Accelerating Social, Academic and Health Equity
Monthly Report to the Community
January 2022
Dear Friends:

I hope 2022 finds you in good health. With last week’s storm, it is clear that winter is finally upon us. Evident, not only in the snow on the ground and the icy sidewalks, but also in the large volumes of calls our team members have received recently – calls from clients who are having winter-related car trouble and can’t afford the repairs, calls from older adults hesitant to go out for fear of slips and falls, calls from those who need help because their dwelling is not warm enough, calls from parents who are worried that school closures have affected their ability to work and make the money they need to put food on the table. For these neighbors, snow storms and freezing temperatures have significant impact on their safety and wellbeing. Our team at JFS responds to these calls every day, providing assistance and ensuring that those in the community who need help have somewhere to turn.

While the work with clients in crisis has increased, we have also deepened and expanded our work in other areas. Here are a few highlights:

~ Update on the Afghan Evacuee project: Through the collaborative efforts of 7 area agencies – JFS in conjunction with Ascentria Care Alliance, Catholic Charites of Boston, Catholic Charites of Springfield, International Institute of New England (IINE), Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts, and the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC) – it is expected that 1,925 individuals (about 300-350 families) will be resettled in the Greater Boston Metrowest area. To date, approximately 1,000 individuals (230 families) have been welcomed into our caring and inclusive communities. Housing continues to be the limiting factor in being able to assist more families desperate for safety and shelter. If you have access to dedicated, private space – an in-law apartment, a vacation home, a guest house, a leased property you can offer – we want to talk to you. Complete this form now and a representative will contact you.

For the families who are working with JFS directly, donations continue to be needed. Thank you to all who have generously contributed to this project, enabling us to help these families take their first steps to build a new life in the United States. Scroll down to learn about some recent contributions or click here to make a donation today.

~ As we prepare to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday January 17th, we reflect on the struggle that continues, and why the work of the Committee on Anti-Racism and Fighting Antisemitism is so important today. On Monday, our partner the Greater Framingham Community Church, led by Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd (profiled below) will hold its 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration as a hybrid event so all may attend.

Also included below are details about a virtual Community Discussion in Celebration of Black History Month on February 6th hosted by the Interfaith Book Club at the Wayland Islamic Center.

Scroll down to learn about these events and how you can sign up to participate.

~ Further to this work, it is also important to recognize that January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In December, Governor Baker signed into law a bill requiring that middle and high school curriculum include education about genocide, ensuring that the children of Massachusetts know the horrors of the Holocaust and the devastation that can come from acts of hate and antisemitism. JFS stood by our partners, including Senate President Karen Spilka and the Greater Boston JCRC, in the fight to turn this bill into law, making Massachusetts one of only 21 states across the country to require that genocide be taught in schools. To commemorate the day of remembrance, the Lapping Foundation has organized a presentation geared towards high school-aged students with featured guest speaker Michael Gruenbaum, survivor of Terezin and author of “Somewhere There Is Still a Sun.” Learn more at

~ Looking ahead, we are busy preparing for the 2022 Seize the Dream gala where we will honor community leaders Ken and Jodi Bring and Allan and Rebecca Chasen. We hope you will join us at the Westin in Waltham on Thursday May 5 when we will Celebrate the Power of Community - Together we are Stronger, Together we Change Lives. Special Friend Sponsorships are now available – click here to make your reservation.

~ And, in case you missed it, we are proud to share the 2021 JFS Report to the Community. View the Report for a snapshot of our accomplishments over the last year. THIS is the Power of Community – staff, volunteers, donors and collaborative partners working together to change the lives of thousands.

If you are looking for a way to have a positive impact in our community, at JFS there is something for everyone. Scroll down to meet our board members. Learn about upcoming opportunities for volunteering. Consider applying for one of our open job positions. Make an unrestricted donation to support this important work.

Your contributions of time and treasure have a direct impact in the lives of people who need help the most. Partner with JFS and join us in making a difference in our community.

Lino Covarrubias, CEO
Debbie Gotbetter, LICSW

Place of Employment/Career Affiliation: Clinical Social Worker in private practice with a focus on providing individual counseling to older adults and to adults who are home-bound due to chronic and emergent medical needs and cognitive challenges.

Education: Education: BA University of Rochester, MSW Smith College

Debbie is inspired by the compassion, ingenuity, and dedication of JFS Metrowest staff and their capacity to address the vital and concrete needs of our community.  In addition to her board work, Debbie serves as a JFS volunteer.

"As a JFS volunteer, I work closely with JFS staff, impressed how clients with whom we are working, benefit and thrive from staff support and expertise. I am proud to be part of an organization that nimbly responds to our community’s ever-changing landscapes, collaborating with community partners to provide resources that meet the otherwise unmet needs of individuals and families.” 
Deborah Merkin
Place of Employment: CEO of GiftCard Partners

Education: BA UMass Amherst, MBA Babson College
As CEO of a small business, Deborah wanted to volunteer with a grass root culture that helps our neighbors and the people in need in our community. Deborah believes JFS of Metrowest is a unique nonprofit where you can really know that the money you donate has a direct impact.

Deborah says, “JFS of Metrowest embodies my personal values. It is an unbelievable organization whose work has a direct impact on those in need in the Metro-West community. The leadership and the staff work incredibly hard to offer the broad range of services for those in need.”

Deborah thinks the professional staff along with volunteers from all over the community bring energy and creative solutions to build a safety net for those who need help and may not know where to turn. During the pandemic, JFS of Merowest has broadened its reach by partnering with other local organizations which help touch an ever expanding need.
David Milowe
Immediate Past President
Place of Employment: Branch Director/Senior Vice President- RBC Wealth Management

Education: BS Emerson College, MBA Suffolk University
David believes the work the agency and staff do is critical. He has been impressed over the years with the nimble and agile ways JFS works and evaluates new opportunities.
Thank you to these officers for the energy, passion, and commitment they bring to the JFS Board––Learn more about the JFS Board of Directors!
Sheldon Golder
Volunteer Since 2017

Sheldon is a retired electrical engineer who now enjoys photography, bike riding and exploring New England.

Sheldon contributes his talent as a photographer to JFS. Sheldon has been capturing beautiful images of backpack events, Clothing Closet pop ups, and Thanksgiving food distributions for years. Over the course of the pandemic, Sheldon has continued to document those events and has also joined us at the driver pick up spots for Rosh Hashanah and Passover, as well as the Indigenous Peoples Day Ceremony to help us tell the story of those events with his incredible photos.

“Taking photographs of the many initiatives of the JFS allows the world to be aware of its worthwhile work with the community.”

We’re grateful for Sheldon’s commitment to JFS and the community.

Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd
Greater Framingham Community Church

Place of Employment: Pastor of the Greater Framingham Community Church

  • BS in Ministry from Houghton College
  • Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary of Hamilton, MA.
  • Recipient of the Benjamin E. Mays Fellowship for Ministry
  • Recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Award for outstanding leadership at Gordon-Conwell.
  • Doctor of Ministry degree in the area of Preaching for Social Change from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH.

Rev. Dr. Lloyd served as the Assistant and Associate Dean of Students at Gordon College, Wenham, MA for twenty years and continues to serves as adjunct faculty member at the Center for Urban Ministerial Education, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston, MA. Rev. Dr. Lloyd has traveled and ministered in the Virgin Islands, Mexico, England, Israel, Canada, Europe, East, West, and South Africa, in addition to the Caribbean.
Active bystanders learn how to recognize, safely deescalate, and intervene in potentially dangerous or problematic situations. Join JFS in fighting hate by attending a training to become an Active Bystander, and thank you to all who bravely stand against injustices of all kinds in our community.
To learn about upcoming news and events as they occur, like/follow the JFS Committee on Anti-Racism and Fighting Antisemitism social media channels, and CLICK HERE for a list of resources specific to this work.

Dale Norman

From Johannesburg, South Africa

With JFS since October 2021

JVS and JFS partner to provide assistance to eligible clients in the Metrowest area through the Ready for Success employment support program. Developed by JFS and JVS and funded by CJP, this program is designed for active job seekers who have a clear career direction but need some help with job search activities and landing a job. 

Dale Norman joined Jewish Vocational Service in August of 2021 as a Career Navigator. In addition to working with clients at JFS, she is also supporting clients enrolled in the JVS “Jewish Re-Employment Program” (JREP).

A career switcher, Dale trained as a Fellow at Northeastern Employer Engagement and Career Design, and then worked with the university’s diverse student and alumni population.

Dale has worked for 25+ years in Jewish education, administration, and journalism. She holds a Master’s Degree in Judaic Studies from Hebrew College, a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Education from Framingham State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Boston University.

Dale is passionate about working collaboratively with clients as they realize their highest career potential. Dale is working on a fantasy novel for teens, and runs a blog called Career Changers ‘N Pets on FaceBook. She plays folk guitar, loves the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen and Johnny Clegg, has four children and two grandchildren.

“I am thrilled to be working in the Jewish community on employment initiatives. Now, more than ever there is an urgency in the Jewish community for individuals seeking employment to have positive options and directions open for job search.” 

Zach Blankstein
Marketing/Communications & Community Engagement Activities Coordination, Specialist I

With JFS since June 2021

Born in Massachusetts; Speaks English and Spanish

Zach graduated this past spring from George Washington University, where he studied Communications and Jazz Performance. As an intern with JFS in the summer of 2020, Zach helped coordinate the Build-a-Backpack Events. In his new role, Zach focuses on digital marketing, strategic communication, community events, and fundraising. When Zach isn’t at the office, he tours with Couch, a Jazz/Pop group from Boston. Zach is an alumni of the Rashi School (Dedham) and a active member of the Temple Beth Elohim (Wellesley) community.

"My job gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact by spreading awareness of JFS's incredible work. I feel lucky to work for an organization that makes a real difference on a daily basis for clients with a huge range of needs."
Working with the homecare team, Mayra helps ensure that medically compromised older adults get the in-home help they need to live safely and with dignity.

As we welcome the beginning of a new year, we at JFS are excited to share the Report to the Community for 2021. We are so proud of how JFS has quickly pivoted to respond to the needs of the community, as the numbers who turned for support continued to grow each day. JFS is committed to providing:

  • Support to reducing poverty in the Jewish community 
  • Safety and caring for isolated frail older adults 
  • Assistance to immigrants families, including refugees and asylum seekers 
To date, JFS has welcomed six Afghan evacuee families (23 individuals) to the Greater Boston Metrowest area since mid-October. This includes nine children, ranging from newborns to 17 years-olds. Supported by JFS Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships Lucia Panichella and case managers Nermin Helaly, Fahim Amin, Susan Delahunt, and Maggie Kenney, as well as dozens of faith organizations, volunteers and specialists, these families are building a new life of hope and safety in the United States.

Community sponsors include Temple Beth Elohim of WellesleyTemple Beth Shalom of NeedhamCongregation Beth Elohim of Acton, UCC BoxboroughTemple Beth David of Westwood, and Temple Shir Tikva of Wayland.

We are grateful for all the ways our local community is supporting this work. In addition to the community sponsorships, there have also been many groups contributing in other ways. Most recently, Welcome Blanket donated 50 handmade blankets, each with a personalized note of welcome. Also, Temple Beth Torah's Tikkun Olam Committee collected gently used books and new toys that they bundled together in gift bags for recently resettled Afghan children. 

Thank you to our many partners for your assistance and support!
Discussing the intricacies of the pandemic with children can be hard. We at JFS of Metrowest are trying to change that. JFS has made the Lily the Llama, a children’s book on vaccines, accessible in English, Spanish, and Portuguese with hard copies and video read-alouds, thanks to translations by our CEO, Lino Covarrubius, and Immigrant Services team! We need your help getting the word out!

Flyer display or distribution:

Website/social media feature:
  • The purpose of this project is to spread information, and where better to do that than online? Don’t worry -- we’ve done all of the writing for you! Click this link, and copy and paste the text, attach this image, and post to your social media or website! 

Hard-copy book:
  • You can purchase and distribute hard-copies of Lily the Llama Helps Her Herd by clicking here!

For more information, please contact
Thank you to JF&CS Manager of Volunteer Services Ava Harder, who brought bags and bags of gorgeous hand-knit items for the newly arrived families from Afghanistan and other families in Framingham in need of warm hats, mittens, and blankets this winter.
JFS Board Member and 2022 Seize the Dream honoree Jodi Bring created a fund to provide educational toys to immigrant families in our community. Items were purchased at a reduced cost thanks to the generosity of Learning Express Owner Paul Sahagian. The donated toys will be handed out via the JFS Resource Room, a partnership between Framingham Public Schools and JFS. The Resource Room is also the home of the JFS Children’s Clothing Closet.
JFS Resource Room at Framingham Public Schools
With the help of JFS Board Member and 2022 Seize the Dream honoree Allan Chasen, the JFS Children's Clothing Closet has found a new home at the Resource room of the Framingham Public Schools. Allan's expert assistance with design and donation of materials has optimized the space so that it is functional and organized. All the wall shelving and free-standing units in the new space were donated by TJX. This move represents an aligning of mutual goals and deepening of the collaborative partnership between the Framingham Public School system and JFS, and enables staff to easily and efficiently provide assistance to families and students as needs arise.

About the JFS Resource Room:
  • Purpose: Providing basic needs items to families throughout the district, including clothes, shoes, school supplies, personal care items, seasonal items (eg. winter coats and boots, hats and gloves), sheets, blankets, and children's toys/games. We emphasize new and good quality items. Integral to the effort is to provide families access to resources in a dignified manner.

  • Distribution: Families new to the district (many also are new to the country) can walk in and shop at the Resource Room. Also, school social workers and administrators can place orders for families in need that our staff and volunteers pack. Bags are delivered directly to the schools.

  • Non-Profit Partners/Donors: Hope and Comfort, Dignity Matters, Operation Warm, Delivering Good, Good 360, Learning Express, CJP, TJX

  • How you can help:
  • Donate funds
  • Donate items
  • a.   Amazon Wishlist
  • b.   Like new items – we have limited space, so please contact Lucia Panichella to learn about current needs
  • c.   There is always a need for new socks and underwear in all sizes
  • Volunteer: Contact Gail Gregory (Manager of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement).

As part of the CJP Hands on Philanthropy project, CJP Women’s Philanthropy donated over 300 items, including clothing, winter boots, and diapers that will be distributed to families in need in the Framingham Public School System.

Several members of the group also visited the JFS offices and helped us tag and organize clothing. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to tag 15 boxes of clothing that were delivered to the FPS Resource Room. Families will be able to shop for the new jeans, sweatpants, shirts, sweatshirts and more that were sorted and tagged.
Visit the Greater Framingham Community Church website
at to learn more.
Zoom connection details: ‘Join a Meeting’ ID: 836 8040 8189 

Special Friend Sponsorships are now available for the 2022 Seize the Dream Gala. Click here to learn more!
Become a Patient Navigator!
Join our Patient Navigator team and accompany older adults to medical appointments, easing the stress of the appointment for both the patient and their families.

You’ll help older adults prepare for upcoming medical appointments, serve as a companion at the appointment, facilitate communication between doctor and patient, and take notes during the visit.

Patient Navigator is a flexible volunteer opportunity that can work with your schedule! We ask you to commit to a minimum of 4 appointments per year. All appointments are during daytime hours.

Interested In Volunteering?

Please complete this short form and a JFS staff member will get back to you,
or email Gail (Manager of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement) at

JFS responds to the ever-changing needs in our community and we are continually adding new volunteer opportunities. Watch the recording of 2021's Seize the Dream, and hear directly from our volunteers about the impact they are making in the community every day!

If you’d like to support this impactful work, please donate!

Are you or a loved one struggling with social isolation due to the pandemic? Are you worried about managing the coming months amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis?
Contact Malka Young, Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions, to learn how a Geriatric Care Manager can assess your concerns, arrange services and provide critical support to ensure that you
or your loved ones are safe and cared for during the coming months. 


When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Helping individuals and families with life’s ups,
downs, and everything in between.

Loans are available from $1,000–$10,000 to households of moderate income. You must be a resident of the Metrowest area to apply, and a complete loan application is required. Learn more.

JFS Supports Our Veterans
JFS has a commitment with our partner agencies to ensure
no veteran is left behind.

Are you a veteran looking to buy a home? Check out these resources:

Need to retire that old junker? Donate your car to JFS through CARS (, and skip the costs and hassles of selling a car, like paying for advertising, insurance, and repairs. Vehicle donations are tax-deductible, and you could reduce your taxable income when taxes are itemized. There is no cost to the donor. All expenses are deducted from the gross sales price.
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support JFS of Metrowest every time you shop, at no cost to you! 

When you link your regular Amazon account to AmazonSmile, you’ll find the exact same prices, selection, and shopping experience that you’re used to, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to JFS!
Give today and partner with JFS to improve the lives of over 7,500 people in our community each year.
Thank you to Debbie, Deborah, David, Rev. Lloyd, Sheldon, Dale, Zach, Mayra and all who are partnering with JFS to Accelerate Social, Academic and Health Equity in our community.

Your help is needed - get involved today!
JFS of Metrowest | 508-875-3100 | |