JF&CS News Fall 2009 - Newsletter Archives - About - Jewish Family & Children's Service
Caring for Generations

JF&CS News Fall 2009

Welcome Letter from Sy Friedland, CEO

Dear Friends,

JF&CS is a leader in meeting the needs of our community’s most vulnerable members. Our programs are lifelines that help people heat their homes, feed their families, keep roofs over their heads, and so much more.

As the economic downturn continues, the organization is finding new, creative ways to help those in need.

Because of our expertise in delivering consistent and compassionate care, JF&CS has been named the lead agency by the city of Newton for the implementation of a federal stimulus project designed to prevent homelessness. We were awarded $923,000 for a Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing project. Funding will be used for paying back rent to prevent eviction, providing first and last month’s rent to allow people to gain housing, relocation expenses to move into a less expensive home, and rental assistance. We will work with a number of other organizations in the Newton/Waltham area.

We’re excited to work on a project that will have an immediate, positive impact on so many lives.

In another notable collaboration, JF&CS is working in partnership with Home Suites Inn, a shelter in Waltham, to provide support for 81 homeless families. We are helping these families, most of whom are single mothers with young children, prepare simple, healthy meals using only the microwave, mini fridge, and bathroom sink in their room.

Now more than ever, the work we do is essential to helping people live as independently as possible. No matter what the economic climate, I’m confident our staff, volunteers, donors, and board members will continue to help those in need meet their challenges with hope and dignity.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving,

Seymour J. Friedland, PhD
Chief Executive Officer

Personalized Care - JF&CS Senior Services

Harriet*, 86, came to the JF&CS mental health program looking for help. Her husband, Irving*, 90, had been recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was suffering from the after effects of a stroke. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Harriet to care for him at home.

Harriet's psychotherapist recommended her husband be evaluated for home health services by the JF&CS Visiting Nurse Association (VNA).

The VNA nurse did an initial assessment and determined that Irving was eligible for Medicare services. The VNA then designed a customized treatment plan that helped Irving receive better care and also eased his wife's stress. A home health aide was also provided to assist Irving with activities of daily living such as bathing and meal preparation.

Ellen Lash, director of JF&CS VNA Healthcare Operations, was pleased to say, “We provided integrated services that involved the whole family. What makes JF&CS VNA different from other home health providers is JF&CS. We can draw upon the rest of the agency for client needs...from food assistance to addressing nutritional needs to the entire geriatric continuum.”

The VNA was also able to identify a Veterans Administration benefit that provided additional home health aide services for him, which greatly reduced the burden for his wife. The nurse and psychotherapist together determined that he could benefit from counseling and a mental health social worker from JF&CS provided in-home therapy to help him cope with the many changes he was experiencing.

Irving received skilled services from the JF&CS VNA for four months, but he continued to receive JF&CS geriatric care management from Your Elder Experts after he was discharged. They arranged 24-hour private care for him, and when that proved not to be enough to keep him safe in his own home, helped the family with his transition into a nursing home. Throughout Irving’s treatment, Harriet was reassured her husband was getting personalized care that met his needs and helped the couple on this difficult journey.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

The JF&CS Visiting Nurse Association has been delivering home health services to Greater Boston for 25 years. To be eligible for home health services, patients must be homebound and have a physician order for services. JF&CS can work directly with the patient’s physician to establish eligibility. If eligible, services are covered by Medicare and MassHealth. JF&CS can also bill most other private insurance and managed care plans.

Learn more

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.

Volunteer Profile - Dedicated to Helping Families

The end of the year is a time of family feasts and celebrations. But for many, feeding their families is a challenge throughout the year.

JF&CS board member and volunteer Candice Wolk wants to change this. Raised in South Africa to a family with a culinary bent, she has vivid memories of enjoying family dinners and dining out on special occasions. She said, “Dining out with my family growing up was wonderful. I wanted to give that opportunity to another family.”

So she devised a celebration night in which she funded a special night out for 25 families. She said, “I’m always trying to think of creative ways to give back.”

This hands-on spirit is one reason she’s chosen to give her time and effort to JF&CS. She said, “What I really love about JF&CS is that you’re really able to see the connections on a very tangible level.”

Candice immigrated to the United States as a child and has lived in its major cities – and foodie centers – including New York, Miami, and San Francisco with a spell in France. She worked as director of sales for an international staffing firm before settling in Cambridge six years ago.

Once here she looked for a way to make a real impact in the lives of those around her and learned about JF&CS Family Table, the largest kosher food pantry in Greater Boston. She said, “I wanted to see a direct connection being made.”

At Family Table, Candice sorted food, made deliveries, and got to know another volunteer, Howard Wolk, who became her husband. “It’s a wonderful thing for the two of us.”

Before joining our board of directors in May, Candice chaired the Young Leadership Group. She now chairs the Center for Family Assistance (CFA) advisory committee and is running its annual Toy Drive. This year the drive asked for gift cards instead of gifts. Candice said, “For parents to be able to choose for their child is a wonderful gift. People in a crisis situation lose so many of their choices, they’re dependent on others. This is one way we can continue our efforts to empower clients.”

From Family Table to Journey to Safety (formerly Kol Isha), Candice has immersed herself in JF&CS and has experienced many profound moments in the past five years. Recently she delivered a backpack loaded with supplies to a young girl in Revere for CFA’s Back to School program.

Candice recalls, “A 12-year-old girl answered the door, beside herself with excitement that she was getting school supplies and crying from gratitude.”

Candice’s hope is to raise awareness of the needs in the community. She said, “We are immune to what’s next door. It could be a victim of foreclosure, or abuse, or someone who is elderly and neglected or food deprived. My greatest goal is for everyone to see what’s around us.”

To learn more about volunteering or to make a donation, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.

Program Spotlight - Tremble Clefs Helps with Parkinson’s

Walter Stern has been singing for more than 40 years with prestigious choral groups in Boston. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he missed singing with others. Then he learned about Tremble Clefs, a therapeutic singing group for people with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners. He said, “I’m very happy to be back with a choral group.”

Tremble Clefs is a nationwide singing program that addresses voice and communication problems through breathing, stretching and posture activities, vocal exercise, rhythm and movement, and a strong social support system.

JF&CS launched Tremble Clefs in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Speech, Language, and Swallowing Disorders therapist, Catherine O’Connor and the MGH Partners Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders Center.

Nancy Mazonson, program coordinator of JF&CS Parkinson's Family Support, said, “It’s quite extraordinary. People find it moving and exciting even if they haven’t sung before. And it reinforces many gains that people have made in therapy.”

Every Monday, Walter joins 21 other people with Parkinson’s and their spouses and care partners at the Brookline Senior Center for an hour and a half of rehearsal. Walter finds the warm-ups at the outset of each rehearsal very helpful. He said, “It’s a lot of breathing exercises, waking up the lungs, stretching, and annunciation.”

These are vital to any singer, but are particularly important for someone with Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s often causes voice volume and voice clarity to become diminished, which can result in social isolation.

Walter said, “With Parkinson’s you have to concentrate more on what your task is all about. If you’re singing to someone it’s a good way of keeping up concentration. I pick someone in the audience and sing to them.”

Under the direction of volunteer conductor, Marilyn Okonow, and pianist Joseph Reid, participants sing a variety of familiar classics.

Walter, who was also a member of the JF&CS Parkinson’s dance group, said, “I enjoy singing and I’ve met some lovely people. You see new possibilities.”

Priscilla Elliot has been singing in her church choir for many years. She comes every Monday with her husband Clark, who has Parkinson’s.

Priscilla said, “I thought this was a real opportunity for Clark. He’s benefitting from the exercise, he likes participating, and he has a nice singing voice.”

She added, “The songs are very upbeat. I like that attitude. It fits the outlook of the group -- capability rather than disability.”

This program is made possible through generous funding from long time JF&CS supporters Marilyn and Dale Okonow and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Learn more

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.

Event Recap - CHAI Celebrates 20 Years

It’s been 20 years since Community Housing for Adult Independence (CHAI) held its inaugural dinner at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. In that time, the JF&CS program has offered vital services to help individuals with disabilities and their families in Greater Boston live their lives with dignity and independence.

Betsy Closs, director of Services for People with Disabilities, said, “CHAI’s strength is that we focus on people’s abilities instead of their disabling conditions. We don’t set up cookie cutter programs; we help people create homes.”

Thanks to the leadership of Event Chairs Jackie and Alan Weinstein, the agency raised $160,000 for CHAI at its annual event on November 18. Almost 200 guests attended the gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston. The highlight of the evening for many was a moving speech by CHAI client, Esther Greenspan.

This year’s celebration also honored the program’s Luminaries, 18 individuals and families whose vision, expertise, and generosity have lighted the path for CHAI’s continued success.

CHAI housing opened in the spring of 1990 with 13 residents. The program’s first newsletter proudly reported, “CHAI provides a residential setting in which no individual is defined by a label… but where special assistance is provided as special need exists.”

Even in the midst of the economic crisis, CHAI’s programs continue to grow and thrive. Over the past 20 years Jewish Family & Children’s Service has grown tremendously. Today we are the largest provider of comprehensive human services in Greater Boston and are proud of our commitment to providing personalized and integrated services to our clients.

JF&CS now serves 80 adults in our CHAI residential and independent living program and helped 40 adults find meaningful volunteer and part-time work opportunities through our CHAI Works program.

Betsy said, “We’ve grown by establishing a variety of housing options for people with a variety of disabilities. We support all people and tailor services to individual needs.”

While we celebrate where we have come from, we still have more to do. There are still people waiting to join CHAI and we are committed to serve every member of our community.

Twenty years ago, the founders could not have imagined the impact their work would have and the number of individuals and families our services would reach. JF&CS gives a heartfelt thanks to CHAI supporters for their generosity and continued commitment as we begin to look ahead to the next 20 years.

Learn more

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.
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