Posted by Susan Bernat

This is a story of the marvels of email and the broad reach of JF&CS programs and services.

As a geriatric care manager, I sometimes have elderly clients who need to move from home to assisted living, or from assisted living to a long-term care facility, which can also mean finding homes for unneeded furniture, kitchen items, pets, etc. Recently, I had two experiences that reminded me of the beauty of working for such a caring and integrated agency as JF&CS.

My 93-year-old client needed to move from her assisted living facility to a skilled nursing facility. Her family wasn't interested in her furniture, and I know from experience that charities (including JF&CS) are limited in what they are willing to pick up in the community. Still, I had an apartment full of perfectly good furniture to get rid of. What to do? I sent an email out to the staff of JF&CS, and within minutes a case manager from our Center for Family Assistance got back to me with a family who needed furniture. When I met them at the assisted living facility to facilitate the pick up, the young woman told me that she and her daughter had just moved out of a homeless shelter, and could use all of my client's furniture, every single item! She gave me a long, warm hug to express her gratitude while I did my best to hold back my tears.

A week later, a friend of a friend wanted to donate furniture from his Boston apartment. Remembering that I worked at JF&CS and knowing that we serve people in need, he asked if we knew someone who could use the furniture. Once again, I sent an email to the staff of JF&CS, and this time heard back from a case manager in Healthy Families. Her client, a teenage mother with newborn twins, lived in an apartment with hardly any furniture. We connected the two families and the donation went smoothly. Again, I had the feeling of having been able to facilitate a wonderful mitzvah.

Although these clients were affiliated with three different programs of JF&CS—Your Elder Experts Geriatric Care Management, the Center for Family Assistance, and Healthy Families—through the wonder of email and the luck of timing, they were able to come together. The friend of the friend helped a teenage mother he never would have met, my client's furniture helped a young woman make a fresh start, and I felt grateful to be able to help make it happen.

Susan Bernat, LICSW began her social work career in the field of geriatrics when she worked as the assistant director of the Senior Adult Program at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. While there, she developed programs and ran groups for seniors living in the community. Her career then followed other paths including New York Hospital as a discharge planner for families, New York League for the Hard of Hearing where she developed skills in American Sign Language as the assistant director of social work, and a home care agency where she provided medical social work in clients' homes. Susan's compassion and patience help her manage frail clients with empathy and skill. She is a nationally certified care manager (C-ASWCM) and is a member of NASW and both the national and New England chapters of NAPGCM. She joined the staff of Your Elder Experts more than six years ago and helps supervise the program.