Accelerating Social, Academic and Health Equity
Monthly Report to the Community
June/July 2021
Dear Friends,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. A lot has been happening at JFS, and in our community, over the last several weeks.  

Though most locally feel the pandemic is waning, JFS in its post COVID-19 recovery efforts, continues to see a surprisingly high number of new requests for help. Especially troubling are the hundreds of families (many with young children) in jeopardy of being homeless due to the lifting of the COVID-19 eviction moratorium. Thanks to funding from the Foundation for Metrowest, JFS has been able to provide several families with emergency rent assistance, keeping a roof over their heads while case managers helped them work out a plan to get them back on their feet.  

Also, as clusters of new COVID-19 cases emerge, JFS is working in collaboration with the Commonwealth, City of Framingham, and other local community agencies to provide education and outreach on the vaccine and how community members can stay safe. Our Immigrant Services team is connecting with clients and the community through social media posts, flyers at community events, and one on one conversations. 

We are also in the process of creating short videos of our multilingual staff reading a children’s book on herd immunity, Lily the Llama Helps her Herd (authored by our brilliant volunteer, friend, and daughter of JFS Seize the Dream Honorees Dena and Michael Rashes, Emma Rashes) so we can engage families and community members of all ages and backgrounds. Here is the link to this wonderful story in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Please share far and wide. It could save a life!

Another upcoming project involves a collection of short videos featuring JFS staff commenting on the importance of the vaccination to them. Follow JFS on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram to be notified when these videos are published and hear our talented staff share their experiences in their native languages (our staff members hail from communities all over the world and have language fluency which includes English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, French, French Creole, Chinese, Latvian, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Ido and other African Dialects).

JFS is also laser focused on the health and safety of older adults in Metrowest. Social isolation is an important public health issue that has gained recognition and has been exacerbated during the pandemic. Thanks to recent grants from the Metrowest Health Foundation and RBC (Wealth Management) Foundation supporting JFS’ Virtual Visitors/Caring Connectors Project, we are increasing our efforts to reach out to isolated, older adults to provide on-going connection, basic needs assessment and access to critically needed services and resources.
While the pandemic continues to receive headline coverage, you may have also seen in recent weeks the news story about the attack on the Rabbi in Brighton. I attended the vigil on Brighton Common organized by AJC New England, CJP, JCRC Boston and ADL New England and stood among many in support of Rabbi Noginski and the Jewish community.

This incident reminds us that we must stay vigilant. While the announcement of Juneteenth as a federal holiday demonstrates our government’s increasing awareness of the racial inequities in this country, there is still much to do. It is only with your help that we can as a community do better, be better for future generations. The time to act is now. Sign up to attend a future Training for Active Bystanders program. Also review these resources from the ADL for information on how to respond if you are a witness to an incident.

Getting involved in this work is one way to join JFS’s efforts to accelerate social, academic and health equity in our community. Another way is to join JFS as a volunteer and have a direct and meaningful impact in the lives of people who come to us for help. Below you will meet Jackie Sand and Gus Freedman, long time JFS volunteers who step up in many ways, never hesitating to lend a hand when there is a need. Scroll down for several opportunities for you to get involved and make a difference.

Another way volunteers shape JFS’s impact in the community is by serving on our Board of Directors. Featured below are the newest members of the Board, who were installed at our June annual meeting. We are excited to welcome these talented professionals to our team!

Also, we are pleased to announce that we recently welcomed three new employees to our roster - Julia Convery, Amber Pierre and Zach Blankstein – each is involved with community outreach under the direction of Senior Director Lucia Panichella (profiled below). And, we are still hiring! See open job descriptions below and in the Job Opportunities section of our website.

In closing, I am pleased to share that applications are now being accepted for the first annual Paul Rosenberg Scholarship programClick here for the application form, and please share widely with your networks.

Thank you for your continued investment and partnership with JFS. Together we are making a major difference in the lives of families. Wishing you a safe rest of the summer.
Lino Covarrubias, CEO
Denise Rosenblum
Place of Employment: President & Founder of Dynamic Development, a professional development company; Senior Managing Partner of J. Hilburn Men's custom clothier

Education: BA from Tufts University, Medford, MA

Denise is very proud to be a part of JFS, an organization that is nurturing, welcoming and helps so many within our immediate community with food, clothing and shelter. 
Cesar Stewart-Morales, CPA (he/him/el)
Place of Employment: Framingham City Council (Title: District 2 City Councilor); Accounting Manager at Vineyard Wind

Education: B.S., Corporate Finance & Accounting from Bentley University and M.B.A. from Clark University

Having grown up in Framingham, Cesar has witnessed the work that JFS does has a positive and very direct impact on families in the City. He is quite impressed with JFS and its wide breadth of charitable work and he is humbled to join such a distinguished and accomplished group of directors to help lead the organization. He knows that joining JFS will enhance his ability to improve the lives of people in our community
Phil Strauss
Place of Employment: Strauss Consulting, LLC

Education: University of Illinois, MA, BS

Phil loves the idea of getting involved with a group that focuses its attention on local issues and needs. Reading the stories of success really pushed him to want to do more. He felt the skills he uses every day as a business owner could make a positive contribution to the organization. Finally, seeing the top scores on Charity Navigator tells him that JFS not only delivers for the community but it takes its financial responsibilities seriously which was important to him as a donor and a board member.
Dr. Nadia Valentin, NP 
Place of Employment: Clinical director/President of NewVision Healthcare 

Education: Terminal degree is a Doctorate in Nursing Practice 
Nadia gravitated towards JFS because of the great work that the organization was doing in the community. She is especially impressed to learn about the footprint that this organization has established within the refugee/immigrant community as well as its impact on vulnerable seniors. Both of these causes are very close to her heart. Nadia believes it is quite wonderful to be a part of an organization with shared visions. 
Sophie Hearne 
Place of Employment: Boston Women's Workforce Council 

Education: Dickinson College, BA and Boston University Questrom School of Business, MBA 
JFS' commitment to being an anti-racist organization, its leadership and its volunteers' unyielding dedication to showing up for JFS' clients no matter what, its work in both the Jewish and secular community, and its ethos (always starting from a place of "yes") continue to inspire Sophie. As one of the younger members of the board, she is excited to have the opportunity to learn from so many incredible leaders in the JFS community and to support the organization's efforts in cultivating next-gen awareness, engagement, and philanthropy to fortify its future for decades to come. 
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!
Gus Freedman & Jackie Sand

JFS Volunteers since August 2017

Why do you believe the work you are doing at JFS is important?

"It is vital for others to have a second set of ears at medical appointments as well as an opportunity to connect with other people, which can be a challenge as we all age."
Gus is a former professional photographer, working mostly with educational institutions and health care/hospitals. Jackie is a former French teacher, World Language Department Head and interim Academic Dean. When Jackie and Gus are not volunteering, they are hiking local trails and doing yoga daily, reading, connecting with dear friends and family and traveling when they can. In addition to English, Gus and Jackie both speak French fluently and Jackie speaks some Italian, Spanish, and a little Portuguese.

Since Gus and Jackie became Patient Navigators, Gus has accompanied clients to over 60 appointments and Jackie has accompanied them to over 50. When the pandemic hit, Jackie and Gus transitioned to delivering PPE to the navigators who continued to take clients to in-person appointments – a plan they developed themselves. They delivered more than 20 bags to towns as far away as Belmont, Jamaica Plain & Stow. For over a year, Jackie and Gus have also been making weekly check-in calls to multiple clients. They always reach out to staff promptly with any concerns so case managers can follow up. Always willing to help, the duo also delivered Passover meals this spring.

JFS is so grateful for the many ways in which Gus and Jackie have stepped forward to help those in need. Thank you, Gus and Jackie!

Lucia Panichella, LCSW

Senior Director, Programs & Partnerships
With JFS since July 2006
Speaks English & Spanish

“At JFS I get to be part of programs that make sure that our community members and neighbors are taken care of, that individuals and families have access to the things they need, and that the opportunity to create a better life is not only available to a few. JFS programs are rooted in the community and through my work at JFS I get to feel that I am a part of something larger than myself.”
Framingham Pubic Schools (FPS) has recognized and awarded JFS for its community-based relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

JFS is being honored for the agency’s commitment to serving Framingham’s most vulnerable families by providing ongoing food security and access during the pandemic, including 85,000 meals and over 110,000 units of personal care and feminine products distributed at the Harmony Grove Elementary school (formerly Woodrow Wilson).

JFS is honored to receive this award and we value our ongoing partnership with Framingham Public Schools!

JFS of Metrowest hosted a Pop-up Clothing Shop at the Pelham Life-Long Learning Center in Framingham!
This was JFS’ first Pop-up Shop since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic! JFS distributed a total of 1,062 items (including children’s, women’s, and toddler’s clothes and books) to families in the Framingham Pelham Apartment Community. In the coming weeks, JFS will also work to fill 28 Ready-to-Wear orders that we received from families during the pop-up. Thank you to our volunteers and community partners for making this event possible!
JFS also sends a huge thank you to the Framingham High School Student Immigrant Association! Leading up to our pop-up clothing shop, students and their faculty advisor joined JFS staff for an afternoon of sorting 16 boxes of children’s clothes. Organizing the clothes is a critical step to getting them ready for distribution to children in Framingham.
Framingham Public Schools (FPS) partners with JFS of Metrowest, United Way of Tri-County1854 CyclingCrimson Bikes, and Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe to provide students with bicycles and helmets to get to and from school.

FPS staff found that students’ attendance has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions on school bus capacities. In response to these developing barriers, this initiative is helping to secure bicycles for 100 middle school students, identified by school social workers, who would benefit from this transportation support. FPS is working with students to ensure safety plans are established with their families and compliance with safety rules provided in their bike training. 

Join JFS in congratulating and celebrating Esam as he graduates from Brookline High School! Esam will be attending UMass Boston in the fall, and hopes to study either Civil or Computer Engineering!

JFS first met Esam when he and his family fled violence in Syria and resettled in the U.S. in 2017. Through the JFS Syrian Refugee Humanitarian Project, JFS, alongside Temple Israel Boston volunteers, welcomed Esam’s family and supported them in creating a new future in which they could all grow and thrive.
Of the several Syrian families resettled by JFS, Esam is the first to graduate from high school here in the U.S. Congratulations, Esam!
To honor the legacy of former Board Treasurer Paul Rosenberg (z"l), his family has established the Paul Rosenberg Memorial Scholarship Fund which will provide two yearly collegiate scholarships to students studying business or finance.

Scholarships of $2,000.00 each are available and will be paid directly to the school as a tuition payment.

Applications will be accepted from April – August 30th. Students will be contacted via email or via phone by September 30th.

To apply, please complete this form and provide the following requirements:

  1. Short essay why this scholarship is important to the student and how it will enhance their pursuit of the degree in finance/business
  2. Resume
  3. Letter from college/university showing matriculation in a college/university in Finance/Business

Paul Rosenberg’s unwavering commitment to those in need in the Metrowest community spanned over 40 years and we are proud to carry on his legacy in support of future business and finance professionals.

To register for a Build-a-Backpack event, scan QR code above or click here! For more information, please contact:
At this year’s virtual Seize the Dream celebration, JFS highlighted the many ways in which volunteers are the engine behind our programming.

We welcome you to join the JFS volunteer team and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need help the most.
Are you passionate about food security in our community?

JFS Farm to Pantry volunteers help to reduce food waste and insecurity by connecting extra produce from farms with food pantries in the area. Volunteers are needed to pick up food from local farms and transport it to food pantries for distribution to individuals and families in need.

Pick-up/Drop-off times are flexible and varied, as produce is dependent on the farms' availability and schedule. Drivers will coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs with a lead volunteer. This is a seasonal volunteer opportunity, as the program aligns with the growing season (April-October)

Social isolation wears many faces. Changes in health and circumstance can make it difficult for older adults to maintain relationships or form new ones. 

The JFS Warm Connectors program matches older adults living in the community with volunteers who serve as "connectors" and create opportunities to connect with neighbors, friends, family and the community.

Trained volunteers are matched with older adults and once matched, they meet on a regular, mutually agreed upon schedule. Warm Connectors reduce social isolation both with regular visits as well as by helping build and grow relationships. Connections can include: attend a social or learning activity, join an exercise class, write letters to family, video call with friends or family, attend a faith-based service, etc. 

Click here to learn more about JFS Warm Connectors!
Start Your Own Community Drive!

Connect with your family, neighbors, or colleagues and organize a collection drive for clothing or personal care items!

This opportunity makes a great addition to your first cookout this summer. When people ask, “what can I bring?” ask them to contribute an item to your drive.

The items you collect will be distributed to families in need in our community.

Interested In Any of These Opportunities?

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 this year’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!

JFS Annual Meeting
In Case You Missed It...
Watch the Recording of the JFS 2021 Annual Meeting

Hosted virtually on June 7, 2021 at 7pm, led by JFS Board President Josef Volman

  • The Chester and Diane Black Lecture Series on Volunteerism and Civic Engagement: Guest speaker, Mohamad Ali, CEO of IDG, speaks about “Racial Justice and how Volunteers and Citizens can make the Difference in this Important Work”
  • Staff and Volunteer Awards
  • The installation of new Board Members: Sophie Hearne (Charlestown), Denise Rosenblum (Natick), Cesar Stewart-Morales (Framingham), Philip Strauss (Framingham), and Nadia Valentin (Braintree).
  • The re-installation of Board Members: Allison Kates, Vice-President (Wayland), Fernando Castro (Ashland), F. Javier Cevallos (Framingham), and Deborah Gotbetter (Weston)
  • The departure of Board Members: Peggy Barry of (Dartmouth), Jonathan Gerber of (Holliston), and Larry Tobin of (Needham)

JFS Committee on Anti-Racism & Fighting Antisemitism
Learn about upcoming news and events as they occur, like/follow the new JFS Committee on Anti-Racism and Fighting Antisemitism social media channels:


Caring for a loved one with dementia comes with many challenges. Often, as dementia progresses, unexpected aggression or agitation may occur which can be frightening or create risk of injury. Your approach with this can potentially deescalate an unsafe situation.
Here are 9 helpful steps to handle and deescalate agitation caused by dementia:
  1. Speak low and slow with a gentle and reassuring tone
  2. Scan environment to identify the immediate cause
  3. Validate their feelings
  4. Rule out pain/discomfort as the cause of the behavior
  5. Calm the environment
  6. Shift focus to a different activity
  7. Put on music
  8. Remove yourself from the room
  9. Safety first. Call 911 if you or your loved one is at risk

If nothing you do is improving the situation, it is better to leave the person alone than to agitate them. If the person’s behavior makes them unsafe or threatens you, get help, either from a care attendant if available or call 911, describe the behavior and tell them the person has dementia. Your safety takes priority. Get help. You are not alone.

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

Supported by CJP, the JFS Family Assistance Network provides confidential and respectful assistance to individuals and families in Metrowest to help them meet the short-term challenges resulting from financial difficulties
Our goal is to help households remain independent and financially self-sufficient through a comprehensive array of coordinated services including case management, financial assistance and others. Learn more.

Seeking per diem Geriatric Care Managers to work with growing Metrowest geriatric care management practice--LICSW or CCM preferred but not required; Applicant should have the following qualifications:

  • MSW, RN, or degree in related field
  • 3 to 5 years experience working with older adults and families
  • Experience working with people with dementia preferred
  • Knowledge of community resources and entitlement programs
  • Strong oral and written skills
  • Ability to pay attention to detail and meet deadlines
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to use computer (Microsoft Office Suite)
  • Ability to drive and have access to a car
  • Flexible schedule, occasional evening and weekend hours may be required to accommodate client needs

JFS of Metrowest is seeking to hire employees with older adult in-home homecare experience with the following requirements:

  • PCA qualification
  • One year home care experience desired
  • Availability on short notice to take assignments
  • Reliable transportation and valid drivers license
  • In good health-physical exam and TB screening mandatory
  • Fluent English/good communications skills. Multilingual a plus (Spanish and Portuguese. Also Mandarin Chinese)
  • (2) work references in the healthcare industry
  • Must enjoy working with the elderly population
  • Most work is during the day Monday-Fridays with very flexible hours
  • Flexibility a plus

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

Are you a veteran looking for a new job? Check out these resources:

A core element of the JFS Children's Clothing Closet is our Ready-to-Wear Initiative, which works with families in the community to provide clothing items specifically catered to their children’s sizes and needs.
Throughout the pandemic, JFS's connections with community partners has strengthened. A number of community organizations--Framingham Public Schools (FPS), the Boys & Girls Club of Metrowest, and Wayside Youth & Family Support Network--now rely on JFS Ready-to-Wear orders for the families and children they serve. 
The demand for Ready-to-Wears is greater than ever before.

JFS needs your help to support children in our community!

Families are particularly in need of new socks and underwear

  •  A $20-$25 donation could fill 1 Ready to Wear order with a pack of socks and underwear each
  •  A $100 donation could help fill about 4 Ready to Wear orders with a pack of socks and underwear each
  • A $250 donation could help fill about 10 Ready to Wear orders with a pack of socks and underwear each
Thank you to Denise, Cesar, Phil, Nadia, Sophie, Gus, Jackie, Lucia, 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 | |