Social Work Spotlight: Teen Dating Safety

Social Work Spotlight: Teen Dating Safety

In an effort to spotlight the Social Work profession and highlight the contributions made by social workers to the community, March has been named National Social Work Month.
As part of this recognition, the Shalom Bayit program of Jewish Family & Career Services in partnership with JumpSpark and PJ Our Way will present Love Shouldn’t Hurt, an educational seminar designed to educate parents about teen dating safety and healthy dating relationships.

A companion program to the Love Shouldn’t Hurt healthy relationship program for teens, this parent program will give parents:
  • Awareness and increased knowledge about dating abuse
  • Ability to recognize warning signs of unhealthy/abusive relationships
  • Skills to talk with their teens about healthy relationships and dating safety
The Love Shouldn’t Hurt event will take place on March 27th 2019 from 7:00-9:00 pm at MJCCA in Dunwoody.
For more information and to RSVP:https://jumpsparkatl.org/program/love-shouldnt-hurt-parents/
In addition to attending the event, here is some helpful information for parents to know.

What Is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling, abusive behaviors that a dating partner uses against their girlfriend or boyfriend.

Did You Know

  • 1 out of every 3 teens has been a victim of an abusive dating relationship
  • 2 out of 3 parents have never spoken with their child about teen dating abuse
  • 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
What do I need to know as a Teen?

Because relationships exist on a spectrum, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. Use these warning signs of abuse to see if your relationship is going in the wrong direction:
  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do
What Do I Need to Know As a Parent?

You can look for some early warning signs of abuse that can help you identify if your child is in an abusive relationship. Some of these signs include:
  • Your child’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
  • You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
  • Your child’s partner emails or texts excessively.
  • You notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your son or daughter stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.
  • Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.
  • Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.
  • Your child begins to dress differently.
What Can I Do As a Parent?

  • Tell your child you’re concerned for his or her safety. Point out that what’s happening isn’t “normal.”
  • Be supportive, understanding and non-judgmental. Let your son or daughter know that it’s not his or her fault and no one deserves to be abused.
  • Believe them and take them seriously. Validating their feelings and showing your support, can make them feel more comfortable and trust you with more information.
  • Be careful not to minimize your child’s situation due to age, inexperience or the length of their relationship.
  • Help develop a safety plan. One of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship is when the victim decides to leave.
Remember that ultimately your child must be the one who decides to leave the relationship. Your support can make a critical difference in helping your son or daughter find their own way to end their unhealthy relationship. Other helpful resources:

For the full explanation of how to help and other information visit: https://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/Help_Your_Child.pdfor https://www.loveisrespect.org 
5 things you can do to help reduce the likelihood that your teen will experience any form of dating abuse:https://defendinnocence.org/teen-dating-violence-is-on-the-rise-what-can-parents-do/


For more information or if you or someone you know is experiencing dating or domestic violence and would like support, contact Shalom Bayit at 770-677-9322 or shalombayit@jfcsatl.org. If you’re interested in bringing Love Shouldn’t Hurt to your teen’s youth group, synagogue, Jewish day school, or summer camp, contact Rebecca Brown at (770) 677- 9371 or rbrown@jfcsatl.org.

Rebecca Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Outreach and Prevention Social Worker for the JF&CS Shalom Bayit program.

Purim: It takes two… at least!

Purim:  It takes two… at least!
This week, we celebrate the holiday of Purim. The festivities are grounded in the book of Esther, in which we read the tale of how the Jews of Persia overcame the villain, Haman, who sought to annihilate them.

We know the characters well: Vashti said ‘no’ to the king’s unseemly request; Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman; King Ahasuerus blindly followed whatever Haman told him; and Esther is lauded for her daring action – she went to the king, under threat of death to plead for her people.

One important aspect of this story is the relationship between Mordechai and Esther. Mordechai kept in touch with Esther while she was in palace… they used messengers to communicate back and forth. When first presented with the idea that she should go to the King and plead on behalf of the people, Esther hesitated, concerned about the risk she could face. And yet, Mordechai’s words convinced her to act: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis,” (Esther 4:13).

Mordechai reminded Esther that she was at a certain place at a certain time for a reason, and he urged her to fulfill her duty. Together, Mordechai and Esther saved the Jewish people.

We could use a number of adjectives to describe Mordechai with regard to his influence with Esther: muse, conscience, truth-teller etc. Irrespective of which word we choose, it is clear that Esther didn’t act alone, she needed and had the right partner who, at just the right moment, had precisely the right words.

Who serves that function in your life? It could be a family member, a friend, a co-worker. Who is that someone who you can rely on not only to tell you the truth, but someone whose words you will heed?

We’re told in the story of creation: ‘lo tov lihiyot adam levado: it is not good for man to be alone’. (Gen 2:18). And we know, ‘two heads are better than one’. The story of Esther reminds each of us that we can each be our best, strongest, and bravest selves, in partnership with another.

Follow the work of Rabbi Beiner and the Chaplaincy Program of JF&CS on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/chaplaincyJFCS/.

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner


February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

Happy JDAIM! If you haven’t heard, February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. While this may be a bit of a mouthful, it is certainly worth the tongue twister.  In 2013, a survey of the American Jewish community was conducted by the organization Respectability; this survey found that those with intellectual and developmental disabilities were dramatically underrepresented among those engaged in Jewish life. The results indicated that most people with disabilities opt out of Jewish life after feeling alienated by Jewish organizations.  Fast forward to 2019, and in my opinion, I feel that we have made leaps and bounds since those survey results came out. There are adults with disabilities employed at Jewish owned businesses, popular camps are structured to be more inclusive, and some synagogues host sensory-friendly services.

JDAIM was kicked off in Atlanta with The Power of One event. The Power of One was created to honor those who have made an impact in their organization in the area of inclusion. This year, 31 different honorees from local synagogues, schools, camps, and programs were represented at this event. Around 400 community members showed up to support these honorees and rally around the concept of inclusion. The turnout was truly amazing. 

Those who work with me have probably heard me use the phrase “Honey, don’t stare syndrome”. As adults, we teach children not to stare at those differ from us. While this is done with the best intentions, it can lead to children not acknowledging those who are different than themselves. It is up to us to lead by example, to be curious about those we may not understand, and to promote inclusion everywhere.

"Do not look at the container, but what is in it" (Pirkei Avot 4:27).

Abby Frantz
Community Access Program Manager
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services

Posted in Developmental Disabilities Services


A Message for the New Year

Begin Again

A Message for the New Year
Begin again.  Two simple words that are said when one is meditating and the mind has wandered to thinking about the day’s activities, anxiety about a deadline, or the million other things that occupy our brains.  Begin again.  It brings the mind back to focus on the breath and affords you the possibility of having a moment (or a few seconds in my case) of stillness until the thoughts intrude again. 
What I love about this phrase and the practice of using it, is that it reminds me that starting over is always an option.  And in many ways that is what our mission “making hope and opportunity happen” is all about.  For so many of our clients, it’s about beginning again.  After a tragedy.  Or a life changing detour.  Or unforeseen circumstances.  After which each of us who has gone through a disruptive event or experience stands at a cross roads with the choice to fold up our tents or begin again. 
You don’t have to be in the midst of a life changing event to consider beginning again.  It can be as simple as a practice I’ve adopted in the last few years of examining my behavior with rigorous honesty at the end of each day to see if it was principled, kind, and aligned with my values.  Surprise, surprise – it isn’t always.  But what IS always true is that I can CHOOSE to start over.  Where did I act out of resentment?  To whom was my heart not fully open?  How did I not show up as myself?  Where did I let fear drive my decision making?  Was I less than thoughtful?  Did I talk more than listen?  
I contemplate.  I consider alternatives.  I think about how to repair. And then…I begin again.  
May the coming year be one of many new beginnings for us all.  

Faye Dresner
Interim CEO/Chief Program Officer

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Spread a little Jewish Sunshine – Visiting with Older Adults

Spread a little Jewish Sunshine – Visiting with Older Adults

When I visit with Ros B, I know she’ll make some snappy comment, and I wait to see the twinkle in her eyes.

With Deborah, who isn’t verbal but highly communicative, I’m always hoping I can get her to laugh. But when all else fails, I know she’ll respond to just about any Jewish song or prayer I sing.

With Harry, I know that if I can get him talking about sports, he’ll forget his sadness and be transformed by the memories.

“Abandon me not when I grow old.” (Proverbs 71:9 ) Jewish tradition implores us to care for and revere the elderly. As the numbers of elderly increase in the US and worldwide, there will be more and more needing care and attention. Many are able to ‘age in place’, with friends and family to keep them company, and access to stimulating activities. Yet there are a growing number who are unable to fully care for themselves, are far from family or have none, or have moved out of their own home into a care facility and are isolated. These are the people who need our attention the most.

Visiting with older adults in nursing homes can seem like a daunting task. The physical places aren’t always the most aesthetically pleasing, lots of people seem to be hanging around staring off into space, and it can be frustrating trying to keep a conversation going with someone who repeats the same story over and over.

And yet there is enormous benefit to the recipient. Friendly visitors can provide a brief respite from boredom and loneliness, a distraction from any sadness or discomfort they might be experiencing.

There are lots of ways to make the visits pleasant and meaningful, with a bit of preparation. Bring a deck of cards or some music, a photo or magazine to share as a way of spending time and extending the conversation. Consider the best times during the day to visit, so as not to interfere with meals or other established activities, and to maximize the best part of a resident’s day.Repeated visits and familiarity will bring the best practices into focus. And always ask an older adult to tell stories about their lives.

Bikkur Cholim volunteers from JF&CS provide these visits. Through them, we extend a ‘hand and hug’ from the Jewish community, letting others know that they are not forgotten and that we care for them.

Mahatma Ghandi who said “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Visiting the sick and the elderly has it’s challenges. But for the recipient, being treated with honor and compassion, even for a brief time, can bring comfort and even peace.

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner


Artists Collective – IndependenceWorks

Artists Collective – IndependenceWorks

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, JF&CS held an introductory meeting for the IndependenceWORKS Artists Collective. This new initiative aims to bring the innate love of arts and crafts to clients in the IndependenceWORKS Program. Volunteers ranging from professional art therapists to local hobbyists will lead monthly art projects for the clients.

The mission of IndependenceWORKS aims to help clients, who have a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities to stay active and integrate in the Atlanta community. The Artists Collective is a new stride with one-hour projects that can vary from painting, to food decorating to tie dying and more. The clients are already excited to get started – with Broadway fans and talkative enthusiasts; the new activity is a bright spot they are looking forward to. Like everyone, they’re ready to express themselves.

The Collective’s first meeting started with short introductions, not only between the volunteers and staff, but an overview of the clients that they would be working with. While IndependenceWORKS clients have a variety of limitations, each art project will have a straightforward baseline – larger tools and nontoxic mediums so everyone, no matter what, can take part in the fun. While one client may work faster than another, or one may have trouble gripping a paintbrush, this criterion means no matter the disability they can all enjoy each art project. Each of them can see their hard work pay off.

The Artists Collective is hoping to fill a calendar with events; click here to learn more.

Posted in Volunteer Services


Chanukah: The Season of Courage

Chanukah:  The Season of Courage
Chanukah is, for American Jews, our season of Jewish pride.  We celebrate our survival throughout the centuries, and the religious and spiritual resilience, which have enabled us to thrive as a community of faith and action wherever we have lived. 

In the face of rising anti-semitism, increased numbers of acts of hatred and bigotry both in the US and around the world, the messages of Chanukah ring particularly true.  We Jews are here, proud, and committed to bringing light to the world.

Other themes about Chanukah are:

The Celebration of Light, as Chanukah is a winter solstice festival (common in many  cultures).Celebration of the victory of the small (but mighty) Maccabees over the much larger Greek armies.

Commemoration of the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the oil, which according to legend burned for eight days when there was only enough for one.The celebration of religious freedom, for which the Maccabees fought, and is in our day,  a cherished tenet of American life.

I came across this teaching, which illuminates another important theme of Chanukah.Rabbi Laura Geller, one of the most influential Reform rabbis of our time writes: 

 “The miracle wasn't that the oil lasted an additional seven days, but rather that those ancestors lit the first wick at all, without being certain that the light would last long enough to complete the rededication of the Temple. The miracle was that they took the chance, a risk, a leap of faith. They took the first step even though they were not sure they had enough resources to succeed.

What is the real miracle of Chanukah? It is the miracle of human courage that empowers us to take risks for the future even in our imperfect, uncertain world. It is the courage, even in the darkest of times, to create our own light.”

May we, at this season and throughout the year, be blessed with courage.
Hag Urim Sameach – Happy Chanukah!

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Holiday Survival Guide


Five Things To Ask Yourself When You Get Stuck With Your Thoughts

Five Things To Ask Yourself When You Get Stuck With Your Thoughts
At some point or another, we are all guilty of unhealthy thinking. Whether it is hearing friends whisper behind you and assuming that they are talking negatively about you, or getting mad at your spouse because for the one millionth time they forgot to put the dishes in the sink.

Unhealthy thinking becomes a problem when the negative thoughts appear more than the positive. Luckily for all of us, there are ways to deal with these unhealthy thinking patterns. With the New Year quickly approaching, now is the time to start working on New Year’s Resolutions.

Why not choose to make your goal for the year to be emotionally healthy and start training your mind to think in a healthier way?
So the next time you find yourself angry or upset because you can’t seem to get past a situation that happened, I encourage you to consider these five questions.

1. What is my thought?

What are you telling yourself that is causing you to feel bad or to behave in a negative way? We all have rules in life that we follow. You might think “I always have to be perfect” or “I should always put other people’s needs before my own.” Other possible thoughts are “Everyone will notice if I make a mistake”, “I’m not good enough”, or “It’s my fault”. Once you have figured out your thought, it’s time to ask yourself the next four questions.

2. What would my best friend tell me?

It’s always good to give yourself a little perspective. If you can’t shake a feeling of shame because you walked around work with toilet paper stuck to your shoe, what would your best friend tell you? Better yet, what would you tell them? Chances are you are being more critical of yourself than anyone else would be.

3. Would my thought hold up in court?

Sometimes we find ourselves convinced of things that would not make sense if we tried to explain them to someone else. I often have clients come to my office and tell me that they think things are their fault. When you imagine yourself in front of a jury trying to convince them that it’s your fault that you were robbed at gunpoint when you were grocery shopping, you start to realize that sometimes we tell ourselves things that just aren’t true, and more importantly are not healthy.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having this thought?

This question is for all of the stubborn people out there that have decided that you have unhealthy thoughts and you aren’t willing to change them. I encourage you to consider if having the thought is helpful to you, and if it isn’t helpful, maybe it’s time to come up with some new thoughts.

5. What can I tell myself instead?

This is the most important question in this exercise. Coming up with a healthier, more realistic way of looking at the situation is your goal. It might take some practice to believe your new thought, but the more you practice and review it, the more success you will have and the happier you will feel. 

Sarah French is a Therapist at JF&CS who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression, Anxiety, and Trauma.

Written by Sarah French, Posted in Clinicial Services


Did You Say the Kiddush at Thanksgiving This Year?

Blend the Jewish and American values into a single expression at Thanksgiving.

Did You Say the Kiddush at Thanksgiving This Year?
In his book “40 Things You Can Do to Save the Jewish People”, Joel Lurie Grishaver says we should Kiddush and Hamotzi on Thanksgiving. “It is important to treat Thanksgiving as a Jewish ritual meal and thereby blend Jewish and American values into a single expression.

Thanksgiving has always had its own rituals. … [W]e had never thought to make it Jewish — we had never thought to remember that when the Pilgrims were gathering that first fall harvest in their new land, they went back to the Bible and found their own way of bringing the Sukkot ritual alive. Thanksgiving is nothing more than a Pilgrim version of a creative Sukkot celebration — add the popcorn and cranberries, take out the lulav and etrog, and you get the picture.

The moment I figured out that Thanksgiving wasn’t just an American holiday, my world changed. From then on, I’ve made Kiddush before eating turkey. Kiddush adds another dynamic — it shows not only a melding of food, but of spirit.” Jews and Pilgrims share in the story from bondage to liberation. In journeying to America, the Pilgrims were fleeing religious oppression in their homeland, just as the Israelites fled from enslavement in Egypt by Pharoah. America was the Promised Land for the Pilgrims in the very same way Israel is the Promised land for the Jews.

The story told in the book of Exodus belongs to the first Americans as well as the Jews. We are undeniably blessed to be Jewish and American, and can freely participate as both. Our American Flag stands alongside of the Israeli flag in our synagogue sanctuaries, our liturgy includes a prayer for the leaders of our government, and we live as citizens by following the ‘laws of the land’ alongside Halacha, Jewish law. Thanksgiving presents a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our Jewish and American selves .

Kiddush, Motziand Bircat haMazon are the motherhood and apple pie of any Jewish holiday meal. If they haven't already, perhaps they’ll find their place at your Thanksgiving Table.

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Mitzvah Day 2018 A Huge Success

13 Community Service Projects with Over 200 Volunteers across the City

Mitzvah Day 2018 A Huge Success
On Sunday, October 28th, Jewish Family & Career Services celebrated Mitzvah Day. Mitzvah Day is one of the largest Jewish Community Service Days in Atlanta. There were 13 community service projects with over 200 volunteers taking place across the city.

Dwell with DignityIn light of the horrible tragedy that happened on Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, it was amazing to see the Jewish community come together and unite to make Atlanta a better city.

We had many great projects on Mitzvah Day. A group of young professionals from our VIA (Volunteers in Action) program volunteered at Dwell with Dignity. They re-painted furniture and sorted donations to help take families from homelessness and poverty to self-sufficiency.
The Phoenix 1
Another group of VIA participants planted 1,000 daffodils here at JF&CS in our Daffodil Garden with Holocaust Survivors, in memory of the 1.5 million children that perished in the Holocaust.

In our Families Inspired to Serve (FITS) program, a group of volunteers played Bingo and schmoozed with the residents of the Breman Jewish Home. A volunteer exclaimed that "my kids had a blast we loved every second. I would like to ask if we can volunteer anytime anywhere."

Mitzvah Day Food SortAt another FITS project, volunteers sorted food from Operation Isaiah to help to fully stock our Kosher food pantry.

Thank you to the Mitzvah Day Co-Chairs, Lauren Olens & Allison Lerer and our Mitzvah Day Committee for helping make the event a huge success!

Posted in Volunteer Services


Creating Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is a time to “recognize the achievements of Americans with disabilities whose contributions in the workforce help ensure the strength of our Nation. We also renew our commitment to creating an environment of opportunity for all Americans and educating people about disability employment issues.”

Andrea Taylor and Ben Heinze of Home Depot
Andrea Taylor and Ben Heinze of Home Depot

Through the IndependenceWORKS program, we are committed to supporting the goals of our clients with disabilities - to help these individuals realize their dreams and to integrate them into the community by providing them with developmental supports, a social network, employment and a means of transportation.

We are proud to share several of our supported employment clients at their places of work, as well as comments from their families on what it means to them to hold a job.

Trevor Durrett - Burger King

“Having a job with varying responsibilities has always been important to Trevor, but he's had trouble finding a job that can both utilize his skills and get past his limitations. The manager at Burger King gave him a chance one year ago, and it's working out well. Trevor's confidence has increased and he seems generally happier overall. He is managing his schedule, enjoying the camaraderie at work, and of course, enjoying having money that he earned himself. I think he's even gotten better at managing his money, since it's his alone and not just given to him. Thank you, Burger King, for giving him this opportunity and sticking with him while he learned the ropes!”

  • Jeri Mauldin (mother)
Susan Deale - Hongar Farms

“Susan loves to work at Hongar Farms. Her job gives her independence and teaches her responsibility. Additionally, she looks forward to learning new job functions.”

  • Judith Clapp (mother)

Susan Deale and Todd Hurst of Hongar Farms
Susan Deale and Todd Hurst of Hongar Farms

Todd Besmertnik - Helping Feed Atlanta

“On Wednesdays, Todd “works” for Helping Feed Atlanta. He and their founder, David Skoke, go around and collect leftover fruits and vegetables and sometimes dairy from local Costco & Whole Foods and bring it to food banks and shelters. Todd has been doing this for 2 ½ years.

“David is both a friend and mentor to Todd. Todd and David have formed a close partnership, and it has helped Todd to mature and be a better person. David sometimes does a ‘Todd and David show’ to highlight their HFA activities and the amount of food collected. 1000- 2000 lbs of food is typical each Wednesday.”

  • Sid Besmertnik (father)

Sean Gill and Dion Webster of Tazikis
Sean Gill and Dion Webster of Tazikis

Jackie Bailey - Kroger

“Jackie is a pre-mature triplet who was not as lucky as her brothers. She will be celebrating working at Kroger two years this January. We want to thank Kroger for giving her the opportunity to work in the retail segment. Mr. Fallier (store manager) and Ms. Demantha (manager) embraced the supported employment concept and have been instrumental in giving feedback to JFCS. JFCS has done a great job communicating with Kroger and our family so we a reinforce all feedback at home which has allowed our daughter to focus on continuous improvement. Please express our gratitude to the entire Kroger leadership team.”

  • Karen Bailey (mother)

Jackie Bailey and Damanthe Dulcio of Kroger
Jackie Bailey and Damanthe Dulcio of Kroger

Vandana Sachdeva - Walgreens

“We thank JFCS for leading Vandana to Walgreens. The Walgreens work has made Vandana the confident and happy person that she is today. Walgreens is Vandana’s World. We, the Sachdeva family, extend our heartfelt thanks to Vandana’s Walgreens family for their support and understanding. Thank you again.”

  • Anjana and Mahesh Sachdeva (parents)
Tyler Luciani - The Manor

“Tyler’s first (and so far only) paying job has been at The Manor. He is incredibly proud of his work there and the experience has increased not only his skill set but also boosted his confidence. All of the employees at the manor have been supportive of Tyler and treat him with kindness and respect. Our family is grateful to everyone at the manor for providing such a positive work environment for Tyler.”

  • Sissy Luciani (mother)

David Reynolds - NOVO

“We're very fortunate to have found an employer willing to work with my brother, knowing that if we found the right fit, he could find success. After what felt like years of work instability and worry, It's nice seeing him confident, able to contribute and take care of important things like healthcare and finances with the job from NOVO. I honestly don't know where he would be without this opportunity, so thank you to both NOVO and JFCS for all you do.”

  • TJ Reynolds (brother)

Allison Rosenthal - Weinstein School

“Working for The Weinstein School - and most importantly, the kids at the Weinstein School gives Allison joy and purpose every day. No matter where I go in Atlanta, we bump into families positively impacted by the attention and love Allison gave their child. Her bosses Janice and Kim are also exceptional friends and life-guides for Allison as she continues to navigate work and the community.”

  • Bari Love (sister)

David Bryan - Epstein School

“This is David Bryan’s 4th year working as an employee of the Epstein School after working as a JF&CS Team Works member at the school. We would like to thank The Epstein School, Ms. Jane and her staff for giving David the opportunity to be a part of this team. David’s sense of belonging has reinforced his strengths of dedication, loyalty, and responsibility for everything that happens in his domain. We are so proud of David for having these work ethics. Alan and I are very grateful to the Epstein School for seeing his potential in taking on the daily tasks and helping feed everybody. David is probably the only one in the school sad to see summer vacation begin and the Happiest to see the start of the new school year.”

  • Terrie and Alan Bryan (parents)

Colin Barnett and Danielle Kerns of Target

Colin Barnett and Danielle Kerns of Target


Posted in Developmental Disabilities Services


Why PRIDE is so important

Why PRIDE is so important

Maybe you have heard this, maybe it’s been said to you as it has to me:

“Why do we still need Pride?”  “When is straight Pride? Straight people don’t get a day or a month to celebrate!” or “Why do people have to shove Pride/LGBTQ down my throat?”

Unfortunately, I have heard these things, even from people that I love. The answers are pretty easy – did you know that in over 70 countries being gay is illegal? Or that in over 10 different countries being gay is punishable by death?  And an occurrence that may be closer to home for some: the word “gay” is still used as a put-down. Do you ever hear anyone saying “That is SO straight!” and laughing mockingly? I have not.

Pride celebrates love and acceptance and gives people a particularly special freedom to express themselves however they would like in regards to their self-identity, partner choice, and more. Pride also promotes equality, visibility, and justice. Celebrating Pride openly is not just for those that identify with LGBTQ or Gender & Sexual Diversity firsthand; celebrating Pride is just as important for their allies! Pride allies that are open and visible about their support of LGBTQ/Gender & Sexual Diversity communicate to others that it’s ok to be you. Demonstrating that you are a “pride ally” at any time lets others know you are a supporter of equality and you are a safe place to turn to in times of need and reassurance that you will give that minority a positive reception.

The Pride celebration originated as a response to police raids on a gay bar in NYC in 1969 that resulted in riots. This raid and riots led to the birth of getting a large group of people together to promote fundamental human rights, rights that don’t just include those that identify as “straight”. Have straight couples been targeted for persecution or violence in the U.S.? The next time you are watching TV commercials, reading a magazine or paper – take note of the ratio of heterosexual (straight) examples there are compared to those that reflect Gender and Sexual Diversity. Also in response to the question “Why do people have to shove Pride/LGBTQ down my throat?”, again, take a look at so many commercials and printed advertisements that show sexual undertones – is that not shoving sexuality or “straightness” down someone’s throat?

How often do we have a month or a day devoted to celebrating the freedom to LOVE, the freedom to express your identity, self, or to celebrate your partner?  It’s a truly unique opportunity to promote hope, acceptance, and equality for all. It’s also an opportunity to learn – learn about the struggles and violence the LGBTQ community has faced and continues to face. If you aren’t on board with the idea of Pride Celebration, I encourage you to tiptoe (or run!) outside of your comfort zone and examine why it makes you uncomfortable? Seek out people you could have an open and non-blaming discussion with to broaden perspectives. I know there are wonderful folks at Jewish Family and Career Services who would be open to that.  We only get one shot at life – why not try to live it with open arms and open hearts – supporting equality of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or class.

JF&CS is proud to participate in the Atlanta Pride Festival by partnering with SOJOURN (Southern Jewish Resource Network)! JF&CS will be walking in the Atlanta Pride Parade on Sunday, October 14th. The parade kicks off at 12 pm, but we will gather in the queue beforehand. This is a family-friendly event so feel free to join JF&CS by walking in the parade as we celebrate equality and promote visibility for Atlanta's LGBTQ community and Gender & Sexual Diversity! Contact Ashley for more info at asemerenko@jfcsatl.org

Written by Ashley Semerenko, Posted in Counseling Services


Advocating for Our Seniors

Advocating for Our Seniors

Are you currently caring for an elderly family member? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the extra demands placed upon you as a caregiver?

Beyond the assistance with the Activities of Daily Life (ADL’s), many of our elders need assistance navigating the system of benefits and programs that are provided, including Medicare and Medicaid coverage. These areas are generally foreign to adult children who might be caring for their aging parent, whether they are still in their home or in an assisted living/nursing home facility.

Geriatric Care Management and Senior Advocacy have become one of the greatest needs in our community today. And with our aging population, more and more of us are confused about how to best support and ADVOCATE for our aging family members.

We recently received a nice letter from a community member who was going through this exact situation and we wanted to share their story.

“To whom it may concern,

My husband and I would like to thank you very much for the excellent service we received from your Medicaid Program. We knew that my mother would require Medicaid coverage in 2018 but we were worried that we would not be able to make a proper application to the State of Georgia on our own.

The kind people at the William Breman Jewish Home recommended that we contact Michael Osborne at JF&CS and we are so glad we did.

From the very beginning, Michael knew exactly what was needed and helped us every step of the way to provide him with the proper documentation so that he could submit the claim on behalf of my mother. He diligently followed up with his contacts at the State of Georgia Medicaid office and, in the end, secured approval for my mother.

We look forward to continuing our work with Michael in the future as we understand the claim will have to be reviewed annually. He has been most kind and considerate to us and we are very grateful to have him on our side.

We remain, Very truly yours,”

Eileen S.

There are many in our community that can see themselves in this scenario. And we understand how confusing that it can be. Let us help you navigate the ‘maze’ of details that your aging parent is going through.

By leaving this advocacy work to us, you can once again become the loving child or family member, and focus on loving and supporting them.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)

By Wendy Lipshutz, LCSW
Program Director, Shalom Bayit Program of JF&CS

There’s a very special tree outside our offices at Jewish Family & Career Services, which I remember planting with Shalom Bayit (Peace in the Home) clients in 1998 to honor survivors of domestic abuse and to memorialize those who died at the hands of their abusers. Over the last 20 years, this tree has grown tall and wide, and we now have a Shalom Bayit garden around it. For years, clients tell us how much the tree inspires them and the peace they find in the garden. Right now, as headlines about the #MeToo movement swirl in our national media, the tree, and the garden remind me of the significance of October: . This is a good time to reflect on 25 years of JF&CS’s Shalom Bayit program, which provides short and long-term assistance to those facing physical violence, emotional or sexual abuse in their families or intimate relationships.  While providing crucial, supportive counseling for abuse survivors, the greatest challenge is to educate our community about how to build healthy relationships, create safe schools, camps, and workplaces, and teach behaviors that avert violence. Attitudes are changing, but clearly, we still have work to do.

While domestic violence crosses all cultural boundaries, in the Jewish cultural mindset there’s a persistent idea that abuse doesn’t happen to us, that Jewish families are always loving and nurturing. Discussion of violence in Jewish marriage is still regarded as shameful — a shonda (shame) shrouded in silence. And emotional abuse in our families is similarly swept under the rug. Abuse often traumatizes victims for years.

Abuse is a pattern of power and control, where one person uses physical, emotional, or sexual violence to control another. Partner abuse occurs in all types of intimate relationships — marriages, dating relationships, and intimate heterosexual, lesbian and gay relationships. Abuse also occurs toward children and older adults.

In April, at JF&CS’s Community of Caring luncheon, we shared a video with the story of Robin A., one of our past Shalom Bayit clients. Robin talks about the violence and emotional abuse in her marriage that drove her to seek help more than 20 years ago. The abuse made her feel like her “soul was dying,” but she believes the help she received through counseling saved her life and helped her heal.

Over the past 25 years, Shalom Bayit has reached out to the community by offering education to young adults on how to recognize abusive relationships. We’ve created prayers tying in themes of domestic violence with Jewish holidays, and we have educated our clergy and community leaders to recognize signs of current or past abuse, and how to provide support. I am always heartened when our rabbis give sermons on the topic. One rabbi gave voice to the shame of his former idolization of OJ Simpson. Another shared a story of an emotionally abusive brother, and another of an emotionally abusive father. These public expressions validate the importance of breaking our silence about violence and abuse.

In the last year we’ve seen many abusers and sexual predators accused and exposed in the news. For many survivors, the courage of the women speaking out is empowering and decreases isolation, giving voice to their similar stories. At the same time, denials and discrediting survivors’ realities adds to their pain. Those speaking out in public, in these high-profile cases, underscore the tremendous need to teach boys and girls, and especially our teens, about respect, safety and components of healthy relationships.

My wish for the coming year is that we may all reflect the values and norms of loving, non-violent relationships. That we remember the strength of abuse survivors and the ongoing struggles of victims. And that we work together to create safe spaces across Jewish Atlanta. If you or someone you know is suffering abuse of any kind, please know you are not alone. Contact Shalom Bayit at 770-677-9322 or shalombayit@jfcsatl.org for information about confidential counseling or for more information about our programs for both adults and children.

The History of DVAM

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the "Day of Unity" held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level.

The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes:

  • Mourning those who have died because of domestic violence
  • Celebrating those who have survived
  • Connecting those who work to end violence

These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such legislation has passed every year since with National Coalition Against Domestic Violence providing key leadership in this effort. Each year, the Day of Unity is celebrated on the first Monday of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Jewish Community

While domestic violence crosses all cultural boundaries, in the Jewish cultural mindset there’s a persistent idea that abuse doesn’t happen to us, that Jewish families are always loving and nurturing. Discussion of violence in Jewish marriage is still regarded as shameful — a shonda (shame) shrouded in silence. And emotional abuse in our families is similarly swept under the rug. Abuse often traumatizes victims for years.

A recent article on the Jewish Federation’s website by Wendy Lipshutz, LCSW, Program Director, Shalom Bayit Program of JF&CS goes into more detail of how this issue has impacted the Jewish community. You can read her full article here.

And if you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence, please contact one of our counselors as soon as you can safely do so. Or contact one of the following organizations:

  • Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.33.HAVEN (1.800.334.2836) (V/TTY)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (1.800.799.7233) or 1.800.787.3224 (TTY)
  • National Teen Dating Violence Hotline: 1.866.331.9474 or 1.866.331.8453 (TTY)
  • Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1.800.4.A.CHILD(1.800.422.4453)
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE

Posted in Counseling Services


Mark Your Calendars for Atlanta’s 2018 LGBTQ Parade

join us to celebrate equality and bring visibility to Atlanta’s LGBTQ community

Mark Your Calendars for Atlanta’s 2018 LGBTQ Parade

Mark your calendars and join us to celebrate equality and bring visibility to Atlanta’s LGBTQ community!!! We need YOU (and your friends and family!) to walk in the parade!!! This is a kid-friendly event!

I am so excited that JF&CS once again will be participating in Atlanta’s 2018 Pride Parade on Sunday, Oct 14th! And we want to have a large and vocal group of 'Allies' at the Parade

Tips for Being a Good Ally

Tips to be a good ally
Click image or HERE to watch video

This is a relevant example of the agency’s Welcoming Community Initiative which aims to make the agency an unmistakably welcoming and inclusive community agency to everyone in the Atlanta community. (More on the Welcoming Community Initiative soon…)

There will be Atlanta Pride festivities going on all weekend and the parade is downtown on Sunday, Oct. 14th – Please come play in the parade and represent JF&CS! The parade should start at 12pm sharp by the MARTA Civic Center Station, and we usually gather around 11am at the parade line – details TBD. We talk, we dance-walk, we wave…. A LOT of waving, we yell HAPPY PRIDE – what’s not to like??!!

What is the Atlanta Pride Parade Festival?

Hosted by the Atlanta Pride Committee, the Committee’s main mission is to provide lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender and queer persons with cultural and educational programs and activities which enhance mental and physical health, provide social support, and foster an awareness of the past and present contributions of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons, through community activities and services, including an annual Pride event.

We will be representing JF&CS with another local organization, SOJOURN (The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity). Many other local Jewish groups and organizations will be participating alongside of SOJOURN too. Together, we will be representing Atlanta’s Jewish Community and will march together in support of our family, friends, coworkers, and community members!

If you are interested in joining the parade group, please let me know so that I can keep a running list and keep you in the loop as more info become available. Hoping for a large turn out from our agency! SEE YOU THERE!!!


Parade photo courtesy of thegavoice.com

Written by Ashley Semerenko, Posted in Counseling Services


Brain Health Bootcamp - Strengthen Your Mind and Body!

Brain Health Bootcamp - Strengthen Your Mind and Body!
If you've been recently diagnosed, or are recognizing symptoms of early memory loss, we can help maintain and enhance your memory and brain function.

Our program emphasizes memory enhancement through cognitive stimulation, physical exercise, education, and socialization. You will have the opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing many of the same situations. 

We offer ongoing semesters of eight weekly classes on Thursdays from 3-5 pm at the JF&CS location at 4549 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, Ga. 30338.
The cost is $25 per class or $200 per semester (scholarships may be available).
You can RSVP or get more information from Georgia Gunter at 770-677-9421 or ggunter@jfcsatl.org.

Posted in Developmental Disabilities Services


A Personal Note to the JF&CS Family from Rick Aranson, CEO

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

As the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah approaches, it is a natural time to reflect on the prior year and to contemplate the path forward. As many of you know, I have recently taken some time off to engage in such reflection; taking stock of my personal and professional goals, interests, and priorities. After careful deliberation, discussions with family, friends, colleagues, and JF&CS’ leadership, I have come to the difficult decision that it is the right time for me to step aside and resign as JF&CS’ CEO. I’m sure this may come as a surprise to some of you, but others close to me know that I have been contemplating a transition after nearly 15 years at JF&CS and as my initial contract as CEO comes to a close. 

In late 2003, I came to JF&CS’ Career’s department as a job seeker for help in my search for employment. Fortunately the timing was right, as JF&CS had an internal opening as its first Chief Operating Officer to oversee agency programs. My wife and I, together with our then five year old daughter and two year old son, moved to Atlanta from Pittsburgh, and I began my time with the Agency in January 2004. I served as COO until 2015 at which time I was appointed as the agency’s CEO. As CEO I led with a focus on impact, collaboration, adaptability, service excellence, and long-term sustainability. 

I am deeply proud of what we have accomplished as an organization during my tenure at JF&CS, including selection for the Community Foundations’ Managing for Excellence Award, more than doubling and diversifying our operating budget, growing our fee for service, grant, donor, and endowment assets, capital projects that resulted in state-of-the-art clinical, disabilities and dental facilities, developing and enhancing new programs in each of our service areas for deeper impact, receipt of the Sue Weiland Award from the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and forging collaborative partnerships in the Jewish and broader community. 

More than any of those things, however, my proudest moments are those involving the people we serve. Stories of impact are the fuel that empowered me and all of us at JF&CS. I am proud when a client acquires a skill, breaks down a barrier, achieves a goal, and progresses on their journey to greater self-sufficiency and a better quality of life. I often heard directly from our clients with expressions of gratitude – “JF&CS saved my life; JF&CS gave me hope; JF&CS cared when no one else did.” What could make someone prouder? 

Personally, leaving JF&CS is bittersweet. The time is right; and yet, I will miss the work, the clients, and many of you dearly. I plan to take some time to recharge and explore new opportunities where I can make an impact through my expertise in program planning and evaluation, client relationship management, and project/program management. I continue to believe in the mission of the agency, and, in September, will shift from CEO to working in an as-needed consulting capacity, to assure continuity and to assist staff and lay leadership during the transition. I hope and trust that our community will continue to prioritize the Jewish and universal values of caring for those in need, healing our world, social justice, and engaging in acts of loving kindness. 

We have come a long way together, and I am deeply grateful for the commitment and support of JF&CS’ staff, volunteers, lay leaders, partners, and stakeholders. Thank you for being with me every step of the way, and I hope and trust that our paths will cross again as the journey continues. 


Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Study Leads to Action

Study Leads to Action

In my role as Community Chaplain, I frequently receive calls from staff members at area care facilities (hospitals, assistant living, rehab etc) asking how they can better serve the spiritual needs of the Jewish patients and residents in their care.

Predictably, I’ll get a surge of calls just prior to the major Jewish holidays. In some instances, a brief phone call is all that’s needed, while at other times a formal Jewish Sensitivity Training session is appropriate.

Conducting these training sessions has become one of my favorite tasks. The goal is always the same: to empower folks with enough information about Jewish holidays beliefs and practices, in order that they can better provide for the Jewish people under their care. The attendees are often people who are knowledgeable about and devoted to their own faith, so we immediately have a common language. 

Topics have included Jewish Denominations (aka All Jews Are Not The Same), Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas, and Yes, Women can be rabbis. The conversations are always lively, and folks ask lots of questions. 

While transmission of information is the overt reason for the session, so much more takes place. Boundaries and walls come down as we learn that what we share is greater than that which divides us. Myths and stereotypes are disavowed. Increased knowledge and understanding inclines us towards greater respect of difference. Good will prevails.

One of the greatest rabbis of the Talmud, Rabbi Akiva once said: "Study is great, for it leads to practice."  As people of the book, we Jews live by this adage. Learning the sacred texts of our tradition enables us to live as Jews and transmit this heritage to our children. Teaching others about Judaism and learning about other faiths enables all of us to live fully in our wider world.

 Learning empowers us to do. Knowledge enables action. It is an honor to teach others, so that they too may share in those deeds which highlight the shared task of caring for one another.  

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Holiday Survival Guide


A Holistic Approach to Geriatric Care

A Holistic Approach to Geriatric Care
This month, we are highlighting our Aviv Older Adult Services program. These services range from active senior programs to caregiver support - and everything in between.
Our Services Include:

Geriatric Care Management - What is it?

Learn more about geriatric care management at JF&CS from care manager,
Debbi Dooley, MS, LPC, NCC.

Posted in Aviv Older Adult Services


Ed Daugherty - Honored veteran and 20 year JF&CS driver

Ed Daugherty - Honored veteran and 20 year JF&CS driver

Shown here being honored for his military service during the Korean War, Ed is well into his 3rd career with JF&CS as a trusted driver for older adults and those with disabilities. 

Happy birthday and thank you, Ed, for your professionalism, service, and compassion to all those we serve!


JF&CS Holds 'Carp Tank' Competition

JF&CS Holds 'Carp Tank' Competition
Inspired by the show, Shark Tank, JF&CS chiefs invited staff to develop their own innovative ideas for improving services at the agency.
Staff was encouraged to work with employees in multiple service areas and submit ideas in a contest by the end of March, with the winners receiving money to make their ideas a reality.

The Carp Tank Innovation Competition was held in early August. All of the presentations were remarkably well done and made for a fun-filled afternoon! 

Thank you to our wonderful Carp Tank judges, Lisa GalantiDeborah MasliaMark SilbermanAna Robbins and Michael Kogon!

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


A Pause in the Journey

 A Pause in the Journey

Birth is a beginning and death a destination;
But life is a journey.
A going, a growing from stage to stage:
From childhood to maturity and youth to old age.

From innocence to awareness and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion and then perhaps, to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or strength to weakness and often back again.
From health to sickness and back we pray, to health again.

From offense to forgiveness, from loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude, from pain to compassion.
From grief to understanding, from fear to faith;
From defeat to defeat to defeat, until, looking backward or ahead:

We see that victory lies not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey, stage by stage, a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning and death a destination;
But life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage,
Made stage by stage...To life everlasting.
(Birth is a Beginning, by Alvin Fine)

This is one of my favorite poems. The author lays out the experiences of any human life, the good, the bad, the joy and the tragedy, all part of our journey.

Perfect words for this season of the High Holidays, in which we are given an opportunity to pause and take a step back from our journey, to reflect on where we’ve been, and where we’d like to go.  

This reflection has a name: Teshuva, or repentance. Literally, Teshuva means returning, understood as the process by which we return to a path of righteousness after having gone astray.  

We recount our deeds of the past year, considering whom we might have hurt or slighted, where and when we made mistakes. Making amends, righting any wrongs, clearing up any misunderstandings is part of the path of teshuvah.  

And then, we resolve to do better in the coming year, breaking with old habits, making necessary changes in our behavior and attitudes. The process of teshuvah, leads to an adjustment of our spiritual compass.

Our Teshuvah begins  in the month of Elul, just prior to Tishrei in which we celebrate Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
The concentration of the festivals in a short span of time allows us to put some time into the spiritual attunement of the season, while at the same time giving us the opportunities to gather with friends and family, in joy and celebration.

There are those who consider this month long holiday season a challenging interruption established schedules. This is, in fact the point.  
Adjusting our lives to follow the Jewish calendar serves to wrestle us away from set routines, reminding us to build holiness into our lives.

          When the holidays are over and we resume our life’s  journey, we’re ready for that ‘going and growing’.

May you be blessed on your journey.

L’shanna Tova.

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in Holiday Survival Guide


Kaiser Permanente and Americorp Provide FREE Health Screenings to BMDC Patients

Kaiser Permanente and Americorp Provide FREE Health Screenings to BMDC Patients
On August 24th, Kaiser Permanente's Mobile Health Vehicle came to The Ben Massell Dental Clinic and were able to see BMDC patients and offer them free health screenings with immediate results as well as one-on-one appointment with a Registered Nurse! This was possible with BMDC's partnership with Kaiser Permanente and our Americorp members who managed the scheduling and visit from start to finish!

Posted in Ben Massell Dental Clinic


Helping Others Help Themselves

Helping Others Help Themselves
On August 5th, Volunteers in Action, the Young Professionals Volunteer Group of JF&CS, gathered 15 volunteers to help the Zaban Paradies Center prepare for new residents.

Together, our next generation of mensches decorated rooms and stocked them with supplies – so that the new residents could enter a place not only of safety, but also of care and warmth.

The Zaban Paradies Center assists couples transitioning from homelessness to resettlement and independence by providing shelter, basic necessities and counseling services. While living at Zaban Paradies Center, residents receive the services needed to achieve independence and become contributing members of our Atlanta community.

Posted in Volunteer Services


Shelly Schwartzenfeld: An Angel in Action

Shelly Schwartzenfeld: An Angel in Action

Loyal. Generous. Nurturing. Kind. Patient. An Angel.

Shelly is known as all these things and more – including being a truly devoted volunteer.

For three years (and counting!), Shelly has been creating true bonds of friendship through our important and very successful program, One Good Deed.

During her time volunteering with us, Shelly has also been a phone volunteer (calling and chatting with many who just ‘need an ear,’) and continues to go above and beyond for the families and older adults with whom she works.

Oh, and did we also mention that Shelly has now offered to volunteer her remaining free time to the Kosher Food Pantry of JF&CS?! 

Thank you, Shelly! You are an angel indeed.

Posted in Volunteer Services


Need Help? Give Robin a Call.

Image of Robin Brill
At JF&CS, we say, “… it starts with a call.”  And when someone needs help, and when they take the first hard step of reaching out, one of our intake volunteers is there to answer the call. 
One of those intake volunteers is Robin Brill.  And we sincerely thank her for her compassion and dedication.
A graduate of the Kay Family Tools for Leaders program, Robin has been volunteering with JF&CS for over eight years.  She began her work with us by spearheading a new program that allowed volunteers to do the clinical intake process – freeing up clinicians to serve more clients. 
Now, Robin knows everything there is to know about our full range of Clinical Services, and she is definitely here to help!
Robin says she’s inspired by the work she does because she can help change people’s lives for the better.
We’re inspired by Robin.

Posted in Volunteer Services


Our Family's Counseling Journey

My daughter was struggling, and we had no idea what to do. She’d come home from school and immediately go to her room. We’d ask what was wrong – she’d give us a blank stare. She’d always been a good student – now she was really struggling, and her grades were lower than they’ve ever been. She wouldn’t see her friends and she rarely smiled. 

The day of the school conference was one of the hardest days ever. Somehow, we thought we’d get to the meeting and hear all the same things we’d always heard – that our daughter was bright and engaged, that she volunteered to help others, that she was a very sweet person. This time, that’s not at all what we heard. Instead, all of her teachers expressed serious concern about our little girl’s happiness and state of mind. She also suggested that we call JF&CS to set up counseling. 

That first call with JF&CS gave us hope. On the other end of the phone was a warm, caring person who was really committed to making the process easy for us. She listened to our concerns and connected us with a special counselor – one that was pretty perfect for our daughter and for us. 

It wasn’t immediate and there are still challenging times, but we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our daughter has someone she trusts with her feelings – who understands how she’s feeling. More importantly, her therapist doesn’t finish her sentences or tell her how she should be feeling (things we struggle with as her parents). We also feel like we have a partner in raising our daughter – someone who can guide us and who understands that parenting is really hard work. 

Sometimes we all need a little help. We’re grateful JF&CS is here for us. 

Posted in Counseling Services


A Passover Story

Hello, Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to share a Passover story that is very close to home. 

On the day of Erev Passover, when the first employees were arriving at our Dunwoody offices in the morning, they observed an elderly, feeble orthodox man with trash bags and boxes containing his worldly possessions in front of our clinical entrance. 
Clinical Entrance
The JF&CS Clinical Entrance

The man was agitated, ill, and clearly had no place to go.  Members of our reception, intake, and clinical teams spoke to the man outside and learned that he had been dropped off in front of our building at 1am the night before.

After determining that this man was not a threat but an individual in need, our staff mobilized and worked together to help him.  He had no money, no place to go, and nowhere to turn – all he wanted was a place to celebrate Passover. 

JFCS Entrance
JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here

Our staff jumped into action - we gave the man kosher food from our panty, gift cards for Kroger, and connected him with Rabbi Mendy Gurary to host him for the Passover Seders. 

Chief Program Officer Faye Dresner spoke to the man’s son in Israel to assure him that his father would not be alone for the Chag.  Our HR Director Lisa Bronstein arranged payment for a hotel nearby. We helped the man load his belonging into a cab to take him the hotel, and when the cab could not fit this man’s walker our Clinical Director Dan Arnold put it in his own vehicle and followed the cab. 

Passover Plate
A Passover Seder Plate
On Passover, we remember that we were once strangers, and we must therefore love and care for the stranger’s needs.  Our amazing team did this today on Erev Passover as they would any other day.   I am so proud of JF&CS’ staff who live our mission and values and am humbled to see the meaning of Passover come to life at our own doorstep.  Chag Sameach to those that celebrate Passover.


Rick Aranson, CEO
Rick cropped 2

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Gwen Weiss - IDD Volunteer with Flair

Gwen Helping IDD client

Food is life. For adults with disabilities, however, eating and preparing healthy, balanced dishes is tough. 

At Independence WORKS the goal is to help individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities engage in activities that promote independence and improved quality of life. One such activity that is very popular among the attendees are cooking classes - but not just ordinary cooking classes - Adaptive Cooking with Gwen Weiss.

Gwenn Weiss is a private chef who volunteers her time every other Thursday morning with the clients at IndependenceWORKS.

Gwenn develops healthy, adapted recipes that she cooks with our clients. She combines a live cooking show with an interactive class that IndependenceWORKS clients look forward to and thoroughly enjoy.

Gwen IDD 2
Gwenn makes sure to involve every client, no matter the ability. Gwenn develops our clients’ independent living skills as well as their leisure skills with her skill-appropriate cooking classes. When recipes are too advanced, Gwenn Weiss adapts the recipes and creates cooking lessons to adapt to the needs of participants.

For example, we have some clients that only have use of one hand, so Gwenn makes sure to set up specific adapted tasks with that client in mind (ie using special chopping tools/techniques, larger spoons for stirring).

Gwenn makes sure to have every recipe be something clients can make at home and also something that is healthy!

Gwen Cooking Demonstration
Healthy eating is especially important for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Gwen is such an amazing volunteer for ensuring that adults with IDD have the same access to food preparation and healthy eating as anyone else. Thanks, Gwen! 

Posted in Developmental Disabilities Services, Volunteer Services


Bruce Lindemann - Volunteer of the Month

Herbert Kohn Meritorious Service Award Winner

The Herbert Kohn Meritorious Service Award was created in 1983 to recognize a Board member’s outstanding contribution to the Agency’s Board of Directors. The intent of the Herbert Kohn Award is to honor one dedicated Board member each year that has made a significant contribution to furthering the mission and goals of the Agency through either committee or project-related work.
Additionally, the Herbert Kohn Award serves to recognize a Board member who demonstrates the commitment and passion to help guide the Agency toward its vision and strategic goals.

Bruce’s commitment to JFCS and the seriousness with which he takes his board responsibilities is unparalleled; he has been on the board since 2014. He deftly balances advocating for the needs of his daughter Carla while engaging in strategy and planning on the disabilities service area of this organization as a whole. He is a person of action and a tireless advocate. 

Bruce has done phenomenal work with the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Committee focused on advocacy. When we were blocked from opening two homes in the Zimmerman Horowitz Independent program, he made calls, sent letters, and attended hearings. Thanks to his efforts, these homes are open and thriving. When monies were being held by Medicaid that JFCS had been owed, he used his network and his voice to make our agency whole. And when he felt he wanted to learn more about the agency after his board and committee service, he applied to the Kay Tools for Leaders program, once again proving his commitment to the agency's cause.
Carla Lindeman
Bruce's daughter, Carla, accepts the award on his behalf

Bruce has commitment, integrity, and is the true embodiment of the JF&CS mission. He is very dedicated to the agency and is passionate about the work it does especially for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Congratulations to Bruce on receiving this award! 

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Living in the Aftermath of Trauma

Tzipporah Gerson-Miller LCSW C-IAYT

Trauma can cause us to question our safety, our values, our relationships, and our core beliefs about the world. It is normal to feel paralyzed, stunned, shut down, and ineffective. It’s normal to ask questions that have no immediate answers.  

Trauma is a response of the human condition and doesn’t speak the language of race, class, religion, or gender. As mass shootings and community violence continue to be on the rise, we must accept that the number of individuals who will suffer from traumatic stress conditions will continue to increase as well.  

Being equipped with trauma-informed language and knowledge regarding common responses to a traumatic event can assist us in feeling more empowered to take the action needed to move towards healing.  Increasing our knowledge of where mental health resources exist can be life-saving.

What many people don’t realize is that trauma can cause mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions. Traumatic events generally involve direct threats to life, bodily integrity, and violence. It can happen as result of an accident, abuse, a crime, death of a loved one, war, natural disaster, a terrorist attack, being diagnosed with a serious illness, or a mass shooting.

According to Dr. Judith Herman, “the common denominator of trauma is a feeling of intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, and threat of annihilation.” With that said, you didn’t have to be at the high school to be a victim of trauma. We are just as vulnerable to vicarious traumatization when we watch the news reports, hear survivors tell their stories, and continue to see media coverage filled with violent images. Here are some key things to remember when addressing the aftermath of trauma. 

1. Trauma can affect a person’s feelings of safety.
Everyone needs to feel safe and secure. It’s a universal truth that every single human being wants to be safe and wants their loved ones to be safe. We need to feel safe with other people and we need to feel safe out in the world. Even if you or your loved ones are not in immediate danger, hearing about others who have been in a violent situation can erode your sense of safety. If you notice an increase in the amount that you worry about your safety or the safety of your loved ones after being exposed to media coverage following a major tragedy, its ok to talk to someone about it.

2. Trauma can compromise a person’s ability to trust others.
Trust and safety are related in the sense that how much you trust others determines how safe you feel in the world. When something that was reliable is disrupted by a traumatic event, it can decrease a person’s ability to trust others. Some people have struggled with trust for a long time. When a traumatic event strikes it can re-trigger these issues even if lots of progress has been made. Seek out support if you notice a sudden inability to trust others.

3. Trauma can leave us feeling powerless and out of control.
No one likes to feel out of control. We need to feel confident in our ability to control our words and our actions so we can affect the environment we live in. Since trauma usually involves being overpowered by external forces, it can leave a person feeling helpless, out of control, and without choice.

Trauma can cause “flashbacks” which are a sudden flooding of emotion when a memory of the event is triggered. Mental health therapists can help a person build emotional regulation skills so that they regain a sense of control.


4. Trauma can diminish a person’s self-esteem.           
We all need to feel a sense of self-value, in addition to valuing others and the world around us. Self-value creates belonging and connection. Sometimes trauma can invoke feelings of guilt and shame especially when a person feels as though “they were responsible” “or that “they didn’t do enough.”

It’s normal for positive and negative feelings about yourself and others to fluctuate following a traumatic event. Having a network of supportive relationships can nurture connectivity and reduce the risk of isolation. Keeping in mind that not all people are bad helps to maintain a sense of support. Try to find a support group in your area.

5. Trauma can cause physical symptoms.
Our bodies contain a complex nervous system that is designed to respond to perceived threats in the environment. This is a primitive response that enables us to either fight back or flee to safety depending upon which response is warranted in a given situation.

This is known as the “fight” or “flight” response. Stress hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol are pumped into the bloodstream so that we can expend energy and flee to safety. As a result, the heart rate increases, the muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. Sometimes when a person survives a trauma, if they have a sudden memory of the event, this same physiological process might occur.

This can result in disrupted sleep, appetite, blood sugar imbalances, cardiovascular issues, anxiety, muscle tension, and poor immune system functioning. It is important to practice relaxation strategies to calm the nervous system. Finding a yoga therapist or mental health counselor who specializes in mindfulness-based stress reduction is a great way to learn how to relax if these symptoms continue to occur.

Herman, J.L. (1992). Trauma and recovery: the aftermath of violence from domestic abuse to political terror. New York: Basic Books.

Rosenbloom, D. and Williams, M.B. (2010). Life after trauma. The Guilford Press: New York.

If you need further information or support, please make an effort to contact the clinical team at JF&CS to schedule an appointment. Talking to someone can be life-saving. The clinicians at JF&CS are trained in trauma-based therapies to assist individuals in recovering from a traumatic event. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will recover.

How Do I know if My Teen is in an Abusive Relationship?

Tzipporah Gerson-Miller LCSW C-IAYT

Having any kind of suspicion that your teen may be in an unhealthy relationship can be extremely alarming. Not knowing how to spot definitive signs of abuse can be frustrating and lead to feelings of helplessness. If you know your teen is in an abusive relationship and you aren’t sure how to support them or what resources are available, it can leave you feeling powerless and isolated. According to the CDC, 1.5 million high school students experience dating violence from a dating partner in a single year. Not only can intimate partner violence be traumatic, it can be life-threatening.

Knowing how to identify early warning signs of an abusive relationship and what to do can be the best way to help your teen.

1.     Your child’s partner seems extremely jealous or possessive. Wanting to know where your partner is and who they are with is normal to a certain extent. However, if you notice that your teen’s partner is calling or texting excessively and wanting to know your teen’s whereabouts 24/7, that’s a good indicator that they are jealous and possessive.

2.     Your child begins to dress differently. Abuse is all about power and control. Parents often get to know their child’s typical patterns, tastes, and habits. If your teen used to like to wear certain clothing and suddenly wants an entirely new wardrobe, this may be a red flag that their partner is trying to control their behavior.

3.     Your teen loses interest in their usual activities and extracurricular activities. While loss of interest and motivation can be a sign of depression, if your teen is spending more and more time with their significant other and less time engaged in their usual activities, it can indicate that your teen’s partner is trying to manipulate their actions and decisions.

4.     Your teen spends less and less time with their friends or family. Isolation is a major tactic that abusers use so that a person will become more and more dependent upon them for love and self-acceptance. If you notice that your teen is turning down invitations to parties or other gatherings to spend time with their partner, their partner could be trying to control their social interactions.

5.     You notice that your teen seems depressed or anxious. It’s normal for a teen’s mood to fluctuate to some extent. We all have bad days and we all feel stressed out from time to time. If you notice changes in your teen’s sleep patterns, appetite, interest in social activities, self-esteem,  or any evidence of self-harm (i.e. cutting), or expressed feelings of hopelessness and guilt, your teen might be the victim of emotional abuse.

5 Ways to Support Your Teen If They Are In An Abusive Relationship

As a parent, your instinct is to protect your child. Sometimes the emotionally desire to protect your child from harm can undermine your ability to approach the situation calmly and skillfully. Here are some tips on how to navigate this difficult situation with your child.

1. Listen without judgment. It’s best to listen calmly and to assure them that it’s not their fault. Many teens feel ashamed that this is happening in their relationship and often are afraid that their parents will be angry or disappointed. Being supportive means taking time to understand their needs and practicing patience. People need time to process their feelings before taking action. Active, non-judgmental listening is a beautiful way to strengthen your relationship with your child.

2. Believe what your teen is telling you. If someone feels ashamed or scared about what is happening to them, having the courage to tell someone is a huge step. Acknowledging and validating their story unconditionally is a way of communicating trust. If your teen suspects that you don’t believe them, they will be hesitant to come to you for help in the future.

3. Don’t force them to leave the relationship. This circles back to wanting to protect them. It’s normal to want to start controlling their behavior in order to protect them. This may cause them to return to their abuser. Leaving the abuser can also increase their risk of harm.

4. Educate Yourself. Being able to identify the components of a healthy relationship can help you to facilitate a conversation with your teen so they can be better equipped to spot red flags and identify unhealthy behaviors.

5. Decide and collaborate on a plan of action together. Show genuine interest in knowing how your teen wants to handle the situation. Acknowledge their feelings, gather their input, listen empathically, and provide supportive feedback. If they don’t want to discuss it with you, don’t take it personally. Help them find support.

Smith, S.G., Chen, J., Basile, K.C., Gilbert, L.K., Merrick, M.T., Patel, N., Walling, M., & Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(2017) Get Help for Someone Else: Help My Child. Retrieved from: http//:www.loverespect.org

If you suspect that your teen may be in an abusive relationship, do not hesitate to seek support. Knowing where resources exist in your community can save someone’s life.  The Shalom Bayit Program at JF&CS offers counseling and support groups for victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in their families or relationships. Counselors are available to see children, adolescents, teens, and adults. Please contact (770) 677-9322

Other resources include:

Georgia Domestic Violence and 24-hour Crisis Line, including access to emergency shelter: 1-800-HAVEN

National Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Counseling Services


Brunch with Holocaust Survivors Bridges Generations

55 survivors gathered with young adults to break bread and talk.

Holocaust Brunch
Holocaust survivors and young adults in their 20’s and 30’s spent quality time together at a recent intergenerational brunch. The event, a collaboration between JF&CS’ Holocaust Survivor Services, JF&CS’ VIA, and the MJCCA Young Adults division, took place for the second year in a row at the MJCCA. Holocaust survivors and young adults enjoyed good conversation and delicious food as they learned about each other’s lives, and we even celebrated a survivor’s 89th birthday at the event!

The brunch started as a collaborative event between JF&CS Holocaust Survivor Services, MJCCA Young Adults, VIA program. We jointly run it together. Survivors and participants get to bond and forge intergenerational relationships and learn about each other's lives.

Want to get involved? Learn more

Posted in Aviv Older Adult Services, Volunteer Services


Signals for Attention from a Grieving Child

Grief is a natural part of life but with children, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do to help them process their grief. Director of Clinical Services Dan Arnold has prepared this short list to help. If you need additional guidance or support we're here to help. Call 770-677-9474 or jfcsatl.org/counseling.

Signals for attention from a grieving child:

·      Marked change in school performance

·      Poor grades despite trying very hard

·      A lot of worry or anxiety manifested by refusing to go to school, go to sleep or take part in age-appropriate activities

·      Not talking about the person or the death.  Physically avoiding mention of the deceased

·      Frequent angry outbursts or anger expressed in destructive ways

·      Hyperactive activities, fidgeting, constant movement beyond regular playing

·      Persistent anxiety or phobias

·      Accident proneness - possibly self-punishment or a call for attention

·      Persistent nightmares or sleeping disturbance

·      Risk-taking behavior -- Stealing, promiscuity, vandalism

·      Persistent disobedience or aggression (longer than six months)

·      Opposition to authority figures

·      Frequent unexplainable temper tantrums

Posted in Child & Adolescent Services, Counseling Services


Needs of a Grieving Child

Grief is a natural part of life but with children, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do to help them process their grief. Director of Clinical Services Dan Arnold has prepared this short list to help. If you need additional guidance or support we're here to help. Call 770-677-9474 or jfcsatl.org/counseling.

Always remember that grieving children need:

·      Information that is clear and understandable at their development level

·      To be reassured that their basic needs are met

·      To be involved in planning for the funeral and anniversary

·      To be reassured when adults’ grief is intense

·      Help with exploring fantasies about death, afterlife and related issues

·      To be able to have and express their own thoughts and behaviors, especially when different from significant adults

·      To maintain age-appropriate activities and interests

·      To receive help with “magical thinking”

·      To say goodbye to the deceased

·      To memorialize the deceased

Posted in Child & Adolescent Services, Counseling Services


Parenting After a Tragedy

When tragedy strikes it's difficult to know what to do, especially when it comes to comforting children. Director of Clinical Services Dan Arnold prepared this short guide to parenting after a tragedy. If you need additional guidance or support we're here to help. Call 770-677-9474 or jfcsatl.org/counseling.

·      Have your own support system and self-care practice

·      Encourage your kids to feel their feeling & share your own – give permission to feel and validate those feelings

·      Turn off the media coverage and monitor online activity

·      Start a dialogue but modify the conversation based on your child’s developmental readiness

·      Don’t make promises that you can’t keep

·      Establish (maintain) rituals that promote safety and security

·      Allow your children to ask questions

·      Be honest

·      Check back in

Posted in Child & Adolescent Services, Counseling Services


A Message From the CEO Re: Parkland, Fl shooting

We're here to help

Dear Friends,

Yet again, another school shooting shakes our nation and breaks our hearts.

Last night, Dan Arnold, the Director of Clinical Services, and I appeared on Atlanta's CBS affiliate to highlight how JF&CS can be a resource to individuals, parents, and teenagers who need help and how early intervention can possibly prevent tragedy.  

At JF&CS, we specialize in treating mental health disorders. We stand ready in Atlanta to diagnose problems in children and teens and help them proactively work on their psychological issues. We are on most insurance panels and offer a sliding scale to help those who otherwise could not afford therapy.

In addition, we are here to help our families who are having difficulty handling the news and children who may become fearful to attend schools. We offer individual and group therapy for adolescents, teens, and adults.

Please know that if you or someone you know is showing warning signs - anger, depression, withdrawing from activities - we're here to help.

Contact us at 770.677.9436 or email info@jfcsatl.org.


Rick Aranson

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Counseling Services


Ben Massell Dental Clinic Holiday Part

FITS families spent an afternoon making a difference! JF&CS’ Ben Massell Dental Clinic (BMDC) is the only resource for comprehensive, quality dental care available to indigent individuals in metro Atlanta.
Holiday Decorating at Ben Massell Dental Clinic

The Clinic has a life-changing impact on up to 4,000 patients each year.  In addition to dental care, the Clinic is thrilled to offer additional, smaller opportunities for some of the families of the Clinic.

This year, FITS families participated in the 4th annual Ben Massell Dental Clinic holiday party, which gave four families an opportunity to enjoy a holiday party, including crafts, games, and fun snacks.

FITS families all brought gifts for the families, which were hidden from the children, in hopes to have them be a surprise for the holidays. Families mixed, mingled, and had a great time at the program!

Ashley Semerenko, Social Services Program Manager at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, said, “having this party is a unique way we can connect with patients on a more personal level (it’s far beyond the treatment chair!). 

Seeing the adults and children connect is powerful and both volunteers and party attendees are touched every year by their experience (tears, hugs, recipes and holiday traditions shared).  The event wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers and donors.”

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Ben Massell Dental Clinic


Volunteer of the Month: Marcia Pearl

Why I Volunteer

Why I Volunteer - Marcia Pearl

“Volunteering has given me an opportunity for “Tikkun Olam”; I am helping JFCS to repair the greater Atlanta community.

Marcia Pearl JF&CS Volunteer of the MonthI have the best of two worlds. I am an Intake volunteer, where I have the joy of being part of a team that helps individuals who face significant impacts in their lives such as: loss of a job, mental health crises or indigence.

I am also a Chaplaincy volunteer, where I see to the spiritual needs of individuals in residential facilities or hospitals, and try to bring hope and solace.

According to the London School of Economics in a study of volunteerism, the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Another study in the Journal of Gerontology found that people who volunteer have less risk of dementia, and those that volunteer over 100 hours per year live longer and have better health outcomes.

So, in return for a handful of hours, I gain happiness, brains elasticity, longevity and good health. But, best of all is the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Rabbi Judith Beiner, Community Chaplain, said, “Marcia brings her warmth, compassion and gracious presence to patients and individuals she visits through Bikkur Cholim.  She indeed spreads smiles and sunshine!”

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Volunteer Services


Community Spotlight - Daffodil Project

Am Yisrael Chai Daffodil Project

On November 19, VIA Young Professionals of JF&CS, volunteers from Am Yisrael Chai and JF&CS staff helped members of our Holocaust Survivors Support program, to create a daffodil garden, as part of Am Yisrael Chai's Daffodil Project. The Daffodil Project was created in remembrance of children who were lost in the Holocaust.

Daffodil PlantingWith their help, we planted 850 bulbs and lay two rows of stones, painted with the names of children lost in the Holocaust. Thanks to all the volunteers for all your help!

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Volunteer Services


A Thanksgiving Message from the CEO

Happy Thanksgiving from Rick Aranson

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Operation Isaiah a Big Success!

Volunteers Sorted 11,000 lbs of food from the ACFB

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Meet the Staff: Caroline Burkholder, MS, RD, LD

CarolineCaroline joined JF&CS’ Health Power Initiative team in September 2017. A native of Atlanta, Caroline brings to JF&CS a background in nutrition education and wellness programming. She conducts and assesses health and wellness programs for clients, manages the Kosher food pantry, and maintains community partnerships to secure health promotion opportunities for participants across Atlanta. The Health Power Initiative program serves a range of clients with a special focus on older adults. Participants in her program learn how to eat healthfully on a budget and how to use food as a medium to prevent and manage chronic disease. Prior to coming to JF&CS, Caroline attended Georgia State University’s coordinated program in dietetics, where she received her Master’s degree and underwent 1200 hours of supervised practice to attain her credential as a dietitian. In tandem with her coursework, Caroline worked as the university nutritionist for the student body at GSU, and she worked as a nutrition educator for After School, a national non-profit organization that partners with Title I schools to teach children healthy cooking skills. She also taught undergraduate nutrition courses at GSU. Caroline is holds a Master of Science in Health Science, Nutrition from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Sewanee: University of the South. “Working with older adults is particularly rewarding because they deeply value the time and attention given to them. Whether doing hands on nutrition counseling or just talking to them about their favorite foods, older adults love the companionship and conversation and are eager to participate.”

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Volunteer of the Month: Andrea Holyfield

Andrea_HolyfieldAndrea started volunteering with JF&CS almost three years ago as the facilitator for our most popular workshop, LinkedIn for Job Search. We had launched the workshop a few months prior and suddenly our facilitator was not able to volunteer. This left us scrabbling until Andrea was referred to us as a LinkedIn expert who would do a fine job leading our new workshop. Later, when there were some major changes to LinkedIn, Andrea helped us create new material for the workshop participants.

Andrea comes each month with great enthusiasm for sharing the finer points of LinkedIn with our workshop participants and they leave the session armed with new information that will add to the effectiveness of their search. As workshop participants gather their belongings at the end of a class, it is common to hear people saying, “Andrea is fantastic” or “Andrea has taught me so much”. Andrea has certainly been a contributor to the Careers’ job search program.

Andrea:  Thank you for consistently being available to teach the How to Utilize LinkedIn in a Job Search workshop.   Your dedication to assisting our job seekers is invaluable. Many participants enter your training thinking that they know all that there is to know about LinkedIn only to remark later, “Wow I learned a lot of things about LinkedIn that I had no idea of."

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Holiday Gift Program

You can bring hope this holiday

Holiday Gift Program
Starting in 1995, the Holiday Gift Program, led by volunteer Jody Reichel, helps brighten the holiday season for Atlanta families who struggle to provide for their children, unable to afford the extras, and at times, even the essentials. 

Every year, members of our community fall on hard times whether through illness of a child or family member, unemployment, or another financial setback. Thank you to those of you who have donated in the past. We hope that you join us again this year as we help put smiles on the faces of needy children and their families.

 Here’s how you can participate: 

1. Adopt a child, teen or adult (age and/or gender requests will be honored where possible) and we will provide you with the wish list. This is a great way for your own children to participate in the process! 

2. Purchase gift cards to Kroger, Publix, Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Macy’s, Toys R Us, etc. that will go directly to the families. Gift cards may be mailed to JF&CS or arrangements may be made through email or phone call (see contact information below). 

3. Make a monetary donation directly to the Holiday Gift Fund and we will purchase a gift card(s) or gift(s) for a family or individual. 

Every dollar donated goes directly to the families and is tax deductible to you. All gifts are appreciated. Please make checks out to JF&CS and mail checks and/or gift cards to JF&CS, attention: Beth Feldser.

For more information or to get involved please contact Beth Feldser, 770-677-9334, bfeldser@jfcsatl.org

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Rosh Hashanah Appeal Helps 160 Familes

Partnering with the Hebrew Order of David, JF&CS Annual Rosh Hashanah Appeal Raises $12,000

Since 2008, JF&CS has had a strong partnership with the Hebrew Order of David (HOD) to raise funds for the Rosh Hashanah appeal. The money raised is given to members in need in the Atlanta Jewish community to enable them to host a Rosh Hashanah Meal. This year, we raised over $12,000 and provided 160 families the opportunity to celebrate the New Year. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the success of the Rosh Hashanah appeal, especially HOD brothers and liaison Alan Rubenstein. We couldn’t do it without you!

“Thank you so much for thinking of us and making a gift to the Rosh Hashanah appeal. We truly appreciate it. We will now be able to have a wonderful Rosh Hashanah meal. May the New Year bring you joy, health, and happiness” – a 2017 Rosh Hashanah appeal recipient 

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here


Community Spotlight: Mitzvah Day Partners

Thank you to all of our Project Partner Organizations! These groups helped market and recruit for 10 of our Mitzvah Day projects!

Project Partners:

Moishe House Buckhead

The Sixth Point

Congregation Gesher L’Torah

Eternal-Life Hemshech

Holocaust Survivor Support Fund

JF&CS PAL Program

JF&CS FITS (Families Inspired to Serve)

Congregation Etz Chaim Young Adults

Temple Sinai ATID

MJCCA Young Adults

Young Israel of Toco Hills

Our partners have some great things coming up over the next couple of months. Click below for more information

Posted in Volunteer Services


Volunteers of the Month

Three friends gather weekly in the Kosher Food Pantry

Although there are many wonderful volunteers who occasionally serve in the kosher food pantry, there are three consistently dedicated ladies: Merrie Weiss, Karen Schultz, and Fran Keller. For the past year, these ladies have shown up faithfully every Monday to help sort the generous donations in the JF&CS food pantry. All are former teachers and still feed the need to give. 

KFP volunteersWhen asked why she volunteered, Merrie said, “This is what makes us feel good. It is so nice to give people in-need something they can use.”

Karen agreed. “I enjoy knowing I am making a difference. I have also made new friends. It gives me a bit of a schedule, to know I need to be here each week,” she said.

The Kosher Food Pantry is an invaluable resource of healthy kosher food items for people in need. Instead of spending money on food, clients can use limited funds to pay utilities or other household needs. Donations for the food pantry come from several wonderful organizations and in-kind donations. The pantry relies on volunteers who work hard sorting and inspecting the donations to make sure that they are suitable to be eaten according to a healthy and Kosher diet. Fresh produce is donated to the Kosher Food Pantry from David Skoke and his team at Helping Feed Atlanta. In addition, vegetables grown in the giving garden are also available to Kosher Food Pantry recipients. 

“We are careful to make sure the dates are current and that all food has the right kosher symbol. I like to organize the shelves and make sure everything is space-efficient,” said Fran.

The volunteers make sure the Kosher Food Pantry is in tip-top shape and make it easier to find necessary items.

"We have a lot of clients with low-sodium diets,” said Geriatric Care Manager, Debbi Dooley. Dooley helps clients fill their baskets with healthy, nutrition food. She delights when finding certain foods in the panty. 

"We need non-sweetened cereal, canned salmon, quinoa, ready-cooked rice. Extra sources of protein are very important to these clients’ diets. These wonderful ladies help us to make the Kosher Food Pantry a comfortable place to get assistance” she said.

While the pantry stocks only Kosher certified foods, anyone who needs help is welcome. 

To find out more about the Kosher Food Pantry, including a list of needed items, visit www.jfcsatl.org/kfp

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Volunteer Services


Tritt Leadership Program Reunion a Success!

Tritt 3

On Sunday, August 13th VIA held its annual reunion for alumni of the Ramie A. Tritt Family Foundation Volunteers In Action Leadership Program. Graduates and their guests along with JF&CS staff spent a fun afternoon at Lake Lanier playing human bingo, swimming, exploring the lake and more. Thank you to Joyce and Ramie Tritt for opening their home and hosting! We look forward to many more years of the program, future reunions and continuing education and leadership events.

Tritt 2The Ramie A. Tritt Family Foundation Volunteers In Action Leadership Program is community service-based volunteer leadership program that provides participants with hands-on experiences and connects them with prominent leaders in Atlanta. It focuses on being active in the community and exploring how community service and philanthropy can help participants develop as a leader. The program runs annually from January to May.  Applications will be available November 2017.

This program is made possible by Joyce and Ramie Tritt and their extended families. Thank you for all your support! 

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Volunteer Services


Meet the JF&CS Staff: Georgia Gunter

As a Geriatric Care Manager and Certified Aging Life Care Manager, Georgia joined JF&CS’ Geriatric Care Management team in May 2017. An Atlanta native, she brings with her 26 years of experience in the aging eld, with an emphasis on home and community-based services. She currently serves as a geriatric care manager and leads a spousal caregiver support group.

Georgia GunterGeorgia has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Furman University. She earned a Master of Science in counseling and a graduate certificate in gerontology from Georgia State University, whose Gerontology Institute awarded her the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. Georgia is a certified Eden at Home associate and a member of the Aging Life Care Association.

Before coming to JF&CS, Georgia worked as the director of the Weinstein Center for Adult Day Services, located at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and more recently as the director of Adult Day of Dunwoody. In that role, she provided case management and caregiver support for the family members and clients she served. She is very active in the aging community and served on the Advisory Committee to the Governor’s Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Task Force Committee. She also served on the boards of LeadingAge Georgia and the Culture Change Network of Georgia and was president of the Georgia Adult Day Services Association.

Georgia believes she has much to learn from older adults as well as from the care partners she serves. “There’s a quote from the Live Oak Institute that really resonates with me:

‘An elder is a person who is still growing, still a learner, still with potential and whose life continues to have within it promise for and connection to the future.’

“I am so honored to work for an organization that truly values its elders.”

Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here, Aviv Older Adult Services

[12 3 4  >>