Jewish Family Services’ Live, Laugh, Give Comedy Night Raises More Than $90,000
Charlotte Jewish News August 2021
By Julie Loftis
According to Howard Olshansky, executive director for JFS, “We had no idea what to expect with a virtual event. We are so moved that once again our community opened their hearts, and the event raised over $90,000 to support our services.”
A special thank you to our major sponsors, Kim and Adam Levy, Izzy’s Catering, Gary and Jodi Michel and Pinnacle Bank; to our event co-chairs, Andrea Cronson and Adina Loewensteiner; and to the many others who donated their time, talents, and gifts. Sponsors were treated to a special virtual meet and greet with Heffron and a delicious meal catered by Best Impressions and delivered by volunteers.
Next month JFS kicks off its Family to Family Annual Campaign, accounting for close to a quarter of the total annual budget. The Family to Family Campaign will focus on “Reimagining a Stronger Community.” Members of our community have exhibited resilience throughout the pandemic, with a renewed sense of energy, hope, and possibility.
Partnering with our community, JFS has responded to the changing environment, breaking down old barriers and gaining stride and momentum in the aftermath of the pandemic, through the use of telehealth services and online presentations and workshops to name a few. The monies raised from Live, Laugh, Give and the Family to Family Campaign, along with tributes and generous donations throughout the year, will help ensure JFS continues to provide the support our community has come to depend on. JFS has been instrumental in responding to our community’s needs, especially during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, JFS was able to implement its continuum of services as an “agency without walls,” responding to an increase in needs and providing support to our community traumatized by the impact of the pandemic. During this time:
- JFS distributed almost $20,000 to those financially impacted by the pandemic for things like rent, mortgage and utilities.
- JFS distributed more than 400 holiday gift bags to seniors and pantry clients, including those delivered by volunteers to individuals that were isolated during quarantine.
- JFS met the needs of individuals with food insecurity with more than a 50% increase in pantry services.
- JFS provided more than 16 virtual programs to seniors, keeping them engaged and connected to the community
- JFS provided 24 workshops to help our community manage stress, anxiety and parenting issues.
According to Fran, a JFS client, “I’ve been a top producer in sales. It was the first time I ever interviewed for jobs and couldn’t get the job. I had to decrease my living expenses. I couldn’t pay my rent. I couldn’t even afford food. I got to the point where I was going to be homeless. It was really scary.” She emailed JFS one evening and the next morning received a return phone call. “I was crying and she assured me, ‘Don’t worry, we are here for you.’”
Fran is now in a much better place than she was when she got that first call from JFS. “I want to give a special thanks to my therapist. I’m really happy now. Very happy and very grateful.”
Of JFS’s role in the community Howard Olshansky, JFS executive director, said, “Many people think of our work as a food pantry, providing mental health services, and supporting seniors. There are a lot of folks who don’t realize the full extent of the needs that we’re meeting in our community for all ages, including caregiver education and support, Holocaust survivor services, emergency financial assistance, parenting support, and domestic violence services.”
Live, Laugh, Give exceeded expectations as a virtual event, a success not possible without the support of our community. “Reimagining a Stronger Community” Family to Family Campaign will launch in September with more information to come. Donating to this campaign, and throughout the year, is an opportunity for families to make a real difference in the lives of other families in our community. If you are interested in donating funds, contributing to the food pantry or volunteering your time, please visit our website at www. JFSCharlotte.org for more information.