JFCS Scholarship Opportunity 2022

Dr. Esther Wollin Memorial Scholarship

Available to Jewish female students who reside in the Princeton Mercer Bucks community.  Monies from Dr. Wollin’s estate were designated to grant a college scholarship to eligible Jewish female full-time students who will be or are already attending Rutgers University and raised by their Jewish mother in a single-parent household in the Princeton Mercer Bucks Community.  Eligibility is based on financial need.   

Applications due June 1, 2022.

For more information contact Joyce at JoyceW@JFCSonline.org. 

Apply now!

JFCS 2nd Virtual Annual Fundraiser Welcomes over 500 guests, raises $211,000

On February 24, Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) held their 2nd virtual annual fundraiser. The event, Trivia Night with JFCS, welcomed 525 guests to participate in a team trivia competition via Zoom. Bristol Myers Squibb was honored for their dedication to the mission of JFCS, and agency programs were highlighted with a special focus on mental health services.

“Last year, with our first virtual event, we were very impressed with the turnout,” said Michelle Napell, JFCS Executive Director. “We never could have imagined we’d welcome over 500 guests at our 2nd virtual event. The accessibility has proven a big draw to our local community members.”

The event, JFCS’ single largest annual fundraiser and significant source of unrestricted funds, raised over $211,000 through sponsorships, tickets sales and a live Text-to-Give appeal during the event. Two private donors agreed to match the first $10,000 raised for Text-to-Give; along with donations from guests, the total amount raised for the live appeal was $27,522.

“In recent years, we have continued to increase our Text-to-Give goals. With over 500 guests this year, we knew we could raise significant funds,” says Napell. “It was humbling to see the level of support, especially from so many guests who were unfamiliar with our agency until that night. The benefit of the virtual event was being able to welcome our community members’ friends and family from across the country.”

Guests were able to join from anywhere and participants tuned in from across New Jersey as well as across the country, from California, to Florida, to Massachusetts and more. Attendees were able to create their own teams which allowed family and friends to connect whether they gathered together in person or over Zoom from different locations.

“While we had hoped this year’s event might bring us all together, it was amazing to see so many people supporting JFCS. It was fun to see so many Zoom rooms filled with lots of people who were able to be together, I was able to gather with 25 friends at our local synagogue as we broke into multiple teams to compete in the trivia event,” added Scott Sussman, JFCS Board Vice President and Event Chair.

Funds raised from the event will support all agency programs, several of which have grown with demand in the past two challenging years. JFCS maintains a counseling department which is seeing rising demand as everyone navigates the next stage of the pandemic, particularly youth who are experiencing ongoing emotional stress.

Additionally, JFCS maintains several food relief programs including an on-site food pantry, available 5 days/week, two Mobile Food Pantry vehicles that bring the pantry directly into areas of greater Mercer County with the greatest obstacles to accessing available resources, as well as meal and grocery delivery to homebound seniors.

JFCS also boasts a senior service department which provides geriatric care management available to the broader community. Seniors have continued to rely on the support of the JFCS senior service team throughout the past year for resources, information, and the comfort and understanding of our staff.

“Our agency has successfully navigated the past two of challenges thanks to the generosity of individual and corporate supporters; however, we have learned that to be prepared for anything, our agency needs to remain adaptable to any challenge, and to do so, we will continue to rely on the incredible support of this community. The success of this event helps us continue to move forward, together,” said Napell.

See a full recap on our event website!

JFCS thanks all event sponsors including Champion Sponsors Abrams Foundation/Nati Kushner; Bristol Myers Squibb, Personal Home Care of New Jersey, Roundview Capital, Dina & Michael Shaw, Elaine & Barry Sussman, and Troutman Pepper; Patron Sponsors Access Property Management, Matt & Holli Elias, Homewatch Caregivers, JZA+D, Lennar, Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club, and the Schwalbe Family; Partner Sponsors; Partner Sponsors The Gershen Group LLC, Lowenstein Sandler LLP, Newman Paperboard, NJM Insurance, and Stark & Stark; and Supporter Sposnors Dundon Advisers LLC, Faegre Drinker, First Bank, the Gordon Family, Hill Wallack LLP, Jill & Gregg Jaclin, Mercadien, Northfield Bank, Orland’s Ewing Memorial Chapel, Sheryl & Joseph Punia, Heidi & Marc Shegoski, Szaferman Lakind, Stacey Wasserman & Ian Zimmerman and Audrey & Marc Wisotsky.

Resources for Supporting Ukraine & Coping with Crisis

How to Support

The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks established a Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund to provide critical assistance to more than 200,000 Jews in Ukraine. Thank you to those who have already joined this effort. Please support the most vulnerable.

CLICK TO DONATE

The emergency campaign dollars will go to American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to support on-the-ground humanitarian effort.

How to  Talk to About Crisis and Cope

The war in Ukraine has triggered strong emotions for many of us. If you are feeling anger, fear, anxiety, depression, or helplessness, you are not alone. For many, it is the first time watching such horrors unfold in their lifetime. For some, these images and videos can be triggers from past trauma.

It is in our physiological nature as human beings to feel some amount of empathy and sorrow for others dealing with a traumatic event. Even though we’re not physically present, we still feel the mental health effects of what’s going on. We may not be able to diminish these emotions, but there are ways to make them more manageable.

How to cope will depend entirely on what works best for you. Below are some suggestions that you may find helpful:

  • Limit your time watching/listening to the news.  Repeated exposure to this kind of content can be distressing or numbing. 
  • Relieve some of that anxiety and tension by gently moving your body. This could mean going for a walk, doing some light stretching, taking an online yoga class, or whatever it is that helps you feel good.
  • Self-compassion. Ask yourself: What are you feeling, both emotionally and physically? This may include a quick head-to-toe body scan. Try using words to identify and name these feelings, like “I​’m feeling helpless, and it feels like there is a pit in my stomach.” Try your best to just witness these feelings rather than talking yourself out of them or trying to change them.
  • Coloring can relax the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces the same state as meditating by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. This generates mindfulness and quietness, which allows your mind to get some rest.

Additional Resources on how to talk about the crisis and cope:

As always, if you feel you are withdrawing from others, or feeling intense emotions that are affecting daily functioning, please reach out to talk to one of our professional staff at JFCS​ by calling 609-987-8100.

JFCS Hosts Virtual Trivia Night Fundraiser Open to Community

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) is holding their annual fundraiser on Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 8 PM – a virtual Trivia Night open to the community. 

“Our annual fundraiser is our chance to bring together our supporters, donors, and partners to highlight the agency’s programs and recognize partners who are honored for their dedication over the past year,” said Michelle Napell Executive Director. “This year we are pleased to honor Bristol-Myers Squibb for their commitment to our mission and financial support of our on-site and mobile food pantries.” 

In addition to honoring Bristol-Myers Squibb, the event will include program highlights of JFCS services, particularly the counseling department. 

“Mental health remains an important topic now more than ever as our community, and the world, enter the second full year of the pandemic,” says Napell. “Our counselors have remained flexible, compassionate and committee to their clients through the ups and downs of the past two years.” 

The pandemic has exacerbated mental health concerns amongst many, in addition to the mental and emotional toll felt by all as everyone experiences challenges during the pandemic – isolation, uncertainty, fear. The JFCS counseling department provides individual, couple and family counseling to any in the community who need support. 

“A year ago, we would have hoped to be back in person for our annual fundraiser, but we are confident we’ll be bringing our community (near and far) an engaging and entertaining experience with Trivia Night,” adds Scott Sussman, JFCS Board Vice President and Event Committee Chair. “While everyone may not be able to be together physically, this event will bring a spirit of togetherness and camaraderie to all guests. May the best team win!” 

The virtual event will feature trivia played team-style on Zoom. Guests will be able to form their own teams of 6 – 10 individuals and compete for prizes for the top 3 teams. 

 Event Information including sponsorships and registration can be found on our event site.

Champion Sponsors Abrams Foundation/Nati Kushner, Personal Home Care of NJ, Roundview Capital and Troutman Pepper; Patron Sponsors Access Property Management, Homewatch Caregivers, Lennar and Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club; Partner Sponsor Stark & Stark; and Supporter Sponsors Dundon Advisors, First Bank, Hill Wallack LLP, Jill & Gregg Jaclin, Mercadien, Orland’s Ewing Memorial Chapel, Szaferman Lakind, and Audrey & Marc Wisotsky. 

Holiday Gift Drive to Benefit Those in Need

Donate a gift cards to benefit those we serve. Your gifts empower parents to purchase holiday gifts for their children.

Please help by purchasing gift cards in denominations of $15 or $25 from the following retailers:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Old Navy
  • Target
  • VISA

Please deliver donations by Thursday, December 23. Questions? Contact Eden Aaronson at EdenA@jfcsonline.org.

 

Download and share the flyer!

Virtual Bereavement Group Ahead of the Holidays

When so many traditions and observances are focused around the gathering of family and friends, it can be especially hard to celebrate when grieving the loss of a loved one. Our Handling the Holidays series is held ahead of the major Jewish holidays, Passover, Yom Kippur & Rosh Hashanah, and Hanukkah, to help those who are grieving.

Light in the Midst of Darkness: Chanukah for those who are bereaved

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2021 | 2:30 – 3:30 PM | VIA ZOOM

 

 

Join for a one-time virtual support group to help you through the dark days of this difficult year. Facilitated by Chaplain Beverly Rubman.

No fee to attend, advance registration required.

 

CLICK TO REGISTER

JFCS Mobile Food Pantry Benefits Over 30,000 in 18 Months

In mid-July, the JFCS Mobile Food Pantry met an important milestone when the program distributed its 10,000th bag of food in the community.

The Mobile Food Pantry launched in January 2020 and grew quickly, with the initial roll out expedited by the onset of the pandemic. The JFCS Mobile Food Pantry includes two vehicles, the original mobile pantry truck and Poppy’s Pantry, a sprinter van which was purchased through a private gift in memory of Stuart “Poppy” Plotkin.

Both vehicles are out on the road every week and make over 20 distributions each month. Since its launch in early 2020, the mobile pantry program has made over 280 distributions stops across the Greater Mercer region. Distribution locations include a wide network of partners – community housing projects, schools, daycares, churches and a variety of social service organizations.

“When it’s 50 bags to a senior housing complex, 20 bags to a daycare facility, 60 bags to a school, it is incredible to see just how quickly we distributed 10,000 bags benefitting well over 30,000 individuals here in our community,” said Beth Englezos, JFCS Manager of Hunger Prevention.

Both the JFCS brick-and-mortar pantry and both mobile pantries continue to see high demand as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt by the most vulnerable in the community.

“Our mobile pantry never stopped, even though it was a new program, we saw early on in the pandemic just how vital mobility was in getting food to food insecure individuals and families, now forced to lockdown for their safety,” says Michelle Napell, JFCS Executive Director. “We are prepared to maintain our high level of deliveries and growing to meet demand as we continue to see the financial fallout from the pandemic.”

Upgrades In the Office & On the Road

Through generous grants and the support of the community, JFCS was able to keep the mobile pantries stocked to meet the need.

“We took advantage of having most of our staff working remotely to reconfigure the offices space which houses our brick-and-mortar pantry to accommodate the expanded storage needs in maintaining our mobile program,” adds Napell.

Private grants supported the purchase of new refrigeration and freezers to store fresh and frozen items distributed through both the brick-and-mortar and mobile pantries. The JFCS pantry programs are designed as healthy, choice pantries; while the pandemic has limited the choice option, JFCS remains committed to the healthy pantry model. Taryn Krietzman, JFCS Pantry Coordinator, is also a registered dietitian and informs the selection of products regularly stocked in the pantries. Additionally, Ms. Krietzman will create monthly recipes and resources that are distributed to all pantry clients and made available in both English and Spanish.

When Poppy’s Pantry was added to the mobile pantry fleet, it was designed to be an extra vehicle to transport bags of shelf-stable goods and select produce on short distribution runs. In the spring of 2021, JFCS received funding through Mercer Street Friends Food Bank Center for Nutritional Health and Wellness’ Network Investment Initiative, made possible with help from The Community Food Bank of New Jersey and lead funding from the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and its partners. With this grant, the agency was able to have the van be converted to a fully refrigerated vehicle. Both vehicles are now able to transport fresh and frozen items at food-safe temperature to any location within the Greater Mercer region.

Preparing for the Next Phase

The JFCS mobile pantry programs continues to grow through a network of partners. The mobile pantry has made two distributions in partnership with the Muslim Center of Greater Princeton’s Hunger Van, which delivers hot meals to distribute to those in need. These distributions have brought the JFCS pantry across the river into Bucks County to churches and locations working with the Hunger Van.

“We know that, unfortunately, there are still so many deeply impact financially from this pandemic, and this impact will be felt for the months and years ahead,” says Napell.

A recent study by Legal Services of New Jersey’s Poverty Research Institute, demonstrated that the “true poverty” level in New Jersey is on average 2.5 times higher than the federal poverty line. The study considered actual cost of living compared to income. According to the study, in Mercer County, the true cost of living is almost 3 times what the federal government defines as the poverty line. In addition, recent data available through the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that an individual working minimum wage at $12/hour must work 88 hours a week to afford a modest apartment.

“The numbers show just how dire a position people are facing,” said Englezos. “When you think about the true cost of living from housing to daycare expenses to car expenses to utilities, a monthly paycheck is often spent before any groceries are purchased. It’s devastating; devastating to a parent who must make the choice between a bill and a meal, devastating to the family who now face long-term effects on their health and overall well-being, devastating to a community where a significant portion of the population faces this situation day after day.”

Prior to the pandemic, the JFCS brick-and-mortar pantry would allow clients to access the food pantry monthly, by appointment. It has been open 5 days a week since spring 2020, and most clients make weekly visits to keep their households fed. Similarly, the JFCS mobile pantries have several regular distributions each month, sometimes more than once a month, to ensure that their resources are reaching those in need as often as possible.

How to Help

Throughout the month of August and September, JFCS is organizing “Stuff the Truck” events around the community to collect healthy breakfast foods to stock in the pantry. The first “Stuff the Truck” event is held in partnership with Trenton Thunder on Wednesday, August 4 at 6 PM. Community members are welcome to join JFCS at the ballpark and bring a donation item for the food drive. Ticket link and details about upcoming “Stuff the Truck” events can be found at jfcsonline.org/events.

“The first meal of the day truly sets the tone and gives you the positive start needed,” said Taryn Krietzman, RDN, Pantry Coordinator. “We’re hoping we can get the pantry well stocked ahead of the school year so that food insecure children and families can have a nutritious breakfast to count on before they start their day.”

Community members are also encouraged to “Plant-a-Row” for JFCS in their personal or community gardens. Several local individuals and groups, including West Windsor Plainsboro Girl Scout Troops, synagogue and church groups, have been harvesting fresh produce from their gardens to donate to the JFCS pantry. These donations have helped the pantry maintain variety in the produce distributed to clients. Plant-a-Row donations are accepted through the fall; those interested in participating may contact Taryn Krietzman at TarynK@jfcsonline.org.

And on Sunday, October 3, JFCS will be holding the 1st Annual Wheels for Meals bike ride fundraiser. All event proceeds will support JFCS food programs – the on-site and mobile pantry, food distribution services and senior nutrition programs. Find ride details at jfcswheels4meals.org.

JFCS Inaugural Wheels for Meals Aims to Raise Over $100K to Fight Hunger in Mercer Community

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) will be holding their 1st Annual Wheels for Meals, bike ride to fight hunger, on Sunday morning, October 3, 2021, at Mercer County Community College.

Event proceeds will benefit all JFCS food programs, including their on-site and mobile food pantries and senior nutrition programs. Collectively, JFCS food programs benefit over 30,000 individuals across the greater Mercer region each year.

“During the pandemic, not a single one of our programs stopped, and our food programs saw higher demand than ever,” says Michelle Napell, JFCS Executive Director. “We anticipate that the increase in food insecurity in our community will continue, which is why JFCS is thrilled to launch this new annual fundraiser dedicated entirely to supporting our food programs.”

Individual riders can register for their choice of 32-mile, 10-mile or 3-mile routes, all starting on Mercer County Community College West Windsor Campus. The event also offers multiple levels of sponsorship for businesses or groups looking to create teams and support at a higher level.

Find all event details at www.JFCSWheels4Meals.org.

Event sponsors include Firmenich Charitable Foundation, Stark & Stark, The Gershen Group LLC, and NJM Insurance Group. Witherspoon Media Group is the official media partner of the event.

Back-to-School School Supply Drive 2021

NOW THROUGH AUGUST 13th!

Now more than ever, let’s continue to help children in need start the school year off right.

Our goal is to outfit 150+ children with the supplies they need to look forward to beginning a successful school year. Items donated benefit the children of JFCS pantry and partner agency clients in the Greater Mercer community.

Help us by donating:

  • Sturdy backpacks for middle-school and high-school students
  • Notebooks (spiral, wide rule and marble)
  • Pencil cases/pouches
  • Pocket folders
  • #2 Pencils
  • Pens
  • Scissors
  • Highlighters
  • Glue Sticks
  • Index Cards
  • Markers
  • Boxes of Tissues

2 Ways to Donate

  1. Order and ship supplies of your website of choice ship to 707 Alexander Rd, Suite 204 Princeton NJ 08540
  2. Drop off items in our donation bin outside of: 707 Alexander Road, Suite 102 AND Suite 204 Princeton NJ 08540

JFCS Pantry Welcomes Donations from Individual & Community Gardens

May 11, 2021

Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) is asking the community to help keep the agency pantry stocked with fresh produce throughout the spring and summer by harvesting from their very own gardens.

In years past, the JFCS pantry has been able to accept limited donations of fresh produce but now with the mobile food pantry going out 3-5 times per week, there is significantly increased demand for a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The on-site food pantry also continues to see high use, with 80-100 visits per month.

“We always appreciate the donations from local individuals or even community gardens as it provides variety to the produce we usually offer,” said Beth Englezos, JFCS Manager of Hunger Prevention. “While we are able to store and distribute fresh and frozen produce from our regular food providers, there is something extra special about being able to give out locally grown, fresh from the garden items to our clients.”

JFCS is tying into the national Plant-a-Row initiative which encourages individuals to plant items in their personal or communal gardens for the specific purpose of harvesting to donate to local food pantries.

In addition to encouraging local gardeners to contribute to the food pantry, JFCS is also working to provide clients the tools to grow their own produce as well. Recently, the agency was able to provide tomato plant seedlings to clients. JFCS agency has a relationship with Abe’s Acres Farm, located in Hightstown, where agency staff bring specific cardboard waste – collected through regular, large-scale food deliveries to the pantry – to the farm which is turned into composting material. In early May, when dropping off cardboard, Abe’s Acres provided 200 tomato plant seedlings for JFCS to share with pantry clients.

Taryn Krietzman, RDN, JFCS Pantry Coordinator created easy to follow care instructions to provide along with the plant to pantry clients.

“Clients coming to our food pantry are food insecure and low-income. Growing one’s own produce is a simple way to get more food into the refrigerator and to save money,” says Krietzman.

Through an ongoing partnership with ONEProject, a Robbinsville-based organization, JFCS received a donation of 250 painted planters and cilantro seeds to provide our clients with additional resources.

“Food pantries are at the end of human-food production chain, making it difficult to acquire perishable foods such as fresh produce. By providing these resources directly to our clients, we can circumvent many of those challenges allow the client to have the freshest source of produce, right in their home,” added Krietzman.

If you have questions about donating from your personal or community garden, reach out to Taryn Krietzman at TarynK@jfcsonline.org. For those outside of the Mercer County region, individuals can utilize the pantry finder on AmpleHarvest.com to locate a local food pantry accepting donations from personal or community gardens.