Lend a hand in 2023…

December 28, 2022

As each year comes to an end, we feel both nostalgic for years past and hopeful for the year ahead. These feelings inevitably lead us to conversations about New Year’s Resolutions and what we can change in the future. I always think back to the serenity prayer when tackling my own life goals:

“G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This philosophy originates with Greek philosopher Epictetus, who was born into slavery nearly 2,000 years ago in what is modern-day Turkey. Eventually, he found freedom; but his time in slavery led him to study philosophy and reconcile the limitations placed on his life.

Wiser words have not been spoken. While this phrase is often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, its applications are deep and universal.

While we contemplate change and what is in our own power to control, it is important to think about how we want to achieve success. I always tell my children that failing to plan is planning to fail. I also impress on them that they do not need to succeed by themselves, and that true success is predicated on receiving help. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength and resilience rather than weakness and vulnerability.

As a society, we don’t often talk about the importance of asking for help. However, the most challenging of circumstances are never overcome alone, rather in partnership with others.

If you think about it, our society is organized into small groups. From politics to emergency response to science, we naturally organize into small groups, relying on each other and failing or succeeding together. Judaism also organizes us in small groups – commanding us to gather as a minyan (quorum of ten adults) to pray and wrestle with G-d’s teachings together.

Why then do we continue to attribute individual success with unilateral action?
Why then are so many of us reluctant to ask for help?

In a national study conducted earlier this year, the reluctance of Americans to ask for help is overwhelmingly confirmed. A questionnaire circulated to 2,000 Americans asking them about their willingness to seek help determined that only a quarter of respondents ask for help before tackling something new, and 73% don’t ask for help until they absolutely need it.

If I have learned anything this year, it is that Jewish Family and Children’s Service is here, standing strong to help people in need. We are an organization predicated on not only helping others; but reaching out to the broader community and inviting others to be part of our helping journey.

We know we can’t solve hunger, keep seniors safe, improve mental health, and help everyone reach their potential alone. We must do it together!

In just a few short weeks, I have had the pleasure to witness so many wonderful acts of kindness performed by our community. Every time we ask for support, you answer our call. Hundreds of people have received food, gift cards, counseling, and more because our community answered our call for help! We thank you!

  • With behind-the-scenes support from our Volunteer Department, our Rhona Fischer Family Assistance Program provided 634 clients with more than $35,000 in holiday gift cards, helping families celebrate with those they love.
  • Twenty-seven volunteers delivered Chanukah gift bags or meals to141 seniors, helping our oldest community members feel less isolated and alone.
  • Over Thanksgiving, 44 volunteers packed and delivered more than 400 Thanksgiving meals to 167 households. Additionally, 40 families received full Thanksgiving dinners including a frozen turkey, side dishes, produce, and dessert.
  • The Cherry Hill Police Department invited 25 JFCS children to Shop with a Cop this year, hosting a day-long celebration featuring goodies at the American Legion followed by a group shopping spree.

We can accomplish great things together. When you make your New Year’s Resolution, I urge you to include an opportunity to rely on others. Let those you love be part of your success – whether it be your family, your community, or your friends. And remember, if you need support, JFCS is always here for you. Whether you need food, financial assistance, someone to talk with, or more, we are ready to lift you up and help you succeed. Contact us at (856) 424-1333 for assistance.

And if you are interested in being part of our JFCS helping journey, one way to get involved is to join us at our Stepping Out annual fundraiser, scheduled for March 30! We hope that you’ll empower us to help others by being part of our community. If you want to get involved in the planning or if you’d like to explore other ways to get involved with JFCS, please reach out to me at rhammer@jfedsnj.org.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year and a wonderful holiday season!