As we welcome 5778, we reflect on the past year and celebrate the new beginnings ahead. At this introspective time, our tradition calls on us to learn from the past and to intentionally set the course for the future.
While Rosh Hashanah is most often translated as “head of the year,” a derivative definition of the Hebrew words rosh hashinui is “the beginning of change.” The great Jewish poet Robert Allen Zimmerman recognized the inevitability of change and gave this sage advice: “You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin.”
Bob was definitely on to something when advising us to embrace and welcome the changes that Rosh Hashanah marks.
The past year has been a time of change at JF&CS as we evolve to best meet the needs of our community and adapt to a changing world around us. While our methods and messaging may change, our mission will always be grounded in tikkun olam — repairing the world by helping people in need.
Whether it is supporting an individual with disabilities in a first job, visiting the sick in a hospital, mentoring a child who has lost an adult role model, helping fix a broken smile, providing healing for a victim or addict, helping a family manage the coordination of care for an older adult, or another impact resulting from the many other services we provide, JF&CS exists to empower the lives of individuals and families in metro Atlanta.
This year brought exciting changes to our Dunwoody campus. Through the community’s amazing generosity and a dedicated team of lay leaders, we completed the Walter and Frances Bunzl Family Foundation Clinical Services Wing. A total rebuilding of our counseling practice, this beautiful space provides a professional, comfortable and confidential environment for our clients and staff.
In addition, we built a state-of-the-art building for our intellectual and developmental disabilities services that features a sensory room, computer lab, teaching kitchen and laundry, all designed to enhance the vocational and life skills of our program participants.
After years of a long waiting list, we now have room to provide more individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with care, love, support and the highest-quality programming. Each Tuesday we have the chance to share coffee and snacks with these wonderful individuals in our new Gathering Space, an area where our clients, our staff and the community can connect, collaborate and interact.
Walking around our enhanced campus and gardens, I have noticed our clients holding their heads a little higher and our visitors taking in the new surroundings with pride, as all of us at JF&CS do.
As community needs have changed, we have adapted. We have expanded our geriatric care management program to enable us to meet the needs of older adults and their families, grown and enhanced our programming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, created new strategies to assist the long-term unemployed, mature workers and other populations who have difficulty in finding employment, recruited more volunteers for the One Good Deed friendly visitor program, and increased our professional expertise and commitment to being a welcoming organization for the LGBTQ population and all in need through the Welcoming Communities Project.
We forged new collaborations and strengthened existing ones, recognizing we can best serve our community by working collaboratively with others. Working with our community partners, we have amplified our impact for older adults through the AgeWell Atlanta initiative, built bridges between young professionals and Holocaust survivors, and identified new strategic partners to better respond to the needs of the ongoing opioid crisis with the HAMSA program.
In a difficult, changing world, JF&CS is and always will be here for our community. On behalf of the board, staff and volunteers of JF&CS, I wish all of you a healthy and sweet new year. Please call us at 770-677-9300 or visit us at jfcsatl.org if we can assist you and your loved ones in navigating life’s transitions.
Rick Aranson is the CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services (www.jfcsatl.org).