Celebrating the Past.
Preparing for the Future.
As Jewish Family Service celebrated 75 years of strengthening lives at its Annual Meeting on June 21, its Board President Larry Juran and its CEO, Liz Vogel, shared how the agency is preparing to meet the future needs of people in our community who face life challenges. They also recognized the importance of Jewish Family Service donors, staff, and volunteers to support those needs.
“Jewish Family Service remains focused on serving the unique needs of the Jewish community. And I’m especially proud of the work we do in areas where there is no other safety net. With your help, we are catching people before they fall,” Vogel said.
In her remarks, Vogel explained how sharing only happy photos and posts on social media has an impact on our society. “Sometimes it seems like no one wants to admit anymore that life can be messy and hard,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to understand that our clients come from every walk of life – from leading professionals to people struggling with food insecurity. They are not ‘victims’. Each one has the strength and courage to work hard to get from where they are to where they want to be.”
Vogel praised the Jewish Family Service team as being incredibly committed to the work they do on behalf of the clients. “Jewish Family Service is a premium service provider. The professionals on our team are the best in class at many of the services we offer,” she said. “They are highly educated and highly credentialed with a passion for the people they serve and the work they do.”
Juran shared one client’s years’ long story to illustrate both the complexity of the problems and the comprehensive assistance Jewish Family Service provides. The client, who is a 59-year-old Jewish, lifelong Cincinnatian, went from homelessness living in an abandoned building to being happy in his own apartment and enjoying the activities at Jewish Family Service’s Barbash Family Vital Support Center, and food from its Heldman Family Food Panty. “I hope this will help you understand the importance of funding the salary of our social workers and care managers, and all the necessary management and support that allows them to do their jobs,” Juran said.
Discovering new ways to fund the agency to supplement the support provided by agency partners Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, and The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati is just one way Jewish Family Service is preparing to meet future client needs. The agency is looking to boost the budget by exploring new earned revenue opportunities and by building more overhead and yearly staff pay increases into grant requests.
It also realized that preparing for the future with a strong budget requires evolving from the past. “Through our 75 year history, we’ve seen programs come and go as the needs of our community have changed. And that adaptability and responsiveness have been vital to our success,” said Vogel. “To balance the budget, we made the hard decision to pause or eliminate programs that were not adequately funded.”
Financial support by individual donors also plays an important role. A donor honor roll recognized top donors in terms of total giving, and Create Your Jewish Legacy donors were acknowledged for their commitment to growing the agency’s endowment so the mission of Jewish Family Service will be sustainable for many generations to come.
Juran thanked them by saying, “Your contributions are what makes our work possible. Thank you for allowing us to showcase your support. A rabbi in our community once described this practice beautifully when he said, ‘We give publicly to inspire others to give.’ You are true community leaders – not just because you fund this important work – but because you also serve as role models to encourage others.’”
A B’nai Mitzvah Award was presented to 13-year-old Jared Kraus for publicly inspiring others to give through his Bar Mitzvah project. Jared, along with his family members and friends, raised over $6,000 on behalf of Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry. He was presented with an inscribed Tzedakah box to commemorate his gift.
Attendees at the Annual Meeting also provided support to the food pantry clients by donating regular-sized toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant, which are difficult to keep on the shelves.
Additional preparing for the future includes building new relationships with other community organizations. For example, Jewish Family Service serves as the intake portal for AgeWell Cincinnati, which was launched in collaboration with other Jewish agencies serving older adults as a central solution that links older adults, their family, friends, and caregivers to community resources for aging well in Jewish Cincinnati. It is partnering with the Jewish Discovery Center, Congregation Zichron Eliezer, and others to expand access to its food pantry. And its Bigs & Littles youth mentoring program is partnering with Atara High School to provide mentors to Cincinnati Hebrew Day School (CHDS), which recently joined Rockwern Academy and Pleasant Ridge Montessori as schools that offer the program to help more children appreciate their own self-worth.
“Employing a strategy of true collaboration with organizations both within the Jewish community and the larger network of social services, JFS reaches those in our community who would benefit from a selfless helping hand,” said Rabbi Sruli Bronstein who welcomed everyone at the beginning of the annual meeting. He offered a blessing that we may all do our part daily to help others and effect a world where no one will lack any longer.
Amy Diamond was recognized for her part in helping others when she was presented with the Miriam Dettelbach Award. This award is given in honor of the first executive director of Jewish Family Service as recognition of exceptional volunteer service to the agency.
Also receiving an award for helping others through volunteer service was 17-year-old Batiya Roth. She was presented with the Betty R. Goldberg Award which recognizes a Little in the Bigs & Littles youth mentoring program. Batiya is a former Little who now serves as a Big at Rockwern Academy.
Staff longevity awards were given to Edie Dine and Fran Gafvert for 15 years, Erin McNew and Michael Dine for 10 years, and Tina Knaley for 5 years of service to the agency.
The new 2018-2019 Board of Directors, which was installed to lead Jewish Family Service as it prepares for the future, is Larry Juran as President, Dan Rapp as President-Elect, Andi Levenson Young as Immediate Past, Max Yamson as Vice President, Marcus Saskin as Treasurer, and Susan Shorr as Secretary. Mark Miller was installed as Member at Large to the Executive Committee. New Board members Steve Mombach, Nina Paul, and Izar Spivak were installed to join members remaining on the Board Melanie Blumental, Amy Diamond, Lev Orlev, Chris Owens, David Schimberg, Scott Slovin, Tom Smith, Paul Spitz, Michael Sutter, and Nancy Steinberg Warren.
Outgoing Board members from 2017-2018 Pat Davis-Hagens, Alyce Ellison, Jared Kamrass, Daniel Kerbel, Daniel Phillips, and Stuart Rabkin were thanked for fulfilling their service to the Board and agency.
“We know we can’t do it without you, and we are grateful for your support,” Vogel told the Board, staff, donors, and volunteers.