May 3, 2024

Dear JFCS Family,

Looking at the news coverage from this past week, it is normal to have anxiety, as we watch our college campuses overrun with antisemitic statements and slogans. We see Jewish students being harassed, attacked, or prohibited from entering libraries and places of study – often condoned or defended by administration! As the parent of a college student, I am frightened.

However, we must remember that there is still light amidst all the darkness. It is our responsibility to ensure that good things continue even during these deeply troubling times. I go back to the teachings of my parents and grandparents, who taught me that life is more about how we react to our surroundings than anything else.

JFCS works closely with our local colleges and universities as we help to foster the next generation social workers, mental health clinicians, and community leaders. This year, we re-launched our internship programs and created new partnerships with Rowan and Rutgers Universities. We hosted two amazing interns who had the opportunity to learn from our staff, clients, and community.

While we must defend ourselves, one of the best ways to fight hate is with love. By mentoring and teaching the next generation of clinicians, we are building bridges that will fight hate and bigotry for years to come.

This week, we learned that one of our supervisors, Wendy Alter, was awarded Rowan University’s Outstanding Field Instructor of the Year. Wendy is our Holocaust Survivor Services Special Programs Manager and Geriatric Social Worker and has worked for the agency for more than 20 years, primarily focusing on the needs of our older adults. She has spent the last ten years serving our Holocaust Survivors.

According to Wendy, “It is truly an honor helping people and ensuring that seniors have dignity as they navigate the end stages of their life with their loved ones and families.” Wendy truly loves her senior clients and sees them as family. Moreover, she loves “mentoring young social workers and clinicians to help them succeed and grow as professionals.”

This year, Wendy supervised a first year MSW student at Rowan University, Tricia Alvarez. Tricia decided to specialize in serving older adults and specifically worked with Wendy to serve Holocaust Survivors. When given the opportunity, she nominated Wendy to receive this special honor from Rowan. Tricia had high praise about her internship experience with Wendy, sharing that “Wendy knows there are many ways to approach a problem and is open to ways different than hers as long as they are well thought out…She is a skilled social worker but also an incredible teacher and mentor, who sees herself as a guide to help the student to have the best learning experience the agency can offer. One of Wendy’s greatest strengths as an instructor is that she doesn’t tell you what to do, she helps you to devise a plan and think about the possible consequences of each step. Working with Holocaust Survivors, and geriatrics in general is very difficult work. The level of trauma and loss is high, but Wendy takes great pride in the work that she does and the care that she provides.”

I am so proud to work with Wendy and all our staff! I hope that you will join me in wishing her a hearty congratulations on the work that she does in our community. Through our collective work, we shine a light into the darkness, helping goodness overcome evil. I know our world will be a better place once again.

Wishing you peace and love on this Shabbat and every day!

 

All my best,

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Raechel