Parents with newborn babyAmy* was a Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® client when she was pregnant with her first child. A trained JF&CS volunteer visited Amy in her home for a weekly visit to provide her with confidential support and an empathetic ear so that she could be a confident new mom. But when her baby was born with unforeseen medical issues, life changed for Amy and her husband.

Amy had to leave her job to stay at home and take care of the baby. She had been working full-time and her husband had been working part-time. Together, they had just been making ends meet. In a very short time, the family began to struggle financially and could no longer afford to pay their rent. Although their landlord had been very patient, they were four months in arrears and the landlord informed the couple that he would soon have to serve them with a Notice to Quit. It was clear that Amy could not return to work anytime soon and it was also clear that the landlord would not renew the lease when it would come up for renewal in just a few weeks.

When Amy’s Visiting Mom learned of the situation, she referred her to Ellen Jawitz, the Family Resource Coordinator at the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS). Ellen met with Amy and did an intake evaluation. First, she directed her to JF&CS Bet Tzedek Legal Services, where she could obtain pro bono legal counsel and assistance. There, Amy worked with volunteer attorneys who put the necessary paperwork in place in case Amy received a Notice to Quit and gave her tips on how to negotiate with her landlord.

Then, Amy met with Lindsay Goldberg from the JF&CS Center for Basic Needs Assistance. Together, Lindsay and Amy worked to come up with a way for Amy to obtain the funds to pay off the arrearage, now more than $4,000. Lindsay also helped the couple figure out a plan for employment and soon, the father was able to find a job that allowed him to bring the baby to work with him. Amy was then able to return to her full-time job.

Although the family’s income flow had been restored, they still couldn’t pay the amount necessary to renew the lease and there was a chance they would wind up homeless. Lindsay contacted outside organizations for help. The Center for Basic Needs Assistance gave Amy and her husband an emergency grant and continued to work with Bet Tzedek to secure a tax refund for the couple – to which they did not even know they were entitled. Additional grants were obtained from the Howard Benevolent Society and the Lend a Hand Society. JF&CS staff, through partnership with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), was also able to secure a grant from Family to Family.

When enough resources came together for the couple to pay off the arrearages, Amy’s Visiting Mom accompanied her to meet with the landlord, check in hand. With the arrearages paid off, Amy was able to use the negotiation skills she had learned to get the landlord to renew the lease for another year.

Now Amy and her family are doing great and the financial and landlord issues have been fully resolved. To lighten her family’s load going forward, Amy was referred to JF&CS Family Table, New England’s largest kosher food pantry, and her JF&CS caseworkers helped her apply for fuel assistance and utility discounts.

"One of the wonderful things about JF&CS is that we have talented staff from a number of different programs, each with their own area of expertise, who pull together on a regular basis to help clients like Amy,” says Ellen Jawitz.

"Our partnerships with outside organizations enabled us to obtain additional support for Amy that made all the difference in this case. We are grateful to those organizations for their support.

"Finally, this couldn't have come together without Amy's own dedication and perseverance. She is a remarkable woman, who stayed the course in the face of many challenges and I am inspired by her example."

*Name changed to protect privacy

View all articles from the JF&CS News Summer 2017 edition.