Weathering the ‘New Normal’ Together

Dear Friends,

I have been in touch with many of you over the past week, and each conversation shares a similar anxiety and concern. The fear may be real, but so is the opportunity to move past it. Please know Jewish Family Service is here for you. We have weathered many storms over the years, and we have always come out of them together. This one won’t be different.

I want to be clear that I do not believe this will be over in a month or two. What is more likely is that things will stabilize to a “new normal” in the months ahead. With that in mind, we are working to prepare JFS for an extended state of communal disruption, so we can continue to care for those who rely on us. I anticipate that number will increase significantly in the days and months ahead in ways that are not yet clear. We will play to our strengths and be ready to adjust as required. And we will need your help.

In this critical moment, here are two meaningful ways you can support JFS:

  • Our annual Community of Caring Luncheon was canceled, like so many events. The Luncheon is one of the primary ways we raise funds to meet the increasing and ever-changing needs of our community and is responsible for generating one-third of our annual budget. We need to replace those funds and raise more to be able to meet the increased demands coming our way. Give now and help unlock $300,000 of matching gifts!
  • Thank you for your interest! We are determining the best way to deploy volunteers in service of our clients. Please fill out the registration form on our Volunteer Services page.

Program & Operational Updates:

  • We are serving clients by shifting our services to telephone and web-based interactions where possible. Our Seattle and Kent campuses are open, but we are limiting physical access to essential services only. Our Eastside campus is closed to clients through the month of March. We are adhering to local, state, and national guidelines and are adapting as necessary.
  • All JFS non-essential staff are being encouraged to work from home. For employees who cannot do their current job remotely, we are working to redeploy them to help in other ways that are necessary.
  • Our Emergency Services team is preparing for a profound increase in need for financial assistance and eviction prevention. Interactions with clients are taking place electronically. If you need help, please fill out this intake form.
  • Nine Refugee and Immigrant Services clients, many of whom worked for the airport, are now without jobs due to COVID-19 economic impacts. These clients face serious financial difficulties, and we anticipate a considerable increase in rental and employment needs for the refugee and immigrant population overall.
  • The Polack Food Bank is still open to clients on Monday evenings, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and Thursday afternoons. We are now pre-bagging groceries and handing them out on the sidewalk to limit interactions and to practice safe social distancing. Regular home deliveries are happening and are expected to increase. We have posted a list of the items the food bank urgently needs right now.
  • The Counseling & Addiction Services team is offering telehealth services for all clients through HIPAA-compliant Zoom accounts. If you need help, please fill out this intake form.
  • Project DVORA is operating as always by focusing on helping domestic violence survivors with safety planning and imminent legal concerns such as protection orders. We are also providing immediate housing support as needed. If you need help, please call (206) 861-3159.
  • The Supportive Living Services (formerly SAJD) team is transitioning away from a home services model to a phone communication model. Staff continue to help clients with everyday tasks such as bill paying, grocery shopping, coordinating medications and more. They are also acting as healthcare liaisons in case of emergencies.
  • Older Adult Services has been directed by the City of Seattle to end home visits for clients and move to phone support as much as possible. The Social Security Administration offices have also closed, meaning all benefits support must be done over the phone. This will likely result in increased wait times for clients and their case managers.

For the most up-to-date information going forward, please visit our new COVID-19 resource page at We will update the page regularly as new developments occur.

Lastly, just because we are engaging in social distancing does not mean we need to distance ourselves emotionally. I have always believed that in these difficult moments, doors open—and the choice is ours to walk through them or not. They will close again. We are given an opportunity to have new conversations or to heal old wounds. If we take those first steps, we can positively transform our relationships with our families, our friends, our community, and even ourselves. I hope you will join me in taking these steps.

In peace,



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