People of WNC is a recurring monthly series that will introduce an individual or group of individuals in our community who has touched our hearts with their presence. In large ways and small, it’s these individuals who help to repair the world –through volunteerism, advocacy, philanthropy, dedicated participation, or simply their spirited presence throughout the years.

You will find our People of WNC series here, and in our monthly E-Newsletter and on Facebook If you would like to see someone featured in this series, please contact Cindy Smith, Executive Director, at Be prepared to share a bit about the individual or group. If selected, we will ask to conduct a brief interview, and take a picture.

  • Please click here to read our October feature on Dee Weiner.

Every person, no matter their age, deserves a place to gather with friends.”
Laura Gutierrez

Laura Gutierrez came to JFS Elder Club as a volunteer, and straight away, she knew she found a place she belonged. She was able to be herself while being helpful to others.

“I described it as a selfish endeavor because I got so much more from volunteering at Elder Club than I felt like I gave,” she said.

When her mom passed away, it felt natural for her to bring her grieving dad to JFS Elder Club Group Respite Program. Through the help of the wonderful staff, volunteers, and members, she was able to give her dad a place to belong, where he could share songs, meals, and laughs with people he could relate to. In that time, he made friends, and it was a priceless gift. 

After losing both of her parents this year, she was so grateful when the opportunity came for her to become a professional on the JFS team, where she was able to work in the room with Club Members on a regular basis.

Laura leads exercise each day, and on special occasion, she brings in her microscope and treats Club Members to chemistry lessons! Laura’s wonderful touch keeps everyone feeling special, energized, supported and engaged.