Caring for Generations

JF&CS News Winter 2010

Welcome Letter from Sy Friedland, CEO

Dear Friends,

JF&CS is a trusted source of support for the most fragile members of our community. Our reputation and strength come from our ability to provide this support, year after year.

Now more than ever people turn to JF&CS for help with life’s many challenges – caring for aging parents, looking for financial assistance, raising a child with a disability, and so much more. As new people turn to us for aid, we meet these ever-growing needs with innovative solutions and more importantly, with compassion. For example, JF&CS Family Table, Greater Boston’s largest kosher food pantry, is currently serving more than 550 individuals every month, a 60% increase in the past two years.

Our longevity as an organization and our ability to grow through the years, speaks to a special combination of qualities that make JF&CS unique. We have the guidance of a truly meaningful mission, a long history of doing good deeds, the talent and expertise of our staff, the dedication of our volunteers, and donors who make the agency a priority. We are especially grateful to those who contribute their time, energy, ideas, and resources to support us year after year.

We also are enriched by the trust of our clients – people from all walks of life who seek us out; hopeful we can ease their burdens. These are characteristics that endure and can’t be taken away by the ups and downs of the global economy. Join us as we continue our tradition of helping people in need throughout Greater Boston live with independence and dignity.


Seymour J. Friedland, PhD
Chief Executive Officer

Ongoing Support for Adoptive Families

For some couples hoping to build families, adoption offers a wonderful answer to their prayers. Yet adoption can be a challenging process, both for the child and the parents, with unique short- and long-term issues.

JF&CS Adoption Resources is meeting the needs of adoptive parents and children with an innovative set of pre- and post-adoption services that has been met with an overwhelming response from the community.

Last fall, the agency began offering specialized programs, workshops, and counseling that focus on the particular concerns facing these families.

Betsy Hochberg, Director of Adoption Resources, said, “JF&CS has helped to build families for almost 150 years. We have learned through the years that our expertise is still needed after the initial placement.”

The new services are dedicated to meeting the needs of adoptive families, no matter where they are in the process of either a domestic or international adoption, and are available to the entire adoption community in Greater Boston, not just those who have adopted through the agency.

Separation anxiety, sleep issues, feelings of loss, and struggling with independence are some of the unique issues that arise from adoption and which can affect individuals at any point in their lives, from the earliest beginnings through adolescence, mid-life, and old age.

For example, getting your child to sleep is a common challenge for many families, yet a child who spent 18 months sleeping in a dorm might need specialized help to learn how to sleep alone in his/her own room. Betsy said, “If a child has come from an orphanage and has had a certain sleep routine, the traditional advice given by a pediatrician may not address the issues of those children.”

While all adolescents experience some type of drive for independence, this process can be fraught with ambivalence for a child who joined his or her family through adoption. Beginning in March, the agency is offering a six-week support group for adopted adolescents.

Pre-adoptive parents can attend an educational series on medical and developmental issues of adopted children. Families can meet with adoption specialists to learn about the process and decide whether adoption will be their mode of family building.

The agency also offers a variety of support groups, new parent groups, and workshops to post-adoptive families as well as one-on-one post-adoption counseling by highly skilled clinical social workers and adoption experts through JF&CS Mental Health Services.

Because the agency has been providing adoption services for over a century, it is an incredible source of information for birth parents and adults who were adopted 40, 50, and even 60 years ago and who want to reunite, obtain medical records, or find family histories. Betsy said, “There are so many moving stories. Today I spoke with a woman who is meeting her birth father for the first time this weekend. We will continue to be here for adoptive families and children.”

Learn more

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

Helping Parents & Infants Connect

Michelle Homer is an Early Intervention nurse, mother of five children, and former Peace Corps member who spent two years in Kenya.

She’s also a fellow at the JF&CS Infant-Parent Training Institute (IPTI). Launched in 2005, IPTI trains experienced professionals to address and integrate the knowledge of the parent-infant early relationship and their social and emotional health needs into practice.

Now in its sixth year, the inter-disciplinary program boasts graduates from all over New England in fields as diverse as social work, nursing, psychology, psychiatry, and childcare.

The two-year clinical fellowship encompasses weekly seminars and a year-long infant observation course. In addition IPTI offers 6- and 10-week courses, and a year-long program on topics ranging from infant brain development to maternal mental health.

Michelle, who attended nursing school in Iowa and moved to Boston for her BA and MA in Nursing, has worked for 19 years at an early intervention program in Waltham, helping families with children from birth to age three who have developmental delays or are at risk for delay.

At work she helps families navigate their children’s complex medical issues including tracheotomies, feeding tubes, or drug addiction. Many of these children are at high risk for developmental delays because of environmental factors like teen parents, homelessness, or domestic abuse.

Michelle was drawn to the program because of her desire to help families in distress. She said, “This was an area I wanted more expertise in. I deal with families with complex social and medical needs. I want to help parents understand their children’s behavior and make them feel more supported.”

She added, “When you’ve worked for 19 years and you have five children you think there’s nothing left to learn. It has been thrilling after all the years I’ve done this to find things that I don’t know.”

Faculty member Judy Semenoff, who was in IPTI’s first group of fellows and is now its faculty coordinator, said, “There’s a growing recognition of the importance of the early parent-child relationship and its impact on a variety of aspects of development. We’re applying that knowledge to these earliest relationships.”

IPTI focuses on strategies for intervention at the most critical time in a child’s development, before more serious problems arise. Professionals trained at IPTI bring a focus on the social-emotional health of the infant-parent relationship back to their work in human service agencies, early intervention programs, hospitals, early childcare centers, and private practice.

Peggy Kaufman, Director of the Center for Early Relationship Support, said, “It is exciting that we are training trainers and practitioners who go into the workforce and impact ten to a hundred to thousands of families each year. When you consider that we have only been training for six years the numbers are outstanding.”

One semester into the program, Michelle is already applying what she’s learned. She said, “Some parents don’t know anything about normal infant-child development. When you can share that information in a non-threatening way, you can see a difference in the way they relate to their child.”

Michelle believes that one of the best things about the program is having the time to meet and learn from the other fellows. She also praised the IPTI faculty. She said, “The faculty has done a great job at figuring out what we need to know and how to present it. How they put the information together has given me a very big picture of ways to look at infant and parent relationships. I’ve learned so much amazing stuff.”

Learn more

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

Bringing Joy to Kids in Need

This year more than ever many families turned to JF&CS to help make their holidays joyful. And despite the down economy, the annual JF&CS Toy Drive was a huge success, distributing over $15,000 from 152 donors to 300 children of families in need.

One client exclaimed, “I don’t know how to thank you; these gift cards brought some light into our holiday and now I can go and pick presents for my kids. I can’t believe that I will actually be able to buy what they asked for. God bless you!”

For the first time, this year JF&CS collected gift cards instead of toys so parents could choose their own children’s gifts. Not only did parents have the joy of selecting a special toy for their child, but they also had a greater feeling of dignity.

Tali Cook, Director of the Center for Family Assistance (CFA), said, “As part of CFA’s ongoing efforts to empower its clients, we felt strongly that these parents deserved to choose their children's gifts as any of us would want to do.” She added, “We couldn’t do this drive without the support of our generous donors. They understood the importance of letting clients choose for themselves.”

CFA intern Masha Feldman, who coordinated the Toy Drive this year, said donors were very enthusiastic about the change to gift cards. She said, “It is so exciting to see it actually happen. All this hard work and then the gift cards arrive and we mail them to the families.”

Another client said happily, “Many, many thanks for these generous gifts. It would be an especially skimpy year for my kids for Chanukkah otherwise. Also, gift cards are great for teenagers who are thrilled to shop for themselves.”

The JF&CS Center for Family Assistance has been facing the reality of the economic crisis, assisting clients whose lives have deteriorated as they experience the loss of their homes, careers, and any sense of security.

But even during this challenging time there are signs of hope. A client who had received financial assistance after losing her job asked to donate a gift card instead of receiving one. She said, “JF&CS has assisted me when I needed it, now I am actually doing better and I want to give back.”

Helping Summer Campers
CFA will help many of these same families this summer with its camp scholarship program. Summer camp is the highlight of the year for many children. But for families struggling financially, summer camp is a luxury they simply can’t afford.

For almost 15 years, the JF&CS camp scholarship program has helped families in need send their children to camp. The program has grown from a single funding source to include donations from individuals, grants, and foundations. Over 100 children were able to attend camp last summer thanks to this support.

You can help CFA provide critical financial assistance to families throughout the year.

Learn more

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

JF&CS Benefit: A Night to Celebrate

On Saturday, March 6, JF&CS supporters will gather at the Westin Boston Waterfront to celebrate the agency’s continued success and to recognize leaders in the community at its annual Benefit. Hosted by Event Chairs Ellie Svenson, Sarah & Dana Nielsen, and Sarah & Eric Svenson, the Benefit will raise awareness and funds necessary to support our programs with a festive night. Each year, more than 400 guests attend this unique event designed by party planner extraordinaire Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events.

The dinner, dance, and auction has raised over four million dollars since its inception through the generosity of sponsors and attendees. These crucial funds account for more than half of the unrestricted budget for JF&CS each year.

At the Benefit JF&CS will recognize the 2010 Community Leadership Award recipients Lisa & Stephen Lebovitz and Beth Lebovitz Backer & Daniel Backer. The Lebovitz Family has a rich history of involvement with JF&CS including volunteer activities, fundraising, committee membership, board service, and past-presidency.

The family has changed lives through its personal and professional commitment and service to Jewish communal organizations throughout Greater Boston and to numerous other non-profit organizations including Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Children’s Hospital.

Silent Auction Preview - Pre-bids Welcome

OPRAH! Two tickets to a taping of Oprah in Chicago with hotel accommodations in a luxury Starwood property and airfare on Southwest Airlines. After 25 years on the air, Oprah will end her show on September 9, 2011. Be a part of television history.

BOSTON CELTICS BALL BOY/BALL GIRL - This chance of a lifetime to assist Boston Celtics players during warm-ups includes 2 premium tickets for Mom and Dad, Celtics gear, and an autographed basketball.

DIAMOND HOOP EARRINGS from Dorfman Jewelers, Boston. Gorgeous! Every time you wear these dazzling earrings you will know that you helped JF&CS and its work.

Additional Highlights

GETAWAY to Grace Bay Club - Turks & Caicos Island, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Chatham Bars Inn, the Charles Hotel, and other great destinations.

DINE at amazing restaurants including Blue Ginger, Capital Grille, The Beehive, Mistral, Sel de La Terre, and many more.

CHEER on the Red Sox in dugout seats, PLAY golf at The Country Club, SAIL Boston Harbor, and bid on other fun sports items.

For a complete list of silent auction items, information about absentee or pre-bidding, and our raffle for sought-after courtside Celtics tickets, please contact Lorraine Levine at or 781-693-5707.

Hope to see you at the Benefit on March 6!
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781-647-JFCS (5327)
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Waltham, MA 02451

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