MA Milestones Newsmakers

Jewish Family Service celebrates 100 years at annual meeting

SPRINGFIELD – Friends and supporters of Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts gathered at Sinai Temple in Springfield on Thursday, October 29th for its annual meeting.

The theme of the evening was “Celebrate JFS! Into the Next Century.” Daniel Plotkin, board chair, highlighted the strengths of the staff and board as the agency went through a major transition this year.

“2015 was at once a difficult year and one that brought great fortune. We lost Bob Marmor, our CEO of 14 years, and we gained Maxine Stein, whose passion for our mission, grace and steadfast determination will serve us well. She knows she has a big job to do, and I know she will do it.” Dan thanked the staff and board for their hard work during the difficult period and welcomed Maxine into the JFS family as the agency enters a new century of helping people and solving problems.

During the business part of the meeting, Dr. Michael Sorrell, JFS Life Board Member, presented the nominating report and a slate of officers was installed including Daniel Plotkin, Chair, Anita Sarro, Vice Chair and Jonna Gaberman, Vice Chair. Joe Dorison, JFS Past President and Life Board Member, presented the Treasurer’s report noting that JFS continues to build upon its strong fiscal status; and Maxine Stein recognized and thanked the JFS Legacy Society members for their continued commitment to JFS.

The focus of the evening then transitioned to staff sharing the work they do every day helping families. Cathy Chandler, clinical social worker in the ElderCare program at JFS shared the story of an elder who experienced a lot of loss lately and thanks to Cathy’s weekly home-visits has been able to improve her attitude.

Cathy was also able to enroll the elder’s daughter and primary caregiver into a Caregiver Support Group that she facilitates at JFS.

Rabbi Raquel Kosovske of Beit Ahavah in Florence gave a dvar torah that spoke about the week’s Torah portion and how it related so well to the work of JFS with refugee resettlement.

Two staff members who spoke about JFS’s work with refugees were Yasmin Ahmed, Family Support Specialist and Deirdre Griffin, New American program director. Their stories recalled the difference JFS Refugee & Immigrant Services have had in the lives of individuals who were able to successfully build new lives in the U.S. and become U.S. citizens. During Yasmin’s presentation, she was joined on stage by one of the first Somali refugee families that JFS resettled whose daughter is now excelling and studying at Western New England University.

To read the stories and learn more about JFS, please visit

CAP: Daniel Plotkin and Maxine Stein at the JFS annual meeting.

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