A Message from JFS President Bob Wolff

Hi. I’m Bob Wolff, President of the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Services of Greater Harrisburg (“JFS”). I am writing this summary to give you an update on what is happening to JFS in the wake of this current pandemic. To sum up, as an introduction, JFS is continuing to serve our community, and the most vulnerable and needy in it, at this especially trying time. However, the impact of the pandemic forced JFS to change its model to adapt to the new socially-distanced world we live in today.

I am writing this, instead of JFS’s Executive Director Barry Stein, due to the fact that he was stricken with the coronavirus and is currently hospitalized. We are all profoundly saddened by this development, and are praying and hoping for his speedy recovery (Refuah Shlema). For updates on his condition, please visit: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/barrystein. We believe, although I cannot say with certainty, that Barry contracted the disease sometime during the week of March 8 (although he was not diagnosed with the disease until March 26). He developed symptoms in the evening of March 12 while he was home and never left home again until he entered the hospital on March 26.

Getting back to JFS, in the interim I have been functioning as Acting Executive Director with the help and support of other current and former-members of the Board of Directors. During the two-weeks that Barry was home sick, he and I worked tirelessly to transition JFS and its various programs to being able to conduct their operations on a remote basis. At that time (before we learned of Barry’s COVID19 diagnosis), we continued to keep the JFS building open for anyone to come in and inquire about services, provided of course that they maintained social-distancing and were not any symptoms of illness. We followed all the appropriate CDC guidelines for protecting our employees and the public from the risk of infection. However, once we learned of Barry’s diagnosis, we had no choice but to close the building. We put signage on the building indicating that we are still operating and provide contact information.  We monitor our telephone answering message and website and follow-up with  prospective clients and people seeking information.

With the exception of our small food pantry, all the remainder of our services continue to operate on a remote basis. Our Finkelstein-Cohen Kosher Meals On Wheels (“KMOW”) program continues to provide meals, on a limited basis given the size of JFS and the KMOW budget funds, for those unable to get meals for themselves. Essentially, those individuals who were receiving KMOW prior to the pandemic continue to receive deliveries with a small supplement given the increased demand. We are seeking a grant from the United Way for this program, However, if you want to help JFS maintain and/or expand the scope of the KMOW program during this increased time of need, please contact our Office Manager, Chudney Lewis by email, clewis@jfsofhbg.org or by phone, (717) 233-1681.

Our Myndworks counseling program got off to a slow start in this brave new world we now live in as third-party insurers were slow in embracing the concept of conducting therapy sessions remotely. However, it is fundamentally operating as before, providing counseling and therapy as needed. Similarly, our Family-Based Mental Health Program continues to operate again on a remote-basis giving children and families assistance in navigating through their personal issues or crises, as well as these difficult times. Our Adoption and Foster Care programs are also operating in this remote context. Finally, our Case Management & Assistance Program (Project Lift) continues to be available to give individuals financial assistance when they are facing an acute need and helping gain access to mental health counseling or other services.

In sum, JFS continues to serve our community providing help and services so desperately needed in this most of challenging times. Your continued support for JFS has enabled us to fulfill this mission for so many years. As you can imagine this new mode effects both our operations and costs. Due to the impact of the pandemic and the changes we had to implement, revenue from these programs has declined. We are closely monitoring the situation and doing everything possible to keep JFS and its programs operating. For example, we have applied to the Small Business Administration for a loan/grant (as well as the United Way mentioned above) to help support JFS support. We are grateful to our dedicated employees who have continued working in these challenging conditions. Please consider a donation at this time to help us continue to help others. If you want to financially help, please mail your check to JFS of Greater Harrisburg, 3333 N. Front St., Harrisburg, PA 17110, or contact our Office Manager, Chudney Lewis by email, clewis@jfsofhbg.org or by phone, (717) 233-1681. Zei gesunt. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay well.