Fall Newsletter 2020

Page 1

Fall 2020

Helping our community

during COVID

For 92 years, Jewish Family Service has responded to the ever-changing needs of the community. When the pandemic hit in March, we quickly shifted gears to ensure that those we serve, and those now needing to be served, received the support they needed. While so much has changed, our commitment to helping the most vulnerable remains the same and we continue to serve as the heart of a stronger community. Here are just a few of the many people* JFS has been able to help amidst the COVID crisis: Paula: Paula has a progressive disease and, as a result, is completely wheelchair-bound. Her daughter Cindy has been her caregiver for many years, but when Cindy became ill with COVID-19, she was no longer able to care for her mother. JFS transportation took Paula to her medical appointments and ensured she had enough to eat, delivering food from Yad Ezra as well as Kosher Meals on Wheels (in partnership with National Council of Jewish Women). JFS drivers,

wearing PPE, even brought the food into Paula’s home and unpacked it for her. Ben: Ben lost his home pre-COVID-19. And not long after the pandemic reached metro Detroit, he also lost his job. Without a regular paycheck, he fell behind on paying for his storage unit and was at risk of losing all his belongings. JFS provided financial assistance and by doing so, prevented Ben’s belongings from being sold. It was a small amount of money that JFS provided, but it made a tremendous difference in the life of someone who had already lost so much. Ruth: Ruth was diagnosed with COVID-19 just days after giving birth to her third child. Rather than bond with her newborn, she had to separate herself from the rest of her family for several weeks. Once it was safe for her to interact with the baby and the rest of her family, Ruth found herself having anxiety and frightening thoughts that her whole house would be infected. She was even afraid to hold her own baby. JFS provided her a free consultation with a therapist the day after she called. And with ongoing counseling, she is feeling much more like herself.


*Names and details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of our clients.

Volunteering during COVID If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it hundreds of times—JFS couldn’t do our job… couldn’t reach as many community members… couldn’t provide critical services to those in need, without the invaluable help of the many volunteers who give of their time and energy. What is it like volunteering for JFS, especially in the face of COVID? We’ll let you hear it from our volunteers directly.

A longtime volunteer of Mentor Connection, Fall Fix Up and Goldberg Thanksgiving Distribution, Mark Milgrom began delivering Kosher Meals on Wheels at the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Marilynn Sabin, a volunteer with Kosher Meals on Wheels off and on since 1973, helps to pack the hundreds of meals that are prepared each day.

What is your role as a volunteer? Mark: Nearly all my Kosher Meals on Wheels recipients are elderly, so for me it’s more than just dropping off a meal. I ask them how they are doing, make sure they appear okay and there’s no evidence that might indicate a recent fall. For many of these people, their delivery person may be the only person they see and talk to each day. Marilynn: We start at 6am and are finished packing meals by 8:30am so they are ready for the drivers. Marcy: Prior to COVID, I was doing weekly friendly visits and teaching a senior how to use an iPad. Now, my friendly visits are over the phone.

Why do you volunteer? Janice: Talking with senior adults has always been a passion of mine. Marcy: My grandfather was incredibly generous with his time and it was a quality I always admired. It is one of the ways I honor his memory.

Janice Thompson had been volunteering as a friendly visitor since 2015 when COVID forced her to transition from in-person visits to phone calls.

Volunteer Marcy Soufrine is a friendly visitor and provides unofficial tech support. She now provides companionship and conversation over the phone, too.

Mark: When COVID hit, the number of individuals requesting Kosher Meals on Wheels exploded, but the number of available delivery drivers was falling because the program’s most loyal drivers were older gentlemen who were now suddenly sheltering at home. I immediately signed up.

What’s the best part about volunteering? Marilynn: According to my husband, the best part of my volunteering is that I leave the house at 5:30am and he gets to sleep in and have a quiet morning. Janice: Although I prefer face-to-face conversation, I am happy to be able to make friendly phone calls during this time of COVID—both for me and for the seniors I call. They are very appreciative of having someone to chat with while mostly staying at home. Mark: Allowing people to shelter safely at home with as much independence and dignity as possible. This virus has robbed older adults of their ability to provide meals for themselves.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

Counseling for VIRTUALLY ANYONE When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the stay-at-home order was issued, it seemed as though everyone in our community was experiencing some anxiety and depression. In order to help people manage these feelings, JFS began offering free, one-time consultations with our licensed therapists. Conducted through Zoom, or over the phone, anyone in the community was—and still is—eligible for an appointment. This new service is in addition to our existing ongoing therapy. For more information, contact us at 248.592.2313 or resourcecenter@jfsdetroit.org.

Bridging the Social Distance for Seniors The stay-at-home order has been especially isolating for older adults. In order to combat these feelings of loneliness and disconnection, JFS launched two new initiatives: the Let’s Talk Socialization Group for adults 60+ and Friendly Phone Calls. It wasn’t long before these small moments of connection were making a big difference. Two participants in the Socialization Group were lamenting about how few people they had in their lives. But by the end of the group’s conversation, each had given the JFS moderator permission to share their phone number with the other. A new friendship was born! The Friendly Phone Calls turned out to be a lifeline for one gentleman who contacted our Resource Center. He had recently lost his wife and was feeling very lonely. He shared that he hadn’t even heard his voice the day before because he had no one to talk with. JFS connected him with a volunteer who now calls him weekly to chat and with a therapist to help him process his feelings of loss. We also arranged for a volunteer to help him set up his email so he could participate in the Socialization Group.

Let’s Talk Socialization Group

Friendly Phone Calls

Adults 60+, Tuesdays at 2pm via Zoom Call-in options available for those without a computer. New to Zoom? We can help! Contact Meagan Maxwell at 248.592.2321 or mmaxwell@jfsdetroit.org.

For older adults looking for one-on-one conversation. Volunteers call weekly to check in and chat. Contact the Resource Center at 248.592.2313 or resourcecenter@jfsdetroit.org.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

It takes a


Thanks to these generous funders who stepped up during these challenging times to provide COVID-19 specific funding to ensure our clients were served. The Blue Card Claims Conference Emergency Food and Shelter Program Flinn Foundation Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit Jewish Federations of North America

Michigan Health Endowment Fund Oakland County Ravitz Foundation Senior Regional Collaborative State of Michigan Multicultural Integration Funding United Way for Southeastern Michigan

A Genealogy of Generosity In 1932, a group of Jewish women in metro Detroit formed the Tzedakah Club and for more than eighty years they helped hundreds of families and older individuals in need of financial assistance and an understanding friend. Although the group disbanded in 2013, its legacy lives on in the work of Jewish Family Service as the Tzedakah Club’s members gave its remaining $25k to JFS before they shut their books to ensure that Jewish families in crisis continue to receive the food, shelter and assistance they need. Darrell Jacob’s grandmother, Sophia Q. Jacob, was a founding member of the Tzedakah Club and it’s clear that the spirit of giving is something that runs in the family. Darrell and her sister Elyse, along with their mother Violet, have recently established a $100k endowment at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit as part of its Centennial Fund. The Centennial Fund is our community’s central endowment vehicle, and will help ensure the security of Jewish Detroit for many generations to come.

“This generous commitment continues the Jacob family’s long history of leadership and support for our community’s most vulnerable individuals,” says Stacey Deweese, the Federation’s Director of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund. “The entire Jacob family truly embodies the Jewish principles of tzedakah.” We at JFS agree. We are incredibly appreciative of the Jacob family and look forward to serving many more community members as a result of this generous gift.

Earnings from the Jacob’s endowment will go toward the existing Martin S. and Violet Jacob and Family Tzedakah Fund at JFS and will provide critical resources to those struggling to make ends meet. The fund has already assisted a single mom facing eviction, an older adult who was unable to cover the cost of new prescription glasses and a family behind on their car payment. Violet and Martin z”l Jacob

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

JFS of Metro Detroit Now Serving Des Moines There is but one remaining Holocaust survivor living in the state of Iowa and JFS of Metro Detroit has the sacred honor and privilege of serving him. Ninety-three-year-old David Wolnerman was just thirteenyears-old when he ended up in Auschwitz—and face-to-face with the infamous Dr. Mengele. When asked his age, David replied that he was eighteen; it was a lie that saved his life. After the liberation, he was cared for by the Catholic nuns of a local convent before landing in a displaced persons camp. He met his wife Jennie there and they married in his hometown. Six months later, they moved to the United States where he worked in the grocery business for forty years. Today, David is able to live comfortably and safely in his home in Des Moines. As the Midwest Administrator of the Claims Conference, JFS of Metro Detroit has, since August 2019, assisted 149 clients across fifteen states and today humbly serves Holocaust survivors in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Louisville, and of course, David in Des Moines.

JFS is proud and honored to serve over 400 Holocaust survivors with geriatric care management, transportation, home care, indemnification and restitution claims, assistive technology and friendly visitors, among other services. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact us at 248.592.2313 or resourcecenter@jfsdetroit.org.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org


Risa Berris is having a good year. In addition to receiving the 2020 Norman R. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award at the agency’s annual meeting, Risa has also been awarded the prestigious Mandell L. z”l and Madeleine z”l H. Berman Award for Outstanding Professional Jewish Communal Service. It’s an honor that is well deserved. The Director of Geriatric Care Management, Risa has been with Jewish Family Service for twenty-three years, having initially joined as an administrative assistant in the agency’s Home Care department. From there, she not only moved up the ladder, but across to additional ladders as well, taking on a multitude of responsibilities including immigration, citizenship, Holocaust survivor services, indemnification, assistive technology and Kosher Meals on Wheels, to name more than a few. “Risa has helped dozens of social workers understand and assume the cultural humility necessary to serve Holocaust survivors,” says JFS CEO Perry Ohren, “which is arguably the most sacred work JFS does.” She was instrumental in growing funding from the Claims Conference, from an initial grant of $80,000 to cover home care costs for Holocaust survivors, to today’s funding of close to $4 million, which now also includes transportation services and financial assistance. It’s a significant jump that Berris attributes to one simple thing: “I kept a wait list,” she says. With the need for home care services for Holocaust survivors outpacing the funding, other agencies directed those in need to call back in the future. But Berris kept a list and because she reported that list on a regular basis to the Claims Conference, they eventually offered her additional funding to cover it.

Having demonstrated her commitment and persistence in serving Holocaust survivors, the Claims Conference approached Berris in 2019 with a plan intended to best serve survivors across the country. The Claims Conference would split the country into regions and have agencies manage each region. As a result, JFS of Metro Detroit is now responsible for serving survivors in fifteen states, as well as managing the $5.7 million budget it takes to serve this vulnerable population. “That JFS was able to negotiate much-needed funds from the Claims Conference wasn’t just done on Risa’s watch,” says Ohren. “It was done as a testament to her care and compassion, which the Claims Conference could easily see.” Risa is a respected leader and mentor at JFS, and her experience, expertise in her field and in-depth knowledge of the agency’s history have made her an invaluable team member. “Risa is known nationally and internationally for her expertise in serving Holocaust survivors,” says Yuliya Gaydayenko, Chief Program Officer, Behavioral Health and Older Adult Services. “She is a sought-after consultant for many of our sister agencies across the country.” “The Claims Conference work has been challenging and rewarding,” says Berris. “But I feel like helping survivors is what I was meant to do.”

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

Making Pets the Priority When Janice Book saw her Adopt a Family person had requested pet food for their holiday gift, she realized there must be other pet owners struggling to care for their furry friends. So, she started the Shir Tikvah Pawsitive Action Drive. Janice and her fellow congregants are raising money to purchase Amazon gift cards so items can be shipped directly to pet owners’ homes. Today, almost 40 pets, including dogs, cats and birds, are receiving food, litter, treats and more. And Janice’s small gesture has made a big impact on the people JFS serves. “It can be a struggle for people to care for their pets when they cannot meet their own basic needs,” says JFS social worker Michal Goldberg. “And it can be difficult for people to hear that their animals are not prioritized when their significance and meaning goes beyond what one might think. This program will help our clients, many of whom struggle with mental health issues, with maintaining a purpose and comfort that only their pets can bring.”

E have W I S H JFS is so grateful to Janice and all of the other generous donorsJwho made it possible for those in need to take care of their pets.

Recognizing the VIPs at JFS


Recognition Night

Mazel Tov to our honorees! Thank you for making an im our community and helping to further the mission o

Mazel tov to those who make an impact in our community by helping to further the mission of Jewish Family Service. While we couldn’t be together for our annual recognition night, we’re thrilled to highlight our VIPs here. Since 2009, Aleksandra Shor, the Barbara & Irving Nusbaum Volunteer of the Year, has volunteered over 4,700 hours answering the phone and writing orders for both the agency’s transportation and translation services. Her love RisaasBerris of flowers has led her to become the department’s plant caregiver well. Norman R. Keane Always helpful and accommodating, Aleksandra is happy to work whenever Lifetime Achievement Award she is needed and we at JFS are fortunate to have her.

Aleksandra Shor Barbara & Irving Nusbaum

Volunteer of the Year Alla



Patti Nemer Employee of the Year Alla Shapiro has had two tours of duty at JFS and has held seven different positions. She was hired in 1997 as a receptionist and transportation dispatcher, left in 2000, and returned in 2006, working her way up to Geriatric Case Manager Supervisor. Alla is always looking for ways to make processes better for everyone. She provides remarkable supervision and support to her team and has been instrumental in many of the agency’s departments. Norman R. Keane Lifetime Achievement award winner, Risa Berris. (see previous page)

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Alla Shapiro Patti Nemer Employee of the Year

Come Clean Up Our Community Sunday, November 8th

Safe, family-friendly volunteer event. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed our world. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that older adults in our community still need your help. Now more than ever, it’s important for everyone to be safe at home and prepared for the winter months. You can help by joining us for the 24th annual Fall Fix Up event where you’ll rake leaves and do other outdoor cleanup tasks. For your protection, and for the protection of the homeowners, there will be no inside work performed and only groups (family, friends or others in your “pod”) will be permitted to register.

All Ages Welcome Congregation Shaarey Zedek 27375 Bell Road, Southfield Drive-thru contact-less supply pickup by appointment starting at 9am. *In our efforts to keep our community safe, there will be no breakfast served this year.

Young Adults B’nai David Cemetery 9535 Van Dyke Street, Detroit 10am community service begins In partnership with NEXTGen, Repair the World and Hillel of Metro Detroit. To sign up, visit jfsdetroit.org/fallfixup. Questions? Contact Sarah Strasberger at 248.592.2267 or sstrasberger@jfsdetroit.org.

Please note: We will be looking to the governor’s reopening phases and our area’s COVID-19 status in determining if it’s safe to proceed with Fall Fix Up. Should we conclude that it would not be safe, this event will be cancelled.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

Help Make the Holidays Happy This past year has been challenging for everyone, so it’s nice to look forward to celebrating the holidays. But not everyone in our community feels the same. For families struggling to make ends meet, older adults living far from loved ones and community members facing a mental health crisis, the holidays are a difficult time. But you can help make them easier. By joining our Adopt a Family program, you can give people in need not only a gift to unwrap, but the knowledge that someone is thinking of them. Participation is easy: You can choose to shop for a specific family or individual from their wish list, donate gift cards or make a general donation to the program. Last year, generous community members ensured 846 people served by JFS were able to have a happy holiday. To sign up, visit jfsdetroit.org/adoptafamily. Questions? Contact Sarah Strasberger at 248.592.2267 or sstrasberger@jfsdetroit.org. To make a donation, visit jfsdetroit.org/donate or contact us at 248.592.2339 or giving@jfsdetroit.org. Please note: Families will not be assigned until mid-October. Gift drop-off is November 30 thru December 4 from 9am-5pm at JFS in West Bloomfield.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

Holiday Food Assistance

Fund Established For 41 years, JFS has provided Thanksgiving meals to families in need, thanks to the generosity and support of Nate Goldberg and his family. This tradition brought volunteers and donors together to pack boxes at Yad Ezra before delivering them to families. Due to the pandemic and the increased demand for food, our Thanksgiving distribution is going to look a bit different. We will not be packing food boxes at Yad Ezra this year. However, a gift to the Holiday Food Assistance Fund will still help put food on the table. Given the need for food assistance year round, we’ve expanded this service to include food for the High Holidays thanks to a grant from the Multicultural Integration Funding from the state of Michigan. This High Holiday food assistance is in addition to the Passover meals JFS has been providing to families each spring. You can help alleviate food insecurity in our community by donating to the newly created Holiday Food Assistance Fund. Gifts to this fund will provide food gift cards to local grocery stores that help families put food on their tables and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. To make a donation, please visit jfsdetroit.org/donate or contact us at 248.592.2339 or giving@jfsdetroit.org.

Visit us: jfsdetroit.org

Visit jfsdetroit.org/donate. For more information, contact us at 248.592.2339 or giving@jfsdetroit.org.

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

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*

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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


Permit #618 Southfield, MI

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

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 MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS A Single Soul Suicide Prevention Cancer Thrivers Network for Jewish Women Community Education Counseling Mentor Connection

SAFETY NET Basic Needs Assistance Domestic Abuse Intervention Family Support Services Health Care Navigation Housing Resources Legal Referral Service Public Benefits Enrollment ORTHODOX COMMUNITY* Passover Assistance Safety Kid School-based Services RUSSIAN SPEAKING COMMUNITY* Mental Health Translation and Interpretation *Members of these communities have access to all JFS resources as well as these specialized services.