Above: JF&CS CEO Rick Aranson addresses the large crowd at the 10th annual Community of Caring luncheon (Photo courtesy Paula Gould Photography).

Jewish Family & Career Services raised nearly $400,000 at its 10th annual Community of Caring luncheon Friday, May 13, at the InterContinental Buckhead.

The event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and helps JF&CS offer programs, services and resources to people of all faiths, cultures and ages in metro Atlanta.

“The vision of JF&CS,” CEO Rick Aranson told the crowd of nearly 700 people, “is to build a community of empowered lives. Our mission, how we reach that vision and what we do every day is making hope and opportunity happen.”

Aranson then introduced some real-life examples of the work of JF&CS, starting with a compelling and emotional account by Eric Miller of his struggle with addiction and recovery. Miller is the program coordinator for JF&CS’ HAMSA, or Helping Atlantans Manage Substance Abuse, a comprehensive substance abuse program for the Jewish community.

After Miller spoke, five other stories of people JF&CS has helped were shown:

  • Lori and David — Lori Berger and David Bryan are a married couple with developmental disabilities who met in Israel in the late 1990s. JF&CS helps them with transportation and budgeting and recently helped them move into a new apartment in Atlanta. The organization also helps them with supported employment and they participate in the Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program.
  • Maxine and Roy — Since 1984, Maxine and Roy Stokes have lived in Atlanta. When Roy needed assistance because of a breathing disorder that made it difficult for him to walk, JF&CS donated a mobility scooter and assisted with caregiver services.
  • Kesavi — Facing unemployment, Kesavi Miller went to JF&CS for financial assistance and found out that the organization also offers a full-service career counseling and job placement service. She began attending JF&CS interviewing and résumé workshops and was eventually hired by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
  • Elissa and Talli — After Talli Hershkovitz’s parents divorced when she was 6, her mother enrolled her in the JF&CS PAL program, Atlanta’s only Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program. She was matched with Elissa Fladell, and the two have remained close ever since. Both have moved on to volunteer in other JF&CS initiatives.
  • Merle — After her teeth became badly misaligned because of an addiction to crack cocaine, Merle Deadwyler visited the JF&CS-run Ben Massell Dental Clinic for a complete dental reconstruction. After she got her smile back, Merle returned to singing in her church choir for the first time in three years.

Note: See their stories at YTFL.org/impact 

After the videos, Merle, brandishing a bright-white smile, sang for the crowd and received a standing ovation.

Photos by David R. Cohen (except where otherwise noted)