Older Americans Month 2021: Communities of Strength

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is pleased to announce that the theme of Older Americans Month (OAM) 2021 is Communities of Strength. Older adults have built resilience and strength over their lives through successes, failures, joys, and difficulties. Their stories and contributions help to support and inspire others.

In May, ACL will celebrate the strength of older adults and the Aging Network, with special emphasis on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities.

There are many things we all can do to nurture ourselves, reinforce our strength, and continue to thrive. Connecting with others is one of the most important—it plays a vital role in our health and well-being, and in that of our communities.

From finding joy in small things and sharing our stories, to looking at the big picture and giving to others, ACL will promote the ways we are connected and strong. Join us in encouraging people of all ages to celebrate their communities and community members.

As an intern at JFCS, I have had the privilege of interacting with our senior clients during the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout a period of isolation, uncertainty, and fear, I have seen firsthand the resilience and positivity of older Americans. Whether I was assisting Senior Outreach Service (SOS) participants with the COVID vaccine pre-registration process, forming bonds with the Holocaust survivors through weekly check-in calls and Café Europa Zoom events, or delivering groceries to Healthy@Home clients, I have appreciated the opportunity to connect with older adults and learn about their life stories. My time at JFCS has taught me that older adults shape the communities they belong to by contributing wisdom, gratitude, and strength to those around them. As a young adult, I have benefited greatly from my relationships with JFCS’ older clients and will apply the lessons I have learned to my future career and personal life. This Older Americans Month, let us celebrate the invaluable role that older adults play in our communities.

Emmanuelle Farrell, MSW Intern

Hands-On Education: Impact Through Internship in a Pandemic

We are so pleased to welcome Emmanuelle Farrell, Rutgers MSW student, to the agency for her first internship. She works with clients in Senior Services, Case Management and the Food Pantry and offers to help staff in any way she can. Despite these challenging times, she has already hit the ground running in the few months that she has been here. 

Beverly Mishkin, LCSW, Director of Case Management & Senior Services

Meet Emmanuelle!

My name is Emmanuelle Farrell, and I am interning at JFCS this year as part of my Master of Social Work program at Rutgers University. As a first-year graduate student, working at JFCS has offered me crucial experience with older adults and food insecure residents of Mercer County. As the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many of my classmates from interning in person, I feel very grateful to be able to complete my internship in the JFCS office, where the few staff members working in-person wear masks and remain socially distant at all times. This direct approach has allowed me to see firsthand the significant impacts of the pandemic on the communities that JFCS serves.

The needs I have observed among the populations that JFCS provides services to appear to be exacerbated by financial, social, and health-related repercussions of the current pandemic. As I work primarily within the Senior Services department, I have noticed that older adults are in need of more than just basic necessities, like food and home health care. In making weekly check-in calls to Holocaust survivors and collecting seniors’ responses to program surveys, I have realized that many older adults are in dire need of companionship. This desire for social interaction has increased dramatically as the danger of contracting COVID-19 has stopped seniors from seeing family members and caregivers as frequently, if at all.

I also work with community members who reach out for assistance and help them get connected with our food pantry as a means of support.

I have also heard from other staff members that the demand for hunger prevention services has heightened significantly due to the widespread unemployment and subsequent economic difficulty associated with the pandemic. In general, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified the financial and interpersonal needs of vulnerable groups, increasing participation in JFCS’ programs and creating a unique learning environment for me as an intern.

There have been many connections between the content of my Master of Social Work courses and my experiences at JFCS. Primarily, I have been able to apply the communication skills I have learned in class to my interactions with clients, including empathetic listening and the use of furthering responses to encourage individuals to share. In addition, my work with the Holocaust survivors at JFCS has allowed me to implement a trauma-informed perspective, which I have learned about in my practice-focused classes. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to unite my academic setting with my fieldwork placement at JFCS.

Following the completion of my Master of Social Work degree, I hope to become a clinical social worker and administer therapy. Although I am interested in working with various populations, I intend to focus on serving trauma survivors through play therapy with children or cognitive behavioral therapy with adults. After becoming involved with JFCS, I have also gained an interest in working with older adults, particularly those who have endured trauma, such as survivors of the Holocaust. I plan to utilize many capabilities that I have developed as a JFCS intern in my future career, including performing intake procedures, researching program outcomes, and engaging compassionately with clients.

Although I have gathered many crucial sights throughout my time at JFCS, the most inspirational aspect of my internship has been the tangible difference that the organization makes in people’s daily lives. Every time I make a check-in call to an older adult, refer a new client to our food pantry, or assist with a distribution through the Mobile Food Pantry, I know I am making a meaningful change for an individual or family in need. I look forward to continuing my internship and furthering the agency’s incredible mission to empower individuals to care for themselves and others.

Emmanuelle Farrell, MSW Intern

How to Join a Zoom Call

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations, communities, and families have turned to Zoom as a way to connect virtually while remaining socially distant. But joining Zoom calls can be complicated and time-consuming, which discourages us from socializing with relatives and friends. These instructions can help you to join Zoom calls using a computer, a smartphone, or a regular cell phone so that you don’t miss out on virtual social gatherings.

Find the information for your Zoom call:
  • If you are joining a meeting for an organization, a webinar, or any other large gathering, the Zoom information was likely emailed to you or written on a flyer
  • If you are Zooming with a small group of friends or family members, the Zoom information may have been texted or emailed to you by one of the people you will be meeting with
  • Zoom information typically includes a link (something like this: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77031980384?pwd=VTExL1RhcVp3OFFwcVZTQnNoUHpJQT09)
  • There may also be a meeting ID (e.g. 992 8642 1976) and a passcode (e.g. Zoom123)
  • Zoom information also includes phone numbers (e.g. 646-814-2485) that you can dial to join the call if you do not have a smartphone or computer
Join a Zoom call from your computer:
  • Click on the link for the Zoom call or highlight the link, copy it, and paste it into your browser
  • To copy and paste the link: Hold down on the mouse while dragging it across the link à Press Control-C or Command-C (depending on your type of computer) à Open a new browser window and place your cursor in the search bar à Press Control-V or Command-V (depending on your type of computer)
  • After opening the Zoom link, enter the Meeting ID and password if needed
  • A window will pop up asking for this information if it is necessary
  • Click “Join with computer audio” so you can hear the meeting
  • To show your video, click on “Start video” in the bottom left corner of your Zoom screen
  • Turn on your audio by clicking “Unmute” in the bottom left corner of your Zoom screen
Join a Zoom call using the app on your smartphone:
  • Download the Zoom app by searching for it in the App Store on your smartphone
  • Click on the link for the Zoom call
  • If it is your first time using the Zoom app, windows will pop up asking you questions:
  • Choose whether Zoom can access your camera (so you can be seen) by clicking “OK” or “Don’t Allow” when the window pops up
  • Choose whether Zoom can access your microphone (so you can be heard) by clicking “OK” or “Don’t Allow” when the window pops up
  • Decide whether you would like Zoom to send you notifications by pressing “OK” or “Don’t Allow” when the window pops up
  • Select “Join with Video” or “Join without Video”
  • After opening the Zoom link, enter the Meeting ID and password if needed
  • A window will pop up asking for this information if it is necessary
  • Click “Call using Internet audio” so you can hear the meeting
  • To show your video, tap the screen and click on “Start video” in the bottom left corner
  • Turn on your audio by tapping the screen and clicking “Unmute” in the bottom left corner
Join a Zoom call by dialing a phone number:
  • Dial the number for your location (e.g. +1 646 476 1027 US – New York) – the numbers will be included in the Zoom call information
  • Join the Zoom call as if you are on a phone call – You will only have audio
General Zoom Etiquette:

 To minimize background noise, mute yourself when you are not speaking by clicking “Mute” on the bottom left hand corner of your Zoom screen

  • If you would like to get the host’s attention to speak, you can virtually “raise your hand”
  • Click on “Participants” at the bottom middle of your Zoom screen à Click on the blue hand that says “Raise hand” à After you have spoken, click the blue hand again to “Lower hand”
  • If you would like to type something in the chat, click “Chat” at the bottom middle of your Zoom screen and type your message
  • All participants will be able to see your message unless you select a specific person to chat with by clicking on the “To” field above the chat box and picking a participant to message privately

Stay Safe and Happy Zooming!

Emmanuelle Farrell, MSW Intern

September is Hunger Action Month – How to Help Food Insecure individuals in Mercer County

September is Hunger Action Month, a time to become educated on food insecurity and gain awareness on how you can help reduce its impact on our community. Although it may not be easily noticeable, food insecurity affects many communities, including Mercer County.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as lacking consistent access to the amount of food needed to live a full and healthy life and is the product of both financial difficulty and inaccessibility to proper resources. Food insecurity is not always synonymous with poverty. As of 2017, the food insecurity rate in Mercer County was 10.6%, with 67% of the food insecure individuals being below the poverty threshold for government assistance and 33% not meeting the requirements for welfare benefits (Feeding America, 2018).

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship for countless Americans, including those in our community. In Mercer County, the unemployment rate has increased from 3% in June 2019 to 12% in June 2020. In addition, the food insecurity in Mercer County is expected to rise to 13.6%, or over 50,000 people, by the end of 2020.

JFCS has seen the need rising first-hand with monthly visits to the on-site pantry doubling pre-pandemic numbers. Our Kosher Café, a nutrition site for low-income seniors to now receive grab-and-go meals, has seen a steady rate of attendance which is 25% higher than previous months.

How can you take action for Hunger Action Month?

  • Learn more about the JFCS food programs and other local food banks, food pantries, and community resources to understand how they are serving those in need
  • Make a monetary donation to support JFCS
  • Donate food items to the JFCS Pantry
  • Volunteer with JFCS or another local organization working to combat hunger
    • You can help the JFCS pantry by packing bags for our on-site and mobile pantry clients! Interested in learning more? Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Eden Aaronson at EdenA@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100 Ext 113.

If you are hungry, you are welcome.

If you are experiencing financial trouble and are seeking a food pantry near you, the JFCS pantry is open to all in the community who need help. We provide all clients with a supply of non-perishable items as well as fresh produce, cheese and chicken. All our clients also receive copies of the JFCS Pantry Newsletter which shares healthy, budget-friendly recipes centered on pantry staples along with other important information and resources.

We are currently providing pre-packed bags of groceries through no-contact pick up at our food pantry located on Alexander Road, Princeton NJ. You can arrange a pick-up time by calling us at 609-987-8100 Ext 237 or using our online sign up form.

Emmanuelle Farrell, MSW Intern

 

Hake, M., E. Engelhard, A. Dewey, C. Gundersen (2020). The Impact of the Coronavirus on Food Insecurity [Brief series]. Available from Feeding America.

US Department of Agriculture, (2019). Definitions of Food Security. Available online.

Feeding America. (2018). Food insecurity in Mercer County. Feeding America.

Internships: Adapting Opportunities For a Pandemic

JFCS has always prided itself on providing a variety of internship experiences to high school, college and graduate school students. The ability to offer educational opportunities is an important part of our mission. We were particularly committed to continuing this practice during COVID-19. Through a combination of creativity and flexibility, students are participating, on a modified basis, in the agency’s existing programs and services. As a result, they have gained an additional perspective on how agencies must adapt their programs and respond to client needs during this pandemic. We are so appreciative to have such motivated and dedicated students interning at JFCS this summer.  

Beverly Mishkin, LCSW, Director of Case Management & Senior Services

Meet Samantha!

My name is Samantha Goldfarb, and I am serving as an intern at JFCS this summer as a part of The College of New Jersey’s Summer Community Leaders program.

The summer is only halfway through and I have already recognized personal growth achieved through my new experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited my scope of work, specifically face-to-face interactions with clients; yet, I have still been able to catch glimpses of the great community JFCS serves, from the friendliness of the Kosher Café attendees to the kind and good humored JFCS staff. Moments that have had the greatest impact include the look on our clients’ faces when they receive a bag of food and the excitement of community partners with whom we work to expand our outreach. If our community is this lively and connected now, I can only imagine how wonderful it is without social and spatial restrictions!

Where the altered programming has changed what I originally expected from an internship experience, I have also found it has afforded me unique opportunities I would not have had in a traditional internship placement. For example, I now have the opportunity to provide hands-on service work during a crisis while observing how a model organization can address the growing needs of its clients amid challenge and disorder.

My educational background is on disability rights and advocacy whereas the internship focuses on food security, nevertheless, my goal is to run a non-profit like JFCS one day, and any organization will have to be prepared to withstand any and all disasters that come its way. In this respect this modified internship is teaching me a lot about professional adaptability and how to best address problems as they arise. No organization could have been fully prepared for the demands of the pandemic, but this internship has shown me how a combination of flexible practices and a commitment to problem-solving allows an agency to stay on its feet and keep serving effectively.

I have seen the importance of helping employees connect with one another even if they have to be physically separated. I have seen an agency maintain its scope of service and level of impact by adapting programs to work within new limitations and focusing on building connections with other agencies to pool community resources.

While I regret missing out on some aspects of traditional service, I am very grateful for JFCS for teaching and modeling good practices for my work for years to come – and for still finding ways to sneak in moments with the community that make service so rewarding in the first place.

Samantha Goldfarb, Intern

Summer Heat Safety for Seniors

With summer in full swing and the pandemic limiting the number of cool places people can retreat to, it is extra important to review the essentials of summer heat safety. These tips are good for everyone to keep in mind, but are tailored specifically for seniors whose additional needs are not always included in traditional heat safety reminders.

  • Keep cool. Rest in the middle of the day when it’s hottest and do chores and yardwork in the early mornings or evenings. If you do not have air conditioning, close your blinds or curtains during the day to block excess sun from heating your home.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, sports drinks or juices as well as eating fruits and vegetables. Don’t only drink when you feel thirsty – this means you’re already on the road to dehydration, and many seniors experience a diminished sense of thirst that can keep them from always knowing when they need a drink. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake as well in order to avoid their dehydrating (diuretic) effects.
  • Check your medications for side effects that may emerge in the summer.
    • Diuretics (prescribed for conditions like glaucoma, high blood pressure, and edema) and laxatives cause you to lose fluids and become dehydrated faster.
    • NSAIDs, some antibiotics and sulfonlyureas (prescribed for diabetes management) can cause rashes where your skin is exposed to the sun.
    • Antipsychotics (prescribed for psychiatric management or sleep) can dull internal senses and prevent you from knowing if your body is getting too hot.
    • Anticholinergics (prescribed for COPD, incontinence, gastrointestinal disorders, and allergies/asthma) can cause you to sweat less, preventing your body from cooling itself.
    • Beta blockers cause slower heartbeats, which can get in the way of your body’s ability to respond to heat stress.
  • The risk for heat-related illness increases with age and is even greater for those with health conditions such as heart and circulatory system problems, lung or kidney disease, infections, and those who are highly under- or overweight. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions to stay safe this summer.
  • Consider wearing a call button in case of emergencies. While some may find the idea uncomfortable, erring on the side of caution is a key part of summer safety. Another option is agreeing with a friend to check in with a phone call once a day.
  • Know how it feels to have different heat-related illnesses and what you should do about them.
    • Heat exhaustion: Occurs when your body is struggling to maintain your normal temperature because of the increased heat outside. If your body can’t release the heat faster than it accepts it, your core temperature will begin to rise. This situation is dangerous to your health and requires immediate action.
      • Symptoms include dizziness/feeling faint, loss of consciousness, excessive sweating, weak heartbeat, nausea/vomiting, muscle cramps, headache, pale and cool skin, and a temperature higher than your baseline but lower than 103°.
      • To treat, start by moving to a cool place and drink water slowly. When you feel well enough, take a cool (not hot or cold) shower or bath, or place cool, damp cloths on your neck, armpits, groin and forehead. Get help if your symptoms do not improve after an hour, you vomit or lose consciousness or are concerned that you will.
    • Heat stroke: your body has exhausted all methods of cooling itself down, and your temperature is dangerously high. The situation is extremely dangerous and requires emergency medical treatment.
      • Symptoms include dizziness/feeling faint, loss of consciousness, no sweating, rapid and strong heartbeat, nausea/vomiting, headache, skin that’s hot, red and dry, and a temperature above 103°.
      • If you get heatstroke it’s unlikely you’ll be well enough to treat yourself, which is why it’s so important to pay attention to how you feel before the situation becomes dangerous. To treat someone else with heatstroke, call 911 immediately – the longer a person has heatstroke, the more likely they will not recover or will have lasting damage to their body when they do. While you wait, follow the dispatcher’s instructions, which will most likely be to bring the person to a cool place and place cool, damp cloths on their armpits, neck, groin and forehead. Do not attempt to give them anything to drink, especially if they are confused or unconscious; the person may accidentally breathe in the fluid (aspiration) which is also extremely dangerous. Medical professionals will rehydrate the person themselves using IV fluids.

Samantha Goldfarb, Intern