In Mercer County there is a clear dedication to supporting charitable efforts both locally and more broadly. At JFCS, we are humbled by the support we receive year after year from our donors.
In recent years, changes to tax law have impacted individual giving and caused some confusion for donors as to how to make the most significant impact with their valued contributions.
Our partners Lear & Pannepacker LLP spoke with us to help clarify the changes in tax law and alternative giving options including:
Donate Appreciated Securities: By donating appreciated stocks, bonds or other appreciated investments directly to a charity, the donor can avoid capital gains tax.
Set Up & Gift through a Donor Advised Fund: A donor can make a larger gift up front to a donor advised fund, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then advise on annual grants to charities year after year. Donor advised funds can be set up at local organizations such as Princeton Area Community Foundation or Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer as well as through your bank or financial advisor.
Make a Qualified Charitable Distribution from IRA: Make a transfer of funds directly from your IRA to a charity. These transfers count towards your required minimum distribution each year but are not reported to you as taxable income.
See our full conversation with Lear & Pannepacker LLP for even more information:
In honor of the holiday, JFCS wants to share our thanks…
To our staff, thank you for giving your compassion, your care, your creativity in the face of unprecedented challenges.
To our Board, thank you for giving your commitment and guidance to keep the agency on a steady course.
To our volunteers, thank you for giving your goodwill and your time. We have multiple programs entirely dependent on our corps of volunteer who have been unwavering in their service through this difficult time.
To our collaborators in the community, thank you for giving us your partnership and proving that we can accomplish more together and support our community through a strong network of resources.
To our clients, thank you for giving your trust to our team to provide you with counsel, with resources, with support in the face of many challenges this year.
To our donors, thank you for giving your support. From the start of the pandemic, you, our supporters, never hesitated in reaching out to see how you could contribute, which programs needed help, always asking “how can we help?”
…And give support.
We want to share a few notes of advice on how to manage the anxiety and stress that accompanies holidays “in the time of COVID-19.”
- Try to be realistic, the holiday does not have to be perfect. Choose a few traditions to hold on to and be open about creating new ones. This could mean that you have a virtual get together, or, weather permitting, dinner could be held outdoors.
- Practice self-care: taking 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to go for a walk outside, listening to calming music, lighting a scented candle, doing breathing exercises, and drinking water.
- Focus on what you are grateful for. Sometimes we need be thankful for what happens to us, sometimes we need be thankful for what does not.
Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and peaceful Thanksgiving.
We hope this note finds all our community members healthy and well. During times of uncertainty and disruption, we often find comfort by reconnecting with our roots. In the past months, many folks have literally returned to their hometowns and the security of their family home.
As we approach this most-unusual High Holiday season, we hope you, too, find comfort in connecting with your roots – to the familiarity of Jewish traditions, rituals and values. There is stability and control to be found in marking this New Year, like we have so many times before, and defining a new beginning for ourselves and our community.
In these challenging times, JFCS remains firmly grounded in our guiding principles of Help, Hope and Healing. By remaining true to our principles, we have been able to adapt to the changing needs of our clients and grow in line with our mission. These concepts also work to help connect us with our Jewish roots.
HELP …a concept most often associated with mitzvot and Tzedakah (charitable giving). From a young age, we become familiar with the importance of performing acts of kindness and making charitable donations. Helping others, specifically those most in need, becomes an ingrained habit.
HOPE… L’Dor V’Dor (from generation to generation) for Jewish families: this is the thread that connects us to those who came before and those who will come after us. There is hope that every time we share our values, traditions and history, the next generation will carry forward these lessons and build upon them. We constantly look forward with hope.
HEALING … Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. In the Judaism, we learn that we have a responsibility to see beyond individual acts of kindness and to contribute to broader change to heal what is broken in our local, national and global communities.
In honor of the New Year, ask how can I help? How do I help others find hope? How can I help heal my community?
Help a neighbor by volunteering to make calls to a local, isolated senior, or donate $50, which can support one week of Kosher Meals on Wheels for a homebound older adult.
Give hope to those who are struggling emotionally by directing them to the JFCS Drop-In hours, or making a contribution of $500 which can support someone in need of ongoing counseling.
Be part of healing the increasing food insecurity in Mercer County by organizing a food drive for the JFCS pantries, or make a gift of $5,000 which can fund two Mobile Food Pantry distributions, reaching 100 families.
Reconnect with your roots and make a gift to JFCS that honors the values embodied in Help, Hope and Healing. Your generosity will aid those most in need – a gift marking a transition to a new start.
Wishing you the peace, prosperity, health and happiness rooted in our celebration of the New Year.
Michelle Napell, Executive Director
Arlene Pedovitch, Board President
The Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (beginning September 18) and Yom Kippur (beginning September 27), will be celebrated in new ways this year.
The pandemic will dramatically impact how the Jewish community “gathers” and observes these important holidays. At JFCS, we understand it can be an overwhelming prospect and are providing a number of resources for you, your family, friends, neighbors and our entire Jewish community in Mercer County.
Holiness at Home: Observing the High Holidays Outside of the Synagogue, Webinar hosted by Andrea Gaynor, LCSW and Beverly Rubman, Chaplain that explored the many ways in which Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, presents opportunities to prepare both spiritually and psychologically. The webinar also discussed how to make High Holiday virtual services more personally meaningful and relevant.
Bereavement and the Holidays During COVID-19
Online Gatherings & High Holiday Tips for 2020
How to make a round challah (recipe and video)
Readings & Articles
Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days: A Guided Journal, Kerry M. Olitsky and Rachel T. Sabath
Mahzor Lev Shalem for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Day Gail Twersky Reimer and Judith A. Kates
God is a Verb, Rabbi David Cooper (Modern Kabbalistic view of God and spirituality)
New prayers and poems https://www.ritualwell.org/
Diverse articles on the High Holidays https://www.myjewishlearning.com/
Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation https://www.schusterman.org/
- Complete downloadable Rosh HaShanah Seder
- Schusterman Family Foundation Haggadah
Each June, Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) convenes an Annual Meeting open to the greater Mercer County community. In light of coronavirus pandemic, JFCS has chosen instead to share a prepared video with the community documenting the agency’s service over the past year.
Video highlights include:
- Reflection on the launch of the JFCS Mobile Food Pantry including the pop-up pantries that helped pave the way for distribution partners, the planning process to retrofit a food truck into a mobile pantry, and the first months in service, including an increased distribution schedule seen as result of COVID-19.
- Recognition of the Senior Service team for their consistent support of older adults and commitment to addressing immediate concerns during the pandemic.
- Acknowledgment of the Clinical (Mental Health Counseling) department for the service to the community prior to COVID-19 and expanded services in light of the pandemic. Expanded support includes Drop-In hours and webinars, virtual events, and blogs to share advice to the broader community.
- Highlighting teen programs for providing an outlet for youth to connect, share experiences, and engage in community service projects during a difficult time when distanced from peers.
It is impossible to look around you – even from within your own home – and not be inundated with information about the COVID-19 outbreak. These are uncharted waters for our local, national and global communities, but, there is an oddly comforting unity to know that this outbreak has an impact of everyone in our community, we are in this together.
We do not know how long our lives will be upended by restrictions and quarantines, but we do know the impact will last even longer. Right now and through the uncertain future, JFCS will be here ensuring help, hope and healing. In this phase of social distancing and disconnection, we intend to keep you, our community, well informed on JFCS actions.
What are we doing right now?
We are utilizing all available resources to ensure the most vulnerable and most in need have food:
- We provided 50 families at Better Beginnings with packaged groceries
- We plan to maintain our Mobile Food Pantry distribution schedule, including a stop at for 50 Redding Circle residents this week
- April pantry hours for our on-site Yvette Sarah Clayman Kosher Food Pantry will be kept for our scheduled clients. For the health & safety of all, clients will be provided prepacked bags of grocery items, delivered to them in their cars, limiting outside access to our site.
- Kosher Meals on Wheels continue to be delivered to homebound seniors. Meals are delivered by staff at the door with no direct contact with the recipient.
- We are packing to-go boxes for Kosher Café seniors and have seen an increased attendance given the limited resources available for this low-income population. Last week we also provided the Kosher Café guests with a supplemental bag of grocery items to help them during this time.
- We have frozen prepared meals available to supplement any of our seniors existing deliveries on an as-needed basis.
- We are exploring all possible resources for packaged, pantry items and prepared meals to keep in stock as we anticipate growing need for food among our seniors and the food-insecure.
- We are ordering Kosher for Passover meals to be distributed to our homebound senior clients.
Counseling is being provided by phone to our existing clients. Our team of counselors is available to take new calls for anyone who needs immediate assistance to cope with the heightened stress, anxiety or fear and for those with ongoing mental health concerns.
JFCS Geriatric Care Managers are making regular check-in calls and providing support by phone to our Secure@Home members, low-income seniors, Holocaust Survivors and support group members.
Volunteers have stepped up to provide check-in calls to our Kosher Meals on Wheels clients as well as seniors who were enrolled in Cooking Companions and Friendly Visitor programs.
We have launched a comprehensive resource page on our website as a one-stop source of agency information, helpful blogs from our staff on topical issues, and links to outside resources.
What is in the works?
- Our staff is working with all community partners to make connections and ensure any available food is reaching those who need it most.
- We are planning to launch teen engagement programs over Zoom (video conferencing) to keep our youth connected and supported during this challenging time.
- We are creating plans to host Community Calls with one of our counselors to provide topical information on the challenges being faced by many.
- We are working to offer free “call-in” hours during the week where callers can be connected to one of our counselors for coping skills and support.
- We are exploring the capabilities of Zoom and other conference-calling programs to deliver supportive workshops to our constituents.
What can you do?
- If you know of any counseling needs in the community, recommend JFCS.
- If you know of families or seniors in need of food, recommend JFCS.
- If you know of resources that will help us continue to deliver our programs whether it is through food, funding, or technology, we welcome your help and support.
- LAST BUT NOT LEAST… check in on your children, your parents, your elderly neighbors, your coworkers, your friends, and yourself.
Administrative staff will be available by phone to answer any questions Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 5 PM and Friday 9 AM – 4 PM. Please note effective March 23, the restrictions noted in our original posting remain in place indefinitely in accordance with local, state and national health and safety guidelines.
JFCS is stretching our resources as far as possible at this time to ensure our current clients have the support they need, be it counseling, senior resources and food. We know this is just the beginning of a rise in need for our services. Help us be equipped to provide for as many as possible here in our community.
According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), “Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people’s lives.”
I have the joy of working with driven, compassionate social workers every day at JFCS. In our agency, the social work profession is represented in every program and service. Our counseling department is staffed with licensed social workers and licensed clinical social workers providing therapy to those battling depression, anxiety, trauma and more.
We employee social workers across our senior services to provide geriatric care management, helping older adults and their families navigate the choices to remain in their home or seek assisted living. The Holocaust Survivor program is delivered by a social worker who works one on one with survivors to ensure they are receiving the care they need as they age.
Social work interns interact with seniors at our Kosher Cafes and help clients in the Yvette Sarah Clayman Kosher Food Pantry.
JFCS, at our core, is about empowering individuals make to care for themselves and others. For a social worker, that is just a day at the office.
We thank and appreciate all social workers for the service they provide to their communities.
UPDATED MONDAY MARCH 16, 2020
JFCS is here for the health of our community. In line with directives from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as local leadership for the state of New Jersey and County of Mercer, we are moving our programs and staff to remote schedules effective March 16 – 27. We understand this situation is evolving day by day and will continue to assess our remote service delivery during these two weeks and beyond as prudent and safe for our staff, our clients, and all constituents.
Please note the following changes to programs & services:
No clients or visitors will be allowed inside JFCS offices through March 27.
Counseling services will be provided through tele-therapy. We are continuing to take new calls for clients interested in services. If interested in counseling services, call us at 609-987-8100 Ext 102.
Seniors enrolled in our programs will receive regular check-ins and phone support to connect them with needed resources. There will be no in-home visits and/or geriatric assessments provided by Senior Services.
Food delivery programs will continue to the extent our resources are available.
Gesher LeKesher and Jewish Community Youth Foundation (JCYF) recruitment and programmatic gatherings are canceled through April 1.
- J-Serve, International Day of Jewish Youth Service is canceled.
- All community events and days of service are canceled through April 1.
- All volunteer activities are canceled through April including Shop & Stocks, Chore Corps, Cooking Companions, Friendly Visitors and all individual and group opportunities
- All on and off-site support and therapeutic groups are canceled through April 1 including Bereavement groups, Caregiver Support group, and Youth Mindfulness group.
Administrative staff will be available by phone to answer any questions Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 5 PM and Friday 9 AM – 4 PM.
Grant Awarded to JFCS by Janssen to support partnership program with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton
In April 2019, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (RWJ) launched Healthy Lives Hamilton, a program designed to improve quality of life for those living with heart failure. Through a generous grant by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, JFCS is now teaming up with RWJ to bring our geriatric care management skills to offer Healthy Lives Hamilton Plus.
Studies have shown that providing home visits and early intervention upon discharge for patients with a diagnosis of heart failure have significantly lowered the risk of readmission. JFCS will provide the services of a geriatric care manager to discharged RWJ heart failure patients. Our care manager and a registered nurse will assess the patients in their homes within 24-72 hours post discharge.
The home visit allows the care team to provide health literacy skills so the patient and caregiver may better understand basic health information and services to make informed health decisions. These include medication usage, side effects and discharge instructions. A home visit also allows the RN to gather information firsthand about which medications are being taken regularly, and to better identify barriers to medication compliance or exacerbating factors such as high sodium foods in the kitchen. The goals of these initial visits are to increase adherence to the discharge plan, compliance with the new medication regimen, and identify resources that are needed including home care, medical equipment and/or assistive devices.
Our care manager will assess for activities of daily living, safety, transportation, and the level of caregiver support. Equipping patients with the necessary education and tools at home allows for the early detection of avoidable problems, improving their quality of life and reducing the likelihood of readmission.