Local artist Paul Simon,alongtime volunteer for Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Delaware, hasproduced a compelling series of life-sized pastel portraits based on his experiences with elderly clients from theJFSBrandywine Village Network and individuals fromJFS’Refugee Integration Support Effort (RISE).
Starting Friday, Nov. 3,at 5 p.m., two exhibitions of“Let’s Face It: Portraits from Volunteering”will be on view in Wilmington, at Blue Streak Gallery and Congregation Beth Emeth. (Congregation BethEmethwilldisplay Simon’s exhibitionin its gallery through Nov. 30;Blue Streak Gallery will feature it through Dec. 29.)
The JFSBrandywine Village Network provides services to older adults—such as helping with rides, household help and care management—so that they can remain independent in their own homes. Congregation Beth Emethprovides various forms of assistance to refugee families who have recently arrived in Delaware.
RELATED:Resettling the Refugees: How Delaware Has Welcomed Residents from Abroad
Simon has strong personal ties to his work. He began volunteering withJFSduring the1990s, when there was an influx of Russian-Jewish refugees in the Wilmington area. He hashelpedrefugees learn English, complete paperwork, and get to and fromstores and appointments.In 2016, he retired and returned toJFSto volunteer for theJFSBrandywine Village Network. Working from snapshots, he created a series of large pastel portraits ofJFSVillage clients. “I wanted to highlight people who live isolated lives and draw attention to their needs and the positive impact of volunteering,”he says. “I also wanted to helpJFSand the work they do with the elderly in Delaware.”
A former research biologist, Simon worked at DuPont and other biotech companies in the area.His experiences as an immigrant have given him sympathy and an affinity for refugee and immigrant families. Simon was born in Romania, then lived in Israel and Columbia before settling in the United States.