Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg is pleased to report that it continues to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19 head on, and through the support of our many donors and volunteers, and the dedicated efforts of our board and staff, we have increased our services to the community over the past year. With the current mental health stresses touching all of our lives and with so many families facing financial uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic, JFS has been at the forefront of transforming the lives of individuals and families in the Greater Harrisburg area and helping everyone reach their full potential and achieve health, wholeness and stability.
Looking back, our Impact Statements for the past year include:
- Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, JFS served over 5,500 fresh, nutritious, low-sodium, healthy kosher meals to local, homebound seniors through our Finkelstein – Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels Program. We are so pleased to report that we have not missed one day of meal delivery over the past year and a half.
- JFS thanks the leadership of The Jewish Home for preparing the meals that we serve to our seniors.
- JFS could not have achieved this milestone without our KMOW volunteers, including Larry Freedman, Susan Gordon, Mike Shapiro, Dave Sherman, Rachel Weinstock, Renee Lariff, Ellis & Ann Rosenberg, Maggie Grotzinger, Enid Wassner, Gloria Kaplan, Julie Sherman, Robyn Chotiner, Karen Schneider, Jill Henig and Jackie Keever.
- JFS has been inundated by requests for emergency financial assistance and distributed more than $30,000 to 131 clients last year. This is more than double what had been disbursed in prior years, and we are grateful to Ellen Geduldig, Lois Lehrman Grass, and many other donors who underwrote these funds through their gift to the Human Service Grant of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, which was administered by the Jewish Community Foundation of Central PA.
- Last year, JFS delivered over 3,200 Mental Health Counseling sessions for children, teens, families, adults and seniors. Many of these sessions were delivered through our Mynd Works program and others through our Family Based Mental Health counseling program, which offers intensive counseling to families in crisis.
- JFS began consulting with the staff and with the middle school age students of The Silver Academy last year to provide mental health support and socio-emotional guidance to teachers, administrators and students.
- JFS worked with over 70 families last year to help local children find forever families through our foster care and adoption program. JFS estimates that since launching our adoption and foster care services, we have placed over 5,000 children in loving and supportive homes.
- Our expanded Libby Urie Food Pantry provided close to 10,000 pounds of food to local community members who struggle to put food on their tables. JFS remains the only food pantry that stocks Kosher items in our pantry, and we also have non-kosher food items and a selection of personal care items. JFS is grateful to our local synagogues and religious schools and to The Silver Academy for undertaking food drives throughout the year. JFS is particularly grateful to chef Lee Casher of Lee’s Good Eats, and her project “Save the Bananas,” who has become our close partner in providing food to families in need throughout the community.
- JFS relaunched its website to be more user friendly and accessible. The new site can be found at here.
- On a beautiful summer day in July, JFS partnered with the Harrisburg Senators to bring together over 750 community members to see the National Israeli Baseball Team play a game at FNB Field prior to heading off to the Tokyo Olympics. JFS highlighted the heroic efforts of first responders at the event, including acknowledging the incredible work of the JFS staff throughout the pandemic.
- JFS also honored former Executive Director, Barry Stein on a Zoom event attended by over 100 people. The event featured an engaging interview of Barry and his wife, Susie, by Michael Greenwald, the former VP of Programming at WITF, the surprise appearance of Barry’s brother, Reuben, who Barry had not seen in over two years, and the proclamation made in his honor by the House of Representatives and presented by Representative Susan Helm.
Looking ahead to 2022- JFS is looking forward to:
- Continuing to provide for the basic human needs of the Jewish and greater Harrisburg community through our essential human and social services, such as expanding the amount of food provided to community members through The Libby Urie Food Pantry and continuing to provide financial assistance through the Geduldig Fund and the Back on Track initiative.
- Continuing to provide the highest quality mental health services to the children, teens, families, adults and seniors of our community.
- Continuing to provide meals and services to seniors through the Finkelstein – Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels Program.
- This year, JFS will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary of delivering meals to homebound seniors through our Finkelstein – Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels program (KMOW) on Thursday, June 9, 2022. Headlining the event will be internationally renowned chef, Michael Solomonov. The event will also focus on the expansion of The Libby Urie Food Pantry, which provides non-perishable food to community members in need.
- If you would like to be involved in this event or if you would like to volunteer to pack or deliver meals for the Kosher Meals on Wheels program, please contact JFS at 717-233-1681.
Fiscal year 2022 will be unlike any we have known before, but JFS is fully prepared to meet our mission to help individuals and families meet life’s challenges. We remain committed to being a forward-thinking mental health and social service agency dedicated to helping people achieve their fullest potential while honoring choice, diversity, and Jewish values through every stage of life. If you or anyone you know needs our services, please contact our office at 717-233-1681.
We thank our loyal staff, our devoted volunteers and our generous donors who continue to propel us forward to better the lives of those in Greater Harrisburg who come to us seeking help and support.