JFS of Metrowest helps community members to reach for their dreams:
Annual Seize the Dream gala provides much-needed support

Jewish Family Service of Metrowest (JFS), a nonprofit agency based inFramingham,Mass., provides  vital social, health, and community services to alleviate suffering, enhance lives and support people in need . JFS has been serving the Metrowest and greaterBostonareas since 1979. Reaching out to all ages and stages of life, JFS has programs that focus on elder care, children and family needs, adoption choices and more.  

The Seize the Dream gala, held annually by JFS, is their primary fundraising vehicle to help provide much-needed support for their various programs. The annual gala’s title Seize the Dream echoes the organization’s objective: To strengthen community by assisting those in need and encouraging them to “Seize their Dream.”

Marlborough resident, Nancy, is among hundreds of people that JFS assists each year.  In August 2011, Nancybecame the first client of the Jewish Family Services of Metrowest (JFS) program, Managing Diabetes in Seniors. This is a collaborative project with the Metrowest Health Foundation and Southboro Medical Group.

Nancy has always loved to dine out, enjoying the freedom to select whatever she wanted from the menu…until she was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.  Although she has been living with diabetes for 15 years,Nancystill struggles with it.  “I’m not one who always progresses – I take two steps backwards and one step forward, and sometimes I fall off the wagon,” she explains.

Nancy works closely with JFS case managers, Michelle Bodin-Hettinger and Malka Young, who supportNancyand help her to stay on track for a healthier lifestyle.  “As my blood-sugar levels decrease, I’m seeing physical changes and starting to feel better!” saysNancy. 

The Managing Diabetes Program has opened new avenues for Nancy. She has joined the Living the Sweet Life with Diabetes support group, which allows those who are coping with diabetes to speak with others going through the same struggle. “It is a comfort to talk openly with others and to learn from each others’ experiences,” saysNancy. 

JFS’ programs for diabetics continue to grow, but they are just one component of a wide array of resources designed to help improve the lives of people in local and surrounding communities.

The Family Assistance Program is a JFS program that helps those in need with housing, utility bills, food, legal aid, and other resources.  Rebecca is a lifelong Framingham resident who recently reached out to JFS and the Family Assistance Program for help.   A single mother raising a teenage daughter, she was working as a hairdresser; a job that she loves.  But the recession hit, her clients began to dwindle, her income plummeted, and she had trouble making ends meet.

JFS provided Rebecca with the support and referrals she needed. When she was unable to pay her rent on time, JFS stepped in to help.

JFS put her in touch with multiple resources, including Yad Chessed, a local organization that provides short-term assistance to members of the Jewish community who are in need.  They helped her with some of her bills and even provided her with a grocery store gift card during the holiday season. She also reached out to A Place to Turn, aNatick food pantry committed to providing emergency food and clothing to the MetroWest community.

Beyond the impact on Rebecca, JFS has also shaped her daughter’s viewpoint about the members of the community helping one another.  Through JFS, a generous family provided Hanukah gifts for Rebecca’s daughter, allowing both mother and daughter to enjoy the holiday despite their financial limitations.

“I am grateful for JFS and the Family Assistance Program; they helped me get back on my feet in my time of need.” Since she has become a part of the program, she has been able to rebuild her customer base and is now working over 30 hours a week.  “Thanks to JFS, I have great hopes for building a future for myself and my daughter. “

JFS thrives on the ability to help those in their community and provides positive changes in many individuals’ lives. But their programs need financial support to continue to reach out to those who need them. 

This year’s Seize the Dream gala will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham, on Sunday, May 6th at 5:30 p.m.  Guests will enjoy wonderful food provided by local restaurants and be entertained by music and a silent auction. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit Seize the Dream 2012. http://www.jfsmw.org/Seize%20the%20Dream%202012.html