What will potential changes to the Affordable Care Act and/or Medicaid mean for individuals living with disabilities and their families?

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In partnership with Jewish Residential Services (JRS), Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) will co-host a community meeting to educate and discuss issues that affect people with disabilities as a result of potential changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. The meeting will be held on Monday, October 16, 2017, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., at JF&CS in Squirrel Hill (5743 Bartlett Street, Pgh, 15217, 2nd Floor).

“Policy, Politics, the Art of the Deal” will cover all the recent proposed changes to these two programs since President Trump was elected, including changes still being considered even after the recent defeat of the third ACA repeal bill. Efforts to repeal, replace and even improve the ACA, and turn Medicaid funding into a state block grant, are all still possible, though no actual changes have passed Congress.

Cassie Narkevic, a Certified Navigator from the Consumer Health Coalition, and Janice Meinert, a paralegal from the Pennsylvania Health Law Project will both speak on the subject and answer attendees’ questions.

The Consumer Health Coalition (CHC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing health and enhancing access to quality, affordable healthcare in southwestern Pennsylvania through education, assistance and advocacy. The Pennsylvania Health
Law Project (PHLP) is an organization nationally recognized for their expertise on access to healthcare for low-income consumers, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The public is invited to attend this meeting, particularly individuals with disabilities and their families who could be profoundly affected by any or all of these changes.
The program is free, but reservations are requested. A light kosher meal will be served. Please RSVP to Alison Karabin at akarabin@jrspgh.org or call 412-325-
0039 by October 11th.

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Dedicated volunteer receives Jefferson Award: says working with refugees “suits every facet of who I am.”

Jeff Herzog 2016Volunteer Jeff Herzog keeps a sign posted above his desk listing the eight degrees of giving according to Jewish principles. The eighth, and highest, principle written on his sign says: “To help another to become self-supporting by means of a gift, a loan, or by finding employment for the one in need.”

Jeff is a volunteer employment specialist working in the Refugee & Immigrant Services department at JF&CS. For more than two years, he has volunteered 15-20 hours a week helping refugees find employment. This critical step in refugee resettlement makes it possible for these newcomers to become quickly self-supporting and contributing members of our community.

JF&CS is thrilled to announce that Jeff is being honored with a Jefferson Award, awarded by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (and corporate partners) to people whose volunteer service makes a definitive impact on our community. We could not be more proud to say that Jeff fits this bill in every way.

A typical day at Jewish Family & Children’s Service for Jeff includes meeting with refugees and local employers; teaching job readiness workshops; making skills, language, education and experience assessments with newly-arrived refugees; assisting with job applications and practice interviews; and driving clients to visit employers and job sites.

Jeff’s style and grace wins every heart at JF&CS. A fluent Spanish speaker, a result of over five years with the Peace Corps, Jeff’s approach is warm and direct. Clients, employers and staff alike respect him for his integrity and commitment. He is curious and eager to help in all aspects of welcoming refugees: housing, transportation, wherever he can be useful. He strategizes with the staff and happily reaches out to personal and professional connections.

When asked what motivates him, Jeff says, “This job suits every facet of who I am. I’ve worked with many different cultures, lived abroad, and I’m good at networking. I get such a rush every time I find somebody a job, because then I know that that family is on their way.”

Jeff has also been a mentor to a Bhutanese refugee family for more than three years. He sees them regularly, goes to the kids’ soccer games, and helps them get to medical appointments and jobs. He is considered part of their family; the children call him Grandpa!

About them, Jeff simply says, “Once again I am the winner. Refugees have been through so much and worked hard to get here. My reward is knowing that they’re getting their chance at the American dream.”

Jeff was the Executive Director of Rodef Shalom for twenty-two years before he retired. Though he is usually at JF&CS every week day, he also volunteers elsewhere: running a men’s discussion group and tutoring in the public schools

Jeff Herzog is a wonderful ambassador for JF&CS and for refugees, creating good will for our work and these new Pittsburghers! Congratulations Jeff!



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Career search assistance available in many neighborhoods: CDC’s WorkAble program expands

Looking for career counseling in your neighborhood?

The WorkAble program at the Career Development Center at JF&CS combines the services of career counselors, regional employers and volunteers to provide comprehensive services for those who are unemployed or underemployed.  Funded through the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, WorkAble takes a holistic approach to helping people with their job search throughout Allegheny County.

WorkAble offers services in several locations including the Career Development Center in Squirrel Hill office at JF&CS, North Hills Community Outreach, South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Now another partner has stepped forward to help WorkAble grow and serve more job seekers. Thanks to funding from South Hills Jewish Pittsburgh, job seekers will be able to access WorkAble services through a pilot program at Mt. Lebanon Library.

Job seekers will be able to work closely with a career counselor to create and implement an appropriate and specific job search plan. WorkAble provides services including: career counseling and assessment; guidance in resume and cover letter writing, job search strategies, networking, workshops to develop job search skills, LinkedIn coaching, job search assistance, including a weekly job opportunities email, employer events and on-site career fairs, and connection to other community resources. Services are free for those who qualify.

WorkAble services are offered at Mt. Lebanon Library by appointment only. To schedule, please call (412) 586-3722. For more information about WorkAble and its partner agencies, visit http://www.workableac.com/


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Visiting with the Mayor, young refugees learn about local government

Transitioning to life after high school: The Refugee Youth Program

A group of high school juniors and seniors recently took a field trip to City Hall where they visited the PA Supreme Court, City Council chambers, and our Mayor, Bill Peduto. A fine civic lesson for sure, but for these particular kids it was a definite eye-opener.

These students participate in the Refugee Youth Employment Program run by the Career Development Center at JF&CS. They are juniors and seniors from Baldwin and Brashear High Schools. They are refugees and immigrants from several different countries; some just arrived last year, and some came seven or eight years ago. And that day at City Hall, they were awestruck by what they saw and heard.

Like most of her young peers, Aya Attal, a Syrian refugee who just came to Pittsburgh last summer, had little to no idea of how local government works or who works there. She had aspirations of being a doctor, but after this trip has decided to pursue a career in politics or public service.

That was the main point of the trip. While learning about local government, these young adults get exposed to a selection of careers that widens their view of what they can do after high school. “It was especially meaningful to many of them who come from countries where the government is not a friendly institution,” said Bishnu Timsina, who runs this group.

In contrast, our Mayor Bill Peduto welcomed them and spent an hour or so chatting and answering their questions. He was asked where he went to college, and he told them about sending trucks of aid to Nepal after the earthquake in 2015. They talked together about issues concerning refugees that are so prevalent in today’s national conversation.

The Refugee Youth Employment Program was established to help young refugees prepare for college and careers. Unlike in many other families, refugee parents might not have the frame of reference to take their kids to visit colleges and prepare for employment. “So we take them,” says Erin Barr, another CDC staff member. “We’ve been to Pitt, CMU, Duquesne and Carlow, and to Google and the Omni Hotel downtown. Some of our kids went to Washington, D.C.”

Bishnu and Erin have both seen tremendous growth in these students, especially in the personal motivation to find a job and/or go to college. In fact, many of them already have part time jobs.

The heart of JF&CS’s work has been this kind of providing some stepping stones to a better life, and thus a better community for all. Seniors who can remain safe in their homes, people finding meaningful work, potential parents and children finding each other, food on the table so that hunger isn’t a barrier to success and self-sufficiency. A helping hand to bridge the gap. And showing some teenagers from other lands that the road ahead depends upon their energy and effort, and that with planning and determination they can make their dreams reality.

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AgeWell Pittsburgh’s win is a big win for local seniors!

We won!

About a month ago, we were informed that AgeWell Pittsburgh, a unique collaborative effort through which JF&CS supports seniors in our community, was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2017 Lodestar Foundation Collaboration Prize! This national prize was developed to “spotlight exceptional permanent models of collaboration among nonprofit organizations” in creative ways that better serve their communities. AgeWell Pittsburgh was selected from among some 350 applicants. In receiving this award, AgeWell Pittsburgh has effectively been named the most successful collaborative program in the nation!

Formed 14 years ago, AgeWell Pittsburgh is a joint effort of JF&CS, the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Association on Aging. Together we serve 8,000 seniors with more than 20 services, including home-delivered meals, counseling, home care, transportation assistance and social opportunities. AgeWell Pittsburgh services have enabled 96% of participants to stay active and live independently.

“America as a country is getting older,” says our President and CEO, Jordan Golin, “and the financial resources to assist seniors are limited. So it was critical for us to work together and create an innovative system through which seniors can stay healthy, independent and engaged in the community.”

Agewell Pittsburgh has spawned several similar partnerships across the country, and we are proud of our AgeWell Pittsburgh staff for their work and for the imagination and dedication it takes to create such a unique partnership.

We also want to recognize our two wonderful AgeWell Pittsburgh partners: the Jewish Association on Aging and the Jewish Community Center. The Collaboration Grand Prize awards $150,000 to be shared by the agency partners.

Finally, our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for their continued critical support. It’s an honor and a privilege to share this recognition with all of them.

JF&CS has always been an innovative agency that strives for program excellence in everything that we do. And many of our programs create connections and partnerships with other service organizations. With many hands and minds, we work to best serve our community.

Information about AgeWell Pittsburgh services for seniors in our community can be found at the AgeWell website (http://www.agewellpgh.org) or by calling the AgeWell Pittsburgh hotline at 412-422-0400.

Once again, congratulations AgeWell Pittsburgh!

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AmeriCorps members bring welcome skills to JF&CS

At Jewish Family & Children’s Service, we are fortunate to be able to secure the assistance and talent of many young adults through the AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps personnel work at JF&CS in several of our departments, and offer invaluable skills. Justin Shao is an AmeriCorps volunteer who came to JF&CS last September to work in the Immigration Legal Services department.

Justin Shao soloJustin was raised in Pittsburgh and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with an interest in history, urban studies and international development. He has been a community organizer, traveled all over the world, and has lived abroad.

Returning to Pittsburgh not too long ago, he decided the timing was right for his application to AmeriCorps. Looking over the descriptions of open positions, he chose JF&CS because our work with immigrants and refugees aligned with his interest in world affairs.

At JF&CS, Justin serves as an Immigration Legal Services intake coordinator, often answering a client’s first call or email for assistance. He determines the nature of their need, which may be a challenge due to navigating language barriers and complex circumstances. The legal services team reviews these cases and decides how to proceed. Justin also schedules meetings and interviews for clients and legal representatives (some staff and many volunteer attorneys) and manages a lot of case paperwork.

Justin says he was surprised at the amount of need for these services in this city and that there was such an active international community. He’s heard dozens of languages, and he occasionally has been able to interpret for some Chinese clients. Growing up with first generation American parents, he is sensitive to the challenges immigrants face in their journey to citizenship.

“I have gotten to see another side of Pittsburgh that I didn’t know existed,” he said. “Through programs like ISAC (Immigrant Services and Connections, a multi-agency collaborative effort to centralize immigrant services), I was amazed that there were interpreters for so many languages, indicating a much more diverse population in this area than I had realized.”

JF&CS’s Immigrant Legal Services department helps immigrants navigate the legal journey to American citizenship and resolve problems that come up along the way. With the issue of immigration so prevalent in the news, calls for assistance have increased. And so has awareness. We’ve been pleasantly surprised to see the large number of attorneys and community members who want to volunteer to help our immigrant community.

“I am impressed by the people who have worked so hard to come here,” Justin says. “Despite formidable challenges, they are rising above adversity, working hard to learn English, and doing everything within their power to make a better life for themselves and their family. And they are by and large extremely patriotic in how they feel about this country. Given the circumstances so many have come from, they notice and appreciate many things we take for granted. When you attend an oath ceremony (the swearing in of new citizens), you hear so many stories of courage and perseverance.”

Legal services are available on a sliding fee scale for legal immigrants and their families. For assistance, please call 412-904-5966, or email us.

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What’s Up at AgeWell Pittsburgh

Congratulations, AgeWell Pittsburgh!

Congratulations to AgeWell Pittsburgh for being named as a finalist for this year’s 2017 Collaboration Prize. This is a national award given by The Foundation Center (funded by The Lodestar Foundation) designed to highlight exceptional permanent models of collaboration among nonprofit organizations. JF&CS is a proud partner in this collaborative effort, along with the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Association on Aging, which helps to keep seniors active and engaged in the community. We could not be more pleased that this dynamic, positive approach to aging has been nationally recognized.

Spring has arrived, time to start getting out and about!

If you are a senior who doesn’t drive, you may be eligible to for free rides from an AgeWell Rides volunteer. These volunteer drivers help seniors go shopping, get to appointments and attend programs and activities around the area.

If you are or know of a senior who may be homebound, isolated or just a little lonely, AgeWell Visits might be able to help. Carefully matched volunteers visit seniors and senior couples who live alone and play games, help with small chores and sometimes just provide good company. Contact Ellen at JF&CS by calling 412-422-0400, to volunteer or request a friendly visit or a ride.

If your needs are more comprehensive, AgeWell Pittsburgh can help you identify and locate services. JF&CS provides needs assessment, home safety evaluations, care management, counseling, and referrals for in-home care through Caregiver Connection.

If you would like more information about any AgeWell Pittsburgh programs or services, you can call Maxine at the AgeWell Pittsburgh referral line at 412-422-0400. She can help direct you to all kinds of services available throughout Allegheny County.

AgeWell Pittsburgh community partner events

The JCC also offers a daily kosher luncheon and dozens of activities for seniors: discussions, fitness, memory-building, help with technical devices, voter registration, a book club and much more. Visit the JCC website for more information.

The Jewish Association on Aging (JAA), is offering a free panel discussion called “Care Options Through the Stages of Dementia” on Friday, April 7th, from 1:30 – 3:30 pm at the JAA, Charles M. Morris Campus Community Room (200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, 15217). Older spouses caring for loved ones, children caring for aging parents, and professionals can find out about care and support options and have their questions answered by a panel of professionals. R.S.V.P. to Amy Dukes by calling 412-521-8295.

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