TIKUN OLAM: THE JFS WAY
By Lisa Keefauver, special to the WJN
The Ann Arbor Jewish community is accomplished, caring and strong. As a community, we share a lot of recreational and professional interests. We also share similar hardships. Many face financial, marital or medical issues. Others may be unemployed or underemployed. Some have parents with aging issues or children with academic or behavioral struggles.
Tikun olam, a core Jewish principle of “repairing the world,” recognizes the differences and similarities in each one of us and makes it a priority to address the needs of others. Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County was founded on the principle of tikun olam, welcoming everyone into the agency with the hopes of addressing whatever hardship brought the client through the door.
JFS serves people from all over the world, as well as all over Ann Arbor. The needs, like the individuals, are equally diverse. For instance, Jewish individuals have reached out for assistance with severe and persistent mental illnesses or cognitive disabilities. Others reintegrating into society after incarceration rely on JFS for support through this transition. Older adults with no family to rely on in the area have aged with dignity through the assistance of JFS.
As a Jewish community, tikun olam is a joining characteristic that not only brings us together to help other Jewish people, but also to help everyone within our community who could use an extra hand. JFS works tirelessly with anyone who seeks their services and therefore needs the support of the Jewish community in order to serve everyone.
While JFS’s Annual Campaign contributes to program operations, special campaigns throughout the year focus on subsidizing low-income clients so that they may have access to the vital services they need at JFS. One such fund, the Eric Keefauver Memorial Fund supplements the cost to all in the community who find themselves in need of JFS services such as counseling or Patient Partners.
On April 15, the JFS Team will run the Big House Big Heart race for the second time, benefiting the Eric Keefauver Memorial Fund. This community wide event is the perfect opportunity for the Jewish community to join together to support each other through this race. This joining together will be symbolic of how we support each other through life’s challenges throughout the year in the spirit of tikun olam.
Sign up to walk or run with the JFS team or make a donation in honor of the Eric Keefauver Memorial Fund at www.jfsannarbor.org supporting access to JFS’s critical services for all clients in need.
Leading the Way
JFS Presents the 2012 Bernstein Leadership Award to Carol Amster
Join Us on March 25: JFS@UMS
On March 25, Jewish Family Services will honor Carol Amster with the Claire and Isadore Bernstein Leadership Award. The award is presented to members of the Ann Arbor area who have demonstrated outstanding service to JFS and the community. The JFS program will take place from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Rackham Assembly Hall, followed by a 4 p.m. University Musical Society concert featuring musicians with the San Francisco Symphony.
Over the years, a rich tapestry of experiences shaped Carol’s intense desire to not only give, but to create a legacy that ensured a future for the Jewish people. From early eye opening trips to the Soviet Union and Israel to active participation in the Temple Sisterhood and UJA, Carol authentically lives the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
Carol Amster and her late husband, Herb, devoted nearly four decades to supporting the Ann Arbor community including the establishment of the Herbert and Carol Amster Lupus Research Fund at the University of Michigan. Additionally, Carol served on numerous boards including The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, UMS, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and NEW Center. She was also active on the Ann Arbor Holocaust Memorial committee and devoted ten years as Director of UJA Washtenaw County. Carol received the Celebration of Women volunteer award and together, she and Herb were recipients of the Federation Humanitarian Award.
More than anything, Carol hopes that future generations in her family will continue the tradition of giving. “To see the smiles on their faces when you give…to see how happy people are…that’s the legacy,” she says.
JFS Clients Need Urgent Dental Care
By Mira Sussman, Special to the WJN
While many tout the fact that the United States has the most advanced health services and technology in the world, the fact remains that for many low-income individuals, including refugees and immigrants, these resources are far from accessible. Barriers, such as high costs of insurance and medical professionals who do not accept Medicaid, create significant problems for many clients of Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County.
In the past few months, JFS has seen an increase in clients needing advanced dental care, including multiple root canals. These clients come to JFS caseworkers reporting pain, swelling and often difficulty concentrating or sleeping due to dental problems. They also report not having had access to dental care in their home countries, so that when they arrive in the U.S., their dental problems have advanced to a very serious degree.
Since JFS offers wrap-around services, clients that come to the agency for ESL classes or counseling services may also need assistance in addressing their dental needs. As dental issues become more advanced, attention must be paid to that concern first, before other needs can be met.
Refugees with children under age 18 are eligible for Medicaid, which covers doctors’ visits and some dental services such as basic cleanings and dental extractions. However, it does not cover services that are more expensive, such as root canals, crowns or dentures.
“The dentist told me that they could only pull my teeth,” said a JFS client. “I had many teeth on both sides that needed to be fixed, but they couldn’t fix them. I didn’t want to look like a rabbit [by having multiple teeth extracted, leaving only two front teeth], so I did nothing.”
Another young client came to JFS with serious infection in multiple teeth, as well as dental decay that looked like holes had been pierced through the teeth. This client had also been told that the only solution at this point was extraction.
While Washtenaw County has a wealth of resources including low-cost medical clinics, the multiple hospitals and access to the Washtenaw Health Plan, the lack of dental care resources for advanced dental decay has a glaring hole in the web of providers. JFS caseworkers work hard to connect these clients with the network financial assistance providers, but these resources rarely provide more than a few hundred dollars, when advanced dental work can easily cost thousands of dollars.
If you are able to help provide financial assistance for dental services, or are a dentist who can provide pro bono dental services, please contact Mira Sussman at Jewish Family Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JFS takes over Meals on Wheels on Christmas Day
By Alice Miller, Special to the WJN
Ten years ago, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels approached Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County about taking over the meal delivery to their homebound clients on Christmas day. The request, in line with the agency’s mission, and on a day when most JFS employees and volun-teers were free, was a perfect fit. And it has been every Christmas since.
Lisa Franklin, the current director of Programs and Community Outreach at JFS, lead the agency’s participation in 2011 delivering meals around the Ann Arbor community on December 25. More than 40 JFS volunteers delivered two meals to 134 people on 18 different routes.
Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels delivers food six days a week to homebound clients around the community who are not able to shop or cook for themselves.
As Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, a day clients typically do not receive meals, they were particularly surprised to see JFS volunteers on their doorsteps.
“I think people were appreciative to receive a meal, but were also excited to have contact on a day they normally may not,” Franklin said.
The Meals on Wheels staff and clients were especially thankful this year as it was the first Sunday in the past nine years that they were able to deliver on a Sunday.
While clients were appreciative, the volunteers with JFS also enjoyed the experience.
“My favorite part was seeing all the families who participated,” Franklin said. “A few of the families have been delivering together this day for years and have made it an integral part of their family tradition; one which they look forward to every year.”
For more information on volunteering with JFS, contact Lisa Franklin at email@example.com or call 769-0209.
Thank you for your purchase of tickets for JMS @ UMS honoring Carol Amster as the recipent of the Claire and Isadore Bernstein Leadership Award for 2012.
Please consider making an additonal contribution to Jewish Family Services in her honor.
Also, please consider contributing toward seed money for the establishment of the Herb Amster Center empowering individuals and families through training, counseling, employment and entrepreneurship services.
Anya Abramzon Phyllis Herzig
Executive Director President