06July

Finding Her Balance

Finding Her Balance

Sometimes things just fall into place, even when it seems like they’re falling apart. When Gloria White walked into JF&CS in January 2015, she was “a wreck, a ball of anxiety.” You wouldn’t know it now.

Gloria had been a carefree college student living on her own, “a millennial going out and having fun all the time.” Then her mom, who had been sick, needed to have a leg amputated. Gloria moved back home.
“I was thrust into the role of caregiver, all while working full-time as a nanny and going to school,” Gloria said. “It was a huge commitment, and I didn’t know how to manage it.”

Under a great deal of stress, she searched the Internet and found JF&CS’ Caregiver Support Services. She wasn’t sure if the agency would serve her, being that she is not Jewish. She didn’t need to worry.

“From the minute I walked in, I have felt so happy and comfortable with everyone,” she said. “I am the youngest person in my caregiver group. They all have kids or grandkids my age! But even with the age and religious differences, I have never felt more at home.”

JF&CS helped Gloria see life can go on, and she didn’t have to give everything up. “Caregiver Services renewed my spirit and helped me appreciate being a single, 27-year-old girl. I want to make sure my mom is taken care of, but I can’t take care of anybody unless I take care of me.”

The group’s focus is always on self-care, explained Debbi Dooley, the case manager in charge of the group. “Some who attend are so immersed in the care they provide to loved ones, they put their own needs and goals on hold. This group is quite exceptional. The members watch out for each other, nurturing and taking younger participants under their wings.”

That was just the beginning of Gloria’s JF&CS journey. When she mentioned she would be finishing Georgia State in December 2015 and looking for a position in her career field, Debbi steered her to Career Services. She enrolled in a LinkedIn workshop and worked with the career coaches on her resume and interviewing skills. She also joined JF&CS’ first gPATH class for college graduates who need help figuring out what they want to do and finding a job.

“I knew the kind of job I wanted. I kept getting interviews, but I didn’t know how to land it. gPATH really helped me polish it up.”

After the program started, Gloria got a job with Lyft, a national ride-sharing company. She credits JF&CS with giving her the tools to find it. Still, she stuck with gPATH, which takes participants from landing the job to choosing between offers to negotiating salaries and figuring out benefits and finances.

“Gloria understood what she needed to do to move from school to work in a way most of our new grads do not,” said Bonnie Klein, director of Career Services. “Her main concern was how to write and talk about the transferable skills in her nanny experience. We worked on presenting them, and Gloria ran with it. Like so many people with whom we work, all she needed was some information and coaching, and it empowered her to be her own advocate.”

With her new job, Gloria has learned to let go a little. She found an in-home nurse to care for her mom, which gives Gloria some free time. She remains part of the caregivers group and looks forward to each meeting. The best part? “JF&CS showed me I could love others better by learning to love myself first.”

For more information about these programs, visit ytfl.org/caregivers or ytfl.org/gPATH.

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in Aviv Older Adult Services, Career Services

About the Author

Sheri Panovka

Sheri Panovka

Sheri Panovka is JF&CS' Marketing Communications Coordinator. As one of JF&CS' principal writers, writes for the printed publications, enewsletters, synagogue bulletins, website and many of our events.