Why I Give: Natalie’s story
Since 1910, Jewish Family and Children’s Service has been privileged to to be part of a myriad of meaningful stories like this one shared by Natalie below. As an agency, we are humbled and inspired by the trust and confidence that people have placed in us when accessing our many programs and services to sustain healthy relationships, ease suffering and holistically thrive. For countless families and individuals of all ages and backgrounds, JFCS is a full circle organization. Those who have looked to JFCS as a source of help and hope at one time or another have later sought out opportunities to be that source of help and hope to others through their involvement as staff, board members, volunteers and donors. Thank you not only for believing in our work, but also for supporting it through your financial contributions.
Please consider a gift to Give2017. Funds raised through our Annual Campaign are used when and where needed most and continue to make a difference in the lives of 14,000 each year. To donate online, click here or call 952-546-0616 to make your donation over the phone.
By Natalie Levin • JFCS Board Member
As a JFCS Board Member and donor, I often reflect on what JFCS has meant to me over the years. Many people on the JFCS Board have volunteered here before in different capacities, a few have been former employees and some have family members who have used JFCS services. For me, JFCS has played a much bigger role in my life.
I came to this country from Russia as a refugee in 1989 and became a recipient of the agency’s resettlement services that were offered at the time. The Resettlement program not only provided help with the first steps in acclimating to my new country, connecting me to people and resources, it also provided a personal connection through case workers and host families for newcomers. (In my case it was Senior Services Case Manager Amy Taswell, who became my first American friend). My mother’s host family, Ruth King Smith, became our lifelong friend and taught me what it means to be a true volunteer.
Luckily for me, I was offered an opportunity to take a position in the JFCS Resettlement program shortly upon my arrival, because I spoke English and worked for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) while I was going through immigration in Italy. Becoming part of JFCS was like finding a new home, providing a feeling of purpose and belonging. People working in different departments of the agency felt like members of my extended family.
JFCS was not just a place of employment for me – it coincided with my idea of what a Jewish agency should be. It was inclusive, providing services for the community at large while being culturally conscious of the needs of people in the Jewish community, and it treated employees as family members. JFCS taught me the concept of tikkun olam, repairing the world, and strengthened my Jewish identity. JFCS also inspired me to change my career path and become a psychologist in response to the need for a Russian-speaking therapist, a position that I recognized was needed while working in Resettlement.
After getting my degree in psychology, I continued with JFCS in a new capacity. I felt fortunate to work in the JFCS Counseling Department with amazing, dedicated professionals from whom I had a chance to learn, and who were a source of inspiration to me. It also gave me more clarity on how different departments and programs at JFCS worked in unison to provide for people of different backgrounds, means and abilities to achieve their potential and receive the support they might need.
It is no surprise that when I moved to a private therapy practice I wanted to stay involved with JFCS by volunteering in different capacities, becoming a donor and later serving on the JFCS Board and its Development Committee.
JFCS has pioneered many programs that not only helped individuals in need, but also helped reduce the stigma of mental illness and disabilities, promising inclusion and understanding. It is continually aware of and motivated by the changing needs of the community. In turn, people from the Jewish community influence and improve the work of this agency by serving as donors and volunteers.
I was blessed to meet incredible people and make true friends among the staff of JFCS, its volunteers and board members. The rewards I have experienced from my involvement with JFCS are much higher than anything I have personally contributed to this outstanding organization.