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8.2.13 Issue

by Annette van de Kamp-Wright

The Jewish Federation of Omaha is pleased to announce it was recently awarded $145,465 in grants from United Way of the Midlands. Youth Development received $57,700, $23,411 was awarded to Geriatric Counseling, $31,907 to Social Development for the Aged, and $32,447 to Mental Health Care and Counseling.

With the help of this grant, our Youth department is able to offer programming for K- 12th graders.

“These programs include our Before and After Care, School Break Specials, Adaptive Camp, Teen Leadership and Teen Volunteers,” explains Youth, Camp and Family Programming Director Corey Kirshenbaum. “Through these programs, we are able to offer our youth the opportunity to grow socially, physically and emotionally. The United Way funding goes a long way in providing our youth-specific programming that help them develop as individuals, and stay away from risky behaviors.”

Karen Gustafson, Executive Director of Jewish Family Service, added: “Our request to United Way for funding is directly related to our ability to serve those, on a Sliding Scale Fee, who could not otherwise afford quality mental health services. For clients without insurance, if they can obtain quality counseling services in Omaha, their wait can often be up to a month. By continuing to serve this population, JFS hopes to lessen the wait time for needed services.  The professional staff at JFS has provided counseling services in Omaha for over 40 years. Within the past 13 years, the agency has increased the education level of staff and provided the community with a higher quality of service delivery.  Clients range in age from 4-87, presenting with a multitude of issues, ranging from sexual abuse to adjustments in life-cycle events. These problems show very little bias when it comes to economic status and know no boundaries.”

Thanks to support from United Way of the Midlands, Social Development for the Aged through Jewish Social Services is able to provide diverse programming for the elderly—keeping them healthy and a vital part of the Jewish community. These programs include holiday celebrations and weekly grocery shopping at Livingston Plaza, and Health Maintenance Clinic at the Rose Blumkin Home, as well as many social clubs, guest speakers and religious services held throughout the year.  “Not every older adult fits into one category,” says Maggie Conti, Director of Outreach Programs.  “We strive to encourage participation by offering a variety of programs for many individual needs.”

Finally, the Jewish Social Services Geriatric Counseling program provides case management services for community seniors living outside a skilled facility. The program promotes health and safety while respecting the seniors’ desire for independence. JSS maintains close and frequent contact with family members and assists in referring additional needed support services.

“The JSS Geriatric Counseling program through Outreach Services is the only local program available to meet the needs of those in the community observing Jewish traditions, most specifically kosher observance,” says Director of Community Outreach Shelly Fox. “We also meet the very unique needs of Holocaust survivors in our community, in addition to arranging home visits, counseling, referrals for seniors and their family members and providing kosher Meals on Wheels. United Way of the Midlands, through generous grants, helps us meet our mission.”

“United Way’s support for these essential programs is greatly appreciated by the Jewish Federation of Omaha,” CEO Mike Silverman said, “and will change many lives in a positive way. We are grateful to everyone who made a contribution to United Way.”

United way of the Midlands helps the most vulnerable in our community, and works on human service solutions that will benefit our metro area for generations to come. We connect people and organizations with a secure way to donate their financial support and their time. We also connect them to a strong network of health and human service programs that help our neighbors build a better life for themselves. Thanks to all who come together at United Way’s table, we are “community strong.” For more information, please visit