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JFS Perspectives

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

JFS Celebrates Volunteers in April—and Every Day

Friday, April 04, 2014

Guest Blog Post By Audrey Friedman Marcus

April 6–12 marks the 40th National Volunteer Week. For Jewish Family Service, the week provides an opportunity to recognize, praise, celebrate, and thank the 836 volunteers who are helping the agency make a huge difference to the Jewish and general communities of Denver and Boulder.

I grew up in a home in which volunteering was a priority, so when I moved to Denver in the 1950s, I became involved in a number of organizations, and before long I was elected to the board of Jewish Family Service. It was immediately clear to me that I was serving an outstanding and worthwhile agency, and I quickly became a committed JFS volunteer.

Some years later, I learned that JFS was seeking para-chaplains to visit hospitals and retirement facilities. Intrigued, I enrolled in the mandatory orientation class. From knowledgeable teachers, rabbis, and social workers, we learned how to engage clients in conversation and ideas for activities in which to engage them. There was valuable information about the elderly population, Jewish attitudes on aging, information on privacy issues, how to introduce Judaism and prayer, and much more. After completing the course, I felt ready for the challenge, and for a number of years visited several amazing elderly women.

Today, in addition to volunteering as a freelance writer for JFS, I’m a member of their Holocaust Advisory Committee. All of the volunteer jobs I’ve held have been exciting and worthwhile. Not only have I learned an enormous amount, but I always feel esteemed and appreciated by the professional staff. They are consistently warm and friendly, as well as approachable and helpful. While it’s clear that they are aware of the huge monetary value of volunteers to the agency, they never lose sight of the human equation. Not surprisingly, this assessment is shared by other JFS volunteers. I recently spoke to two of them.

Bernie Papper, a new JFS volunteer, recently retired after 26 years at the Intermountain Jewish News and decided to seek an opportunity to give something back to the community. Because he knew many individuals who had been helped by JFS, he made an appointment with Nancy Benyamin, Volunteer Services director at JFS. She suggested he make thank-you calls to donors on behalf of the development department. Bernie is enjoying this responsibility so much that he’s looking to do even more for the agency. “All the volunteers feel very valued,” states Bernie. “It’s an incredible place doing incredible work. The dedicated staff is like a family—and I get lots of hugs from them all whenever I go there.”

After the sudden death six years ago of her 48-year-old daughter, Lorri Stonbraker knew she needed an interest—something that would engage her mind and give her a renewed interest in life. Retired from a stressful job, she wanted to be involved in something low-key where she could make a difference. The JFS Weinberg Food Pantry turned out to be the perfect fit. For six years, Lorri has loyally shown up once a week for a worthwhile, hands-on experience that she says is always interesting. She helps clients shop, hands out food, answers questions, soothes ruffled feelings, and helps in any way she can.

The clients are a diverse group—Ethiopians, Arabs, Russians, and—of course—Americans. Some dress up as if for an outing when they come. Others, who have lost everything, including their pride, are embarrassed to be there—and sometimes even burst into tears. Lorri sees it as part of her job to help everyone feel comfortable, and she’s always ready with a joke or a hug. She leaves each time with a feeling of worth, and the challenge takes her mind off her own sorrows. It’s a cause that’s easy to believe in, she says.

Those on Lorri’s shift have become very close, which provides a social aspect to the task. They help each other, calm those who are upset or ill, explain how to prepare certain foods, dry tears, and tell the women who are dressed up how nice they look.

Lorri can’t say enough good things about the hardworking, friendly staff at the Weinberg Food Pantry. “They don’t take us for granted,” she says. “They’re considerate and respectful and show their appreciation at every turn. They want us to be content in our jobs and always back us up. They’re so kind, gentle, and sweet. We are really like one big happy family.”

Because of her positive experience, Lorri is a persuasive recruiter, and has brought several friends on board as JFS volunteers.

Nancy Benyamin, the knowledgeable JFS Volunteer Services director, delights in meeting with prospective volunteers to discuss their talents and availability, and seems to have an instinct for the ideal placement for each. She is generous with her praise and encouragement. “Jewish Family Service began as a volunteer organization many years ago,” states Nancy, “and volunteers are still a vital part of the agency today. We are so grateful for all the help they provide to our programs. We simply couldn’t do all we need to do without them!”

If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at JFS, please contact Nancy Benyamin at 720.248.4642 or visit www.jewishfamilyservice.org/volunteer.

Audrey Friedman MarcusAudrey Friedman Marcus is a volunteer writer for JFS. She was founder and executive vice president of A.R.E. Publishing, Inc., for 30 years before retiring in 2001. She also founded the annual Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture and authored the book Survival in Shanghai: The Journals of Fred Marcus 1939 to 1949 (Pacific View Press).

Support the Easter/Passover Denver Community Food Drive!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jewish Family Service (JFS) is partnering with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on an Easter/Passover Denver Community Food Drive to benefit the JFS Weinberg Food Pantry. Hunger is a year-round crisis, but food donations drop significantly in the springtime, straining the pantry’s ability to feed children and families in need.

Below is a list of participating businesses, churches, and synagogues where you can drop off food donations between April 7 and 13. Help us meet our goal of raising 20,000 pounds of food!

Thank you to all of the partners helping us make this a success and thank you, in advance, to all of you for contributing to this food drive!

Top food needs include:

  • Bottled Juice
  • Canned Fruit
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Protein (tuna, chicken, beans, peanut butter)
  • Canned Vegetables

Participating locations:

  • ANB Bank, 3033 East First Avenue, Denver, CO, 80206
  • Belcaro Paint & Decorating Center, 5475 Leetsdale Dr, Denver, CO, 80246
  • Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, 410 - 17th Street, 22nd Floor, Denver, CO, 80202
  • Calvary Baptist Church, 6500 East Girard Avenue, Denver, CO, 80224
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 3233 Fraser Street, Aurora, CO, 80011
  • Citywide Banks Arvada Branch, 12501 W. 52nd Ave., Arvada, CO 80002
  • Citywide Banks Mississippi Branch, 13731 E. Mississippi Ave., Aurora, CO 80012
  • Citywide Banks Colfax Branch, 10660 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, CO 80010
  • Citywide Banks Centennial Branch, 10637 E. Briarwood Cir., Centennial, CO 80112
  • Citywide Banks Denver Tech Center Branch, 4600 S. Syracuse St., Ste. 150, Denver, CO 80237
  • Citywide Banks Peoria & I-70 Branch, 12075 E. 45th Ave., Denver, CO 80239
  • Citywide Banks Cherry Creek Branch, 55 Madison St., Ste. 100, Denver, CO 80206
  • Citywide Banks Santa Fe Branch, 1490 S. Santa Fe Dr., Denver, CO 80223
  • Citywide Banks Downtown Denver Branch, 1800 Larimer St., Ste. 100, Denver, CO 80202
  • Congregation BMH-BJ, 560 South Monaco Parkway, Denver, CO, 80224
  • Congregation B'nai Havurah, 6445 East Ohio Avenue, Denver, CO, 80224
  • Congregation Hebrew Educational Alliance, 3600 South Ivanhoe Street, Denver, CO, 80237
  • Congregation Rodef Shalom, 450 South Kearney Street, Denver, CO, 80224
  • Denver Jewish Day School, 2450 S Wabash St, Denver, CO, 80231
  • Hagemeyer, 4905 Nome Street, Denver, CO, 80239
  • Holland & Hart LLP, 555 Seventeenth Street, Suite #3200, Denver, CO, 80202
  • JEWISHcolorado, 300 South Dahlia Street, Unit #300, Denver, CO, 80246
  • Jewish Family Service of Colorado, 3201 South Tamarac Drive, Denver, CO, 80231
  • PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc., 2000 South Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO, 80222
  • Rose Medical Center, 4567 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO, 80220
  • Save a Lot, 15550 E. 6th Ave., Aurora, CO, 80011
  • Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape Street, Denver, CO, 80220
  • Temple Micah, 5209 Montview Boulevard, Denver, CO, 80207
  • Temple Sinai, 3509 South Glencoe Street, Denver, CO, 80237
  • UMB Bank Colorado, 1670 Broadway, Denver, CO, 80202
  • Univision Colorado, 777 Grant, Suite 500, Denver, CO, 80203
  • Whole Foods at Tamarac, 7400 East Hampden Avenue, Denver, CO, 80231
-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Friendly Visitor Volunteers Gain Insight and Advice

Monday, March 24, 2014

Last week, JFS hosted its third annual Lunch ‘n’ Learn program for about 20 Friendly Visitor volunteers and Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation Senior Solutions Center care managers. While everyone enjoyed a catered lunch, Beth Lippa and Nancy Benyamin from the JFS volunteer department thanked the volunteers for their important work visiting isolated seniors in the community.

The volunteers and care managers then broke into small groups to share stories and memories of working with clients. The care managers gave suggestions and answered questions, and in turn gained great insight into what volunteers do when they visit the seniors.

The volunteers enjoyed meeting the care managers and getting advice from them as well as connecting with other volunteers so they could support each other. “These luncheons are very popular with both the volunteers and care managers,” says Beth Lippa. “Both groups get a lot of value out of the chance to share their triumphs and struggles with each other and to realize they are part of a larger community of support.”

To learn more about the Friendly Visitor volunteer program, please contact Beth Lippa at 720.248.4599.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Guest Blog Post by Eric Strother: Men Only!

Friday, March 21, 2014
Jewish Family Service’s Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) in Edgewater, also known as Colorado Senior Connections, has a vast selection of programs for participants to choose from. There are educational lectures and classes, social events, and opportunities for volunteering in the community—all of which are provided to the community with the intention of promoting healthy aging. Anyone who attends the Colorado Senior Connections events would likely identify one common feature: most participants and attendees are women.

This is where the “For Men Only Discussion Group” comes in. Last year, JFS’s home-based services coordinator Ron Crowell and an Edgewater senior resident named Dave came together to form the group. The group format and guidelines are based on Dave’s experiences in the past with men’s group in Florida that he attended for several years. Ron and Dave realized that there was a need for a group focused on something appealing to the older men in the community.

(L to R) Dave, Norin, David, and Ron at the March group

Coffee and donuts are a big incentive for the men to get out and come to the group, which is held once per month on the second Thursday of each month at the Edgewater Recreation Room (5845 W. 25th Ave.) from 10:30 a.m. until about 11:30 a.m. or noon. The environment is pretty casual and no topic is off limits—the only rule is that everyone must behave as gentlemen. Essentially this is a chance for men to gather and socialize while having some coffee and a donut. For many who attend, this is a much needed opportunity for getting out of their house to interact with others from their community and even the greater Denver area (as the group is open to anyone from anywhere and of any age). Only women will be turned away—the group members don’t feel bad about this either since they all say there are plenty of other programs and groups out there for women.

The group is still in a growing stage, but there are consistently six to eight men who have attended over the past few months, which is a real increase from the group’s initial starting point of two men—Ron and Dave—just a year ago. Each week Colorado Senior Connections receives calls from new men in the Denver area inquiring about the group. Some see it in the Denver Post’s “Your Hub” section and others see a flyer around the community at the barber shop or at an adult day center.

The group is young in regard to its formation, but it is also a place that is becoming a wealth of life experiences due the range of experiences the gentlemen who attend have had, as well as just a great place to come hang out for an hour or so.

The group’s next meeting will be on Thursday, April 10 at 10:30 a.m. Please call Eric Strother at 303.269.9253 for more information.

-Eric Strother, Colorado Senior Connections care manager

Celebrate Jewish Disabilities Awareness Day March 30!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Celebrate the achievements and successes of people with developmental disabilities and join the Jewish Disabilities Network (JDN) and The Arc of Colorado for the "Achieve With Us" Colorado Film Festival on Sunday, March 30. Rather than the JDN hosting its own Jewish Disabilities Awareness Day, we are asking the community to come together for this larger event during National Developmental Disability Awareness Month.

The festival, held at the Sie Film Center, 2510 East Colfax in Denver, is a free community event, but iTunes gift card donations will be accepted in lieu of ticket costs to help bring technology to people with disabilities.

Show times are at 1:00, 3:00, and 7:00 p.m. All three shows will feature a collection of short films produced by or featuring individuals with developmental disabilities. At 3:00 p.m., JDN will have a short presentation. One of the films shown at 3:00 will be “White Balance,” a 45-minute Israeli film in Hebrew with English subtitles about a 12-year-old ice skater who is slowly losing his hearing, and therefore his balance, forcing him away from his dream. A brief Q&A with PHAMALY Theatre Company will follow each showing. This event is best for families with children five and older. Childcare will not be provided.

Check out the film schedule and reserve tickets today! Contact Inna Ermakov, Jewish Disabilities Network coordinator, at 303.623.0251 with any questions.

Sponsors of the film festival include The Arc of Colorado, arc Thrift Stores, Denver Film Society, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Disabilities Network, JFK Partners, and Personal Assistance Services of Colorado.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Thank You, Trader Joe's!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Everyone in Colorado seems excited by the opening of three Trader Joe's stores two weeks ago and the staff and clients at JFS are no exception! The Greenwood Village store has generously donated 12,977 pounds to our Weinberg Food Pantry since the store has been open.

Our clients are thrilled with all of the high-quality fresh produce, eggs, milk, juice, bread, and prepared foods from the new grocery store. Today's donation even included fresh flowers!

We look forward to a long partnership with the company and to providing this wonderful food to our pantry customers!

-Alaina Green and Kari Alpen, JFS Marketing Department

Happy 35th Anniversary, Arnie Kover!

Monday, February 10, 2014

This month, JFS Disability and Employment Services director Arnie Kover celebrates his 35th anniversary with the agency! In his role, Arnie oversees the operations of SHALOM Denver,  the JFS Group Home, Jewish Disabilities Network, and other programs in the disability and employment services division.

Arnie says, "It’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years with JFS/SHALOM Denver. The people we serve, the great staff we have, and the incredible agency that is JFS are all major factors in my enjoying my work here for these many years. Onward and upward is my motto, so I’m looking forward to many more good things to come here at SHALOM Denver and JFS."

Last week, some of SHALOM's clients made him a beautiful anniversary medallion (above), which he wore proudly!

Congratulations, Arnie!

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department 

Make the Super Bowl a Super Mitzvah

Friday, January 31, 2014

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 Seattle, Rabbi Danny Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, each bet $100 that their team will win the Super Bowl on Sunday. They've extended the challenge so that Broncos and Seahawks fans can help turn the Super Bowl into a Super Mitzvah!

Community members are encouraged to donate $18, $36, or $72 (or higher) and whichever team wins, that city's JFS will receive all the money raised. Rabbi Black designated our Weinberg Food Pantry to be the recipient WHEN the Broncos win! So far, more than $2,400 has been donated by nearly 70 people in both cities!

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

Whatever the outcome on 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

Guest Blog Post by Jillian Whittier: Sexuality and Aging

Friday, January 24, 2014

NPR recently aired a segment on sexuality in skilled nursing facilities that got a lot of people talking. The segment featured Hebrew Home for the Aged, a facility in Riverdale, New York, that has become famous for its formalized policy encouraging residents to exercise their right to sexuality.

Sexuality and aging has somehow become a taboo topic, but professionals in the fields of gerontology and long-term care are discussing the issue and how to ensure that older adults maintain their right to sexual expression, even when living in a long-term care facility.

Currently, 18 U.S. states have addressed the rights of residents of nursing facilities to have conjugal visits by a spouse, and four states honor non-spouse partner rights, but these legal rights aren’t always enough to create an environment where exercising them is actually possible.

Appropriate sexual expression is often prevented in facilities by the actions of staff, family intervention, lack of formal policies and procedures regarding resident sexual expression, and basic lack of privacy. Residents often share rooms, and don’t always have the space they need to be able to engage in appropriate sexual activities, which is one reason why it is important that facilities create policies that address these privacy concerns.

It is also important that staff of nursing facilities receive education and training on this topic. Without the proper education, staff members often feel uncomfortable with the idea of residents engaging in sexual activity, and can intentionally or unintentionally inhibit residents from exercising this right. Clinical staff can sometimes look at residents more as patients than as people, and forget to look at the well-being of a person beyond medical necessity. It is important for staff to have a well-rounded understanding of human needs, even as these needs extend beyond the medical basics, and include things like sexual expression and intimacy.

Although the conversation can feel uncomfortable, it is important that professionals and residents alike be able to communicate about ongoing human need for emotionally and physically intimate relationships. In fact, sexual intimacy can significantly increase quality of life for residents in nursing facilities, and as facilities continue in the movement toward creating more homelike environments with a less institutionalized feel, the right to appropriate sexual expression is one important factor that should be honored and respected.

-Jillian Whittier, JFS Senior Solutions care manager

Jillian WhittierJillian Whittier, MSW, serves as a care manager in the JFS Senior Solutions department. She works to connect older adults in the Denver area with resources that are valuable to their individual needs. Jillian also coordinates the Senior Companion program at JFS, which connects senior clients who are in need of assistance with grocery shopping and appointments to senior volunteers who are able to assist with these needs.

Guest Blog Post by Stacey Weisberg: Do New Year’s Resolutions Really Work?

Friday, January 10, 2014

The top three most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, to quit smoking, and to exercise regularly. Those who make a New Year’s resolution are 10 times more likely to successfully change their behavior than those who do not. It is also clear that the particular goal chosen has no relationship to success.

So the question is, what does it take to be successful with your New Year’s goal? Research shows that successful goal setters anticipate the limits of their willpower. People fail because they will eventually run out of self-discipline. Social scientists say willpower is a real form of mental energy. It is powered by glucose and is eventually used up when you exert self-control.

A recent study showed that those with the best self-control are those who use their restraint less often. Instead of fending off one temptation after another, they design their days to minimize temptations. They use willpower in advance to avoid crises, conserve energy, and outsource as much self-control as possible.

Another strategy for success is called stimulus control; for example, avoiding a smoky bar after resolving to quit smoking. The best predictor of change is how prepared a person is to enter the action stage of behavior change.

Here are tips to help you keep your New Year’s resolution:
  • Focus on just one resolution at a time.
  • Set a specific goal like “I want to lose one pound per week.”
  • Email your goal to friends or post it on Facebook to help keep you accountable.
  • Be realistic. If you’re thinking about setting the same goal as you always do but never achieve it, ask yourself if this goal is something you need to let go of. Or think of a reason that would be good enough to commit to the goal this time.
  • Visualize yourself with the goal achieved. What would it look like and how would you feel?
  • Use anchors and tie the goal to a habit you already have in place. For example, “I’ll exercise right after I brush my teeth.”
-Stacey Weisberg, LPC, JFS mental health director

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