Spring 2021 Newsletter

Page 1

Spring 2021

Jewish Family Service

Spotlight Event Shining a light on older adults A VIRTUAL EVENING WITH

Kimberly Williams-Paisley

TUESDAY, APRIL 6

7PM VIRTUAL EVENT ADMISSION $36

Actress, author and advocate NANCY and HARVEY SOLWAY Event Chairs

Love, Loss and Light Shining a Spotlight on Older Adults It was Kimberly’s wedding day when she noticed the change in her mother. Linda struggled to get through a short passage she had been asked to read at the ceremony. Kimberly chalked it up to the emotions of the day. But when she later noticed her mother struggling to sign her name and spell common words, she knew something wasn’t right. Linda was eventually diagnosed with a rare form of dementia that turned a once passionate and joyful woman into someone unrecognizable. Kimberly Williams-Paisley is perhaps best known for her role in Father of the Bride. But it was now the mother of this bride that had prompted her to once again step into the spotlight. This time, as an author and advocate. Jewish Family Service

Book Club

Join us as we discuss Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s book, Where The Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again

Kimberly’s book, Where The Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again, a love letter to her mother, shares her family’s journey in an effort to help others who are on the same path. Come join us as Kimberly discusses how her family held on to humor and hope during the most trying of times in caring for her mother. She’ll share her insights and mistakes of her family’s heart-breaking and heart-warming story. Your support will help Jewish Family Service continue to serve thousands of community members each year with a wide range of services in the areas of older adults, mental health and wellness, and safety net. Older adult services include doorthrough-door transportation, friendly visitors, geriatric care management, cognitive wellness programming and more. For registration and sponsorship information, visit jfsspotlightevent.org or call 248.592.2339.

Wednesday, March 10 at 12pm Facilitated by Lynn Breuer, LMSW, CHC, CDP, Director of Community Outreach and Wellness $18 suggested donation For questions or to register, call 248.592.2339 or visit jfsspotlightevent.org


Meet Our Spotlight Event Chairs The Solways’ other daughter, Alison, who resides in Chicago, has also followed in her mom’s footsteps, however, in a different direction. Her creative career in integrative marketing and communications overlaps in many ways with Nancy’s stints in corporate marketing, promotional advertising and custom printing.

For Nancy and Harvey Solway, their involvement with JFS’s Spotlight event is not just about chairing the agency’s annual fundraiser…it’s about their many years of championing older adults. Their support of this vulnerable population started more than thirty years ago when Nancy first learned of Jewish Family Service’s Friendly Visitor program which matched older adults with volunteers for companionship and support. Nancy was paired with Lyn, who wasn’t much older than Nancy but who had multiple disabilities and experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation. “I visited every week and I’d take my kids with me at times,” says Nancy. “She was a breath of fresh air. We talked about current events. We went to the movies. She was even at my kids’ bat mitzvahs. We were devoted friends for more than twenty years before her death in 2010 and I miss her to this day.” Nancy has since been matched with other community members, including an 81-year-old who she taught to use an iPad to help keep her connected to loved ones. She considers the Friendly Visitor program to be an important part not only of her life, but of her family’s as well, as it was instrumental in her daughter Erica’s career. “Erica has her PhD in sociology with a focus on health and aging and she really pursued this career path because of her experiences going with Nancy on her friendly visits,” says Harvey. “Today, she works at the University of Michigan as an associate director of the National Poll on Healthy Aging.”

A corporate lawyer by profession, Harvey stopped practicing in 1991 and went to work with Pet Supplies Plus, serving as CEO for many years. Currently, he serves as a member of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s investment committee and also advises the Federation on business issues. Nancy’s volunteer work includes her involvement with the Oldest Jewish Americans Brunch for the past ten years and she recently rolled off the board at Jewish Senior Life. She also recently rolled off the JFS board of directors, having served on it since 2007. As a board member, she had the opportunity to talk with supporters to thank them for their contributions. She also spoke with staff members about their transition to working from home during the pandemic. What she appreciated the most from these opportunities to connect with stakeholders was learning just how respected the agency was in the community. “The employees were happy, the donors were happy and the board was happy,” she says. “JFS fills such a need in the community that I feel badly for those who don’t know about its offerings because the agency really does take care of everybody.” Everybody would eventually come to include Nancy and Harvey themselves. “We had some issues with family members a few years ago,” Harvey says. “We were so far out of our element that we didn’t have the first clue what to do. We spoke with Yuliya [Gaydayenko, Chief Program Officer, Behavioral Health and Older Adult Services], who laid it out for us beautifully. It was a situation where there were no good options, but at least she was able to tell us what the options were. So we are definitely satisfied beneficiaries of the work JFS does

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


and Nancy and I are delighted to chair the Spotlight event and be involved with an organization that does so much for so many.” This year’s Spotlight event speaker is actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, whose memoir details her family’s experience dealing with her mother’s dementia. “Harvey and I both have aunts with dementia,” says Nancy. “So we know how difficult it is for the family. The topic really spoke to us. And Kimberly’s book is beautifully written. Reading it felt like you were

sitting in the room with her and her family.” The Solways are looking forward to the Spotlight event on April 6 and hope it will attract a wider audience who might not otherwise be familiar with JFS. “I want people to know that JFS is totally inclusive,” Nancy says. “When you don’t know where to turn, you should turn to JFS. Because if they can’t help you, they know who can.”

From the Board Chair This has resulted in the ability to reach more people, as there are no limitations based on travel. Support services to seniors have required considerable adjustment, but we continue to engage remotely with our seniors and ensure their needs are met. Of course, we remain concerned about the effects of isolation on this population, and therefore, our volunteers continue to “visit” by phone or remotely by computer or tablet device.

As I am writing this article, it has been 10 months since COVID-19 disrupted our lives. By the time you read this, it will be about a year from the start of what has commonly been referred to as the “new normal.” To say that our lives have been disrupted is quite an understatement. However, for many, the disruptions have brought about new and productive ways of doing things, simplified our lives, and in odd ways, brought many people closer together. At JFS, our staff and leadership immediately assessed what changes would be necessary to continue to provide the range of services that are key to our mission, to keep our clients in the forefront and continue to make adjustments along the way. Office staff has been working almost completely remotely, which has been essentially seamless. Counseling services have been conducted online.

Our board of directors and board committees have been meeting regularly through Zoom. The board continues to be engaged and focused and, when necessary, board members have been available, without hesitation, for special meetings or to address issues unique to our current environment. It is difficult to describe, in this short column, all the ways in which everyone who is part of JFS has adjusted, focused, participated, pivoted and overall continued to make sure that JFS provides and delivers services vital to our community. To everyone who is a part of JFS, I express my deepest gratitude for the hard work you have done since March 2020 and continue to do. To everyone in our community who supports JFS, please be assured that JFS continues to be an excellent steward of its philanthropic dollars and grants, and continues to serve the community and its clients with compassion and dignity.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


Dispensing Peace of Mind The sun shone brightly one cold day in January, filling the JFS conference room with sunlight… and hope. Because on this day, over 270 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; 175 of whom were Holocaust survivors. JFS had reached out to the Oakland County Health Division about having its staff and Kosher Meals on Wheels volunteers vaccinated as essential workers. When the county agreed, JFS worked to have survivors included as well. The agency serves over 400 Holocaust survivors, all of whom were contacted by JFS geriatric care managers to gauge their interest in receiving the vaccine. The agency also got the word out on social media in order to reach those survivors not currently receiving services from JFS. Rides were provided to about fifty survivors through the agency’s transportation department.

Holocaust survivor Simon Shapiro with his daughter Alla Shapiro and granddaughter Olga Semenova, both of whom work at JFS. All three generations received the vaccine.

“Of all our sacred work, there’s nothing more important than to help survivors,” says JFS CEO Perry Ohren. “For us to be able to hold a vaccination clinic in a place that’s familiar to them, I don’t have words.” Zoltan Rubin, a 102-year-old Holocaust survivor receiving the vaccine, had plenty to say about the experience. “I hope this vaccination will stop this unusual thing which is a tragedy for the whole world,” he said. “I think God is trying to show people they have to believe in something and they should realize they’re here only on borrowed time.”

An Oakland County nurse offers comfort to a Holocaust survivor.

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Zoltan Rubin discusses his experience with the local news.

Edith Bernstein receives her first dose of the Moderna vaccine.


Adopt a Family Adapts Everything about 2020 looked different—how we worked, how our kids attended school, how we shopped for groceries. Even our Adopt a Family program had to pivot. In order to conduct the program as safely as possible during this time of COVID, JFS asked for monetary contributions that would go toward gift cards, rather than assign donors a client’s wish list to shop. “It’s quite the visual impact for our donors to come to our building to drop off gifts and see our conference rooms filled with thousands of gifts for hundreds of families,” says program manager Sarah Strasberger. “I wasn’t sure the program would feel the same without that visibility.”

While writing a check couldn’t have been as much fun as browsing the toy aisle at Target, our donors happily pivoted right along with us. “I was nervous about losing that element of engagement,” says Strasberger. “But I was blown away by the beauty of all the support we received. We raised more than double the amount we expected to.” The program may have looked and felt different from years past, but there’s no doubt it had the same impact on those we serve. The 822 people who benefited from our community’s generosity are truly grateful.

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Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


First Day on the Job—No Shoes Required The whole world has been impacted by the events of this past year, and we’ve all learned how to do things in new ways. Some of us learned how to use grocery delivery apps. Some of us learned how to Zoom with our grandkids. Some of us learned how to peacefully coexist with our spouse after a bit too much togetherness. At JFS, we’ve not only had to learn how to continue serving the community; some of us had to learn how to start a brand-new job amidst a pandemic where supervisors exist on screen and coworkers are a phone call away. Volunteer Coordinator Melissa Pletcher joined JFS in October of 2020 from the Detroit Zoo where she was assistant manager of Volunteer Services. “It took a while to get used to things,” she says. “I’ve never worked remotely before and I almost felt like I wasn’t really starting a new job.” Part of Melissa’s responsibilities include fielding inquiries from community members interested in volunteering with JFS, the majority of which, she says, have been for Kosher Meals on Wheels, a program of JFS in partnership with the National Council of Jewish Women. Good thing, too, given the dramatic uptick in calls from vulnerable community members in need of food during this time of COVID. As of this writing, over 140 people are receiving Kosher Meals on Wheels— thanks to the close to 100 volunteers who help to pack and deliver the meals. When Becky Eizen joined JFS in May of 2020 as the director of the agency’s Resource Center, she wasn’t worried about having to adapt to the culture of her new employer; JFS was also her former employer. “I worked in older adult

services for over twelve years,” she says. “So I understood the mission of the agency. But I had to learn the job responsibilities as it was a different position.” Front Desk Receptionist Anna Harder also had to adapt to new job responsibilities when COVID forced the agency to close its building. Anna joined in September of 2019—long before the pandemic— but with most staffers working from home, she had to find another way for them to receive their mail. “I’m opening mail, scanning letters and then emailing them to the correct people,” she says. “It’s almost like an extra person’s job.” As Anna is often the only person in the building, she is looking forward to the day when she can see her coworkers. In the meantime, she’s getting a different kind of visitor. “I see more animals now because it’s only my car in the parking lot,” she says. “Deer and cranes in the spring. Now it’s wild turkeys and groundhogs.” When Sean Smith joined JFS in July of 2020 as network administrator, he was one of just a handful of people working in the building. “Without the inperson interruptions, I was able to get a crash course on JFS,” he says. “Still, it felt isolating. I was often the only person on the second floor and it was a few weeks before I learned where the light switch was for the main hallway, so it wasn’t just isolating…it was dark.” Sean, like most of us right now, is awaiting the day when he can meet his new colleagues in person and work face to face rather than Zoom to Zoom. Becky concurs.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


“I’m looking forward to the personal interaction,” she says. “And also settling into my own office space. I’m sitting at my dining room table right now.” Whether from our dining room tables or living room couches, JFS continues to serve those in need during this challenging time of COVID. And we continue to welcome new employees to the JFS family in an effort to meet the ever-changing needs of our community.

WHAT ARE YOU GETTING HER FOR MOTHER’S DAY? Flowers? Perfume? A generic card? In a year when connecting with our loved ones is more challenging than ever, we’re taking the challenge out of finding the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Since 2009, The Joy Project, a program started by Elanah Nachman Hunger as a way to honor her mother, Joy Nachman, has been helping to provide the special women in your life with a meaningful Mother’s Day gift. So if your mom is miles away... If the only face time you’ve had with your best friend has been on FaceTime... Or you want your loved ones to know you’re there, even when you can’t be... Simply send a beautiful card with your personalized message, and you’ll help provide critical services to the 3,000 women and children served by Jewish Family Service. This year more than ever, they need your help. Choose the only Mother’s Day card that makes thousands of women smile. Visit jfsjoyproject.org or contact giving@jfsdetroit.org or 248.592.2339. **Please note: The Joy Project will be accepting orders beginning in April.**

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


JFS Reaccredited by the Council on Accreditation The Council on Accreditation’s (COA) program of quality improvement identifies providers who have met high-performance standards and have made a commitment to their stakeholders to deliver the very best quality services. “COA is proud to recognize Jewish Family Service as one of these outstanding providers,” said Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of the Council on Accreditation. As part of the accreditation process, agencies under review typically receive a report detailing COA’s recommendations for improvement. JFS did not receive a single recommendation. “Jewish Family Service works very hard to ensure excellence in the service that it provides,” said Perry Ohren, JFS CEO. “Receiving this accreditation from COA, without any recommendations, confirms this to our community.”

Honoring The Memory of Our Friend Micki Grossman We are saddened by the loss of longtime JFS volunteer and board member Micki Grossman who passed away suddenly on January 19, 2021. Micki devoted herself to the Jewish community through leadership and volunteerism. At JFS, her volunteer involvement included mentoring, working at our front desk, packing Thanksgiving boxes and tutoring people to help them become citizens. She helped plan our first Fall Fix Up and every one after. As committed as she was to JFS, she still managed to find time to volunteer with our sister agencies, including packing food boxes at Hazon, helping with JCRC/AJC’s day of volunteering, and participating in the TOV Care program of Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, just to name a few. In 2016, she was recognized as one of Jewish Senior Life’s Eight over Eighty honorees. She was interviewed for the occasion and shared this important sentiment: “We should all remember to live, love and give back like there is no tomorrow.” Micki served on our board most recently from 2015-2020 and helped to shape JFS into the organization it is today. Her presence will not only be missed at JFS, but throughout the entire community. We should all strive to be as dedicated as Micki was in making the world a better place.

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NEW OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD In response to COVID-19, and in accordance with an executive order from President Biden, there is a new healthcare enrollment period that will run February 15–May 15. The healthcare navigators at JFS are available to assist those signing up for health insurance for the first time as well as those interested in reviewing their current plan. This service is free and open to all community members.

NEW DATES!

Feb 15May 15

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Olga Semenova at 248.592.2662 or osemenova@jfsdetroit.org.

Homebound with Hot Meals and Hallmark Movies Helen Levy’s suggestion for overcoming the isolation created by the COVID pandemic? “Take six widows and put them in one house with a cook,” she says, describing what could be the next hit reality TV show. “It’s a lonely life right now. We’re all in solitary confinement.” The 102-year-old lives alone and appreciates that there’s a lot she is able to do for herself. However, driving is not one of them. “I hired a driver to go grocery shopping,” she said. “But it was very expensive.” When the pandemic hit in the spring, Helen knew that in order to stay safe, she would have to stay home. With two daughters living out of state, and

her one local daughter needing to stay safe as well, Helen contacted Jewish Family Service about Kosher Meals on Wheels. “I’ve been very satisfied,” she says. “The deliveries help me a lot.” While COVID precautions prevent volunteers from entering Helen’s home and having a moment to chat, she says they have been very nice. “I wave to them for my thank you.” Helen knows we’re all doing the best we can in difficult circumstances. But even in a pandemic, there are still positive things to be found. “I’m watching Hallmark movies and they make me happy,” she says. “It’s a nice fantasy to watch.”

Jewish Family Service, in partnership with the National Council of Jewish Women, is proud to be serving Kosher Meals on Wheels to over 140 community members. We couldn’t do this important work without the assistance of almost 100 volunteers who help to pack and deliver meals to the most vulnerable in our community.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


PHONE CALLS THAT

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

“What do you call a bird that’s afraid to fly? Chicken.” This riddle is just one of many Verdrina Mathews has learned from her friendly visitor volunteer Judy who calls her every Thursday to talk about current events. And to laugh together. “Humor helps, as does having a phone friend,” Verdrina says. “It’s a big help to not feel so isolated and it makes me feel like someone is thinking about me. Being visually impaired is challenging and having a phone friend helps me have a layer of help that I wouldn’t otherwise get.” In addition to swapping jokes with Judy, Verdrina also appreciates her friendly visitor volunteer Danielle, who sees her a couple of times a month to visit and to help organize her mail, although the women have had to make adjustments during COVID. How is Verdrina coping during this time? In addition to enjoying playing Candy Crush Saga and Wordscapes on her phone, she simply takes things one day at a time. “I get up every morning and look forward to what life brings,” she says. “I’m just happy to be here.” Verdrina hopes more people will feel encouraged to volunteer and help more people like herself. “I get an hour or two with Judy and Danielle and it makes a world of a difference for me,” she says. “You could give an hour to help someone else, which would be very kind, and you’ll make friends too.” If you or a loved one would benefit from a friendly visitor, please contact the JFS Resource Center at 248.592.2313 or resourcecenter@jfsdetroit.org.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


Legal Referral Service The JFS Legal Referral Service program was created to help those in difficult situations obtain legal consultation and possible representation that they otherwise might have gone without. And since 2008, the program has provided more than two million dollars in legal assistance to those served by JFS. Below are just a couple of examples of how our generous volunteer attorneys have helped: Henry* had a suppressed immune system and as a result experienced chronic illnesses and frequent hospitalizations. When his doctor said it was time for surgery, Henry’s wife was worried; she didn’t have medical power of attorney and wouldn’t be able to make any decisions on her husband’s behalf. Henry’s JFS case worker made the Legal Referral Service aware of the situation and in less than a week, LRS found an attorney who was able to prepare the paperwork and have it notarized.

When Julianna* got divorced last year she fell behind in her house payments because her exhusband wasn’t paying support. Her home went into foreclosure and she had to declare bankruptcy. Her LRS attorney communicated with her mortgage company and was able to get Julianna an extra six months in her home, which allowed her children to finish the school year in their home school with their friends. The extra time made it possible for Julianna to find a new job, as well as more affordable housing in the same school district. The Legal Referral Service program is always looking for attorneys who are able to volunteer their time to assist those served by JFS. To learn more, please contact Kelly Goldberg at 248.592.1907 or kgoldberg@jfsdetroit.org. *Names have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of those we serve.

2020-2021 Board of Directors Executive Committee Julie Teicher – Chairperson Michael Berke – Vice Chairperson Marc Bakst – Treasurer Shelly Rubenfire – Secretary Suzan F. Curhan – Immediate Past Chair Dorothy Barak Gail Danto Helen Katz Mara Moss Jason Page Amy Singer Perry Ohren – CEO Board Members Michael Baum Karen Berger Rhonda Brown Beth Davidson Danielle DePriest Karen Goldberg Driggs Rabbi Levi Dubov

Jeri Fishman Michelle Freeman Jerry Frohlich David Gach Allan Gale Bill Goldstein Rabbi Marla Hornsten Melissa Orley Lax Randy Orley Mark Picklo Julie Rothstein Verne Royal Avi Rubin Sandy Schwartz Ellen Tabak Renee Unger Sara Voight David Witten Andi Wolfe Margie Yaker Sarah Roberts-NEXTGen Liaison

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Past Presidents Mina Bargman* Jerry Bielfield* Susan Citrin Albert M. Colman* Marvin C. Daitch Sandy Muskovitz Danto Arnold Faudman* Marcy Feldman Janice B. Friedlander Joseph Garson* Edward D. Gold Amy Hoffman Haimann Merle Harris* Edythe Jackier* John E. Jacobs* Benjamin E. Jaffe* Sylvia Jaffe* Mary Lakoff* Terran Leemis Samuel L. Levin* Theodore R. Levin*

John D. Marx Mark Milgrom Milford R. Pregerson* Donald Rochlen Lawrence H. Seltzer* Max M. Shaye* Helen Dante Shevin* Herbert P. Sillman* Gilbert B. Silverman* Abraham Srere* Bernard Stollman Sheldon Stone George M. Stutz* Brent S. Triest Stewart Weiner Belle Welt* Melville S. Welt* Kathleen Wilson-Fink Betsy G. Winkelman *Of Blessed Memory


Non Profit Org. US Postage

PAID

Permit #618 Southfield, MI

Sally & Graham Orley and Suzanne & Joseph Orley Building 6555 West Maple Road West Bloomfield, MI 48322

Cancer Thrivers Network for Jewish Women presents

Thriving: Physically • Emotionally • Spiritually Join us as our panel of experts explore the physical, emotional and spiritual implications of the New Normal.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 3:30-5:00pm via Zoom Register for this FREE community event at

jfsdetroit.org/CTN

Our Services OLDER ADULTS Assistive Technology Chronic Disease Management ElderCare Solutions of Michigan Friendly Visitors Geriatric Care Management Holocaust Survivor Assistance Home Care Kosher Meals on Wheels Mind University Transportation

SAFETY NET Domestic Abuse Intervention Family Support Services Health Care Navigation Legal Referral Service

MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS A Single Soul Suicide Prevention Cancer Thrivers Network for Jewish Women Community Education Counseling Mentor Connection Youth and School-based Services

RUSSIAN-SPEAKING COMMUNITY* Mental Health Translation and Interpretation

ORTHODOX COMMUNITY* Holiday Assistance Resource Line Safety Kid School-based Services

*Members of these communities have access to all JFS resources as well as these specialized services.