By MONICA TAN
For the past several weeks, Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Northeastern New York has been “all hands-on deck” as it has modified what are typically face-to-face services to virtual support within the new social distancing mandates. Counseling support is now via telephone or virtually, as calls have increased and as isolation and anxiety have heightened. Scheduled programs for seniors are being transitioned to Zoom, conference calls and YouTube.

The greatest shift has been launching a new kosher home delivered meal system and answering the call to grocery shop for those shut-in due to the pandemic, while also continuing to transport seniors to essential doctor visits.

JFS Services
The numbers are staggering. Since March 18th, JFS has: delivered 480 meals, made over 575 supportive phone calls, shopped and delivered groceries 40 times, garnered over 750 YouTube views of chair yoga, recruited 50 volunteers to help deliver meals and buy groceries in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, and received countless calls from people who just wanted to say, “thank you.”

The new meal delivery is in partnership with the Jewish Federation, the Albany County Dept. Aging, and the support of the B’nai B’rith Gideon Foundation. JFS also collaborated with Price Chopper and Market 32 and the Vaad Hakashruth of the Capital District. Additional partners that support those in need of kosher meals are the Shabbos House and St. Peter’s Hospital.

With Passover throwing a wrinkle intro the entire system, it was an incredible zero to 60 start. While most of the people served were from Albany County, people were also served in Schenectady, Saratoga, and Rensselaer counties.

Virtual Support Groups
The JFS staff consists of counselors and healthcare advocates, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists, case managers and administrative staff. It’s a small but mighty team committed to ensuring that no one feels alone, hungry or hopeless.

JFS occupational therapists can provide phone support to helping to modify home surrounds or talk through a crossword puzzle, while psychologists work through the loss of interpersonal interaction. To answer the many calls, JFS will launch virtual support groups after Passover.

Philanthropic support is relied on to provide these services. Information on any of the services and how to obtain them, or how to contribute to the JFS Emergency Relief fund, may be found on the website, jfsneny.org or by calling 518-482-8856.

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