With Will on a well-deserved sabbatical until October 2021, I am stepping in as acting CEO, and delighted to take this opportunity to (re)introduce myself. Four and a half years ago, two friends separately reached out to me to mention that Jewish Family Service was hiring a new COO after Claudia Berman’s retirement. Knowing the agency’s strong reputation in the Greater Seattle area, I jumped at the chance. A coffee chat with Will soon followed, and I was convinced that JFS was where I wanted to return to my social service non-profit roots. Today, I am honored to lead JFS during Will’s sabbatical and am available at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to connect.
Sharing that I work at JFS has led to unexpected and wonderful conversations with strangers and friends alike about their own connections to Judaism, ranging from discussions about mixing faith traditions—as we do in my own blended family—to poignant stories about rediscovering Jewish heritage. These stories connect me in new ways to the local Jewish community and the varied expressions of what it means to be Jewish in Seattle.
Recently, I read a compelling memoir written by a former West Seattle neighbor. Entitled “Girl Left Behind”, it’s the story of a young girl left behind for five years with her grandmother while her parents and brother flee the Soviet regime in Hungary to resettle in the United States—and her subsequent discovery that her father was a Holocaust survivor. Until she shared her story, I had no idea of her past. It is through storytelling that we form a deeper connection and understanding of each other. In that vein, I am pleased to share with you some of the things happening at JFS this summer and fall.
Throughout the pandemic, we continued to meet the needs of clients. While JFS kept our doors open, we did scale back our in-person services to protect the health of our clients, staff, volunteers, and community. Over the past year and a half, we’ve looked to both King County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention for health safety guidance. With the recent recommendations from both KCPH and the CDC that everyone wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, JFS is requiring that all staff and visitors wear masks indoors at our facilities. Visitors include volunteers, vendors, clients, board members, etc.
As we emerge from the last 17 months, JFS is meeting community needs in new and expanded ways. In recognition of this increased need, we are hiring additional staff across the agency to better serve the community. I encourage you to visit our Careers Page at www.jfsseattle.org/careers to learn about open positions. Some of our recent service expansion efforts are highlighted below:
- Expanding our work with Holocaust survivors and Russian-speaking seniors, including increasing the number of survivors who we serve from 148 in the last fiscal year to 194 in the coming fiscal year.
- Reducing social isolation for elderly clients and those with disabilities throughout the pandemic by providing Shabbat meal deliveries twice a month.
- With grant funding, beginning case management services for victims of sex and labor trafficking.
- Planning for an increase in our refugee resettlement program from 200 during this last year to 600 in the coming federal fiscal year.
- Launching our 2021 JFS Community-Wide Food Drive for Sunday, September 26, including limited volunteer opportunities for vaccinated adults to package the food drive donations that day. Visit our website for more details!
Thank you for being a vital part of our JFS community.