Growth Drives Future Plans at JFS

JFS has been helping the community  for almost 40 years. It has  been the primary resource, and  place to go for those struggling  with mental health, food insecurity,  domestic violence, parenting,  and aging.

 All of the programs  and services are designed to engage,  empower, and enrich with a  goal of stabilizing and enhancing  the lives of those it serves which  is accomplished through four  main areas of focus: Counseling  and Domestic Violence Services,  Senior Engagement and Holocaust  Survivor Programs, Crisis  Response and Assistance, and  Community Programs and Education.  

In order to deliver the most  meaningful, relevant programs  and services that meet the community’s  need, JFS closely monitors  and takes note of emerging  patterns and trends. It’s what  guides the agency and helps determine  its offerings.  

Over the past two years, there  has been a significant rise in the  number of inquiries and requests  for services. This growth is not  just in one main focus area, but  from several. Increased calls for  emergency groceries from our  food pantry, people asking for  assistance with finding affordable  housing, help with navigating  resources, and then there are  those that are asking for increased  dollars amount when facing a financial  crisis. The call volume  and the services delivered have  grown immensely. For example,  in 2018, JFS served more than  twice the number of clients for  therapy then the previous year,  reaching an all-time agency high.  According to Howard Olshansky,  Executive Director, “As JFS has  continued to respond to the growing  needs of our community, it’s  become clear that we need to establish  a plan that allows JFS to  grow its capacity in a way that  ensures our ability to continue to  meet the needs while at the same  time maintaining the quality of  our programs and services.”  

In response to the growing demand,  during this year’s strategic  planning process, JFS identified  priority areas for the organization.  “When we looked at the  data and trends, it became clear  that there were a couple of significant,  pressing areas of need for  our community: older adults and  those coping with mental health  challenges,” stated Olshansky.  The older adult population is  growing in numbers and in geography.  JFS is now responding to  the needs of seniors down in Sun  City, SC, across Union County,  and in Lake Norman. And because  people are living longer  the issues related to aging are  more complex, JFS is creating a  Senior Engagement Department  and has hired a Senior Engagement  Therapist, who specializes  in delivering services in a community-  based setting, as well as  providing traditional therapy services  in the office.  

At JFS, we are also seeing increasing  levels of trauma in individuals,  kids, and families. In  order to respond swiftly and appropriately,  JFS trained and certified  its staff in the Triple P Positive  Parenting Program, which  helps families respond to issues  affecting teens and children and  issues related to topics such as  social media, bullying, depression  and anxiety. Rachel Green,  Program Director, indicated “at  JFS we are continuously looking  at ways to develop and stay on  top of best practices to enhance  the competencies of our staff. In  addition to the parenting training  staff has received, training is  being planned in areas such as  trauma-informed care, diversity  and aging and emotional health.  We want to ensure that JFS is  able to offer a diversity of clinical  interventions to meet the diverse  needs of our clients.”  

Serving the community to the  best of our ability means anticipating  needs and being prepared.  “I’m very proud that we have  always been able to serve those  in need, especially those in crisis.  We have never had to create  a waiting list for services,” said  Olshansky. “When I started here  in 2016 we had nine staff. We  now have 14. In fact, just this past  month, JFS acquired additional  space on Shalom Park because we  ran out of space in our existing offices,”  he added.  

Thanks to the generosity of our  community, we have been able to  grow our financial resources to  support the increased staffing and  meet the growing needs.  

As the needs continue to grow,  as we have seen in 2019, strengthening  our infrastructure is also  one of our strategic priorities. Ensuring  that we are well staffed and  have the administrative, financial,  and technological tools needed  in-house means that our clients  will continue to receive the highest  quality care and best services  possible.Y