Finding Love Through Volunteering With JF&CS

July 19, 2022

Finding Love Through Volunteering With JF&CS

When Lisa Bowen first moved to Atlanta from Tampa in 1998, she reached out to Stacy Fialkow, a friend from high school who worked at JF&CS to learn about ways of meeting people in her new city. Stacy quickly got her involved with the agency. Lisa co-chaired the Young Adult Volunteer Division, formerly known as INTERACT, with Ben Marks, and helped young adults like herself who moved to Atlanta find events and opportunities with others their age.

It was because of her involvement with JF&CS, that she met her husband, Jonathan.

“For young adult events and happenings at that time, a woman named Linda Briks was in charge at JF&CS,” Lisa said. “She was funny and loved to play matchmaker. When a girl sent in an inquiry to JF&CS about events, she would send them to Ben. And when a guy would send in an inquiry, she sent them to me. And when Jonathan sent in an inquiry, she sent him my way.”

Jonathan, who had moved to Atlanta from California, was also looking for ways to get involved in the young adult Jewish community in Atlanta. She emailed him like she would anyone else, telling him about JF&CS and the Young Adults Division, and informed him about an upcoming volunteer event at Project Open Hand. They emailed back and forth for a bit before the event.

That was in August of 2000. She still has the emails to this day.

The first time they met in person, it was at a JF&CS community service project. Lisa said they “very romantically” spent three hours making beef stroganoff for those facing food insecurity. They had an instant connection, and knew they wanted to see each other again. A week later, Jonathan asked Lisa out to an Italian restaurant, where he brought her a bouquet with sunflowers in it. It was love.

They have been together ever since, and he still brings bouquets with sunflowers.

They got engaged in 2001 and married in June 2002. Their sweet story and wedding were featured in the Atlanta Jewish Times, and they welcomed their first child, Alexander (Xander), in 2004. Their second child, Adler, was born in 2008.

The family vacations to Hilton Head every year, and they have build a home together with many loving dogs and beautiful memories.

“Because of JF&CS, I met my future husband,” Lisa said. “It’s a wonderful organization that does so much for so many people. I was so happy to be a part of it and to see something so amazing come out of it.”

JF&CS continued to be an important part of Lisa’s life after she met Jonathan. When she was pregnant with Xander, Lisa knew he would be born with a congenital heart defect. She prepared for his arrival and the special care he would need. JF&CS stepped in and made donations in Xander’s name to help her with his care. And when he was born and she took a step back from her involvement with JF&CS, everybody was supportive and caring.

Lisa continued her work with nonprofits, inspired by her work with JF&CS. She joined the board of Children’s Heart Foundation, a nonprofit in Chicago that conducts research and funds grants for congenital heart defects. She also helped organize a Heart Walk every year, and was involved with Kids at Heart, a program of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that offers parents, families and caregivers of kids with congenital heart defects a supportive community and helpful resources.

"JF&CS means Love and Community to both myself and Jonathan. Love, obviously because it is where we met & fell in love and Community because of all of the help and support that is given throughout Atlanta and beyond! Supporting JF&CS financially is very important so that the programs and activities for all ages can continue to bring people together, help in crisis and share experiences."

Looking for Love in the community? Join us for Mitzvah Day 2022 for a day of giving back and meeting new people. You may end up with a story like Lisa’s!