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Jewish Family Service of Western Mass. highlights work with children at annual meeting

SPRINGFIELD – Friends and supporters of Jewish Family Service of Western Mass. gathered at JGS Lifecare’s Gloth Audtiorium on Thursday, Nov. 9 to celebrate another year of helping people achieve fulfilling lives.

Anita Sarro, board chair, welcomed guests and thanked donors, volunteers, staff and friends for supporting JFS through a challenging year. She expressed special thanks to the event sponsors, Marcus Printing, USI Insurance Services and Dowd Insurance Agency for their financial support and recognized past presidents in attendance including Joseph Dorison, Martin Broder, Marsha Shapiro and Daniel Plotkin. She also recognized the passing of Life Board Member Bernice Thaler, who was a staunch supporter of JFS.

Rabbi Amy Walk Katz then proceeded with the d’var torah highlighting how JFS remains a helping, responsive human service agency that the community can rely on when they or their loved ones go through challenges.

Anita Sarro, JFS board chair and Maxine Stein, president and CEO at the 102nd JFS Annual Meeting.

After the Treasurer’s report was presented, Dr. Michael Sorrell, JFS board member presented the nominating report and the following continuing board members were installed: Amy Bricker, Martin Broder, Marsha Shapiro and Daniel Plotkin.

Maxine J. Stein, president and CEO, introduced the theme of the evening – JFS’s work with children and youth. Nasra Ali, a family support specialist working with New American families thanked Joe and Cathy Dorison for their volunteer work with a recently arrived family from Somalia. The guests watched a short video showing the Dorison couple helping the family adjust to life in the U.S., even inviting them over for their first swimming lesson at the couple’s home.

Roz Torrey, coordinator of JFS programming in the Upper Valley, shared how JFS has been able to make an impact in children and youth through the popular Jewish Family Jam and Rosh Hodesh programs. Due to the success of these programs, other organizations have used these as models to develop similar programs for their constituents. She thanked Lander Grinspoon Academy for their recent partnership inviting JFS staff to educate their students about the global refugee crisis and in return providing the opportunity for LGA students and staff to respond with coat drives and other initiatives to benefit local refugee families.

Marc Dulaimy, a staff member from JFS introduced two initiatives supported by JFS to help New American youth succeed in the U.S. The school impact program is a partnership between JFS and Springfield Public Schools to help children better integrate into public education with JFS serving as a liaison between the schools and the parents advocating on the students behalf to help them overcome barriers like language, lack of prior education and cultural adaption. Part of the program this year was an opportunity for JFS to send 12 refugee kids to a YMCA summer camp at Camp Weber in West Springfield. Dulaimy expressed gratitude to JFS board member Ellen Freyman for making the connection and to YMCA for providing the scholarships. Dulaimy also shared a story about the Therapeutic Mentoring Program that JFS recently launched with Massachusetts Behavioral Health Network that allows a mentor to work with a young person one-on-one to help empower, support and guide him or her to overcome behavioral or mental health challenges.

Stein closed the meeting by giving a special salute to JFS Legacy Donors who chose to make a planned gift and leave a lasting impact on our community. To learn more about JFS, visit

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