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JFS Perspectives

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

Keeping It Kosher: Space Available in Kosher Meals on Wheels Program!

Friday, May 22, 2015

This blog post is part of our series for Older Americans Month in May. We receive funding from the Older Americans Act for our Kosher Meals on Wheels program.

JFS currently has room in its Kosher Meals on Wheels (KMOW) program for more seniors to receive kosher meals delivered to their homes. To receive meals, an individual must be at least 60 years old and assessed as homebound. He or she must be Jewish or have a spiritual need to receive kosher food. There is no cost to receive meals, but an optional monthly donation is appreciated.

A hot meal is delivered Monday through Friday and special meals are delivered prior to Jewish holidays, such as Passover and the High Holy Days. Clients get nonfat dry milk powder twice per month and a small emergency box of shelf-stable items in the fall. If JFS will be closed for a holiday, a frozen meal is pre-delivered. Each meal consists of a cup of soup, entrée and sides, such as vegetables, fruits, and breads, which are needed to provide at least one-third of the recommended daily nutrients for older adults.

However, this program is about so much more than food; it is also about reducing social isolation and increasing peace of mind. Buffy Fox, JFS care manager and KMOW coordinator, says, “The participants like that someone [the driver] comes to their home every day and that they have someone to talk to. There is also the comfort of knowing that someone is checking on them and that there is a support system in place. Many clients develop a personal relationship with the driver and look forward to their daily visits.”

One KMOW recipient, says, “My driver is wonderful. I love seeing her smile every day. She really cares how I am doing and always helps if I need it.”

Also, KMOW has an important safety component. The driver can’t leave the meal outside; he or she must deliver it to the client personally. If the client doesn’t answer, the driver calls the emergency contact. “In most cases, the senior doesn’t answer because he or she is asleep,” says Buffy. “However, we have had a few cases where someone had fallen and our driver was able to help.”

A spousal caregiver of her wheelchair-bound husband says the KMOW program “takes away the stress. Especially when we have a hard day getting him showered and dressed and ready to go, it’s nice to know I don’t have to make lunch, too.”

Those who are not assessed as homebound but need kosher meals and want to socialize with other seniors, can go to the Volunteers of America (VOA) kosher lunch program each weekday at 11:45 a.m. at the JCC for a recommended donation of $2.50.

This program is a collaboration among Volunteers of America (VOA), Jewish Family Service (JFS), Shalom Cares, and JEWISHcolorado.

For more information or to sign up for Kosher Meals on Wheels, please contact Buffy Sophinos at 720.248.4665.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

11th Annual JFS Executive Luncheon Featuring Earvin “Magic” Johnson Raises Record Amount

Friday, May 15, 2015

Our office is still buzzing with excitement from last week’s amazing JFS Executive Luncheon! Basketball legend and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson entertained and inspired a nearly 1,000 business and professional leaders attending Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) 11th annual JFS Executive Luncheon held on May 7 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center.

Magic surprised everyone (including JFS staff) by auctioning off packages including: autographed Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and his own basketball jerseys; seven seats (including one floor seat) to Lakers games; and dinner with Magic if he’s in town. Five groups of people purchased these packages for a total of $125,000 and Johnson donated an additional $25,000 to Jewish Family Service. Attendees donated more than $64,000 in the room to make an anonymous $50,000 challenge grant match. In total, the event raised $815,000, making it the most successful fundraiser in JFS history.

Before Magic took the stage, the audience was moved by Christy Morris, a JFS client who shared that JFS gave her the tools to take her life back after struggling with alcohol abuse, job losses, and hunger. Christy was previously a donor and as she wrote the first check at the event, she pronounced that she came “full circle” by becoming a JFS donor again. She said, "I'm on the path to success and it feels good!" Watch the powerful video in which Christy bravely shares her story.

Magic Johnson, one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, addressed the audience with life lessons he’s learned on the basketball court and in business. He shared pearls of wisdom, such as, “How successful you will be in life is measured by how much you help others” and credited his father for giving him a strong work ethic and values. He also said that competition makes you better and specifically, “Larry Bird made me better. He was the best and smartest player I ever played.”

He engaged the audience by bringing children up from the crowd to illustrate some of his points. A Celtics fan in the room asked if he would ever consider running for office, to which Magic answered, “No. I don’t want to be put in a box by being in politics; I want to be out raising money in the community like I am today.” He then proceeded to the auction and enlisted six kids to hold the basketball jerseys while he raised money like a professional auctioneer.

Thank you to more than 100 companies, organizations, foundations, and individuals supported the event through sponsorships. Thank you to our event co-chairs Alan Mayer, Meyer Saltzman, and Sam Zaitz, who helped us sell sponsorships and fill the room. Dave Logan, former NFL wide receiver and voice of the Denver Broncos, served as the emcee.

And thank you to everyone who attended the luncheon! We’d love to hear your feedback—please post comments here!

Check out more event photos…

Check out photos and tweets from the event on Twitter using hashtag #JFSEL15.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

JFS Homemaker Services Are a Blessing

Friday, May 08, 2015
This blog post is part of our series for Older Americans Month in May. We receive funding from the Older Americans Act for our homemaker program. Below is a story of one couple that receives homemaker services and how it helps them stay independently in their home.

Charles Bell, Sharon Bell, and JFS homemaker, Phaleacha Shinault.
Standing in back is JFS home-based services coordinator, Ron Crowell.

Charles Bell, 68, is a proud man. He’s proud that he was able to work hard and support his family. He’s proud that he was self-sufficient and took care of himself and his wife Sharon. Charles was a truck driver and worked long hours on the road. The money was good and he made enough to put a little aside for his retirement. He looked forward to his golden years when he could enjoy his favorite pastime of fishing.

All that changed in 2007 when he needed a hernia operation.

Today Charles is dealing with severe dementia, which he believes was initiated by the excessive medications he took following his operation. As a result of the surgery and the related complications, he was never able to return to work. He is in constant pain from the mesh material that was used to repair the hernia, and has undergone a number of additional surgeries. He avoids taking any pain medication because it will exacerbate his dementia. All of this has been very difficult on him—physically, mentally, and emotionally. He can hardly talk about it before tears start to roll down his cheeks.

As Charles’ primary caregiver, the situation has also been difficult for Sharon. As 65, she has her own health issues and struggles to properly care for Charles and their two-bedroom apartment in Denver’s Windsor Gardens.

That’s where Jewish Family Service (JFS) has been able to help. Thanks to a grant from the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), JFS has been able to provide a homemaker who comes to the Bells’ apartment for a couple of hours every other Monday. Phaleacha does all of the cleaning that Sharon can no longer do. She deep cleans the bathroom and kitchen, changes the sheets, vacuums, and straightens up the apartment and takes out the trash.

JFS also takes care of some little things that make life easier for the Bells. Their JFS care manager recently provided a stool for their shower to help prevent falls and ensure their safety. JFS staff checks in on them frequently, just to make sure they’re doing okay.
For Sharon, it’s a godsend. “Having this little bit of help has meant that we can continue to live in our apartment,” she says. “With all of Charles’ healthcare needs, I don’t have the energy or ability to keep things up like I used to.”
The Bells live on a fixed income, with little money to spare. Their sole source of income is social security, and it isn’t enough to support them. To make ends meet, Sharon volunteers at her church’s food pantry where she can also take home some food. The couple couldn’t possibly afford to hire a homemaker.

“Our kids help a little, but without this program, I don’t think we would make it,” says Sharon. “This allows us a little independence so we can stay here. Who knows where we would be without it.”

Caring for Charles is Sharon’s top priority, and it’s a full-time job. “His memory-loss issues have been so hard on him,” she says. “I want to make sure he is treated with the dignity and care he deserves.”

While fishing is not Sharon’s favorite pastime, she does her best to get Charles out to Cherry Creek Reservoir with his fishing rod whenever she can. “He enjoys that and as long as I can bring along a good book, I enjoy it, too,” she confesses.
Sharon and Charles are very grateful for the help they get from Jewish Family Service and DRCOG. “Everything is a blessing,” she says.

-John Kayser, JFS Marketing Department

Older Americans Month 2015: “Get into the Act”

Friday, May 01, 2015
Older Americans Month logo

Older adults are a vital part of our society. Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Get into the Act,” to focus on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.

The theme also reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in July 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible. These services include home-delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, community-based assistance, preventive health services, elder abuse prevention, and much more.

By promoting and engaging in activity, wellness, and inclusivity, more Americans than ever before can “Get into the Act.” While Jewish Family Service (JFS) provides a variety of programs and services to help older adults stay active, healthy, independent, and cared for year-round, Older Americans Month offers an opportunity to emphasize how older adults can access the home- and community-based services they need to live independently in their communities. It is also an occasion to highlight how older adults are engaging with and making a difference in those communities.

JFS receives funding from the Older Americans Act for several of our senior programs and we will highlight a few of those in blog posts during the month of May. We invite you to learn more about the programs and services offered through the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation Senior Solutions Center at Jewish Family Service!

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Top 10 Reasons to Attend JFS Executive Luncheon Featuring Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jewish Family Service of Colorado's annual fundraiser, the JFS Executive Luncheon, featuring Earvin "Magic" Johnson will be held on Thursday, May 7 at noon. If you haven't already bought your tickets, here are the top 10 reasons to attend!

10. The program is short and sweet and you’ll be back to work (or your next stop) by 1:30.

9. All your friends are going and you don’t want to be left out!

8. The chance to network with more than 1,000 business leaders in Denver.

7. No rubber chicken will be served!

6. You can brag to your friends and family that you were in the same room with a basketball and business legend.

5. The Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center is easily accessible by light rail or the 16th Street Mall shuttle if you don’t want to park downtown (but there are plenty of good places to park, too).

4. View an inspirational video about a JFS client whose story and experiences could happen to anyone.

3. Hear the “Power of Magic” from Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who is so much more than just a former basketball player!

2. Learn how Magic Johnson, the business mogul, has successfully parlayed his skills and tenacity on the court into the business world, propelling his company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, to the status of the number one brand in urban America.

And the number one reason to attend the JFS Executive Luncheon on May 7 is...

1. To support JFS's important work in the areas of mental health counseling, senior and adult in-home care, disability and employment services, and family safety net services.

I hope I convinced you to get your tickets today and tell your friends to do the same!

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Let’s Go Fly and Make a Kite: Grandparents Must Be Supervised

Friday, March 27, 2015


This week was spring break in Wheat Ridge and we know many grandparents are charged with figuring out how to entertain their grandkids during their break. A “Grandparents Must Be Supervised” program is our solution. In this program, we create fun, interactive activities for grandparents and grandkids to enjoy together over extended holidays. It is an opportunity for seniors to connect and kids to play.

This spring break we partnered with the Wheat Ridge Kite Flite Festival. They approached Colorado Senior Connections to ask how they could get more seniors to their event on April 25. Of course the answer is simple — with their grandkids! Kite Flite sponsored a kite making workshop this week and provided a kite expert to teach the kids and grandparents how to build and fly their beautiful, colorful, homemade kites. Everyone left with a kite and string ready to hit the park and continue the fun.

Colorado Senior Connections knows that fun, lifelong learning, and access to information are some of the secrets to healthy aging. We feel lucky that we can help create intergenerational opportunities, fostering fun memory-making experiences, and support seniors wherever they are in their own aging process.

-Alison Joucovsky, MA, LPC, Colorado Senior Connections program coordinator

Contribute to Easter/Passover Denver Community Food Drive!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hunger Stops Here 

Did you know that donations to the Weinberg Food Pantry decrease significantly in the spring? Many people contribute during the High Holy Days through their synagogues and donate during the winter months, but not in the spring.

Since hunger is a year-round crisis, Jewish Family Service has teamed up with Calvary Baptist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mile High United Way, and Rose Medical Center for the 2nd annual Easter/Passover Denver Community Food Drive. Dozens of synagogues, churches, businesses, and other community organizations have joined this interfaith food drive that takes place March 21 – 29.

Please check out the list of drop-off locations and plan to help us meet our goal of collecting 10,000 pounds of food!

Thank you in advance for your support!

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

JFS Interns Are Awesome!

Friday, March 06, 2015
Guest Blog Post By Audrey Friedman Marcus

Every August, like migrating birds, a new group of interns is accepted by Jewish Family Service (JFS) to work with and learn from staff, serve clients, and grow and develop their skills. This year, a total of 17 interns are working at the agency. They come from various educational institutions in the area, including the University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, Denver Seminary, Metropolitan State University, Colorado State University, Naropa University, and Newman University in Colorado Springs.

At JFS, interns engage in the same valuable work as the agency’s staff. They gain academic credit and hands-on experience while receiving supervision and coaching from experienced staff members. Treated as valued employees, they are integrated into the workings of JFS, and serve clients in important ways.

Department heads who supervise interns extol their abilities, willingness, contributions, and accomplishments. Jennie Creasey, JFS professional senior services coordinator, a former JFS intern herself, relates that her department has hosted 45 student interns over the past 15 years. These budding professionals complement the hardworking staff in Jennie’s department by helping to meet the needs of clients.

Shelly Hines, Family Safety Net director, was also an intern at JFS before joining the staff. Interns in her department work one-on-one with clients who are all living in poverty. Through the food pantry and its diverse clientele, they also learn about cultural issues. One of the many benefits of interning at JFS, states Shelly, is the wealth of experience they can get in a safe, supportive learning environment at a well-established nonprofit organization. They also benefit from the opportunity to attend staff meetings, community meetings, and trainings. What’s more, interns keep the staff on their toes by bringing their education to the agency and sharing new things happening in the field with staff.

Coordinator of the JFS KidSuccess program Melissa LaLonde supervises the school-based counseling department. Currently, seven students are interning in her department, two of whom Melissa supervises. Because of the interns, KidSuccess can reach many more children and families.

Jessica Shouse is program manager of vocational programs at SHALOM Denver. Besides the eight vocational specialists she supervises, her department has two interns. “Interns are an integral part of the team, just as staff is,” Jessica reports. “We’d be lost without their extra support.” Among their many responsibilities, interns interview clients for various assessments and employment plans, file and compile reviews, and conduct annual reviews to be sure all information is current and accurate. Interns also help clients on the work floorand offer counseling as needed. All of these tasks represent skills necessary for success in a competitive job market.

But let’s hear what two current interns have to say about the program:

Matt Edwards is a second-year graduate student who will earn his Master’s of Social Work degree (MSW) in June from the University of Denver (DU). On Mondays and Tuesdays he attends classes at DU, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays he works with students at Samuels Elementary School as part of his internship. At Samuels, Matt puts his classroom learning into practice with a regular caseload of young students who are struggling emotionally. Every Friday, he’s in the office where he does paperwork and meets with his supervisor, Melissa LaLonde, whom Matt has found to be very supportive and always available to him. He loves learning from her, and appreciates knowing that he is not alone. “I don’t feel like an intern,” he declares. “I am treated on a par with staff.”

Melissa LaLonde has a supervision meeting with Matt Edwards.

As an undergraduate, Annie Zarlengo chose aerospace science as her major, but a seven-year stint as a volunteer at a hospice pointed her instead toward social work. She is now in the first year of the MSW program at Metro State University. The integration of course work with practical experience working with seniors in her internship has been invaluable for Annie, and she finds the four hours a week of supervision by Jennie Creasey and care manager Laura Harter, as well as the group supervision she receives, helpful and supportive.

According to Annie, Jay and Rose Phillips Senior Solutions Center staff is both encouraging and welcoming. She spends a minimum of 16 hours a week seeing six clients on a regular basis, one of whom is a Holocaust survivor. Isolated and needing socialization, each client faces challenges, such as mental or physical illness, and it is up to Annie to find the resources to help them.

Annie Zarlengo meets with care manager Laura Harter for supervision.

As part of their responsibilities, Annie and the other two interns in the department organize a “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” event each semester, inviting a guest speaker or panel of experts to talk about a relevant topic for social work professionals in the community. In every way, she concludes, her internship is phenomenal. “I won the lottery with JFS,” says Annie.

It’s easy to see the enormous benefits of the internship program at JFS. Interns receive practical experience while being mentored by seasoned staff. At the same time, students also learn about the important work of JFS, a vital agency that serves the entire population. Clients receive the dedicated attention of young people who care. And JFS accomplishes more due to the work of these bright, talented, and enthusiastic students. It’s definitely a win-win situation.

Audrey Friedman Marcus is a volunteer writer for JFS. She was cofounder 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).

JFS Para-chaplain Program is Changing and Needs You!

Friday, February 27, 2015

“They may not remember what you said, they may not remember what you did, but they WILL remember how you made them feel.”

Many Jewish seniors in the Denver Metro area are living in non-Jewish assisted living facilities and seek connections to the Jewish community. Many of the residents are younger seniors who may want to participate in a discussion group facilitated by a para-chaplain, focusing on current events, Jewish holidays, or the situation in Israel. They may also want to share the Sabbath informally with a small group of other Jewish residents.

That’s where you come in! We need adults—of all ages—to join our para-chaplain training program. Because the senior population and types of residences are changing, we are reinvigorating this program to fully meet the community’s needs.

Following in the footsteps of our current para-chaplains, you will visit senior Jewish adults in non-Jewish facilities or in their own homes. You may have the opportunity to facilitate discussion groups, lead Shabbat and holiday services, or simply sit and visit with a Jewish resident who wants companionship. As a trained para-chaplain, you can participate in this meaningful volunteer opportunity by engaging Jewish residents in a spiritual way, as well as sharing stories, ideas, and bits of wisdom.

A trainer of para-chaplains once said, “They may not remember what you said, they may not remember what you did, but they WILL remember how you made them feel.” Our current para-chaplains have expressed similar sentiments. One dedicated volunteer says, “I am so blessed to be a part of these people’s lives. If you are looking for a great way to connect with people who really want you to be a part of their lives, then I encourage you to train for the para-chaplain program. It will truly change your life.”

And it’s not just about what you’re doing for others; you will get a lot out of this experience, too. A longtime para-chaplain relates, “I meet the most marvelous people. They share their lives with me, inform me about things I know little about, and give me a perspective on life that I haven’t come across before. What an honor to be a part of this!”

The next training will be held at JFS on April 29, May 6, and May 13 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. We encourage you to join us! To be a para-chaplain, you must be Jewish, but do not need an extensive Jewish education. Apply for the training by March 20. The application process includes an interview. If you have further questions, please contact Beth Lippa at 720.248.4599.

-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department

Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month Programs Throughout Denver in February

Friday, January 30, 2015


February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month and organizations throughout the community have a full lineup of programming to celebrate! Jewish Disabilities Advocates, a program of Jewish Family Service formerly known as Jewish Disabilities Network, is supporting the following Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month activities:

Magical Mitzvah Tour
Sunday, February 1, 2015, 9:00 a.m.
Congregation B'nai Havurah, 6445 E. Ohio Ave., Denver

Here's your chance to make a difference in the lives of others by participating in projects that were created for people of all abilities. During the Magical Mitzvah Tour, Jewish Disabilities Advocates will be teaming up with the agency Toys for God’s Kids assembling wooden toy cars that will be distributed to children here and abroad.

Chesed Without Boundaries"Chesed Without Boundaries"—An Inclusive Kabbalat Shabbat Service
Friday, February 6, 2015, 4:30 p.m.
BMH-BJ-The Denver Synagogue, 560 S. Monaco Parkway, Denver

The community is invited to come together to share a warm and meaningful musical Kabbalat Shabbat service that includes singing and spirit. Led by Cantor Joel Lichterman, we’ll begin before Shabbat comes in with musical instruments and songs. We will then greet the Shabbat bride with the L'cha Dodi prayer and officially welcome the Shabbat by lighting and blessing the Shabbat candles. After the service, we will all bless the wine (grape juice) and challah together. Our goal is to share this special service in different synagogues/temples throughout the year.

Tu B'Shvat Seder

Sunday, February 8, 2015, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Congregation Rodef Shalom, 450 S. Kearney Street, Denver

Cost: $8 at the door
Similar to Arbor Day, this holiday is an important part of our Jewish calendar that is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Sh'vat. All are welcome to attend this special seder ceremony that has been created to enhance the celebration. It is a custom to plant parsley seeds that will grow and be part of the upcoming Passover table. Jewish Disabilities Advocates will facilitate the planting activity.

Rick RechtAn Evening with Rick Recht
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 6:00 p.m.
Temple Micah, 5209 Montview Blvd., Denver

Tickets: $5 per person/$10 per family for Micah members; $10 per person/$15 per family for nonmembers. Available at www.micahdenver.org
Rick Recht is one of the most celebrated Jewish artists of our time playing family concerts throughout the United States and abroad. Recht is widely recognized as a pioneer of the Jewish rock music genre, elevating the medium of Jewish music as a powerful and effective tool for developing Jewish pride and identity. Rick has 10 top selling albums, including his latest hit album, Halleluyah, released in 2013.

Michael ApplebaumYachad Disability Sensitivity Training
Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

Sunday, February 22, 2015, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Hebrew Educational Alliance (HEA), 3600 S. Ivanhoe Street, Denver

Facilitator: Michael Applebaum, Yachad
Members of YACHAD (The National Jewish Council for Disabilities) will facilitate this workshop that sensitizes participants to the needs of peers with disabilities. This workshop is open to teachers, camp staff, parents, and high school students who are working with or hope to work in programs that include people with disabilities.

For more information about any of these events, please contact Lynn Rubenstein, 303.623.0251, ext. 204.

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