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Susie Norton
JSS/JFS Board Member
It’s that time of year… the snow has finally melted, birds are singing, and flowers are beginning to bloom. It’s also time for the Jewish Family Service (JFS) Annual Friends Campaign.
For better or for worse, JFS is one of our community’s best-kept secrets. We may know that JFS has a food pantry, or that JFS provides mental health counseling, or that JFS provides assistance to Jewish families in need.
But JFS is, and does, so much more. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t learn about all the services JFS offers to the Jewish community AND the general Omaha community until I became a member of the board of Jewish Senior Services (JSS), the umbrella agency of JFS.
I’ve learned the JFS Food Pantry is available to ALL Jewish Omahans, that it includes Kosher foods, and that it has recently been greatly expanded, due to the generosity of the family and friends of Ruth Erman, of blessed memory.  I’ve also learned that JFS expects to spend $15,000 this year, more than double two years’ ago expenditure, to keep the Food Pantry stocked, to meet the growing needs of our fellow Jews in need.
JFS provides $30,000 annually in “direct financial assistance”—help with rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, grocery gift cards and more—to Jewish individuals and families in and around Omaha. But it’s not just the money that JFS provides. JFS offers both mental health counseling and, in response to our community survey, recently began vocational counseling and job search services, to continue to support those most in need.
I’ve learned that incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable JFS staff members work tirelessly every year to apply for grants, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to support JFS programs, like a newly-updated Play Therapy Room for children, a comprehensive Suicide Prevention and Education curriculum, and continued programming for Jewish adults with developmental disabilities through the Yachad program.
And JFS does so much more!
JFS is known in Omaha as the go-to organization for the “Love and Logic” parenting class series.
The JFS mental health counselors provide counseling services for students in the Millard Public Schools, that can’t get in to see their own school counselors because they’re so busy.
And maybe most importantly, I’ve learned that only about 45% of the JFS annual budget comes from the Jewish Federation of Omaha’s annual campaign. JFS relies heavily on private donations from generous individuals, to be able to continue to provide the wide range of services to any and all of us, as Jews and as Omahans. The JFS Annual Friends Campaign is the primary means of raising these much-needed funds. We hope to raise at least $25,000 through this year’s Friends Campaign, by June 30.
Spring has sprung in Omaha, and it’s a new season.  Although at JFS, need has no season; it’s all year-round.  Please join me in becoming a Friend of JFS, to help meet the needs of those most vulnerable in our Jewish community and beyond.
There are three easy ways to donate to JFS and become a Friend:
By phone: Call Jewish Family Service at 402.330.2024, return your pledge card to Jewish Family Service with either your credit card information or an enclosed check, or by PayPal: Go to www.jfsomaha.com and look for the PayPal link.