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Celebrating 96 years of service to the Jacksonville community. Honorary Chairs: Lawrence & Linda DuBow and J. Wayne & Delores Barr Weaver. Sponsorship opportunities available now! Contact email@example.com.
The Annual Block Family Food Challenge began on April 1st and continues through May 31st. Please give what you can and know, when you do, all cash gifts to the Feed-A-Needy-Neighbor Campaign (FANN) during April and May will be DOUBLED.
Thank you to your continued support of FANN, which benefits the Winn-Dixie Emergency Food Pantry, our on-site pantry here at JFCS. Your gifts throughout the year are always appreciated and in April and May doubly so! To make a donation you may come by our office, call (904) 394-5721, donate on-line at www.jfcsjax.org or click on our VIRTUAL FOOD DRIVE.
As the community prepares for Passover, we are reminded once again of the importance of freedom.
Freedom is a critical component of the Passover story. “Once we were slaves; now we are free” is a central theme in the Haggadah. As Americans, we are grateful to live in
a country where we enjoy many freedoms, including the opportunity to practice the religion of our choice.
But freedom is more than being liberated from slavery or from being under the power of another. A lack of freedom can also come from being constrained in having a choice or action. For the poor, it may mean a lack of peace of mind, good health, an education, safety, a dependable livelihood and a steady source of income, or basic necessities such as food. Those in poverty suffer from more than a lack of material things (money, shelter, and clothing), they often live in risky environments, have more insecurities, less opportunities and are making daily choices that have nothing to do with freedom.
Each day, we receive calls from individuals who face those kind of constraints. Whether it be an individual who is unemployed and doesn’t know how they can pay for both rent and utilities; a senior who has to choose between buying groceries or a prescription medicine; a young mother who is trying to decide whether to stay in an abusive relationship or seek an unknown life on her own.
As the holiday approaches, we realize once again how important – and yet how fragile – freedom is. We are grateful to be able to provide the programs and services that help people in need and we are equally grateful for your support so we are able to continue helping people help themselves.
From all of us at Jewish Family & Community Services . . . a Happy Passover,
Colleen Rodriguez, Executive Director
Like the characters in the Book of Esther, people and things are not always as they seem. You may have a neighbor struggling to meet his or her mortgage payment; a friend suffering with depression; a co-worker who is balancing the demands of caring for a family and an aging parent. These are common challenges we see every day at JFCS. If you or someone you know is hiding behind a mask of these day-to-day struggles and would benefit from counseling, financial assistance - or just knowing there is a place to go for help – call (904) 448-1933 today or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been home from my Educator Delegation Partnership2Gether trip to Israel for exactly 24 hours and, to be honest, I am totally exhausted. There are several things from this mission that stand out in my mind, but one place that affected my heart.
Before the trip we were asked to bring costumes along with us, but it was never explained who the costumes were for. I decided to ask my community at Beth El, the Beaches Synagogue, to donate their “gently used or new costumes” for a Purim Closet in Israel. The only thing I knew was that this Purim Closet was located in Pardes Hanna, Israel, part of our partnership region.
The donations poured in, and I could have brought 5 suitcases full of costumes to Israel, but could only afford to bring one. After arriving in Israel we were asked to bring our costumes down to the lobby of our hotel because the next day we were visiting Neve Michael Children’s Village where I was told they had an established costume closet. My suitcase joined the many other suitcases filled with costumes; still I was not prepared for what I was about to experience.
Neve Michael Children’s Village is a government sponsored facility serving 250 children ages 4-18 years from all over Israel. Many were brought to live there at a tender age and usually under traumatic circumstances. Many have suffered mental/physical/sexual abuse. In many cases, the natural parents of these children are afflicted with mental illness or drug and alcohol addictions.
The children live in group families with about 10 other children. They live with their “house parents” and “brothers” or “sisters” who become their family. They are fed, clothed and schooled there. Neve Michael is a multidisciplinary children’s home providing not only a loving home to them, but, a 24-hour Emergency Crisis Center, the first Teenage Girls’ Crisis Center in Israel and an Elementary School on the premises. There are day care facilities that serve disadvantaged children in the area, a Therapy Enrichment Center and an External Crisis Center and Therapy Counseling Unit, helping to keep families at risk intact even under the most trying circumstances.
The costume project in which we participated may seem like a small project in light of the other needs of the children that are served there. However, each year, as the costumes in their costume closet dwindle and they are given a new stock of costumes by the educators who visit, we could see first hand that these children would be enjoying a happy Purim this year.
At lunch, one little boy chose to sing us a song. This is a moment I will never forget. He was so excited to have visitors that he began to sing us a song in Hebrew. It was beautiful! I left Neve Michael one suitcase lighter, but with a new mission: to make sure our community knows how similar the needs of children are all over the world. I am proud to be working with an agency that serves a similar population of children here in Jacksonville and I am proud to have been part of a mission that helped bring joy to these children in Israel.
Hag Purim Sameach!
By Karen Susman, Jewish Healing Network Program Coordinator
Karen was one of four Jacksonville educators who recently traveled to the Hadera Region of Israel in a Federation/Israel Partnership Mission.
This is a sad and difficult time for our nation as we respond to the tragic situation in Connecticut. Jewish Family Service offers these points about talking to your children about tragedy.
Our hearts and prayers are with the families of Newtown.
This is an excerpt from sister agency, Jewish Family Services, in Houston. For additional information or assistance locally, please contact JFCS’ Dupont Counseling Group at 904-394-5706.
As the holiday season approaches, for some of us it brings excitement, for others, anticipation, and for some, even dread. Quite often, the joy and celebratory spirit is affected by our memories connected to these times. And depending on our own life experiences, holidays have unique meaning for each of us.
It can be tough to create a tradition free of the stress you may associate with the holidays. Whether it’s the interfaith household, the multi-generational interfaith family, or the co-parenting challenge for interfaith single parents, holiday planning may need to incorporate different approaches.
One of the most important ways to ease the stress of the holidays is to remember what’s important: Understanding. We can respect religious differences while still standing firm to our own beliefs. Parents and grandparents: know the role of religion in your own household and plan accordingly.
An equally important component is the establishment of the celebratory boundaries. For some families, traditions are intentionally blended—with a Hanukkah bush and/or use of seasonal lights in blue and white. For others, there is a clear separation yet mutual participation in both holidays. And for some, the kids are simply told “grandma and grandpa have a Christmas tree and a Menorah because they celebrate both holidays, but in our home, we just celebrate Hanukkah.”
Whether it’s traditional or not, kids follow our lead. We are the ones who create these boundaries; we set the example. When we know what we are doing with this holiday season, they go with the flow.
Let’s remember this is a joyful time of year! We can have fun with and be creative in celebrating our differences, while still staying true to our values. There are no rule books. This is memory-building time. The goal is to give our kids joyful memories instead of stressful ones. The more comfortable we are in holiday planning as a family, the more at ease our kids will feel.
With that said, from all of us at the Dupont Counseling Group, we wish you and your loved ones the most delightful holiday celebration. Whatever it may be!
Rachel Weinstein, LMHC, Manager of Clinical Services, Dupont Counseling Group
Editor’s Note: Dupont Counseling Group is comprised of a team of qualified licensed therapists with over 40 years of combined experience. Individual, family, couples and group counseling available. Most insurance accepted as well as a sliding fee scale. Counseling is an option for all—you don’t just have to be Jewish!
The Fragility of the Sukkah: A Personal Story
BY: HEATHER COREY, JFCS Director of Development & Marketing
June 24, 2012 was to be just like any day… family outing, grab a quick lunch and grocery shopping for three growing girls. Maybe hit the pool before a Florida afternoon shower rolled in. But it wasn’t. We had just ordered lunch; the food had just arrived at the table and then my husband’s cell phone rang. And from there it seemed like time stopped. He dropped his fork, then his head. The loud busy restaurant seemed quiet even though it was not.
The call was short just long enough to tell the news. We had to leave right now. We left everything on the table. We hadn’t even eaten yet. The car ride was quiet, nothing was said. What do you say after THAT call? A 20 minute drive across town felt like two hours. When we arrived it felt like time had stopped, again. Was this for real? How? Why?
On that day, that brief phone call changed our family. The call was to say that Jeremy, my husband’s only brother, had taken his own life. Jeremy was only 34 years young, wife and two young daughters – 10 and 6.
The hours, days and week following that call seemed like months. And then came some of the hardest parts: the doubts, the questions, the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘if onlys’. And the realization that nothing is permanent; life does not stay the same.
As the Jewish community comes together to observe Sukkot, a festival of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest, many people will also build a sukkah, a temporary shelter. In many ways the sukkah is a reminder of how fragile and temporary life can be. I share my personal story because the day my husband received that phone call, I too was reminded that we are only here but a short time.
How many times has one phone call changed your life? It happens every day. But this was all new to me. I have never known anyone to take their own life – not in school, family or friends. I cannot imagine the heartbreak Jeremy’s mom, dad, brother and sister have experienced. I cannot imagine how his daughters can understand that their daddy is no longer here. And I cannot imagine a depression so severe that it does not know the long term effects on family and friends.
Yes, life is brief and fragile but while we are in the here and now, do not forget to count your blessings of even the smallest portion. A beautiful butterfly floating by, an unexpected kiss and hug from your toddler, a teenager that actually just said thank you for your help, the parent who calls just to check in on you (even at the worse possible moment to take the call). Be grateful for a clear blue sky, when you find a quarter for the parking meter after you’ve torn your purse apart and when you’ve baited that hook with your grandchild 50 times already but they just can’t seem to get it to stay on.
Do not let the little things slip you by. Count your blessings daily and give thanks. Hug and tell your family you love them everyday. And if you are having symptoms of depression, get help now. Do not let depression win. It is your family who loses the most.
GET HELP NOW!
JFCS has licensed clinical counselors available for life’s transitions, hurts and hang-ups. Assistance will be kept confidential. Call 394-5706 for more information, an appointment and about our sliding fee scale.
Dear JFCS Family,
We invite you to participate in our 40 in forty Campaign (that’s $40,000 in 40 days) and over the next six weeks, we are going to give you 40 reasons to do so.
But first, here are four good reasons that we hope will help you understand why this campaign is so important:
At Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS), our staff works with children and families from all backgrounds – kids who are hurting, whose family life has been disrupted. And our staff invites you to help! In addition to making a difference through foster care, adoption, counseling, financial assistance and at-risk intervention programs, our staff sees kids in need everyday — not just the needs they address with their professional expertise but basic needs, things kids need for school extracurricular activities and household start-up items for those aging out of foster care.
So we asked our staff – what necessities do kids need? And what types of extras would provide them with more “normalcy?” Each week we will be sending you several reasons to give! With your help, we can raise funds to purchase items* when the needs arise. Our 40 in forty Campaign can and will make a difference.
40. So a young man can rent a tuxedo and go to the prom.
39. So a middle school student can buy a new pair of tennis shoes.
38. So a single mom can afford glasses for her son.
37. So a high school senior can go on the class trip.
36. So a child can take violin lessons.
35. So a 17 year old, aging out of Foster Care, can buy sheets, towels and a pillow.
34. So a first grader can have a brand new outfit for the first day of school.
33. So a young parent can afford to buy groceries.
32. So a high school senior can afford a senior picture, or a class ring.
31. So a young girl can have a bicycle with pink pom-poms.
30. So a child can take dance lessons.
29. So a parent can afford dental care for their child.
28. So a child in foster care can own a real suitcase.
27. So a family can afford to buy shoes, socks and underwear for their kids.
26. So a student can go on a field trip with friends.
24. So a child can go to summer camp.
23. So an aspiring young T-ball player can afford a team photo.
22. So a high school student can buy a bus pass.
21. So a child can attend a birthday party.
20. So a young lady can afford high heeled shoes and a matching purse.
19. So a young lady can go out for cheerleading.
18. So a young man can play team sports.
17. So a grandmother can afford to send her grandchild to dance lessons.
16. So a high school graduate can buy a lap top (it is now a college requirement).
15. So a child “aging out” of foster care can buy pots & pans, dishes and silverware.
14. So a child can be given tutoring to help ensure success in school.
13. So a 1st grader can have a new purple backpack for school.
12. So a new graduate can afford a cap & gown.
11. So a parent can afford braces for their child.
10. So a child can have a reading tutor.
9. So an 18 year old, aging out of foster care, can buy a vacuum cleaner for their first apartment.
8. So a middle school student can afford a calculator needed for a higher level math class.
7. So an elementary student can start each school year with brand new school supplies.
6. So a teen-aged girl can afford to get her hair done and go to the Prom.
5. So a child can pay the fees that are necessary for participating in a sports activity.
4. So a young mother can buy the appropriate, safety-approved car seat.
3. So a young person can have a stuffed teddy bear all their very own.
2. So boys and girls can join clubs and be part of their school community.
1. So no child goes to bed hungry at night.
*While you may be tempted to give such items as an in-kind gift, JFCS is not requesting such actions. We are requesting financial contributions to help when the needs arise year-round.
There are 3 easy ways to give TODAY!
2. Mail your generous donation to:
JFCS: 40 in 40
6261 Dupont Station Court, E.
Jacksonville, FL 32217
3. Call 904-394-5721 to give by credit card over the phone.
COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING 1-800-435-7352, WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. REGISTRATION NUMBER CH -348.