This past week JFS celebrated our 7th annual Build-A-Backpack event at the Framingham and Wellesley Public libraries.
Over the course of two days, we packed over 425 backpacks, our largest number to date! These backpacks were fully packed with brand new school supplies, giving over 425 underserved elementary-aged students the tools and materials they need to start their school year off right.
Framingham Public Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. Robert Tremblay (left) and Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Community Engagement, Joseph Corazzini (right) packing backpacks at the Framingham Public Library on Monday 8/27.
These backpacks will go to those students in need in Framingham and throughout the Metrowest community, including students at both Woodrow Wilson and Brophy Elementary Schools.
A HUGE thank you to all those who attended and supported the 2018 JFS Build-A-Backpack event! This event would not be possible without the support of our volunteers, donors, and supporters, thank you for all that you do!
The Framingham Flyers high school hockey team were an enormous help on Monday!
About JFS of Metrowest
JFS is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to standing up for those left behind and provides services to over 5,000 people in need within the Metrowest region each year, including afterschool tutoring for at-risk children, nutrition assistance for low-income families, refugee resettlement case management, citizenship assistance, and support services that enable frail older adults to live independently. To learn more about JFS, visit our website at www.jfsmw.org or like us on Facebook!
Meet Maggie Kenney, the most recent addition to the JFS of Metrowest team! Maggie has just completed an AmeriCorps service year with JFS as part of the New American Integration Program (NAIP). As an AmeriCorps member at JFS Maggie served in several program areas, dedicating her time and energy to citizenship and resettlement services, ESOL, and Reducing Achievement Gaps programs at the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. Toward the end of her NAIP program, she accepted a full time position as a multi-portfolio program specialist here at JFS of Metrowest.
Maggie is originally from Ashby, a very small town in North Central MA. She graduated from UMass Amherst in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Public Policy and minors in both Middle Eastern Studies and Civic Engagement. She studied humanitarian action while abroad in Amman, Jordan for six months and wrote her honors thesis on the access to and quality of reproductive health care for urban refugee women abroad.
Advocacy and support for these communities is very important to Maggie, “…working with and supporting low-income, immigrant, and refugee communities is where I saw myself throughout my university career, during my time abroad in Jordan, and where I continue to see myself now.” As she embarks on her transition from AmeriCorps service member to full time staff, she adds, “Through my service at JFS, I have grown to feel capable, strong, and impassioned in the tasks that I manage and the responsibilities that I hold. I feel connected to my clients, I feel connected to the community I serve in Framingham and the Metrowest area, and I feel connected to JFS and the mission it works so tirelessly, authentically, and successfully to accomplish.”
Maggie is excited to see how the skills she gained and the experiences she had in AmeriCorps will support her in her transition to a full-time staff member.
When she’s not in the office, Maggie is an avid baker, gardener, and watercolor painter. She has spent the past three growing seasons working on farms in Western and Central MA. She loves spending time with her family and friends, being outside, making bouquets, and trying new recipes. Maggie is the youngest in her family, with two older brothers. She loves carrot cake and will run in the other direction if she sees a spider.
You are Invited to…
Build-A-Backpack with JFS of Metrowest!
YOU bring the backpack, JFS provides the supplies
We ALL build a backpack!
Why Build a Backpack?
While some school districts are able to give their students supplies, others provide parents a list of items to buy. This puts an added pressure on those in our community who are already struggling to get by.
It also offers a chance to support those in the Metrowest community while teaching children about the importance of service and giving back.
Who do they Benefit?
Filled backpacks will be distributed by JFS Staff to the students in JFS’ Reducing Achievement Gaps program and others throughout the Metrowest area.
Where can I Build a Backpack?
You can build a backpack in two different locations,
- Monday, August 27th at the Framingham Public Library from 10:00am-12:00pm
- 49 Lexington Street Framingham, MA 01702
- Tuesday, August 28th at the Wellesley Public Library from 10:00 am-12:00 pm
- 530 Washington Street Wellesley, MA 02482
The event is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required.
These are drop-in events – registered attendees are invited to stop in any time between 10am and 12pm
Snacks will be provided!
Questions? Contact Kayla Hopkins at (508)-875-3100 x220 or Khopkins@jfsmw.org
Join Malka Young at Temple Beth Am from 12-1:30pm on Wednesday August 29, 2018 and learn “The 5 Things You Need to Know about Dementia”:
An Unforgettable Mission to San Antonio Texas: A debrief from Lino Covarrubias, COO, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest (JFS), MA
As you may know, last week I had the honor of joining CJP’s first U.S.-based crisis response mission to San Antonio to see firsthand the impact of CJP’s Fund to Aid Children and End Separation (FACES). Last count the fund has raised over $315k from 413 donors and has distributed $36k to the Interfaith Welcoming Coalition (IWC) http://interfaithwelcomecoalition.org/ and $150k to the Young Center https://www.theyoungcenter.org/, both in San Antonio TX. The 28-person mission was led by Sarah Abramson, CJP’s Vice President of Caring, Community Impact, and Strategic Partnerships and Dani Weinstein, CJP’s Associate Vice President Women’s Philanthropy & Young Adult Initiative. I was joined by fellow Jewish agency professional leaders Jeremy Burton (Executive Director – JCRC), Kimberlee Shumacher (CEO – JBBBS), and Karin Blum (Chief Development Officer – JVS). Also with us were several CJP donors, volunteers, and staff.
GROUP ASSEMBLING BACKPACKS WITH BASIC NEEDS AT EL DIVINO SALVADOR UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
The mission quickly became more than a trip to show our support of the FACES initiative. It became more than packing backpacks with food, water, toiletries, and children’s coloring materials. It became more than seeing how committed non-profits in the San Antonio area like the IWC (providers of basic needs and some case coordination) and the Young Center (providers of immigrant legal services) are fighting to stop the injustices occurring daily for asylum seekers. Most important, we were able to bear witness and meet some of the families at the San Antonio Greyhound bus station, the location that is the first stop after the asylum seekers are processed in U.S. detention centers south of San Antonio. When the individuals and families arrive at the bus station, they have no money, are tired, do not know what the future holds, and are hopeful that they can travel onward to stay with family in the U.S. while they await their asylum hearing. The hearings might not occur for months, or even years.
During the trip, I met three families. My Spanish fluency proved to be crucial in communicating with them. First, I met a very young mother from Guatemala, who was traveling with two children and another adult. They had crossed the border illegally at the Rio Grande in McAllen, Texas five days earlier. She traveled to the United States to flee gang violence. She was very nervous when she saw policemen at the bus station, and told me that in Guatemala, the police helped the gangs.
It was upsetting to see her with the ankle bracelet, as she managed her children and toys and an unknown future.
The two other families that I met were two adult men, each traveling with one child. They had crossed the Rio Grande four days earlier. They allowed me to photograph them. The man on the left was fleeing drug gang violence in Honduras. His son had just finished 4th grade. I was told that the child’s mother was killed by a stray bullet from gang cross-fire. The man on the right is from Ecuador. He is also fleeing gangs that had given him an ultimatum to either join them or be killed. He has family in the Boston area and is traveling here to await his asylum case. It was extremely emotional to hear their stories of survival, and there was not a dry eye in our group.
We also had the opportunity to meet leaders of the San Antonio Jewish Federation and local government. They were all very appreciative that the CJP’s community cares about the issues they are dealing with, and they are committed to continuing to find ways to help the asylum seekers.
The mission also provided a great opportunity to work alongside my fellow agency professionals, and discuss JFS’ own immigrant community work with CJP and community leaders on the mission. It was an emotionally charged mission. The amount of churches, community leaders, public involvement and our own commitment to help gives us all hope change can and will happen. I’m so proud of JFS’ strong commitment to immigrants, refugees/asylees and I strongly believe it must remain a priority so that no immigrant child or family is mistreated, suffers, or is unsafe. Our expanding Children’s Clothing Project is just one example of our ongoing call to action. Things you can do:
- Give to the FACES campaign which funds work the IWC and Young Center does. https://www.cjp.org/our-work/fund-to-aid-children-and-end-separation-faces
- Get involved with many of JFS’ program which aid immigrants:
- Get involved- call to action. Next meeting coming hosted by Jewish Community Relations Council https://www.jcrcboston.org/events/from-the-border-to-boston-jewish-communal-efforts-for-immigrant-justice-in-massachusetts-and-beyond/
In the August 2nd Health Affairs blog post titled “Another Social Determinant Of Health: How Philanthropy Can Help Rural Communities Use Technology To Improve Mobility And Health“, author John Feather describes the challenges faced by elders living in rural communities in accessing medical care and describes an array of solutions that philanthropists, foundations and other funders can support to improve the health outcomes of these isolated elders.
Among the many new and technologically advanced options, the experts agree that human contact remains vital and funders should consider complementary programs like JFS Patient Navigator that recruits volunteers to accompany patients to their medical appointments and uses specialized software that facilitates assignment and data tracking. These volunteers encourage patient empowerment and reduce social isolation while also helping to keep the cost of services down.