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) and $150k to the Young Center, 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.


 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.

flip flopsDuring 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.

dads with kidsThe 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:

  1. Give to the FACES campaign which funds work the IWC and Young Center does.
  2. Get involved with many of JFS’ program which aid immigrants:
    2. Donate
  3. Get involved- call to action. Next meeting coming hosted by Jewish Community Relations Council
Posted in New American Services, Resettlement, We are JFS! | Tagged , ,

Health Affairs Recommends Funders Support Services like JFS Patient Navigator


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.

Read John Feather’s blog post on Social Determinant Of Health and
learn the value of investing in programs like JFS Patient Navigator.



Posted in Elder Services, Healthy Aging, Volunteer Opportunities, We are JFS! | Tagged

JFS Celebrates Newly Naturalized Citizenship Clients!

citizenship party 1

All photos courtesy of Sheldon Golder 

On July 19, 2018, as part of JFS’s New American program, JFS was proud to host a Citizenship Celebration to recognize and honor our clients who have become naturalized citizens within the last year. Over forty individuals, some with their families, attended the party, bringing with them excitement and fresh enthusiasm at officially becoming U.S. citizens!

Our party was a potluck event, and people were kind enough to bring along delicious foods and treats from a variety of home-countries, including Brazil, Mexico, and Haiti. Our guests talked with one another and shared their stories and experiences. The evening was full of laughter, good food, and the best kind of American pride.

Today immigrant families in the United States are facing many challenges. JFS works to develop innovative, thorough, and comprehensive resources to address the social, emotional, and financial needs of new Americans in the Metrowest community. JFS specialists and volunteers provide a wide range of services—from direct case management and employment support, citizenship assistance, adult ESOL and civics instruction—to help struggling families meet basic needs and move toward self-sufficiency. We honor our clients’ strength and resiliency.

Congratulations on becoming American citizens!



Posted in New American Services, We are JFS! | Tagged , ,

Are You Ready for Success?

Are you a Jewish Professional living in Metrowest? Are you in your mid to late career?Have you lost your job or had your hours cut short?

You may be eligible to participate in the Ready for Success employment program!

Complete the online screening, eligible applicants will be contacted by an RFS team member to schedule a more in depth conversation.newest

Posted in Family Assistance Network, Jewish Community, Job Opportunities

Meet the Staff: Jaquan Harris

Jaquan Harris better known as “Jay” is the most recent addition to the JFS of Metrowest team. He recently graduated in May of 2018 from Framingham State University with a B.A in Accounting. While in school Jay worked part time jobs, as well as, playing football and basketball for Framingham State University. As records show football seemed to be the sport that favored him after receiving honorable rewards such as 1st Team AFCA All-American, two time 1st team all-conference and the Golden Helmet Award.


Jay is originally from Boston, MA and comes from a big family, the youngest boy of eleven siblings. After graduating from Framingham State he accepted a full time position as an accounting associate and program specialist here at JFS of Metrowest.

Since arriving at JFS, Jay has been spending half his time as an accounting associate, “I love the accounting work because the numbers tell me a story and the work always keeps me busy” Jay says. The other half of his time is spent as a program specialist working with elderly and youth, participating in elder programs at Rose Kennedy Lane and other NORC sites and eventually working with the youth at the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School when school starts back up in the Fall. Jay loves the opportunity to contribute towards the JFS community, “…being able to give back to the community, being able to develop relationships between the little kids and the elderly. They need to know that they are loved and cared about” Jay says. He hopes his previous work as a volunteer at the YMCA’s summer programs in Boston will translate over and help with his work at Woodrow Wilson. “Overall it’s been a great experience here at JFS” says Jay.

When Jay’s not working he spends the majority of his time with family and close friends. Jay has a bunch of nieces and nephews he watches over and mentors as well. He likes playing sports and training kids participating in sports such as football, basketball, and baseball. He also likes to cook and read. Jay’s biggest fear is poisonous animals.


Posted in Elder Services, Reducing Achievement Gaps, We are JFS!

SAVE THE DATE – 7th Annual JFS Backpack Event – August 27-28, 2018


AxieBreen-JFS-Backpacks-2017-3347 (1)

Photo: Axie Breen

Click here to register for this year’s Build a Backpack events!

Framingham, MA – 6/18/18 – Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Metrowest is hosting a Build-a-Backpack event at the Framingham Public Library on Monday, August 27th and at the Wellesley Public Library on Tuesday August 28th. With summer flying by, it’s time to start getting ready for the 2018-2019 school year by lending a helping hand to children in the Metrowest area.

This is the seventh consecutive year of the Build-a-Backpack event, where the goal is to give away 275 backpacks full of school supplies to families in our community who need it most.  Every year, JFS collects school supplies for children ages 5-10 years through corporate donations and local supply drives. Past donors include organizations such as, Kronos, Inc., On Process Technology, Christmas Tree Shops, Horizon Technology, Framingham Public Library, Staples, Trader Joe’s and Wegmans.

DSC_0170Volunteers (often families with young children) are asked to bring new backpacks to the event where they stuff them full of school supplies, choosing who the backpack will go to, i.e. 2nd grade girl, 4th grade boy, etc. Then JFS distributes the filled backpacks to the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Framingham as well as the parent information center for the Framingham Public Schools.

“Build-a-Backpack is a wonderful event that brings families together and gives kids the chance to learn how they can help support their community” says JFS Manager of Youth and Volunteer Programs, Kayla Hopkins. The backpack events are part of JFS’s Reducing Achievement Gaps initiative, which is a comprehensive system of interventions to address the academic and social needs of low-income children of immigrant families in Framingham.

“JFS Reducing Achievement Gaps works to give children the tools they need to succeed in school and in life.  Backpacks and school supplies can help a child feel more confident at school and prepared to tackle homework at home,” states Hopkins.  “This event is a chance for children to become involved in philanthropy and possibly even build a backpack for the student sitting next to them in math class. JFS is finishing off the summer with a feel good project that makes a difference in people’s lives.”

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to ensure an adequate stock of supplies.  Click here to register for this year’s events.  To learn more about JFS and the Reducing Achievement Gaps program, please visit

About JFS of Metrowest

JFS is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to standing up for those left behind and provides services to over 5,000 people in need within the Metrowest and Greater Boston regions each year, including afterschool academic support for low income children; nutrition and basic family assistance for struggling families; citizenship, immigrant and resettlement programs; and geriatric care management and other support services that enable frail older adults to live independently. JFS’ sound fiscal management practices have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. To learn more about JFS, visit


Media Contact:

JFS of Metrowest
Kayla Hopkins
Manager, Youth and Volunteer Programs
508-875-3100 x220

Posted in Reducing Achievement Gaps, Upcoming Events, Volunteer Opportunities, We are JFS!

Job Opening: JFS Part-Time Kesher Chaplain

Job Title:  JFS Part-Time Kesher Chaplain

Location: Supported Living Facilities in the Metrowest region of Massachusetts


  • Lead Shabbat Services each Friday with residents of Supported Living Facilities
  • Lead Holiday Services with residents of Supported Living Facilities
  • Engage with families and residents
  • Weekly contact with supervisor; attend trainings and meetings as required
  • Be available for one to one visits regarding healing; death; grieving with family members
  • Comply with agency data collection requirements
  • Serve as back up for other Chaplains

To learn more or to apply, please send your resume with cover letter to Program Coordinator Abrielle Salloway at

Posted in Elder Services, Healthy Aging, Jewish Community, Job Opportunities, We are JFS!