People generally want to give back and make a positive impact for the underprivileged among us, but not everyone has the financial wherewithal to do that. Fortunately, there are numerous ways—aside from giving money—to improve communities, help individuals, support great causes, and ultimately make a difference.
Jim Ellis and Howard Goldwasser don’t know each other, but they share a private compulsion: they are serial volunteers. At the moment, they also share a common benefactor: Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry. The men, both retired, have been independently donating their time to the food pantry in a variety of ways, whether it’s helping people shop; gathering and packing up orders; or making deliveries directly to homes.
In January of this year, Jewish Family Service Youth Mental Health (YMH) program quadrupled in size when Director Leah Marcus brought on three talented social workers to join her efforts: Amanda Cramer, Nina Pridonoff, and Kasey Rosswurm. “Kasey, Nina, and Amanda are such a fantastic team,” Marcus said. “They are very energetic and have worked together so well. I couldn't pick a better group of people to do this critical work.”
Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Cincinnati has recently convened the Create Your Jewish Legacy (CYJL) committee to encourage community members to talk with their families about a legacy commitment to JFS. CYJL is a nationwide program initiated in 2014 by the Grinspoon Foundation with the goal of building endowments that will sustain Jewish organizations locally, and secure a reliable financial future for Jewish communities across the country.
Linda Kean doesn’t believe in fate, but an experience with synchronicity last year still has her smiling. Kean, who is Vice President of Operations and Youth & Family Programs with Jewish Family Service (JFS), explained how JFS benefitted from fortuitous timing earlier in the year. “In April of 2020, I had an inspired idea. I said to our Heldman Family Food Pantry staff, ‘We really need to redesign the food pantry."
“He was emotionally abusive, and my kids were seeing it and living it,” said Abigail, talking about her ex-husband via Zoom meeting last week, curly light brown hair tucked in a loose bun (identities altered for privacy). Abigail is safe now, thanks to Jewish Family Service and her own resilience. “The day the kids and I left felt like freedom,” she said.
Jewish Family Service (JFS) helps survivors of domestic abuse move from a bad situation into a better one.
One of the most important aspects of charitable assistance is the need to protect the confidentiality of recipients. People’s dignity should be at the center of any provided service; if a family is struggling—whether financially or in other ways—their right to privacy must be respected. So, when Jewish Family Service (JFS) recently received a grant that made recipient anonymity more difficult, their staff worked hard to create a resolution that was a success for everyone involved.
“I think without this program, a lot of people would be a lot lonelier,” said Stanley Slomovits over a recent Zoom call. Slomovits was talking about the Uniper Cares program, which connects seniors through live virtual programming.
Seniors from around the country can connect through their TVs and mobile devices to a number of virtual peer-led groups. “I run a current events group where we talk about what’s going on in the news, and I lead an art appreciation group,” he explained.
Isolation is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lonely people are 50 percent more likely to die earlier than those with healthy social relationships. Data from the Health Resources & Services Administration shows more than 3.4 million people struggle with social isolation, loneliness, and living alone—and that was before the onset of COVID-19. More recent numbers show loneliness and social isolation have increased 20 to 30 percent, and emotional distress has tripled during COVID.
“Jewish Family Service is committed to keeping these family histories alive,” said Amanda Huecker. Huecker is a Post-Adoption Social Worker at Jewish Family Service and works with families who are part of what she calls the adoption triad.
“The adoption triad is made up of adoptive parents, birth parents, and the adoptees,” she explained. “The services we offer are varied, depending upon the level of privacy that triad has set up."