Accelerating Social, Academic and Health Equity
Monthly Report to the Community
November/December 2021
Dear Friends:

During these dark winter months, light takes center stage in many celebrations – the candles of the Hanukkah menorah (hanukkiah), the bright lights on Christmas trees, the Diwali traditions that symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and the candle-lighting rituals that honor the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Each represents a joyous break from the darkness and symbolizes hope.

While I am energized by these and other seasonal preparations, I know that for many who we serve, the holidays and challenges of winter compound their everyday struggles, making them seem insurmountable and hopeless at times. At JFS, we are here to bring hope to those who feel surrounded by darkness, stymied by the obstacles they face, and unable to find their way to a brighter place. This is at the core of our values, and this is what compels us to do this work.

With calls coming in every day from folks in need of assistance, our staff have been hard at work over the last several weeks. Here are some recent updates on the many things happening at JFS:

~ To date, JFS has welcomed six Afghan evacuee families (23 individuals) to the Greater Boston Metrowest area. Supported by 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 taking their first steps to build a new life of hope and safety in the United States. Click here to get the latest updates and learn how you can help.

~ Further to our mission of serving immigrants in our community, we are excited to announce a new collaboration with Literations, an organization that matches volunteer mentors with elementary-aged school children to address literary achievement gaps. More information to come soon - follow JFS on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to receive updates as they occur.

~ JFS brought together over 60 organizations and volunteers to distribute Thanksgiving meals to over 630 individuals and 150 families. We also distributed 400 Hanukkah and Christmas gifts to 80 local families struggling to make ends meet, ensuring that each child enjoys the joy of the holidays.

~ The Committee on Fighting Racism and Antisemitism continues its work to shed light on the darkness of injustice in our community, and we are pleased to report since we started this work we have over 200 community members that have been trained as Active Bystanders, and 10+ individuals have stepped up to be trainers so they may bring the program to their organizations. Join in us standing up to hate – click here to sign up to learn how to become a Active Bystander.

~ And, as we get ready to flip the calendar, we are looking forward to celebrating our 2022 Seize the Dream honorees, Allan and Rebecca Chasen and Ken and Jodi Bring at the Westin in Waltham on Thursday May 5. We are optimistically planning to enjoy this time together in person, and the change of venue is to accommodate a more expansive guest list so that both long-time friends and new supporters may join with us to Celebrate the Power of Community - Together we are Stronger, Together we Change Lives. Click here to be notified when ticket and sponsorship opportunities become available.

The hope we strive to bring to individuals and families in need is only possible when we as a community join forces. The power of those collaborations is the ‘secret sauce’ behind JFS’ impact, and we are grateful for the continued support and confidence from our volunteers, donors, partners, and all whom we serve.

Scroll down to learn of the ways you can join JFS to make a difference in our community. Meet our board members who share their time and talents to guide the future of JFS. Learn about upcoming opportunities for volunteering – whatever your schedule, there is something for everyone. Consider applying for one of our open job positions – we need the experience of caring professionals to fulfill our mission and we invite all who are interested to apply.

Partner with JFS and make an unrestricted donation to support this important work. Your unrestricted donation enables JFS to do exactly what we are here to do - serve the most vulnerable in our community, and the need has never been greater.

With the end of the year just a few weeks away, time is running out to make a 2021 donation. For those who may not be aware, a few provisions of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act carried over to 2021, including the ability to deduct up to 100% of adjusted gross income (AGI) for cash gifts made directly to qualifying charities and the universal charitable deduction of $300 per taxpayer ($600 for a married couple). These are just two examples of the many year-end tax strategies that you and your family could potentially take advantage of in 2021. Speak with your tax adviser to learn more about these opportunities when you give to JFS, and make a donation before December 31st.

Join JFS in bringing hope to those who feel that the obstacles they face are insurmountable. With your help, we can made a powerful and significant impact in the lives of those who need help the most.

Best wishes to all for a joyful and meaningful holiday season.

Lino Covarrubias, CEO
Meyer H. Levy, CPA 
Place of Employment/Career Affiliation: KLR, Partner, Audit Service Group

Education:  Honors Bachelor of Accounting Science, University of South Africa 

As a JFS board member, Meyer believes he has the opportunity to observe an amazing management team under the leadership of Lino Covarrubias, and hopefully assist them as needed. JFS has many programs that help those less fortunate, and the current program assisting Afghan families is truly a remarkable accomplishment. He is honored to work with management and the board on these types of programs. 
David Podell, Ph.D 

Place of Employment/Career Affiliation: MassBay Community College, President 

Education: B.A., University of Pennsylvania; M.Ed. Harvard University; Ph.D., New York University.

David believes JFS changes lives for many who need help in MetroWest, much as MassBay does. The commitment of JFS to all residents, Jewish and non-Jewish, is exemplary. David is amazed by what JFS has accomplished and he can only hope that his participation on the Board in some way forwards the work of the organization. 
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!
Jodi and Ken Bring
Jodi and Ken Bring embody the value of helping others through their dedicated work in our community and beyond, and JFS is delighted to honor them at Seize the Dream 2022.

The Brings live in Natick with their two children Matthew and Nicole, who they have encouraged to experience and embrace community service to support others. Through holiday meal delivery, the Children's Clothing Closet, and the annual Build-a-Backpack event, JFS makes it possible.

Allan and Rebecca Chasen
Allan and Rebecca Chasen believe in supporting the communities in which they live and work to improve the lives of those around them. They truly believe that everyone, regardless of their background or life circumstances, should be provided the opportunity to reach their true potential.

Following the example of their parents and grandparents, who prioritized philanthropy, the Chasens continue to give back personally and teach their children the importance and responsibility of supporting their community and those in need. JFS is delighted to honor them at Seize the Dream 2022.

MEET THE STAFF (Photo Credit: PBS)
Fahim Amin
Immigrant Services Program Specialist II:
With JFS since October 2021

Born in Afghanistan, Speaks English, Dari, and Pashto

Fahim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Management from Southern New Hampshire University. He likes hiking and traveling. Prior to joining JFS, Fahim worked for Development Alternatives Inc, Creative Associates International, and South Africa Partners for 12+ years, where he was responsible for grant projects' administration, implementation, and management. Fahim is passionate about both internal and external stakeholders and clients.

"Jewish Family Service is doing important work: helping immigrants transition smoothly. I am delighted to be working here to help the new immigrants, especially the Afghan evacuates in these days with the smooth transition to their new home and help them build their financial stability through different organization programs and organization connections with other stakeholders."
JFS set up a drive-by Thanksgiving meal pick-up with Daniel's Table for clients struggling with food insecurity. Thank you to Daniel’s Table and the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to prepare Thanksgiving meals for over 630 individuals and 150 families!
It is with abundant gratitude that we thank our collaborative partner, the Holiday Dreams Foundation, led by founders and former JFS board member Jonathan Gerber and former JFS board member Leslie Gerber, for working with JFS to provide holidays gifts to client families in the Family Assistance and Immigrant Services programs!

With the generous financial assistance and volunteer effort of the Yale Appliance Foundation, JFS distributed over 100 new winter coats and pairs of shoes to children in need. The foundation donated an additional 150 pairs of shoes, which will be stored and distributed at the FPS resource room

JFS is grateful for the incredible generosity of Yale Appliance as well as our ongoing partnerships with Framingham Public Schools
and the Pelham Lifelong Learning Center.
Wendy Polanco Morales has joined her mother, Lillian Morales, and aunt, Elidia Morales on the staff of JFS’ HomeCare Team. Lillian began her career at JFS in early 2016, followed by her sister, Elidia, who joined the Team in early 2018. 

The two multilingual sisters are natives of Guatemala and work as Personal Care Attendants, serving frail older adults. Following in their footsteps, Wendy, also a multilingual Personal Care Attendant and Certified Nursing Assistant, joined JFS recently.

Homecare Manager Adan Hendrie described the trio as “professional go-getters, passionate about advocating for Homecare workers and their clients.”

We are grateful to have the Morales family as a part of the JFS family. 
Volunteers Noreen Begley, Leslie Singer, Carol Hengerle (pictured above) and Jane Joiner went through 18 boxes of new adult clothing from Good360. The group folded, organized, and tagged 560 items. Once sorted, the items provided by Good360 were transported to the JFS Children’s Clothing Closet, located at the FPS resource room.

Many thanks to these volunteers for their help and support!
Discussing the intricacies of the pandemic with children can be difficult. JFS Volunteer and recent Stanford University graduate Emma Rashes is trying to change that with her book, Lily the Llama Helps Her Herd.

Thanks to translations and video read-alouds from JFS CEO Lino Covarrubias and JFS Immigrant Services Program Coordinator Malvina Goldfarb, Lily the Llama Helps Her Herd is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, in hard copy, on e-readers, and on YouTube!

Help us spread the word about this great resource for children! Send an email to to request a digital flyer to share on your website or a hard copy poster to hang at your location. Many thanks in advance for your help!
Camp Young Judaea (CYJ) collected and donated over 30 pairs of winter boots to the Children’s Clothing Closet. 

Temple Beth Torah, through the leadership and community organizing of their Tikkun Olam Group, collected over 20 pairs of boots for the Children’s Clothing Closet!

Jacki Hart and Remi Trestan collected nearly 300 items of gently used clothing for teens in economically challenged schools in Framingham.

The Men’s Club at Temple Israel of Natick collected numerous pairs of new socks and underwear — items crucial to providing a seasonal response to the clothing needs of the elementary school-age children in the Metrowest community.

JFS is grateful for the incredible generosity of Camp Young Judaea,
Temple Beth Torah, Temple Israel, Jacki Hart, and Remi Trestan!
Hanukkah is a holiday celebrating the miracle of light. This holiday season,
JFS celebrates its own miracles. Click to learn more!
Visit the Greater Framingham Community Church website at 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 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 Committee on Anti-Racism & Fighting Antisemitism
To learn about upcoming news and events as they occur, like/follow the new JFS Committee on Anti-Racism and Fighting Antisemitism social media channels, and CLICK HERE for a list of resources specific to this work.

If you love your house, but your house doesn’t love you back, call the experts at 
Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions. They will help you make the
housing choice that is right for you! 

Ask Ally is written by Malka Young, LICSW,
Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions

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.

The holidays can be a difficult time for active service members, Veterans and their families. Click below for information about available programs and resources:

If you are feeling compelled to provide assistance to an incoming Afghan refugee family and would like to partner with JFS, please click the link below to get the latest updates on current needs. Thank you for your caring as these families seek safe haven in our community.
It’s Ugly Sweater season! Not going to a party but still want to be festive?

Order a dozen ugly sweater cookies from Amy’s Sweet Solutions, and a new sweater will be donated to the JFS Children’s Clothing Closet.

The cookies also make the perfect gift for a friend/teacher/neighbor.
To order, send an email to owner Amy O’Donnell at

Cookies can be Hanukah or Christmas themed. Indicate preference when ordering.

$40 per dozen.

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 David, Meyer, Jodi, Ken, Allan, Rebecca, Fahim 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 | |