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Gimme Shelter: Yachad's Blog


Volunteer Spotlight: Cancer Researcher and Handyman

by Lisa Hershey, Community Outreach Director

April is National Volunteer Month and Yachad is shining a spotlight on Larry Baizer, a long-time volunteer, who has been helping us for about 15 years. He started off as a participant in our Sukkot in Spring annual home repair program, and over the years stepped into the leadership role of House Captain, and then joined our HandyMensch team of year-round advanced-skilled volunteers. Yachad is lucky to have enthusiastic, talented volunteers like Larry involved in our organization. Come and meet him.

image of volunteer next to homeowner
Larry helping one of Yachad’s clients

Tell us about your day job.

I am a Program Director at the National Cancer Institute–National Institutes of Health. In that position I coordinate clinical trials of new treatments for cancer.

What is something about you that most people don’t know?

I am an avid musician and sang tenor in a Jewish community choir for 10 years. More recently I have begun playing the violin again after a 50-year hiatus. I take weekly lessons and have joined a community orchestra associated with the NIH.

What do you get out of volunteering with Yachad?

I enjoy working on the homes of Yachad’s clients, helping with repairs that are sometimes simple, sometimes more complex but always improve quality of life. I also like working with the HandyMensch and always look forward to trading stories and repair tips with them.

Have you learned new skills while volunteering with us?

Through working with Robin, Yachad’s Construction Director, I have learned a lot of new carpentry techniques and have become sufficiently proficient at some of them to be able to teach others. 

What is one of your favorite past projects ?

Last June we worked at L’Arche, a group house for intellectually challenged adults in Arlington. The residents were great fun to chat with and it was really an impressive facility with a strong sense of community.

What keeps you involved with Yachad after all these years?

The Yachad people are just wonderful and I really enjoy working with them and with the HandyMensch volunteers. Robin is a great leader and teacher and is so helpful in guiding the projects and gently correcting any errors. I always feel that we have made the houses we worked on brighter and a more appealing place for the families to live.

What is your favorite tool that you can’t live without?

Electric drill is probably the first choice.

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