All animals need food to survive, and, historically, food scarcity has been a persistent concern for most human societies. These days, as modern agriculture is capable of producing high quantities of nutrient-rich food, malnutrition is increasingly rare—especially in developed nations. Nevertheless, food scarcity remains a serious issue, particularly among vulnerable populations, such as the elderly.
May is here, and Cincinnati is green again. It is a time for blossoms, proms, graduations and gowns. But May is also National Mental Health Month—making it a great time to get familiar with the rich mental health resources available to our community. Jewish Family Service (JFS) believes that mental health and physical health are equally important aspects to a person’s well-being.
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.”
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."
It is safe to say, sadly, that Mero Ruff’s story is not entirely unique. In the era of COVID-19, reports abound of food insecurity, job loss, and housing uncertainty. What sets Mero’s tale apart is the strong, trusting bond he established with his Jewish Family Service care manager, Debbie Zimmerman (RN), who helped him in his time of need.
“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.
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.
“It was one of my worst times,” says Gloria (identities changed for privacy). The interview takes place in the dining room of her small, freestanding home. There are signs of love all around—lots of green plants in the windows—but dust piles on the flat surfaces, and the curtains are faded. We are talking about when she finally fought free from addiction to pain medicine. (This interview occurred pre-COVID-19; at the end we share how Gloria is faring during the pandemic.)
Jewish Family Service is proud to announce Meredith Davis as the new Center for Holocaust Survivors Director. In this role, she will supervise care management staff, administer all grant funding for the center, and direct social and educational group programming.
Davis replaces Gail Gepsman Ziegler in the role, who retired in February after 17 years with Jewish Family Service.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and unsettling for many people, but it has been particularly challenging for those already suffering from food insecurity. Recently, dozens of determined Jewish Family Service (JFS) volunteers and staff spent time preparing for and participating in the in the 22nd annual Dr. Samuel S. Rockwern Passover Delivery Project of Jewish Family Service. Perhaps inspired by a desire to fulfill a mitzvah (commandment), the dedicated individuals helping with this