Community Invited to Grand Opening Celebration of Vital Support Center

The community is invited to the Grand Opening Celebration of the Jewish Family Service Barbash Family Vital Support Center 9:30 – 11 am Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 3113 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45220, on the campus of Hebrew Union College in Clifton.

The Jewish Family Service Barbash Family Vital Support Center provides a comprehensive approach to tackling the hardships that accompany poverty, hunger, and mental illness.


“A 2008 community survey identified 1,100 low-income Jewish households in Cincinnati, and another 1,625 households that are just one car repair, one job layoff, or one health setback from descending into poverty. Along with poverty, hunger, and mental illness come the hardships of homelessness, fear, isolation, stress and despair,” said Beth Schwartz, Jewish Family Service Executive Director.


“We are thankful for the support of all our major donors, Bernard and Pam Barbash and Family, the George and Anne Heldman Family, the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc., and the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati for bringing the vision and funding together.”


By offering services under one roof, Jewish Family Service professional social workers and care managers can best lead its clients toward stability, security, and self-sufficiency. Clients at the Barbash Family Vital Support Center will benefit from a food pantry to end hunger, case management to promote stability, and peer-based socialization activities to encourage wellness and recovery.


The food pantry is open to Jewish Family Service clients as well as all people in need who live in Cincinnati's 45220 zip code area. It is the only food pantry in the region that also includes a section with a full array of kosher foods and meat.


The Vital Support Center is also the only place in our community that addresses the unique needs of people experiencing hunger, poverty and mental illness who desire to be served within a Jewish cultural setting. For example, Jewish Family Service clients can enjoy Jewish holiday themed parties, rabbinic support, and Hebrew classes.


“Socialization and spiritual needs are as important to achieving wellness as nutrition, exercise and diet. We focus on helping clients achieve their goals in all these areas,” said Fran Gafvert, Jewish Family Service Director of Vital Services.


In the spirit of tikkun olam (repairing the world), the Barbash Family Vital Support Center will offer a wide range of social action and volunteer opportunities.


“The Barbash Family Vital Support Center is a place where clients, staff, and volunteers are welcome, and where everyone can feel accepted and be accepting. Together we can end the stigma of poverty, hunger, and mental illness,” said Gafvert.


Get a tour of the new Center to see how it is so much more than just a food pantry, and learn how you and your family can volunteer. RSVP at jfscinti.org or to Paula at 513-766-3326 or ptompkins@jfscinti.org.


The grand opening celebration began with a welcome from Mark Miller, President of the Board of Jewish Family Service, and Andy Berger, President of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The invocation was provided by Rabbi David Ellenson and Rabbi Aaron Panken of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Following comments by Sherman, Qualls, Schwartz, and Englander, a video about the Vital Support Center’s development was shown (and can be viewed on the Jewish Family Service website jfscinti.org). The morning continued with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Michael Oestreicher, President of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, and the Barbash and Heldman families. Rabbi Jonathan Cohen, Dean, Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR, concluded the celebration by leading a prayer as Fran Gafvert hung the mezuzah.


The video included this heartwarming comment from a Jewish Family Service recipient, “This is what tikun olam (Hebrew for repairing the world) is about. Just thank you from the bottom of my heart and I know others absolutely feel the same way. Just thank you.”


Learn more about the Vital Support Center, see more photos of the celebration, and watch the video shown at the event.