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JFS Perspectives

News, stories, events, and ideas from Jewish Family Service of Colorado.

Disability Etiquette: How to Portray Someone with a Disability

Friday, February 05, 2016

Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month 

To commemorate Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, our Jewish Disabilities Advocates coordinator provided the following tips on how to portray someone with a disability:

Never use the word “handicapped.” Like many terms that refer to minorities, the word itself is not the problem, but the negativity that has been attached to it. At the least, it denotes a problem or a burden. At worst it denotes incapability. Also, a parking space, an entrance, or a restroom may be “accessible,” but should not be called “handicapped.”

Place the person before the disability out of respect for their individual uniqueness and worth. Use “person with a disability” or “my friend who uses a wheelchair” rather than “disabled person” or “disabled individual.”

Because a person is not a condition, avoid referring to an individual by the condition he or she has, such as “post-polio,” a “cerebral palsy” or an “epileptic.” Say, instead, a person who…“has/had polio,” “has cerebral palsy,” or “has spina bifida,” etc.

When writing about people with disabilities, choose words that carry positive, non-judgmental connotations. Avoid words such as the following:

  • Victim: Instead use “person who has/person who experienced/person with…”
  • Cripple/Crippled/the Crippled: Instead use “person with a disability/individual with a disability caused by or as a result of…”
  • Afflicted By/Afflicted With: Instead use “has (such and such) disability.”
  • Invalid: This word literally means “not valid.” Instead use “person who has a disability…”
  • Wheelchair Bound: Instead say, “the person uses a wheelchair.”
  • Unfortunate, Pitiful, Poor, Deaf and Dumb, Crip, Deformed, Blind as a Bat, and any other words or clichés that are judgmental or stereotyping: There are no replacements for these!
Remember to depict the typical achiever, as well as the newsworthy achiever. Emphasize the uniqueness and worth of all individuals rather than the differences. Avoid using “normal” unless referring to statistical norms or averages, but not as a label for a person with a disability. The word “typical” is more widely accepted. What is normal anyway?

Source: Disability Rights & Resource: A consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, non-residential, private, non-profit Center for Independent Living.

-Lynn Rubenstein, Jewish Disabilities Advocates coordinator

Make Super Bowl 50 a Super Mitzvah!

Friday, January 29, 2016


What's a little rivalry among friends, especially when it benefits a good cause? Rabbi Joe Black, senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Denver, and his colleague in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rabbi Judith Schindler, of Temple Beth El, have a friendly wager on Superbowl 50. Whose ever team wins will receive 2/3 of the funds for the charity of their choice. The losing team receives the rest.

Rabbi Black and Temple Emanuel have chosen our Lunchbox Express program to be the recipient WHEN the Broncos win next Sunday!! Community members are encouraged to donate $18, $36, or $72 (or higher). So far, more than $1,700 has been donated by 44 people in both cities!

Check out the awesome video Rabbi Black and his staff at Temple Emanuel made:


And check out Rabbi Black on 9News this morning.

Whatever the outcome next Sunday (it better be a Broncos victory!), JFS wins! Check out the Fundly campaign the rabbis set up and make your donation!


-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Tips for Staying Active During the Winter Months

Friday, January 22, 2016


By Katelyn Jones, Jay and Rose Phillips Senior Solutions Center intern and Wheat Ridge activity coordinator

This article was originally published in the January/February issue of the Jewish Family Service Family Matters newsletter as the "Seniors Matter" article and was written with seniors in mind, but it can apply to any age.

Coming up with excuses for not exercising seems to be a pretty easy task. Throw in cold temperatures, snow, ice, and a dark, dreary sky and the chances of leaving the couch becomes even less likely. Thankfully, staying active does not have to involve bundling up and facing the winter weather. Here are five tips for staying active during the cold, winter months without leaving your home:

  • Stretch. Stretching can help loosen muscles, increase blood flow, relieve joint pain, and help you feel more energized. Try fitting 10–15 minutes of stretching into your morning routine.
  • Get moving! It can be tempting to stay curled up in bed or wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, but getting up and moving around can be extremely beneficial to your health. Take a lap around the living room or stroll up and down the hallway; try to get up and move around as often as possible.
  • Chair exercises are a good way to get your body moving. Complete these exercises while watching your favorite TV show or listening to music.
Arm exercises*:
  • Arm circles: Hold arms straight out from your body. Begin with small circles and gradually get larger. Switch directions.
  • Arm raises: Stay seated with your feet flat on the floor. Raise your arms above your head and bring them back down until your elbows make a 90-degree angle.
  • Punching exercises: Alternately extend each arm to the front of the body.
  • Jumping jack arms: Move arms above your head and back down as you would during jumping jacks.
* Feel free to add hand weights or hold cans of soup for more resistance.
Leg exercises:
  • Ankle circles: Rotate one ankle starting in a clockwise direction and then switch to a counterclockwise direction. Change feet.
  • Toe pointing: With leg extended, point toe toward the ceiling and then toward the ground. Switch legs.
  • Flutter kicks: With legs extended, move legs slightly up and down. When you move the left leg up, move the right leg down, and vice versa.
  • Leg crosses: Similar to flutter kicks, but a side-to-side motion rather than up and down. Cross the left foot over the right foot, then the right foot over the left foot.
  • Do some light housework. Vacuuming, sweeping, or doing the laundry will get you moving and keep your home looking nice.
  • Get an exercise video. This does not need to involve spending money. Borrow one from a friend or the local library, or find one online.
Remember, safety first! Only complete activities you are comfortable with and don’t push yourself too hard. Start slowly and easily, gradually making the workouts harder if desired.

Katelyn JonesKatelyn Jones is a graduate student at Metropolitan State University of Denver working toward her master’s in Social Work. She is completing an internship at Jewish Family Service, working primarily with the Wheat Ridge Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC). She also helps to build community through the Edgewater NORC and assists with clients from the main JFS office as needed.

More Than 700 People Receive Bright Holidays Gifts!

Friday, January 15, 2016


Last month, many generous individuals, organizations, and corporations collected holiday gifts for JFS clients. Through our Bright Holidays program, nearly 300 individuals received hand-picked gifts such as clothing, toys, electronics, sports equipment, and other items on their wish lists. The SHALOM Denver TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program received toys for 15 children and an additional 421 children picked out toys and other items when they visited the Weinberg Food Pantry. Altogether, more than 700 people received Bright Holidays gifts!

One of the differences this year was that we were able to give gifts to more of our pantry clients. So many people wanted to give toys and other gifts this year, that we had plenty to give out in our pantry, which was greatly appreciated by the families who visit us.

One of the many JFS offices filled with gifts to be distributed to clients.

Thank you to the 69 individuals and nine groups who donated gifts. A special thank-you to the Holland & Hart Foundation who once again adopted 50 individuals this year. The Temple Emanuel Sisterhood also adopted families and organized a large toy collection from the congregation's religious school. We are grateful for both of these organizations' continued support and generosity for this program.

A big thank you to Shelley Tait, Family Safety Net administrative assistant, for all her hard work and dedication organizing the collection and distribution of the gifts again this year. Rather than randomly pairing clients with donors, she takes great care to make the best matches possible to create a meaningful experience for all. Shelley reads all of the client information provided by our case managers and therapists.

Andrea and Abbie Stillman took a break from organizing toys in the pantry to pose for a photo.

Thank you to Andrea Stillman for volunteering for Bright Holidays the last five years! Shelley says, "Andrea is an awesome volunteer to have. Without her I would never be able to get the gifts delivered to the caseworkers in time. A lot of times donors want to adopt, but don't have time to shop, so Andrea will buy the gifts on their behalf. She and her daughter, Abbie, also organized all the toys in the pantry." Andrea received the Jack Shapiro Community Service Award at Real Hope 2015 for her dedication to this program.

Thank you to everyone who adopted a family and helped make their holidays brighter! Happy New Year from all of us at JFS. 

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Friday, January 08, 2016


By Cathy Wellwood, LPC, Refugee Mental Health Program manager

It's a brand new year and many of us use this new beginning to make positive changes. Almost 50 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year. While many resolutions focus on improving health, others target spending, improving relationships, enjoying life more fully, and learning new skills.

Maintaining this effort is challenging—only 46 percent of resolutions are kept for over six months. Despite the challenges, resolutions are worthwhile—people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals. Making one resolution at a time is more effective than tackling a long list.

New research in behavior change gives us strategies to increase our chances for success. The first step is awareness—noticing when we are on autopilot and tracking the patterns we’d like to change. Identifying behavior triggers is key. Is it related to stress or to a certain time of day or situation?

When the trigger occurs, this is your opportunity to establish a plan and activate a new behavior. For example, “Instead of binge watching Netflix when I’m stressed, I’ll go for a walk or call a friend.” Or, “When I go out to eat, I'll order salad and an appetizer.”

Self-awareness is also part of the process. Knowing yourself can help you figure out the best way to make changes for you. Are you a morning person? Do you like to do activities with others or on your own?

According to studies on behavior change, most of us are either “moderators” or “abstainers.” Moderators are people who can keep a delicious dark chocolate bar in their desk drawer and eat one square every day. An abstainer would tend to eat the whole thing, so abstainers need to give up something altogether and declare it off limits.

We often think that behavior change relies on will-power, but new studies show we actually have a limited supply. After people exert self-control in a test, they have measurably less self-control for a second task.

Too many decisions and tests of self-control throughout the day make us more likely to slip into old, familiar behaviors. Changing our environment to make new behaviors easier is more effective. For example, having fresh fruits and vegetables on hand, or a list of fun activities (and the supplies) to do with your children, makes it much more likely that you'll follow through. New routines, such as an enjoyable bedtime routine for the family, build in positive activities.

It takes an average of 66 days to change a habit, and approximately eight weeks to establish a new skill, so don’t give up. Celebrate small wins and reward yourself along the way!

Cathy WellwoodCathy Wellwood, LPC, is manager of the Refugee Mental Health Program at Jewish Family Service. She has more than 25 years of experience in mental health services, specializing in cross-cultural treatment of trauma, depression, anxiety, grief work, and adjustment issues. Before joining Jewish Family Service in 2011, Cathy spent 11 years in Alaska, working for a tribal healthcare organization.

Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude

Friday, December 04, 2015

On any given day, people from about 50 households visit the Jewish Family Service Weinberg Food Pantry (on the three days per week the pantry is open). However, last Tuesday and Wednesday when we distributed our annual Thanksgiving meal packages, we saw triple that number! 746 individuals from 319 households received turkeys and all of the fixings to create a beautiful holiday meal. That amounted to our staff and volunteers giving out one box of food per minute.


We couldn’t have accomplished that feat without the help of 33 amazing volunteers who helped pack boxes the week before, set up the pantry, distributed food in the pantry, and delivered cooked Thanksgiving meals to 11 homebound seniors. Thank you to all the staff from the Family Safety Net and Volunteer departments for all their hard work to organize this holiday meal distribution.


Over those two days, we distributed 11,463 pounds of food—turkeys, trimmings, produce, bread, juice, and dairy products. Thank you to the Denver Rescue Mission for donating 125 turkeys and to our wonderful supporters who donated 148, many at the last minute after we put out an urgent appeal!


A special thank-you to Justin and Cari Levy, who established the Dorinda Levy Thanksgiving Fund in memory of Justin’s mother, volunteer every year to pack or distribute food, and help us raise money. This year, 85 generous donors contributed a total of $15,095 to fund this holiday program!


We know there are so many requests for donations at this time of year and we are truly grateful to all our supporters who continue to contribute to us. You are making a difference and helping us transform lives…one at a time.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

JFS Family Safety Net Hosts 3rd Annual Gear Up for Winter Resource Fair

Friday, November 20, 2015


63 households came to Jewish Family Service (JFS) for the third annual “Gear up for Winter” resource fair on November 13. There were many expressions of gratitude from participants for all the services they could utilize at one time. Some people came specifically for one service or another (like a flu shot), but then accessed other resources as well. The entire Family Safety Net staff worked to help people navigate through all of the services and to keep things running smoothly. Below is a break-down of how many people used each service and some photos of our partners in action:

27 people signed up for the Jewish Family Service Weinberg Food Pantry and received food that day. Cooking Matters did a cooking demonstration and provided samples as people shopped for food in the pantry.

Walgreens flu shots

33 uninsured and under-insured people received free flu shots from our neighborhood Walgreens’ staff. 

Hunger Free Colorado truck 

9 people successfully signed up for SNAP benefits (food stamps) through the Hunger Free Colorado “SNAP into Health Program" and many other households received information about other food assistance programs.

Kimco interview 

15 people signed up for employment services. Of those, seven met with our employment case manager, Heather Seiden for help with their resumes and job searches. Work Options for Women met with two individuals and Kimco met with 12 people and made preliminary job offers to eight people!

Colorado Pet Pantry 

25 families received dog or cat food from the Colorado Pet Pantry.


6 people met with InnovAge to learn about their senior services and several signed up for their program.


21 people attended the information session on the Internet Essentials program from Comcast. Congratulations to Maria Caldera and her daughter, Yanilette; Maria Mottu and her daughter, Flor; and Sean Brown (pictured above) who won computers from Comcast!

Thank you to all of the participating partners for providing the services and making this a successful resource fair!

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Mental Health Matters: Don't Be SAD!

Friday, November 13, 2015
By Arleen Gershen, LCSW, JFS Mental Health Specialists Therapist


Colorado is known for its rapidly changing weather. In fact, a well-known joke you hear about the weather here is, “Wait five minutes and it will change.”

You may ask, “What does the weather have to do with mental health?”

For an estimated 10 million Americans, winter can have a major impact on their moods if they suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Another 10 to 20 percent of Americans may have a milder form. Symptoms may be severe enough to affect an individual’s quality of life and 6 percent may require hospitalization due to suicidal thoughts.

SAD is thought to be related to a lack of sunlight, especially for people who live far from the equator, where winter daylight hours are very short. SAD typically begins around age 20. It is more common in women and people who have a close relative with the disorder.

Its cause is unknown but numerous theories have been proposed. Officially, SAD is considered a subtype of major depression that is related to changes in season. The symptoms typically begin and end close to the same time every year. Most symptoms begin in the fall and continue through the winter.

Not everyone with the disorder has the same symptoms, but common symptoms of SAD, aka “winter depression” or “seasonal depression,” include the following:
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • Nausea
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Tendency to oversleep and still feel tired
  • A change in appetite, especially cravings for carbohydrates or sweets
  • A decrease in energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing of tasks
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased sex drive
  • A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
Diagnosing SAD may be difficult because symptoms are very similar to other forms of depression. Therefore, a therapist might ask the following questions during a clinical assessment:
  • Have you been depressed during the same season and improved by the end of the season two years in a row?
  • Are your symptoms consistent with SAD symptoms (as mentioned above)?
  • Do you have any close relatives who have been diagnosed with SAD?
It is also important to be aware that the disorder can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, or a viral infection, such as mononucleosis.

Because SAD is generally believed to be caused by lack of sunlight, various light therapies are frequently used that typically require 30–60 minutes each day throughout the fall and winter. Stopping light therapy too soon can result in a return of symptoms.

If light therapy is not successful within a few days, medication and/or behavioral therapies and/or a combination of treatments may be implemented.

In the interim, it is important for people with SAD to monitor their moods and energy levels, plan physical activities, try to approach the winter with a positive attitude, take advantage of any sunlight available, plan winter activities that are enjoyable, and most of all, If symptoms develop, seek help sooner rather than later. Contact the JFS Mental Health Specialists at 303.597.7777 for help.

Arleen GershenArleen Gershen, LCSW, has more than 34 years of clinical experience in the mental health field. Since joining Jewish Family Service in 2005, Arleen has been a psychotherapist for adolescents, adults, couples, and families, providing both short-term and longer-term treatment. She has also cofacilitated numerous bereavement groups. Her areas of specialty include couples therapy, anxiety, depression, grief work, and pregnancy loss.

Join us December 10 for Real Hope!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Real Hope 2015 

Real Hope is a little over a month away! Before all the holiday busyness sets in, take a minute to purchase your tickets now for this fabulous fundraiser!

When you join us for this gala event at 6:00 p.m. on December 10 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, you will walk into an amazing party complete with delicious lavish hors d'oeuvres from cuisines around the world, cocktails, a red carpet photo opportunity, surprise entertainment, and a chance to socialize with hundreds of your closest friends and colleagues. 

At 7:30 p.m., you can grab some coffee and dessert while enjoying a short program to learn more about the life-transforming work of Jewish Family Service. We will end the evening by presenting awards to our guests of honor who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership, philanthropy, and dedication to JFS and our community for many years: Adam J. Agron, Kal Zeff Business Leader of the Year, and Andrea Stillman, Jack Shapiro Community Service Award recipient. Learn more about these amazing honorees.

Not only will you enjoy a fun evening and pay tribute to two deserving individuals, but you will feel good knowing you are supporting an organization that helps more than 25,000 people in the Denver metro area each year!

Tell your friends and buy your tickets today! We look forward to seeing you on December 10th.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Colorado Senior Connections Edgewater Hosts Annual Day of Service

Monday, October 12, 2015


On Saturday, October 3, Colorado Senior Connections Edgewater hosted its Third Annual Fall Day of Service clean-up event for much deserving seniors in Edgewater. This amazing event gathers volunteers from Edgewater and surrounding neighborhoods to assist seniors living in their homes with much-needed help with outdoor chores they can no longer do on their own.

We are so grateful to the 54 volunteers from Edgewater, Lakewood, Highlands, Jewish Family Service, and Jefferson Unitarian Church of Golden, ranging in age from five to 75, who rolled up their sleeves to assist 13 seniors in Edgewater with outdoor tasks!

The continued support from the City of Edgewater proves that amazing things can happen for folks of a small community and this holds true with the Day of Service!

Stay tuned for details on our next Day of Service in May 2016.

-By Felica Goett, MAEd, Colorado Senior Connections Edgewater Activities and Volunteer Coordinator 

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