I have been involved with JCFS for nearly 4 years as a board member. Prior to that I was a donor. I remain in awe in the dedication of the staff, the board, and the volunteers who serve the clients with care and kindness and are constantly looking for ways to improve the experiences. An example is two of our board members donated their time and energy to help in the creation of a life skills center to help our students who needed to learn how to cook simple meals, do simple home tasks, and more. One of these board members helped assess the construction needs and the other one had "shower" which allowed community members to donate the necessary items -- large and small -- to outfit the room. This is just one example of many of the kind of above and beyond folks do to make sure that the community gets the optimal benefit from JCFS's services.
JCFS is a phenomenal organization that provides vital, individualized, result driven services to improve the lives of 1000's of adults, children and families through the Chicago community each year. What really makes this organization work is the talented, dedicated staff who constantly and consistently go above and beyond. The most recent example is how the staff identified a need in the community to provide some late afternoon programming that would give families who have children with disabilities some additional fun programming that would provide social engagement, nurture general wellness, and further enhance skill building. The program offers art projects, martial arts, tutoring, Jewish studies, basketball and other sports activities to the children with the disabilities, parents, and other children within the family. The program is important because these children don't have access to after school programming due to their special needs, and it allows families to participate and just let loose after a long day, or parents can drop their kids off and take the time as respite. It's thinking like this and programs like this which make JCFS the awesome agency that it is.
I've been on the JCFS board for about 4 years. In that time I've learned about all the wonderful programs and just how many children and families this organization touches. Whether giving parents of special needs kids a well-deserved respite, providing counseling services, assistance to those who just can't make ends meet, a camp for children with disabilities, helping adoptive parents navigate the system, or much more, this organization is vital to the community!
Review from Guidestar
I have been involved with Jewish Child and Family Services for perhaps a decade. And it has taken me a decade to get a comfortable understanding of its myriad programs. The one with which i am most enamored is its program to deliver services to Holocaust survivors who need help. Of all of the people in the Chicago community who should not suffer, it is the survivor population and Chicago is blessed with the youngest in the US. I am constantly amazed at the sensitivity with which issues are handled by the staff. Who would have thought twice about how an elderly person would react to a suggestion of being taken to a shower? or how to handle food hidden under beds, just in case. This program is just one example of the many programs whose staff has a compassion and understanding and expertise that blows me away.
The JCFS school works miracles! As a board member, I've had the privilege of attending a number of graduations at the JCFS school. At first, it seems like every other graduation . . . . students, clad in caps and gowns, walk to the front. Remarks are made. Diplomas are passed out. Students, parents, and teachers celebrate. But in reality, this is no typical graduation. Each student came to the school because they failed out of every other environment in which they had been. Many tried several schools and this was the last ditch effort by their parents. Each student stood at the podium and offered their own personal story -- each more touching than the next. One student spoke of going on to college to become a writer. Another spoke of going to vocational school. Another dreamed of opening his own store. And another spoke about giving back to the community by helping other kids. What is amazing is that many of these kids had no dreams when they came to the JCFS school. Their behavior was so bad and so disruptive, the police had to be called nearly every day to intervene. Today, they stood before the audience as outstanding members of society. They knew they entered the school in a bad place and they had gradually, and often painfully, worked through many of their issues. Each student profusely thanked their teachers and counselors. They so appreciated the continued dedication to their education, their development, and their future. There was not a dry eye in the auditorium. Afterwards, many parents came up to me to thank the school and the agency for everything we had done for their child. They told stories of how their son or daughter was failing out of school and life. The parents had lost all hope as they had tried everything. The JCFS school was often a last resort. And the parents could not have been happier with the result. Ironically, while the teachers and staff always believed in the kids, the parents never thought they would see the day that their child would graduate. Graduation was literally a miracle in their mind. The JCFS school is truly amazing.