Dementia Caregiver Connection Group –Pilot Program of JFCS at Artis Senior Living

For most couples, going out for a meal or an activity is a normal part of life. But when one of the members of the couple is memory-impaired (with Dementia, Alzheimer’s or other conditions, possibly combined with movement restrictions ), even the simplest activity is filled with anxiety and difficulty.  Will my spouse act appropriately with others?  What can I do to keep his/her attention focused?  How can I enjoy my time out when I am so worried about my spouse’s behavior?  Are there others in the community facing the same issues that I am?

JFCS has created a unique program to help caregivers and their spouses with memory impairments to enjoy time out together, combining a caregiver support group with an engaging activity for the care recipient. We piloted the program, called the Dementia Caregiver Connection Group,  for four weeks in May, working with Artis Senior Living, a state-of-the-art  memory care facility in Princeton Junction.

The morning began with coffee, cake and time to schmooze. Then the caregivers and their loved ones separated for the next hour.  I facilitated the caregiver support group where participants could speak openly about the issues that they face on a daily basis and receive suggestions for techniques and resources.  In a very short time, the group members bonded and honest conversations abounded.  It did not seem to matter that each member’s situation was unique—what mattered was that they could come together to share feelings and experiences, with love and support and without judgment.  There is something magical in a support group that is hard to describe—the participants experience such power in being accepted for who they are and what they are experiencing.

While the caregivers met, Artis’ art therapist worked with the care recipients on a variety of projects (woodworking, gardening, art, etc.) After the first session, the art therapist understood the needs and interests of each participant and tailored the activities to their particular personalities.  The spouses were engaged and did not seek out their caregiver spouses.

At the end of the hour, the couples reunited for a delicious lunch and time for socialization. Relationships formed; emails exchanged; experiences shared; isolation banished.   All care recipients returned despite some initial hesitation. They surprised their spouses with positive attitudes, memories from past weeks (in some cases) and a general sense of well-being after each session.

Many thanks to our partners at Artis who provided their caring, experienced staff, beautiful surroundings and delicious food.  We look forward to the start of another four-week group beginning on Thursday, September 6th.  For questions and more information, please contact Beverly Rubman at or 609-987-8100 ext. 151.



The Reality Is..

This week, the world was shocked by news of two high profile suicides; yet the reality is there were many more lives that have been lost to suicide.

The reality is, in NJ, one person dies by suicide

every 11 hours.

The reality is, those who have been lost are fashion designers and young dreamers, awarding winning chefs and parents, isolated seniors, disconnected neighbors, your loved ones.

The reality is, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness BUT only 40% receive the help they need.

The reality is, there is a stigma that holds people back from speaking out when they are suffering. The reality is, there is a lack of general understanding of the signs, the symptoms and the most beneficial ways to help a loved one struggling with this disease.

The reality is, the conversation cannot stop today.

Together, we can keep the conversation going on mental illness, we can fight the stigma, we can reach out to those around us we see in crisis, we can recognize we are not alone. If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact the Capital Health Crisis Center at 609-396-4357 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.


If you are struggling to cope with anxiety or depression,

JFCS is here for you at 609-987-8100.

For More Facts and Information:

National Institute od Mental Health   National Alliance on Mental Illness  –  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

JFCS Celebrates Older Americans Month 2018

Across the country, older Americans are taking part in activities that promote wellness and social connection. They are sharing their wisdom and experience with future generations, and they are giving back to enrich their communities. They’re working and volunteering, mentoring and learning, leading and engaging.

For 55 years, Older Americans Month (OAM) has been observed to recognize older Americans and their contributions to out communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging, every May offers opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders.

This year’s OAM theme, “Engage at Every Age,” emphasizes that importance of being active and involved, no matter where or when you are in life. You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotion well-being. Since 1937, Jewish Family & Children’s Service has been dedicated to helping older adults.

And, join ACL and AoA in celebrating by participating in the Selfie Challenge! They want to see how you’re engaging. Simply take a selfie (or have someone take your photo) and tweet it with the hashtag #OAM18. Visit the official OAM website by clicking here.




What will the New Year bring?

What will the New Year bring…? 

As we reflect on the past year, we thank you for bringing your commitment and your compassion to JFCS allowing us to serve so many in need in our community.


In the year to come, JFCS will continue to bring hope for those working to overcome personal and mental health crises.


We will bring health to families struggling against difficult circumstances, fighting hunger and malnutrition.


And we will bring happiness to senior adults who wish to enjoy their golden years.


We invite you to join us in this mission once more in 2018.


Wishing you all hope, health, happiness in the coming year!


Michelle Napell, Executive Director

Hanukkah Message to All

To Margery…you are the light of the season.

Each year, we celebrate the festival of lights while the days around us turn darker and the nights grow long. Your year end gift will brighten the lives of an individuals who may be facing darkness, uncertainty and challenges that we cannot imagine.

Margery is a true matriarch. A mother of three adult children and grandmother to triplets, aged 7, she serves as the main caregiver to the entire family. While Margery is well into her 70s she is still working to support her family though she hopes to retire to dedicate more time to caring for her grandchildren.

Margery visits the pantry regularly to help keep her family fed, she welcomes the gifts she can provide the little ones through the LIGHTS toy & gift card donation program, she relies on donations of winter coats, hats & scarves to keep her family warm throughout the season.

Margery and many others count on you. Please help us help them.

Donate today to spread the light.

JFCS Takes Action to Fight Hunger!

September is Hunger Action Month and team JFCS continues our dedication to serving those in our community facing hunger and food insecurity.

Why do we need to act? 

Hunger affects our neighbors, right here in Mercer County. The food insecurity rate for Mercer ranks among the top 10 in our state with tens of thousands of residents facing this burden.  On average in New Jersey, 1 in 8 families live with the reality of hunger.

In Mercer County, our changing demographics see a growing aging population among our community.  Seniors are often more vulnerable to food insecurity and hunger due to limited income and restricted access to healthy foods. According to the National Council on Aging, nearly 9 million older adults feel they cannot afford nutritious food and 25% reduce meal sizes or skip meals to make their supplies last.

Hunger is here, in our backyard.

Who is hungry?

In the past year, JFCS has served over 300 individuals through the Yvette Sarah Clayman Kosher Food Pantry.  Our clients include individuals like…

Naomi, a single mother of two who was unexpectedly laid off, relies on the pantry to feed her young children.  With savings quickly going towards rent and everyday expenses, the pantry allows her to keep food on the table while searching for a new job.

Ed, who is 70 years old and lives alone with no family in the area, turns to the food pantry for nutritional options.  As a senior, Ed faces dietary restrictions due to regular medications he must take. Our pantry gives him the healthy options and nutritious foods he needs.

Mark & Lauren, a couple in their mid-40s, who have had to take in Lauren’s sister and nephews when her sister became too ill to care for the children alone, are struggling to feed everyone under their roof.  With three teenagers of their own, one who is gluten-intolerant, keeping nutritious meals on the table was already a challenge.  With three more individuals to feed and Lauren reducing her work hours to help care for her sister, the couple depends on the resources at our pantry to sustain their family.

How do we help?

JFCS continues to keep the shelves of our pantry stocked and develop innovative services & programs to serve our unique community best…

Such as the personalized case management with staff working with clients to develop budgeting skills and increase knowledge of available resources such as SNAP and other benefits.

Or the benefit of a registered dietitian on-site, working with each pantry patron to ensure individual nutritional needs are met.

And innovative programming including Healthy@Home, which coordinates the services of the pantry registered dietitian and senior care managers to combine nutrition education and delivery of healthy and nutritious foods to low-income, homebound older adults.

And with the help of YOU.

Dedicated volunteers and corporate groups shop for and stock our pantry monthly.

Generous donors contribute dollars & goods so our pantry can stay open.

We cannot fight hunger without you.

Make a contribution online: or call us to find out how you can volunteer your time at the pantry: 609-987-8100.


A Light in the Darkness



“What now?”

In recent years, we have asked these questions all too often.

Intolerance claimed another life Saturday – that of a 32-year-old woman who was on a street in Charlottesville, Va. taking a stand against hate.

We cannot always reason the “why” or the “how” in the wake of tragedy, but we can always determine the “what now.”

Now, we stand up and show unity with those who protest racism.

Now, we deny hatred and fear and embrace kindness and understanding.

Now, we recognize that the differences amongst us do not need to divide.

Now, we re-affirm the beliefs, values & traditions that have always guided us.

We treat every individual with dignity and respect, no matter their creed, their background, or their beliefs.

We remind ourselves and our children of tikkun olam which is our obligation to repair the world.

We become the light in the darkness.

New Beginnings….


And suddenly it is time to start something new… let’s trust the magic of beginnings and make today and the days to come here at JFCS something special.   I want to thank you all for trusting me to continue Linda’s legacy of providing the Community with the care, compassion and knowledge that they have grown to expect from JFCS.

JFCS has been helping the families of the Greater Mercer County for the past 80 years and with the passage of time, new demands and needs have developed while others stay constant.  JFCS has continued to be dedicated to strengthening the families and individuals by being the place to turn to when unexpected challenges arise.  I truly believe that my passion and experience, coupled with the incredible Board, volunteers and staff, will help continue this tradition for years to come.

 I look forward to meeting everyone and working together.

 Wishing you all a fun and safe 4th of July weekend.