Jewish Family Services Crafts New Road Map Following COVID Crisis

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Ruth and Normal Rales Jewish Family Services To Continue Serving Community Needs In Boca Raton, South Palm Beach County.


BY: MEDIA ADVISORY | BocaNewsNow.com

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) (Media Advisory Verbatim) — While responding to unprecedented community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) has been deeply engaged in planning for the future service needs of Greater Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Highland Beach. Long the largest human services agency in south Palm Beach County, JFS has adopted a new Road Map to Greater Growth, Success and Client Service.

“Rather than preparing the usual five-year Strategic Plan, JFS has created a three-year Road Map that can be modified and updated as more becomes clear about the course of the pandemic and the resulting community needs,” said Danielle Hartman, JFS President & CEO. “For 42 years, this community has relied on our agency to adapt and grow in response to essential local needs, and we are committed to fulfilling that responsibility amid significant uncertainties as well as demographic changes.”

Ron Gallatin, JFS Vice Chair of Strategic Planning, added, “Our Board and professional staff worked together to assess the current and future situations and develop goals, objectives, strategies and a shared vision for success. Fortunately, we are able to build on a formidable record of service and robust financial footing that have expanded during what has been a difficult year for many nonprofits and businesses.”

“Over the past year, JFS jumped into emergency mode to serve many neighbors newly in need while maintaining aid those who must continue to depend on us,” said Lisa Goodman, JFS Immediate Past Chair. “Given our increasing vital roles for people from all walks of life in south Palm Beach County, careful planning alongside our crisis efforts, was absolutely essential.”

The extent of the agency’s critical impact on the community is clear from some service highlights of the past year, in which JFS:

·       Distributed over $315,000 in COVID-related financial assistance to date, a number that will continue to increase, in addition to over $280K in non-COVID related emergency financial assistance including to special needs families and domestic violence victims. 

·       Absorbed a 41% increase in the number of seniors needing home delivered meals.

·       Brought virtual programming to pandemic-homebound seniors. When COVID suddenly halted in-person activities that over 900 members of the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center enjoyed daily in 35,000 visits per year, these now homebound seniors could access them online – with their own tech support.

·       Helped over 1,000 job seekers through Career & Employment Services programming.

The Road Map reflects how the future holds additional challenges for the agency to increase its capacity and to help the community’s large populations of seniors and families. It sets the course to address these challenges through five goals:

1) Adapting infrastructure to accommodate the agency’s growth and new work models including expanded use of technology;

2) Enabling the community’s burgeoning homebound senior population to age in place at home;

3) Planning for needs of at-risk families and children, including those with special needs;

4) Sustaining the agency through diversified revenue streams; and

5) Engaging community members including younger seniors in skilled volunteering and getting the word out about the affordable, accessible services people need and may not know exist.

“Seniors have always been at the heart of JFS, and there are new challenges ahead as our large cohort of boomers begin to turn 80 in a few years,” says Gallatin. “Our seniors are living longer with declining health and abilities, while outliving their assets and perhaps their children, who otherwise are generally not nearby. As an agency that serves well beyond the Jewish community, JFS must prepare for significant service increases.

“The vast majority of aging seniors want to stay in their homes, where we know they do better,” Gallatin continues. “To do so, they need caregivers, but research including an AARP Public Policy Institute report anticipates a serious shortage in this labor pool, along with increasing costs. We need to be ready to augment additional funds with expanded use of the robust JFS volunteer program and technology.”

“At the same time, we see families in unprecedented stress as COVID has increased pressures from income loss and strained family dynamics that continue to bring heartache – for many who have been on the financial edge and others who never before had to ask for help,” added Hartman. 

“Beyond the Jewish community, the United Way’s 2020 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report indicated that a third of all households in Palm Beach County were already economically insecure. These “working poor” have been most greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And according to the US Department of HHS, in the past ten years, Palm Beach County’s median family income increased 17% while the median sales price of a single-family home increased 78%. Forty percent of of all households spend more than 30%  of their income on housing.”


Paul Saperstein


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