Caring for Generations
 
 
 
 
 

COVID-19 Update

Caring During Crisis - Donate Now


If you need help during this challenging time, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page. 

May 28, 2020

Dear Friends,

Throughout this pandemic, JF&CS has helped thousands of people - but no group is more at risk than the older adult community, and in no area is our work more urgent. Supporting older adults throughout this crisis means protecting physical health, preserving mental health, and fulfilling basic needs. JF&CS is doing all of this and more.

Despite limitations on seeing clients in person, JF&CS has actually increased our outreach through this crisis in order to combat social isolation. We provide regular telephone support to more than 800 older adults, offering support and compassion, and serving as a safety net and referral source when we uncover additional needs. We offer many support groups every week, including specialized groups for families coping with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease as well as bereavement and caregiver groups. And we're impacting the lives of thousands of seniors in the community, by training over 700 housing and community specialists to address the specialized mental health needs of older adults living in isolation.

JF&CS also provides food, economic assistance, and homecare to the increasing number of older adults living in poverty. Since March, we've tripled the amount of financial assistance for low income households and launched a new emergency grocery delivery program to respond to the 200% increase in emergency food requests. And the need is only increasing.

JF&CS casts a wide net in serving the older adult community. Our clients include Holocaust survivors, nursing home residents, and people with extreme physical or economic need, but they also include clients who were independent just months ago, but who now crave a lifeline to the outside world. JF&CS is proud to be that lifeline, as we fulfill the commandment to "honor your father and your mother".

Some of the hardest work we do relates to our responsibility as guardians for close to 100 older adults with dementia or mental illness who are legally unable to make their own decisions regarding their health and welfare, and have no family members who can help. With coronavirus having hit the nursing homes so hard, we are literally supporting our clients through life and death situations, working to ensure that each is treated with the dignity that they deserve.  

For all of this and more, JF&CS is here for older adults, and for the broad needs of families across the community. If you or someone you know is in need, please reach out to us. We are here for the community. Thank you for supporting our work.

Gail Schulman
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Family & Children's Service

 

April 23, 2020

Dear Friends,

What unfathomable times we are living through. When I began at JF&CS three months ago, I certainly never contemplated the agency's role in a pandemic. And yet here we are, providing support to thousands of people struggling through health trauma, deaths, social isolation, mental health challenges, and sudden economic instability. I recall anticipating a leisurely listening tour to start my tenure as CEO. Yet ultimately, I am energized by being on the front lines of responding to this crisis, and by JF&CS's impact on so many lives.

In the past six weeks, JF&CS has mobilized swiftly, drawing on a breadth of vision combined with deep domain expertise and client relationships, and serving as a leader in the human service community. We have become a state-wide source of expertise around social isolation and mental health, training professionals who are collectively responsible for thousands of vulnerable older adults living in senior housing. We're offering all-day Zoom programming for people with disabilities, along with one-on-one phone calls, encouragement, and family coaching. And we're providing telephone support to Holocaust survivors, many of whom are experiencing post-traumatic stress as they are told to remain in "lockdown".

We continue to provide grocery deliveries across a 40-mile radius, while dramatically expanding our emergency grocery program to cope with the surge of unemployment. At the same time, we're guiding a huge influx of callers to access state benefits to cope with job loss and financial insecurity, serving as a resource to both individuals and social service agencies.

JF&CS is also navigating the outbreak of COVID-19 in nursing homes, supporting our clients with dementia and mental illness who require legal guardianship. We're providing 24-hour support in residential programs and in-person care for adult foster care, all while working hard to protect both clients and staff from infection. And, sadly, we are coping with deaths, and providing emotional support for families as well as our staff.

JF&CS has supported the community through two world wars, the Great Depression, and every conflict, epidemic, and economic and social upheaval of the past 150 years. And I can promise you that we will continue to combine our expertise, innovation, and compassion to support the community in the months ahead. The need is profound, but so is our impact and the urgency of the times. As it says in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers), "If not now, when?" Thank you all for helping us to help the world.

With heartfelt appreciation,

Gail Schulman
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Family &Children's Service

 

March 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

In just the last week, the public health crisis has changed dramatically, upending our community emotionally, medically, logistically, and financially. Today I want to update you on how JF&CS is supporting the needs of our clients, our employees, and the community.

Beginning Monday, March 16, our offices have been closed to visitors and more than 90% of JF&CS staff are working remotely. Yet we remain committed to delivering service to our 14,000 clients - and to address the expanding needs brought about by the COVID-19 emergency.

While some programs can't operate in the traditional form, our staff have identified telephone and on-line options to combat social isolation and deliver support and services to our clients. Flexibility, creativity, and commitment abound. Just yesterday we moved the entire Family Table operation outdoors, packing and delivering food to over 200 households in need while maintaining appropriate social distancing.

JF&CS is truly on the front lines of delivering service during this critical time, working to ensure that our clients receive both the material and the emotional support they need. Indeed, this work builds on JF&CS's long history of responding to communal needs, particularly during periods of crisis and change.

We will continue to communicate with you during this difficult time. Thank you for your continued support for our mission and our work. 

Gail Schulman 
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Family & Children's Service



March 10, 2020

Over the past weeks, JF&CS has paid close attention to concerns around Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Our top priority is always to keep our clients, staff, and volunteers safe, and we are staying in close touch with other agencies and with Massachusetts and national guidelines to ensure that safety. We want to keep you informed of our current planning and will continue to do so as the situation unfolds further in the weeks ahead.

What JF&CS is Doing

At JF&CS, we are taking extra care regarding the cleaning and disinfection of all of our facilities and have ensured that hand-washing and hand-sanitation supplies are easily available. We are also monitoring all of our programming and ensuring that our practices promote safety, including in the way we serve (or do not serve) food. If we find we need to make any changes to our scheduled programs and events, these changes will be communicated directly from the staff coordinating the program or event. 

What You Can Do

We ask that all members of our community be conscious of recommended guidelines:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap/water is not available.
  • Take care of yourself if you are sick. Stay home to avoid spreading to others.
  • Avoid touching your face-particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid physical greetings like hugs, kisses, and handshakes. A smile goes a long way!
  • If possible, cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue and the discard it. Use your elbow only if you need to.
  • Avoid communal food where people help themselves, such as a buffet.

The CDC recommends that for people at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, because of your age (over 60) or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.

Continued Vigilance

JF&CS has an important responsibility to care for our community and we will continue to focus on health and security. We will remain vigilant regarding the evolving situation, will adapt our practices as appropriate, and continue to keep you updated. For more information, please visit Mass.gov or the CDC website.

Best regards,

Gail Schulman
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Family & Children's Service

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