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JVS’ work with refugees, disabled attracts mother-daughter team

The mother-daughter team of Alice and Valerie Bordy serve together as members of the Jewish Vocational Service board of directors.

Serving Jewish Vocational Service has long been a labor of love for the Bordy family. It began many years ago when Dr. Marvin Bordy was asked to provide some medical assistance to refugees. The rest, as they say, is history.

“My Dad was on the board first, then my Dad put my Mom on and then my Mom put me on,” said Valerie Bordy, the third of the Bordys’ four children and the only one who lives in the Kansas City area.

The Bordy family has been involved so long with JVS no one knows exactly when the relationship began. It’s believed Alice has been on the board more than 20 years. Valerie took her seat on the board about five years ago and currently serves as its secretary, a position she took over from her mother.

“Actually I thought I’d retire when I got her on the board,” said Alice with a chuckle. “But I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I got off the board and stopped volunteering.”

JVS was established in 1949 to assist Holocaust survivors, refugees and those returning from World War II, enabling them to build better lives in the United States. Today, its programs meet the needs of all who face barriers to employment. JVS works to empower people to address challenges to their self-sufficiency by engaging, encouraging and empowering people to achieve social, cultural and economic integration.

JVS is currently planning its annual fundraiser, the Global Table, on June 8 (see box for details). 

“It’s a really nice event,” Valerie said. “This year they are planning to be able to accommodate those who keep kosher at the dinner,” Valerie said.

JVS appealed to Marvin, daughter Valerie said, because he was interested in health care for children. It didn’t take long before he helped in other ways as well. In particular he worked closely with the fundraiser JVS used to hold every year at the IMAX Theater at the Kansas City Zoo.

“He had a whole list of people he called all the time to support the fundraiser and JVS,” Valerie said.

“And when he couldn’t call, he asked me to call for him,” Alice added. “That’s how I got started.”

The beloved pediatrician, who passed away at the age of 76 in 2003, left his mark on the agency. He is remembered annually when JVS presents the Dr. Bordy Distinguished Service Award in his memory.

As the award is being presented, Jennifer Conoley, JVS’ marketing and development specialist, said Dr. Bordy is always praised.

“What we say before the award is given is: ‘Dr. Bordy served on our board and embodied tikkun olam (repair of the world). He fought tirelessly for our mission. As a pediatrician, he helped make healthcare available to all Kansas City children. This award honors a truly outstanding volunteer,’ ” Conoley said.

Besides Marvin’s affinity for JVS, the agency’s work with immigrants and refugees appealed to Alice, who he married in 1951. She said Marvin was a third-generation American, while her parents both came to the United States from Russia, making her a first-generation American.

“Both my mother and father were immigrants. Mother came in 1904 or 1905 and my father came in 1913. My father learned the English language from the newspaper,” Alice said. While HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society),  not JVS, was the organization that helped settle her parents, Alice knows just how important the type of help JVS offers is to refugees.

Now in her golden years at “87 years young,” Alice is still busy volunteering. Besides JVS, she has volunteered at the National Archives at Kansas City for 22 years. Located near Union Station at 400 West Pershing Road, Alice still drives there every Friday and helps people conduct genealogy research.

Like many Russian immigrants, Alice’s parents and grandparents came to the United States to escape the pogroms. 

“My bubbie told my zaydie, ‘This is it. I saved the kinder and the candlesticks. Now we go to America’,” Alice said.

Valerie said JVS continues to settle refugees from all over the world who face persecution because of their religion or ethnicity. Many are from Somalia, Burma, Bhutan, Cuba and Iraq. While her family was drawn to the agency because of resettlement, she is also drawn to JVS for the rehabilitation services it provides. JVS’ programs in this area assist individuals with disabilities to become employable and are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

“They do interpreter services of all kinds for the refugees and also for the deaf and hard of hearing,” Valerie said, noting her daughter is disabled. “So I like that they help people in all situations, not just refugees.”

“They also have the Jewish Employment Services,” added Alice. “It’s really a worthwhile cause.”

Valerie actually used JES services when she was unemployed not that long ago.

“I got some coaching on job interviewing skills,” Valerie said.

Growing up the daughter of refugees and having lived through the Great Depression, Alice often promotes the fact that JVS still collects donations from around the area of such things as furniture, lamps, rugs, dishes and clothing.

“I will often see people getting rid of items that are still useable. You can’t have garage sales at places like The Atriums, Town Village or Deer Creek Apartments. Please don’t dump good things in the trash, JVS will come pick them up,” Alice said. 

“It hurts to see people dump useable items,” she continued. “When the refugees come we have to furnish an apartment for them.”

To arrange to have items picked up from your home, contact Steve Lindsay at 816-471-2808 ext. 1140 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Those wishing to make financial donations should contact Conoley at 816-471-2808 ext. 1144 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“The Dime Store that JVS started also uses donations,” Valerie said. “They do some job training there and sell some of the goods.”

Alice can’t sing the praises of JVS enough.

“It is a very worthwhile cause.”


JVS to hold Global Table fundraiser

JVS’s Global Table fundraiser is set for 6 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, 7920 Santa Fe Dr., Overland Park, KS 66204.

Guests will enjoy internationally themed food and drink and will also be able to participate in action stations to create some of these exotic treats. The evening will include live entertainment from the Sons of Brasil Trio and a silent auction.

Tickets are $100 each or $50 for those 35 and under. Tickets can be purchased at http://globaltable.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Jennifer Conoley at 816-471-2808 ext. 1144 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..