January 26, 2024

Dear JFCS Family,

“Learn from Yesterday, Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” – Albert Einstein

As we walk down this road together to repair the world and make a difference, it is natural to become frustrated at times. We are truly blessed to have a corps of kind and compassionate staff. JFCS’s team of clinicians, practitioners, and social workers dedicate their hearts and souls to our clients.

While you might think our work is always rewarding, sometimes the most frustrating part of social services is that our clients must become part of their own solution. Regardless of how much we want our clients to succeed, they must be partners in creating change for themselves.

Debbie Schwartz*, a client of our Family Assistance Program, called me this week. She is a 73-year-old woman who is isolated, low-income, and has suffered so much trauma in her life. She was upset and wanted to cancel her monthly food delivery. In some ways, she can be her own worst enemy. Debbie previously received financial assistance and currently receives monthly deliveries from our Betsy & Peter Fischer Food Pantry. We chatted for a long time about what her needs are and how we can help. She currently lives in an affordable-housing complex and is struggling with the lack of support. While she wants to move, she has a stable living situation and even if it isn’t pleasant, it is safe. But the more we spoke, the more my heart broke for her.

Debbie is truly alone, except for one childhood friend in Pennsylvania and the two dogs that she loves dearly. Her children and grandchildren are not involved; and her husband passed away over 10 years ago. After much conversation and listening, we identified several goals. We agreed that she should continue her monthly food support from our Betsy and Fischer Food Pantry – she really loves the eggs and produce. We went through all the food items we provide, and she helped me create a list of items that she needs. She agreed that she needs more socialization. She needs to make more connections with people in this world. We suggested that she sign up for the Katz JCC’s Congregate Meal Program once it reopens next month, where she’ll be able to enjoy lunch and connect with other people. Additionally, we encouraged her to stay where she is living but look for another affordable housing option – one that would be supportive and kind to her as she ages in place. And finally, we thought that it may be a good idea for her to receive counseling from one of our clinicians. Having someone to talk to would certainly help her process the trauma in her life and find new outlets to bring her happiness and support. JFCS will provide her with a list of housing units, help her connect to other socialization opportunities, purchase a microwave for her out of our emergency funds or donations, and connect her with one of our clinicians.

After speaking with Eileen Hoffing in our Senior Services department today, Debbie’s outlook was brighter. For the first time in the last two weeks, she sounded hopeful. She found a new apartment complex and had a great conversation with their management. She received the application and plans to submit it soon (fingers crossed). I have hope for Debbie, but more importantly, she has found some hope for herself. I hope Debbie finds happiness and peace in her life. We will be there for her either way – to help her through the good and bad – but I hope she can find the strength to keep hope alive during this process.

In life, we can only be responsible for what we can control. I hope and pray that Debbie will follow through and be a partner in her own success. She is a beautiful soul who needs kindness and caring in this world. Her trauma has given her an outlook that is less than positive. I hope that by seizing new opportunities, she will see the positive attributes of our world and for herself. I know she is grateful for the support she’s received from our Senior Services Department and our Rhona Fischer Family Assistance Program. For me, I look forward to microwave shopping this weekend!

I am grateful to each one of you for your ongoing support to bring hope and healing to those in our community who need it most.

Wishing you peace and love this Shabbat!

All my best,



* Name changed to protect confidentiality