Below are 18 poignant moments at Jewish Family Service from 2012. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
1. The Challenges Refugees Face in High School
High school is hard enough when you’re an American student, but what is it like when you are a refugee? Not only do refugee students have all the same challenges that Americans have – making friends, fitting in, keeping up in school, peer pressure, etc., but they have a whole other set of challenges to deal with as newcomers to this country. Our International KidSuccess therapists conduct quarterly cultural trainings for teachers and other school staff members to educate them about some of the specific challenges that students from certain countries experience and how best to work with these students. In this blog post, several students share their stories, which was very enlightening for the educators.
2. Finding Ability in Disability at Jewish Disabilities Awareness Day February 12!
Jewish Disabilities Awareness Day is the cornerstone of the metro Denver Jewish community’s celebration of the national Jewish Disability Awareness Month, promoting understanding and inclusion in community life for Jewish people with disabilities. Rachel Simon, an award-winning author, and Leonard E. Barrett, a member of PHAMALY (Physically Handicapped Actors & Musical Artists League), were featured at the fourth annual Jewish Disabilities Awareness Day on Sunday, February 12. Check out this year's Jewish Disabilities Awareness Day event on January 27, 2013 featuring Denver's own Tricia Downing.
3. Guest Blog by Evan Silverman: The Chain Reaction of Good
Evan Silverman has been a JFS volunteer since 2008. We first introduced you to Evan in a former blog post and he has been featured in two of our print newsletters. He is a great advocate and friend of JFS who wants to share his perspective about “the chain reaction of good” and other key ideas that have guided him along his journey in life. Whenever Evan writes a blog post for JFS, we get more comments than ever. What a popular guy!!
4. El Teatro Performs at JFS!
In February, Greeley’s El Teatro (a multilingual theater company) performed "OUR STORIES," a multilingual play written and performed by Greeley refugee and immigrant high school students, at JFS. The theater group was touring Denver and as part of our International KidSuccess program, we invited educators and supporters of refugee services to this performance.
5. SHALOM Denver in the News!
We had quite an eventful week in March 2012! While there are always exciting things happening in our agency on a daily basis, this post talks about a SHALOM Denver news story, BBYO Hunger Games screening event, and a farewell to one of our long-time coworkers, Amy Wood.
6. Chag Sameach Pesach (Happy Passover)!
Through the Community Passover Program, Jewish Family Service and the Synagogue Council of Greater Denver provide families in need with all the kosher-for-Passover items they need to prepare a Seder. We start the process of getting things ready for this program many months in advance, including collecting food and monetary donations from the community.
7. Spotlight on Citizenship Volunteer
In May, we highlighted a very special volunteer in our citizenship department, Marilyn Amer. She has been a dedicated volunteer for more than 10 years who helps teach citizenship classes every week no matter what the weather or circumstances.
8. May is Off to a Great Start for JFS!
In this post, we talked about another big week at JFS and SHALOM Denver, including grants from Rose Youth Foundation, the success of the JFS Executive Luncheon featuring Christopher Gardner, and a fundraiser for the Weinberg Food Pantry and Lone Soldier called “Food Fight 4 A-WEAR-NESS that Temple Sinai eighth graders held.
9. Top 10 Reasons to Attend Celebrate JFS on June 25
In our blog, we gave people 10 reasons to attend Celebrate JFS (aka Jewish Family Service's annual meeting) at the Palazzo Verdi, including meeting the new board members, honor the volunteers of the year, and to commemorate JFS's 140th anniversary and learn more about the agency's history.
10. Happy 4th of July!
At the end of June, we asked some of our staff members what Independence Day means to them, how they are spending it, or what independence means to their clients.
11. Behind the Scenes with Para-chaplains
Did you know that volunteer para-chaplains lead holiday services in more than 25 nursing homes, retirement communities, and assisted living centers in the Denver area for Shabbat, High Holy Days, Hanukkah, and Passover? These services help bring the holidays to life for hundreds of isolated members of the Jewish community who otherwise may not be able to celebrate. This year, our volunteer para-chaplains and staff are revising the service booklets for each holiday celebration.
12. The Big Reveal!
At the end of August, we hosted a cocktail reception to celebrate Elaine and Max Appels' incredible generosity in supporting the vulnerable in our community. About 40 guests came to watch the big reveal of the new sign that bears the couple's name in the atrium at Jewish Family Service and to thank Elaine and Max for supporting JFS.
13. To a Sweet New Year!
In September, we helped isolated members of our community celebrate the High Holy Days. The shofar sounded, apples were dipped into honey, and heartfelt prayers were recited at more than 30 long-term care facilities, assisted living centers, retirement communities, mental health centers, and correctional institutions in metro Denver and Boulder. Our volunteer para-chaplains and Rabbi Eliot Baskin, Jewish community chaplain, led High Holy Day services for residents of these facilities.
14. Guest Blog Post by Lynn Rubenstein: JDN Brings Sukkot to the JFS Group Home Residents
In the course of planning social activities for the Jewish Disabilities Network (JDN), we were trying to include celebrations for the JFS Group Home. We put together a calendar of events for each holiday and soon learned that the Group Home did not have a sukkah (a temporary dwelling) to celebrate Sukkot. We decided that it was very important for the residents to have a sukkah of their own.
15. Thanks for Putting the GIVING in Thanksgiving!
Thanks to the generosity of many organizations and individual donors, more than 225 families (representing nearly 700 individuals) who otherwise would not have had a Thanksgiving meal received the ingredients for a complete feast with turkey and all the trimmings from the Weinberg Food Pantry. Thank you again to Justin and Cari Levy for starting the Dorinda Levy Thanksgiving Fund, in memory of Justin’s mother. Because of this new fund, more than $6,000 in additional cash donations we received from other individuals, and extra food donations, we were able to serve nearly twice the number of families this year!
16. Walgreens Helps JFS Clients Arm Themselves Against the Flu!
Thanks to our local Walgreens on Hampden Avenue, 30 less people in Denver will be getting the flu this season! In November, Walgreens provided complimentary flu vaccine shots to our clients and staff as a community service. Some of our clients had never received a flu shot before and were very grateful for this opportunity.
17. Reel Hope 2012 Was a Great Success!
Thank you to everyone who attended Reel Hope on December 10, 2012. More than 500 attendees celebrated with honorees Elaine and Max Appel and Betsy Mordecai Heyman and Gareth Heyman and enjoyed a screening of the yet-to-be-released historical drama Emperor. We were privileged to have the producer, Gary Foster, introduce the film.
18. JFS Thanks You for Making the Holidays Bright!
In December, many generous individuals, organizations, and corporations collected holiday gifts for JFS clients. Through our Bright Holidays program, 533 individuals received hand-picked gifts such as clothing, toys, electronics, sports equipment, and other items on their wish lists.
Wishing everyone peace, love, and happiness in 2013 from Jewish Family Service!
-Alaina Green and Kari Alpen, JFS Marketing Department