Jeff Aisen with his 12-year-old granddaughter Mona Kallander.
Jeff Aisen with his 12-year-old granddaughter Mona Kallander.

Jeff Aisen, volunteer photographer for many Jewish Detroit agencies, tells stories through snapshots.

Jeff Aisen of Huntington Woods is this week’s Volunteer of the Week.

Aisen has been a volunteer photographer for JARC and many other Jewish Detroit agencies for many years.

JARC resident Julie Boesky with Rabbi Joseph Krakoff.
JARC resident Julie Boesky with Rabbi Joseph Krakoff. Jeff Aisen

“He just has a way of capturing people that we serve in this really deep and personal way, and he really allows us to help tell the JARC story,” said JARC’s Director of Philanthropy Jenny Kabert.

Aisen was involved with JARC even before he started snapping photos for them. His brother-in-law was a JARC resident for many years, and he had already been volunteering with the organization in other ways.

He got involved on the photography side as he was already doing all the photography for Jewish Family Service and was recognizing JARC clients at JFS events.

Along with JARC, Aisen does volunteer photography for JFS, Gesher Human Services, National Council of Jewish Women, Special Olympics, Michigan Victory Games, City of Huntington Woods and, before the pandemic, Jewish Community Relations Council and JCC Special Needs.

Aisen always “played with the camera” but got serious about the hobby 25 years ago when he started taking classes, reading books and going to seminars. Aisen started doing photography for JARC about a dozen years ago.

JARC resident Jacob Feldman
JARC resident Jacob Feldman Jeff Aisen

Aisen takes photos at a plethora of JARC events, from Shabbat, bingo and picnics to Donor Appreciation night, Staff Appreciation Day and Sukkot in the Parking Lot.

“I’m just drawn to people and try to connect and catch the real person. At JARC, I know the people so they say hello and we talk and I’ll see them at JFS Fall Fix Up or at a Gesher event, it’s nice,” Aisen said. “JARC’s all about inclusion, and they’re just people. They’re having a good time and that’s what I try to show. Listening to music, having Shabbat, whatever it is we’re doing.”

Aisen is also on JARC’s audit committee and was on the JFS board.

“My thing is that hopefully somebody sees a picture and says that’s a good organization and I’ll donate — or, wow, those people are having fun, I’ll help volunteer,” Aisen said.

“I also want the people and the families to say they had a good time at that [event] and to remember that,” Aisen added. “I think with all the organizations, they like to tell their story and say we give 3,000 rides, we provide Meals on Wheels to 6,000 people, but I think it comes down to ‘here is Aunt Bessie,’ and people relate to that. The numbers are in the story, but it’s really the individuals who are the story. This is who we’re helping.”

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