Jewish Family and Career Services celebrated 106 years of service to the Jewish community and to Louisville at its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 27, at the Louis and Lee Roth Family Center. With the theme of “Continuing a Tradition of Service,” volunteers, staff and board members were recognized and new board members elected.
“It’s been a very productive year at JFCS, we’ve served over 9,000 people throughout our region,” said Judy Freundlich Tiell, executive director. “It’s not been without challenges for our clients and for our agency. We continue to see large numbers of people who have fewer resources and need more services. But we have a huge level of creativity, commitment and passion and compassion that’s exhibited by our board, staff and volunteers.”
JFCS President Debbie Friedman began the meeting with the presentation of a special gift from avid supporter and former board member Bonnie Bizer, who passed away in November. Bizer bequeathed several paintings she owned by artist Frank Weisberg, who was chair of the art committee for the building. Weisberg, who was in attendance, donated a painting as well. The paintings hang in a group just outside the JFCS board room.
“We are very honored by Bonnie’s wishes and by being the owners of several of Frank’s paintings,” Friedman said.
With fewer than 40 staff members, JFCS relies heavily on volunteers to expand services and this year about 400 volunteers contributed nearly 24,000 hours of service.
“No job is too large or too small for JFCS volunteers who have gathered to bag food for less privileged clients, make bows for centerpieces, put together mailings, shop, drive and more,” said Friedman. “There is a real sense of belonging in the JFCS volunteer community which encourages involvement wherever needed.”
To showcase some of JFCS’ services, Mauri Malka, director of Family Services, “interviewed” Margaret Battcher and Patricia Reynolds, who started as trainees before they were hired into the Senior Concierge Homecare program, which provides services to seniors so that they can live independently. Battcher and Reynolds both said that JFCS has changed their lives by giving them a career they love that helps them do good work and also supports them and their family. They both said they loved the variety of each day and how good it feels to help others.
Each year, JFCS honors employees who create the best new program with the Mary Gunther Award. This year, Board Member Bill Ryan presented the award to Robert Tiell and Lauren Kehr for Long-term Unemployment Job Search Turnaround. The program, started in 2011, augments traditional job search support with behavioral health management techniques. More than two-thirds of the people in the program have found a cycle of employment within three months.
“What this program was designed to address was the fact that when you lose your job, and when you lose it for a long time, you start to lose part of you, and that means part of our community,” Ryan said.
Drawing large applause, Friedman recognized Robert Tiell, Director of Career Services and Workforce Development who has worked at JFCS for 45 years and Judy Freundlich Tiell who has been there for 35 years.
“I want to tell you about two people who have really led this agency and really taken it to where it is today,” she said. “It’s (their) leadership that’s brought us where we are.”
Mark Ament, chair of the board’s Nominating Committee, conducted the election. Doug Sharps, Carole Snyder and Robin Stratton were elected for three years. Ayala Golding and Bruce Belman were re-elected for three-year terms. Debbie Friedman was elected president; Stephanie Mutchnick, president-elect; Sandi Friedson, vice-president; and Marty Margulis, treasurer. Marc Charnas, Jay Klempher and Peter Resnik will serve as at large Executive Committee members.
JFCS thanked Sheilah Abramson-Miles, Shellie Benovitz and Janet Meyer who completed their terms and are leaving the board.
In addition to Ament, the Nominating Committee includes Billy Altman, Debbie Friedman, Sandi Friedson, Jay Klempner, Marty Margulis, Janet Meyer, Peter Resnik and Diane Tobin.