JFS Biennial Meeting: New leadership, awards, and farewells

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Trending News

This year marks 75 years of commitment by Jewish Family Service to serve the community. For more than three quarters of a century, thousands of people have received help from the family services agency. Part of the agency’s success is the legacy of its board of directors, generous donors, committed staff, community partnerships, and countless hours of work performed by community volunteers.

Awards and distinctions 

On June 30, JFS held its 66th biennial meeting to install a new board president and celebrate the agency’s accomplishments with many recognitions.

Anne Kramer, board president, opened the meeting by inviting Rabbi Michael Panitz of Temple Israel to offer the invocation. A long-standing supporter of JFS, Temple Israel’s members provide food drives throughout the year for the agency’s food pantries, often helping to restock the empty shelves.

JFS also receives support from young people. Three outstanding teens – Molly Mancoll, Anna Sherman, and Ari Simon – who chose the JFS Food Pantry for their b’nai mitzvah projects of collecting nonperishable foods and hygiene products to fill the JFS Food Pantry shelves, were recognized.  “We are so thankful for the generosity of these young people and the support provided them by their parents and the community,” said Debbie Mayer, JFS clinical director.

Altmeyer Funeral Home was recognized with the Community Partner Award for their years of dedicated commitment to JFS and the community. Dorothy Salomonsky, PAM program director, spoke of the importance of the relationship JFS has with Altmeyer and its employees. “Whether our client in their care was homeless or a millionaire, they treat every person and their family members with dignity and respect.” Not only does Altmeyer provide after life services for JFS clients, but they also host a holiday party every year in which 100 or more clients are treated to a holiday lunch. “This is sometimes the only restaurant meal that our clients get all year, and they really look forward to an outing,” said Salomonsky.

The Distinguished Service Award was given to Dr. Barbara Parks in appreciation of her years of support to JFS and her service to the community. As a member of both the Home Care Services committee and the PAM program advisory board, Parks has helped shape the structure of medical care for the agency’s clients. “Dr. Parks is always available when JFS calls and provides advice, guidance, direction, and involvement when it is most critical. Our clients come to us suffering from the most extreme medical conditions, often with very contentious family situations. We are called upon to make life and death decisions for strangers we just met. She gives thoughtful insight and treats each one of our clients as she would her own patients,” said Salomonsky.

JFS also recognized several long-standing employees: Marlene Aikman, Lloyd Clements, Robert Lang, and Alla Gean. All have worked at JFS for decades, giving their time and service in dramatically impactful ways. Encompassing Tikkun Olam, they have left this community better than they found it, serving as mentors to those they supervised.

Aikman began working at JFS in 1999, and immediately started learning about adult guardianship. “Many of the people here today owe their jobs to all of the policies and procedures that Marlene developed and taught,” said Salomonsky.

Clements joined the PAM department in 2000, having just received his counselor license. “Lloyd has been the backbone of our PAM Program for the last 23 years. He is a recognized expert in the field of guardianship and his dedication to JFS and our clients is unparalleled,” said Salomonsky.

Lang has been JFS’s trusts and assets manager since 2004, after retiring from his job at UPS.  Salomonsky said, “When our finance department needed a trusts and assets manager, we knew that Bob would be the person to build that department. His knowledge as an attorney has been invaluable to our program as he has intervened and advocated for our clients.”

Gean is the senior acculturation case manager for the older adult services department. She joined JFS in January 2001 as a part time case work assistant in the Soviet Jewish Resettlement program, a job that quickly became full time.  As the case manager for elderly New Americans and Holocaust survivors, she works tirelessly to get all the resources and benefits that they are entitled to receive. “She is very detailed-oriented and works closely with physicians and other organizations to make sure her clients get appointments and the services they need,” said Debbie Mayer.

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President’s remarks and new president installation

Anne Kramer began her two-year term as president in 2021. When installed, Kramer listed several goals for her term: to remain financially secure, to help break the stigma of mental health, to develop Care Management Services to care more fully for older and disabled adults, to continue to be good stewards of the generosity of JFS’ donors, and to increase community partnerships through events.  In her remarks at the meeting, Kramer noted the successes JFS has had over the past two years, as well as in the 75 years of its incorporation, noting the agency has served thousands of people, provided thousands of counseling hours, served hundreds of food pantry guests, and hundreds of families who received Hanukkah gifts.

Kramer emphasized the changes JFS recently experienced and its focus to serve the community. Changes included the move of the clinical services department (now called Embrace Counseling), the retirement of several staff members and welcome of their replacements, the growth of the PAM department, and the closure of the private duty home care program. “The dedication of the staff and board of directors to make all of these transitions possible is noted best by the continued success of JFS in the community and the ability to provide care where it is needed most,” she said.

Ellen Rosenblum, immediate past president, recognized Kramer’s leadership saying that “Anne led by example and further enhanced our reputation in the community with transparency and timely decisions.”

As Kramer welcomed Scott Flax as the new board president, she said, “You are lucky to be stepping into the role as board president. I hope two years from now you will feel as honored as I feel today to have been in this role.”

“As the incoming president, I believe it is important that we inform and educate our friends, family, neighbors, and community about all the amazing services that JFS offers,” said Flax. “I want to make sure that we emphasize our strengths and that we are prepared for the next 75 years of helping the community.”

Flax thanked the board members past and present, JFS volunteers and staff, his wife, parents, and children for their support in this appointment and their commitment to his service of the community. “JFS is here to help. We are here to assist. We are here to comfort and aid all those in need throughout life’s many transitions,” he said.

Kelly Burroughs