” Partners in Torah Board Member Noah Rozenberg said. “She connects everyone to Judaism and having a Jewish life. She is the Jewish glue that connects and enriches all of us.
“I went on the Partners in Torah Spain/Portugal trip in 2019 and having her on the trip elevated it to another level. She made a conscious effort to connect with and teach everyone on the trip and raised the energy a hundred-fold,” he added.
Elisheva Samuels, a longtime friend of Erin’s, said, “No matter what is going on in Erin’s life (and as the busiest person I know — it’s plenty) she always makes time to think of the large and small things that people around her need — dropping off food or candy to someone who had a baby, suffered a loss or is navigating a challenging time; befriending unfamiliar faces (or familiar faces of employees in supermarkets); sending a Shipt order to non-local friends to celebrate birthdays or send support during hard times; opening her home to host community members every single Shabbos … There is just no one quite like Erin Stiebel.”
Even those who haven’t known Erin for a long time felt it was important to share how much she has touched their lives.
“Erin’s volunteer work is literally hour by hour, minute to minute, day to day within our community, in ways that I think people don’t always see volunteering,” Meredith Kay said.
Meredith has known Erin for less than a year and was one of the many people who nominated her to be the volunteer of the week.
“I thought she would just be a Jewish mentor, but as I watch the way she speaks to her children and how patient she is, and how she would go and drive soup to someone who says they aren’t feeling well. I think she has become more than a mentor to me while deepening my Jewish connection,” Meredith
If you would like to nominate someone to be the next volunteer of the week, send a nomination with a short paragraph telling us why to email@example.com.