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JF&CS Blog

Warm up at the Parkinson's Foundation Moving Day.
October 28, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

Warm up at the Parkinson's Foundation Moving Day.

On October 5, 2019, hundreds of people took over Artesani Park in Boston for the annual Moving Day fundraiser for the Parkinson’s Foundation. This inspiring and fun event raised over $156,000, which will be used to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease and advance research for a cure. 

JF&CS was well represented at Moving Day Boston. Anne Muskopf, the Director of our Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support program, served on the Event Committee, along with her predecessor at JF&CS, Nancy Mazonson. Anne and Nancy were also joined by Art Sullivan, the instructor of the JF&CS Parkinson’s Dance group, and a handful of participants from our Parkinson’s program.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation has been a great partner for JF&CS,” said Anne Muskopf. “So, we were excited that so many people in the JF&CS family were able to participate in Moving Day.”

A Starring Role for Art Sullivan

Art Sullivan leading the warm up routine at Moving Day with mascots.As an expert in therapeutic movement and dance, Art Sullivan was the perfect choice to lead the official warm-up at Moving Day. Before the big fundraising walk, which is the centerpiece of the event, Art guided participants in a series of stretches and warm-up exercises. Even Slyde the Fox, the mascot for the New England Revolution, and Blades the Bruin, the mascot for the Boston Bruins, followed along with Art’s routine!

“Leading the kick-off routine was a great honor,” said Art. “To see all the people moving, stretching their limbs, and arching their arms in unison across the sky was a beautiful vision to behold. The participants in the walk are the real inspiration – they push me to create ever more bold routines to get them moving. They keep me motivated to be a better instructor every day.”

After the pre-walk warm-up, Art led dance classes at the event’s Movement Pavilion, which also hosted yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.

Recognizing Nancy Mazonson

Nancy Mazonson has been involved with Moving Day Boston since its inception and was given special recognition for her six years of service at the event. From the stage, a representative from the Parkinson’s Foundation praised Nancy as “an asset to our community.” During her time at JF&CS, Nancy helped launch and grow the Tremble Clefs chorus, Parkinson’s Dance, and the Adult Child, Women’s, and Care Partner support groups.

“Since JF&CS became involved in offering programming to the Parkinson’s community, there has been a growing recognition of the role that support programming can play in improving the lives of families living with PD,” said Nancy. “I was very proud to be recognized for championing this work, which has now become a mainstream component of good PD care.”

In addition to helping plan the event, Nancy also led a team that participated in the Moving Day fundraising walk. Together, the team raised over $600 to support the Parkinson’s Foundation’s initiatives.

“Moving Day is a great celebration of the tenacity of the PD community,” said Nancy. “I look forward to participating in the years to come.”  

To learn more about our resources for people living with Parkinson’s disease, visit our Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson's Family Support program page.

Sammi Robertson
October 24, 2019

Posted by JF&CS.  

Sammi Robertson

JF&CS is excited to recognize Sammi Robertson as one of our 2019 CHAI Champions. Sammi is the President of Baily’s Team for Autism, a nonprofit named after her son.

Bailey’s Team raises essential funds that go to helping individuals with autism and their families. Sammi founded Bailey’s Team in 2008 to help fund research, education, and programming for those on the autism spectrum. Since the creation of Bailey’s Team, it has raised over half a million dollars and made the positive impact Sammi had hoped for.

One of the projects Bailey’s Team supports is a training class for first responders called Autism Law Enforcement Education Coalition. This provides public safety and law enforcement personnel the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the autism spectrum and provides the knowledge they need in order to assess a situation.     

Sammi has made a tremendous impact on this community through her efforts to support and raise awareness of individuals with autism. “My son inspires me every day and I’m grateful to the people who work in this field. The work we do is so rewarding. We certainly don’t do it for the recognition, but being recognized helps our cause and inspires others,” said Sammi.

To learn more about the CHAI Champions event, visit our event page.

A baby getting his diaper changed.
October 24, 2019

Posted by Ellen Jawitz

A baby getting his diaper changed.

As the Family Resource Coordinator at the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support®, I have the privilege of working one-on-one with participant families who need help accessing public benefits, housing, and other resources. While my work is focused on providing these types of direct services, I think it is equally important to tackle the systemic issues that impact low-income families. So, when my colleague Maureen Whitman told me about the new Diaper Benefits Pilot Program bills being considered by the Massachusetts Legislature, I jumped at the chance to testify in support of them.

On July 16, 2019, I spoke in front of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. I advocated for House Bill 107 and Senate Bill 65, which would establish a pilot program to give grants to organizations for the purpose of obtaining, storing, and distributing free diapers to low-income families.

The Need for Diapers

When I first started working at CERS six years ago, one of the most frequent requests I received was for help with diapers. For many low-income families, having an adequate supply of diapers is an insurmountable hurdle.

Diapers are expensive, and they are even more expensive for low-income families who don’t have access to big box stores that sell them in large quantities at a discount. Unfortunately, SNAP benefits (known as “food stamps”) can’t be used to purchase diapers. While cloth reusable diapers can be a good way to save money, they aren’t a viable option unless a family has their own washer and dryer. Needless to say, most of the people who can’t afford diapers also can’t afford in-home laundry. Even more importantly, children can’t be sent to day care with cloth diapers, and so parents without an adequate supply of disposable diapers may not be able to return to work or attend school.

When families don’t have enough diapers, parents may try to stretch the time between diaper changes, but this causes tremendous discomfort and puts the baby at risk of serious infection. Faced with this problem, many families buy diapers and fall behind on other bills – including utilities and rent. This can become a major source of stress for parents, who then pass this stress on to their children.

Addressing the Need for Our Clients

At JF&CS, we have worked hard to develop our own in-house diaper supply, so we can improve the health and emotional well-being of the babies and parents we work with. We have been fortunate to partner with Diaper Circle and other local organizations that collect diapers for distribution to families in need. CERS accepts open packages of diapers from local nursery schools and seeks out donations to buy diapers in bulk at a low cost.

When one of our staff shows up at a client’s house with diapers, the effect is remarkable. A parent who has been worrying about changing her baby’s soiled diaper now knows that she doesn’t have to worry about this for another couple of weeks. What a difference this can make for parents and babies!

Expanding Access to Diaper Pantries

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of diaper pantries in Greater Boston, and most of them are only available to residents of specific towns. Some of the pantries actually exclude families who receive cash assistance. Even for those families who are eligible, the pantries are open one day per month for limited hours, and they typically provide only 30 diapers per child, per month. The average baby goes through 6-8 diapers per day, so 30 diapers will last no more than 5 days.

The new bills sponsored by Representative Mindy Domb, Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli, and Senator Joan Lovely would be a game-changer for low-income families with young children. The legislation would establish a one-year Diaper Benefits Pilot Program that provides money for up to 12 organizations to distribute free diapers. I hope that my testimony before the Joint Committee helped to provide context for lawmakers as they evaluate this important legislation.

Remember Diapers This Giving Tuesday

While the Diaper Benefits Pilot Program bills are still under consideration, there is something you can do to help get more diapers into the hands of low-income parents. This Giving Tuesday (December 3), JF&CS will be raising money to stock our in-house diaper supply. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and stay tuned for the latest updates on our Giving Tuesday fundraiser!      

Mark Kelly
October 23, 2019

Posted by JF&CS  

Mark Kelly

JF&CS is excited to recognize Mark Kelly, M.Ed. as one of our 2019 CHAI Champions. At this year’s CHAI Champions event, JF&CS will recognize five individuals who share our mission to care deeply about promoting community, housing, access, and independence (CHAI) for people of all abilities. As the Director of Special Needs for the Newton Parks and Recreation Department, Mark builds community connections through increasing access for adults with disabilities.

Mark is in his 18th year as the Director of Special Needs and currently serves more than three hundred athletes with disabilities. He organizes year-round sports and recreation programs that allow people of all abilities to get active through Newton Parks and Recreation.

Mark was inspired to make therapeutic recreation his career after working at an inclusive day camp for kids with disabilities during his time in college and has since worked tirelessly to create programs that support the lives of adults with disabilities. The rich and meaningful fitness experience that Mark and his colleagues have developed has created a supportive community where families treat other children as their own.

By having a program that is open to people of all abilities, adults with disabilities are given the opportunity to experience the fun and healthy benefits that come with fitness and exercise. Mark’s efforts in creating an inclusive environment has shown how incredible his athletes are.

“I am truly honored to be recognized as a CHAI Champion and I’m inspired by the work that JF&CS does,” Mark said.

To learn more about the CHAI Champions event, visit our event page.

Jill Photo.png
October 23, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

JF&CS is pleased to announce that Jill Snider has joined the agency as a Senior Philanthropic Advisor. Jill comes to JF&CS with more than 10 years of experience in institutional advancement, including 5 years of leadership and resource development within Greater Boston’s Jewish Community.

Originally from Wellesley, Massachusetts, Jill joins JF&CS after four years at the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), the largest hunger-relief organization in New England. GBFB distributes healthy food to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity through a network of agency partners like JF&CS Family Table. Ensuring that children, families, and older adults have access to the nutritious food they need to lead healthy lives is extremely important to Jill. She’s excited that she will be able to work with Family Table and continue raising awareness and funds to support our neighbors in need.

Earlier in her career, Jill worked at the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and at Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). She is thrilled to be coming back to her roots and once again donning the hat of Jewish communal professional. 

At JF&CS, Jill will be part of the Institutional Advancement team. Her primary role will be raising the charitable dollars needed to support the vital programs of JF&CS. She will also be working with the Tree of Life Society, which recognizes the agency’s legacy donors. Jill is especially passionate about connecting donors’ philanthropic goals with their financial and estate plans and ensuring that JF&CS can continue impacting lives for generations to come.

Jill has a both a master's degree in Public Administration and in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in religion from Middlebury College.

Jeremy Lawrence with this mother Jen London
October 8, 2019

Posted by Jeremy Lawrence

Jeremy Lawrence with this mother Jen London

For over seven years, I have volunteered at JF&CS Family Table. Once a month, my mom and I head out to JF&CS in Waltham to package and deliver groceries. We’re usually assigned three families, so we split up to be efficient with our time. Once we finish packing, we carry the groceries to our car and group them by client to make sure not to mix them up, and then we head into Boston. Family Table always needs volunteers to deliver to the city; it’s a good opportunity for us to see all types of communities.

We talk a lot on the way to Boston, about school and current events. It’s nice to be together. Once we get to our destination, we collect the groceries and head out. Most families live in apartment buildings, and we often deliver to a few clients in one building

Clients are always happy to see us and grateful for our assistance. Often, a client will give me a treat like candy, a cookie, or a piece of fruit that was saved just for me. This small token of appreciation helps me realize the importance of what we’re doing. After we’ve made our deliveries, we get back in the car and we talk about how hard it is to struggle. These experiences are something that I will always remember.

If you would like to volunteer at a Family Table food distribution, please fill out one of our application forms: Waltham Application, North Shore Application, South Area Application. A schedule of upcoming distribution days can be found here

David Rosenberg
October 4, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

JF&CS is excited to recognize David Rosenberg as one of our 2019 CHAI Champions. As a successful business leader, David believes in letting his team members define the culture of their workplace. He has a long history of encouraging a workplace environment where individuals of varied abilities can contribute and play a role in the success of the company.                

David Rosenberg David was inspired when he was introduced to Transitions to Work, a CJP program that helps adults with disabilities develop job skills. Transitions to Work was his first introduction to this community and he wanted to spread that same inspiration throughout his workplace. He saw first-hand how infectious the motivational attitude of adults with disabilities was, and he decided to make a change and actively include these individuals in his company.             

By creating a friendly and inclusive work environment, David has opened the door to people of all abilities to create new experiences and develop skills that will improve their lives. “I was brought up to give back to the community that gave so much to me,” David said.

To learn more about the CHAI Champions event, visit our event page.

A woman holding a purple ribbon for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
October 2, 2019

Posted by Journey to Safety
A woman holding a purple ribbon for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This year, October begins right between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. These are days when many people in the Jewish community are thinking about what in their lives they might want to change in the coming year.

Usually, at the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the JF&CS Journey to Safety team speaks to the whole community about offering help to abuse survivors and breaking the silence around abuse in the Jewish community. This year, as the Jewish New Year and Domestic Violence Awareness Month arrive almost in the same moment, we are writing instead directly to people who have controlling or abusive partners or ex-partners. If this article doesn’t speak to you, we hope that you will share it widely to help us reach anyone who might need some help or support.

To those of you who are experiencing or have experienced life with a controlling partner or spouse, we are writing to tell you that you are not alone, what has happened to you is not your fault (no one “asks for” or “deserves” abuse), and that help is available.

Please know that we understand that abuse is not only physical and that some very abusive people never use physical violence at all. Abuse is often day in and day out. People we work with tell us stories of being blamed for everything that goes wrong, shamed for who they are and the choices they make, and coerced or forced into things they didn’t want to do. They talk about feeling disrespected and “less than” when with their partner. Some can’t access money or must produce receipts for all expenses. Some must explain or recount the details of every phone call, text, email, and social media post they make or receive. And the stories go on and on.

So, we are writing directly to you today.

We want you to know that…

  • You are not invisible.
  • Things can be different.
  • It's not too late.
  • You have options.
  • Journey to Safety and other programs are here for you.

 If you contact Journey to Safety (or many other domestic abuse programs)…

  • We will listen.
  • We won't judge you or question your decisions.
  • We won't pressure you to leave or ask you why you have stayed this long.
  • We will understand that what has happened to you is not your fault.
  • We will understand that you have made many difficult decisions while trying to be safe and (when applicable) to keep your kids safe. We also know that many of you have either made these decisions secretly or without support from other people in your lives.
  • We will understand that you cannot prevent your partner from acting abusively toward you, no matter how many changes you have made in your life hoping the abuse will end.
  • If you want to talk about it, we will share your sadness and anger that someone who promised to love and care for you could treat you this way.
  • We will see you as someone who might want healing, but not as someone who needs fixing.
  • We will ask you what you want, and we will be there for you even if you can’t answer that question right away.
  • We will support you and see your tremendous strength in holding so much together under such difficult circumstances.
  • We won't pressure you to tell us more than you want to share.
  • We will see you as a whole and complex person, not only as someone who has experienced abuse.
  • And again, we will listen.


  • We are free.
  • We are confidential.
  • We welcome all survivors and have culturally/religiously-sensitive services for Jewish survivors and services in Russian for survivors from Russian-speaking parts of the world.
  • We are here.

If you are thinking about giving us a call – either seeking support for yourself or to talk about supporting someone else – we hope you will. If this blog isn’t relevant right now, we hope that you will both share it widely and hold on to it in case you have the opportunity to pass it along to someone who needs help in the future.   

From all of us at Journey to Safety, we wish you a sweet, happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.  

To reach us, please call 781-647-5327 and ask for Journey to Safety. We are here weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and will return your call within one business day.  To find your local domestic abuse program, you can call SafeLink (877-785-2020) in Massachusetts or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233). In Massachusetts, you can also go to Jane Doe Inc.’s interactive tool to find the service provider(s) in your community.

Ruth on her 100th birthday
September 26, 2019


Posted by JF&CS
Ruth on her 100th birthday

JF&CS is excited to announce that our friend Ruth recently celebrated a major milestone. On September 19, Ruth, who we know through our Schechter Holocaust Services (SHS) program, turned 100 years old!

To mark the occasion, JF&CS reached out to the Governor’s Office, which provided an official certificate from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts signed by Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. JF&CS also created a beautiful framed piece with a special birthday wish for Ruth.  

Both of these gifts were presented to Ruth on her birthday by our own Inna Lyubimova, a Case Manager for SHS. After Inna left, Ruth’s family came over to celebrate the big day with a party.

Long Lives for Survivors

Believe it or not, SHS has had many opportunities to recognize survivors on their 100th birthday. Ruth is the third survivor to turn 100 this year, and another survivor will turn 100 in October. SHS keeps track of the birthdays of all the survivors they encounter and sends them handmade cards each year.

Interestingly, studies have found that Holocaust survivors live longer than their peers. In fact, a study from the American Medical Association publication JAMA found that, on average, survivors live 7.1 years longer than their counterparts who were not in the Holocaust.

Although survivors live longer, they suffer from more cancer, hypertension, and dementia than those who did not experience the trauma of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, in spite of these health problems, survivors have been found to have stronger immune systems and to be more optimistic than the general population. “The thing about survivors is that they don’t give up,” said Lora Tarlin, the Director of SHS. “They have this incredible will to keep moving forward.”

Older Survivors Need More Support

As survivors live into their 80s, 90s, and beyond, they typically require more support in their everyday lives, which can take the form of financial help, food assistance, or home care. Schechter Holocaust Services works to fill these needs for survivors while upholding their dignity and maintaining their social-emotional well-being.  

If you would like to help survivors living in your community, SHS offers several ways to get involved. We are always looking for volunteers to drive survivors to medical appointments, assist with grocery shopping, and provide companionship. Volunteers are also welcome to work in our Waltham office or lend a helping hand with our monthly social gatherings for Holocaust survivors, known as Café Hakalah.

To start volunteering with JF&CS, please fill out our Volunteer Registration Form and be sure to check the box for “Holocaust survivors and their families” under Assignment Interests. Donating to JF&CS is also a wonderful way to help survivors. Thank you so much for your support!

Julie O'Brien
September 24, 2019

Posted by JF&CS

Julie O'Brien

JF&CS is excited to recognize Julie O’Brien as one of our 2019 CHAI Champions. At this year’s CHAI Champions event, JF&CS will recognize five individuals who share our mission to care deeply about promoting community, housing, access, and independence (CHAI) for people of all abilities. Julie is a Family Support Clinician at Massachusetts General Hospital Lurie Center. There, she helps children and their families prepare for their transition into adult services.

Julie’s inspiration for her career choice came when she met a young boy named Mike. Mike’s persistent and quirky personality convinced Julie that this was the career for her, and she has since worked to support kids just like Mike and their families.

Julie’s family has also been a source of motivation for her work. Two of Julie’s own children are on the autism spectrum, which makes her work feel that much more meaningful. Julie understands the challenges and triumphs that come with raising children who are on the spectrum, and her career as a Family Support Clinician lets her share her experience and knowledge with other families.

She strives to gives individuals and their families access to the resources and knowledge they need to feel the support they deserve. “I love my job and I love what I do every day. I’m part of a team so when I’m recognized individually, I’m humbled. And coming from JF&CS, knowing their history, just makes me so proud. Proud. Thankful. Honored,” Julie said.

To learn more about the CHAI Champions event, visit our event page.

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