By Madison Warfel, JFS Delaware Marketing and Communications Specialist

CHILD, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization that offers prevention, treatment, emergency shelter and advocacy services that strengthen families. The organization serves dependent, neglected, and abused children and their parents. They provide programs for those involved in domestic violence situations, especially children.

Located in Wilmington, CHILD, Inc. has been helping the children and families of Delaware since 1963.

Anne Altemus, Program Director of the Domestic Violence Treatment Program, has been with CHILD Inc. for 35 years. “What I like about our Domestic Violence Treatment Program is that it treats the whole family,” said Altemus. “We have offender programs, we have victim or survivor programs, and of course we have programs for helping children heal. We are the only program in New Castle County that treats the whole family for intimate partner abuse or domestic violence.”

“Domestic violence is a very serious problem,” continued Anne. “With the contacts that we have with the other agencies that we work with; we’re hoping to prevent and end domestic violence in families.”

And that’s where Jewish Family Services of Delaware and their Mental Health Fellowship Program comes in. The federally funded Fellowship Program began in 2022 as a response to the rapidly increasing mental health demand throughout the Delaware community, as well as the shortage of Licensed Mental Health providers throughout the state. JFS provides Master Level Social Workers and Mental Health Counselors with support for two years while they participate in meaningful work and leadership development, and JFS helps prepare them to take and pass the LCSW or LPCMH test to be fully licensed.

The Fellowship Program has formed over a dozen partnerships with schools and nonprofits in the community. One of those partnerships is with CHILD, Inc.

Zach King, JFS Fellow

“I actually started my career at CHILD, Inc.,” said Rebecca McAdams, Clinical Supervisor of the JFS Fellowship Program. “I started as a Community Based Counselor in shelters in the Sparrow Run area. I was working with children who had survived or were surviving domestic violence. I felt so privileged to start my career at CHILD, Inc., and that’s why we brought the Fellowship here.”

One aspect of the Domestic Violence Treatment Program is the Offender Intervention Services (OIS), which provides structured counseling interventions for both men and women who have committed acts of intimate partner violence or abuse. Participation in the intervention services can be either voluntary or court mandated.

“This field is not for everyone,” said Anne. “You must be able to work with an offender and someone who has been victimized or is a survivor. And not everyone can do that… What we focus on in the offender program is to accept responsibility for behavior while also treating them with respect so that they can understand what that means and apply it so that they can have a healthy relationship with their children, with their partner, or ex-partner.”

As the clinical supervisor of the JFS Fellowship Program, Rebecca helps the fellows find their niche or specialty within mental health counseling. One such fellow was Zach King. Rebecca reached out to Zach

about him potentially working with identified perpetrators at CHILD, Inc. Much to her surprise, Zach was all in. “That’s such a rare niche to have, and it also takes a lot of patience to do that,” said Rebecca.

Zach has been with CHILD. Inc. for several months now and has fully embraced the work, despite the challenges it provides. He also just recently passed his LPCMH licensure exam.

“We really had a need for someone who was interested in doing the work, who could actually do the work, and who had the skills to be able to do the work,” said Ann. “And the personality to fit in here. Zach was such a great match.”

Both Rebecca and Ann agree that agency partnerships play a crucial role in tackling the mental health demand and community issues in the state. The partnership between CHILD, Inc. and JFS Delaware is certainly a step in the right direction.

For more information about CHILD, Inc., visit www.childinc.com. Their main office can be reached at 302.762.8989, and the phone number for their 24-hour domestic violence hotline is 302.762.6110.

Written by: Larry Nagengast

Four months into her pregnancy, Alexandria Hood learned she had entered into a high-risk situation, both for her and her baby. That wasn’t the news the 29-year-old Millsboro woman wanted to hear, but she recognized that “things don’t always happen the way you want them to.”

Fortunately, her mother had learned about a relatively new program that could provide the support she needed – the Sonia Schorr Sloan Maternal Mental Health Program at Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Delaware.

She made an appointment with Dr. Angelica Montalvo-Artis, the clinical psychologist who directs the program, and began a journey that carried her through a difficult delivery in August, followed by another hospitalization, then visits with multiple pediatric specialists for her newborn daughter and a change in jobs as well.

In their first meetings, she said, Dr. Montalvo-Artis “really got to know me. She asked questions you don’t normally hear. She made me feel like I was being heard.” When the baby was born, Hood was aware that she could experience postpartum depression, but Dr. Montalvo-Artis did not dismiss those concerns. “I was scared. I was nervous, with this little human being to take care of,” Hood says. “She helped me as a person, as a new mom, to build confidence in myself.”

Alexandria Hood’s experience exemplifies a key goal the Sonia Schorr Sloan Maternal Mental Health Program has for its clients. “We want to wrap them in support,” therapist Rebekah Mo says.

Since its launch in 2021, the program has steadily grown – serving nearly 100 women in 2023, ranging from pregnancy through two years after birth. The program was named in honor of Sonia Schorr Sloan, an iconic Delawarean who passed away in 2019. She was a civil rights activist, Democratic party strategist, and non-profit fundraiser; she was a fierce advocate for juvenile justice, women’s rights, and other causes.

Maternal mental health has become a hot topic in the last decade, and it’s no longer focused exclusively on postpartum depression, Dr. Montalvo-Artis says. The JFS staff, with a psychologist, a therapist and mental health counselors, plus a physician’s assistant on call, can provide support for diverse perinatal and postpartum issues, including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder through a combination of individual therapy and support groups.

The JFS program addresses a significant community need. Before it was launched, there were fewer than 10 licensed providers in the state who accepted most insurance plans and had specialty training through Postpartum Support International. With support from the Sonia Schorr Sloan Memorial Fund, the JFS program can serve moms with no insurance or limited coverage and there is no charge for participation in support groups.

According to JFS, one in five pregnant and new mothers experiences a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) and that figure rises to two in five among Black, Hispanic, and Asian American women. Three out of four women who experience PMADs do not get treatment, either because of a lack of awareness or a lack of insurance.

“A lot of women go through this completely alone, but you don’t have to,” Dr. Montalvo-Artis says. “And, no, you don’t have to wait for a certain level [of anxiety or depression] before seeking help. Women should know that anything that’s impairing their day-to-day functions is worth checking in on.”

Postpartum depression and its related conditions have many signals, but many women either do not recognize them – or ignore them – after they leave the embrace of doctors and pediatric nurses when they bring their babies home.

“It can be a sense of overwhelming, things piling on top of another, anxiety over the baby’s health, feelings of not being a good enough mother, a good enough wife,” Mo says. “You could have a racing heart rate, feel panicky, jittery, or unable to get out of bed, losing interest in the things you once cared about.”

“If you’ve never had issues before, if you’ve never had to navigate the healthcare system, all of this can be very scary,” Dr. Montalvo-Artis says.

Since it is operating a relatively new program, Jewish Family Services is putting an emphasis on outreach, a step that’s doubly important, Mo says, because some obstetrician-gynecologists don’t screen patients for postpartum depression, sometimes because they don’t know where to make referrals. The agency’s outreach is targeting many of the touchpoints encountered by new and expectant mothers: pediatricians, doulas, lactation consultants, childcare centers, preschools, even massage and physical therapists.

Healthcare providers are the primary connectors in linking new and expectant moms with the program, Dr. Montalvo-Artis says. She emphasizes the importance of those providers using a “warm handoff” to make that connection – making the call to set up the first appointment, for example, rather than just giving the mom a phone number or email address and hoping they follow through.

Besides in-office and online individual therapy and support groups, JFS will take its maternal mental health program off-site when there is a request. In 2023 it ran a community support program at the Gaudenzia Claymont Center for Pregnant and Parenting Women, a center for women recovering from substance abuse. JFS also has an ongoing relationship with DAPI- Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc., a program for new and expectant teen mothers.

Whether a mom’s needs are long or short-term, whether they’re covered completely or partially by insurance, or not at all, the program strives to “meet them where they’re at” and develop an appropriate treatment plan, Mo says.

“Moms feel heard, they feel understood, and that they matter,” Dr. Montalvo-Artis says.

More Moms’ Stories

Twenty weeks into her first pregnancy, Cristiane Bond received stunning and disturbing news. The child she was carrying would be born with a congenital heart disease. When her daughter Clara arrived in July, she not only had a condition known as heterotaxy syndrome – essentially, the location of key portions of her heart were the opposite of what they should be – but she was also born without a spleen, making her more susceptible to infections. Within days of her birth, Clara was undergoing heart surgery, then another for a gastrointestinal infection … and there is at least one more surgery on the horizon, next summer at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

“I had no hope whatsoever…. I had postpartum depression. I was very confused,” Cristiane recalled. Members of Baby Clara’s cardiac care team at Nemours Children’s Hospital connected her with Jewish Family Services.

Through weekly meetings with a JFS therapist and regular participation in a support group, the 34-year-old resident of Elkton, Maryland, has learned to cope with her own depression and anxiety and has developed a better understanding of Clara’s complex health issues.

“Small things would become big things for me. I put a lot of guilt and shame on myself,” she said. “I’m better now at managing relationships. I have more awareness, knowing what makes me feel the way I do, how to cope with it.”

After struggling for several years with depression and other mental health issues, Mary Stucky wasn’t sure what to expect when she learned in the spring of 2023 that she was pregnant. Thanks to positive prior experiences with Jewish Family Services’ outpatient mental health treatment program, the 23-year-old Newark woman knew where to turn.

She transitioned into JFS’s Maternal Mental Health Program, where she has received one-on-one counseling, assistance with managing her medications and the opportunity to participate in a support group with new and expectant mothers.

“It has helped me a lot,” she says, not only the individual therapy sessions but also the support group. “It helps to connect with other mothers who are struggling,” she said in December as she awaited the birth of her baby daughter. “I get to share my stories, hear other moms’ stories. They sympathize with depression. They help me.”

Although the cost of her treatment is covered by Medicaid, Stucky said it’s good to know that the program will serve women who don’t have insurance. That’s one reason she has recommended JFS to other new and expectant moms.

She’s also pleased that, with her boyfriend injured and out of work, the program helped her find a stroller for the baby.

“I have their phone number. I can call or text anytime,” she said. “JFS will be there for me for as long as I need them.”

For more information about the Sonia Schorr Sloan Maternal Mental Health Program, visit www.jfsdelaware.org/maternal-mental-health, or call JFS Delaware at 302-478-9411.

This article also appeared in The Cape Gazette in two parts, which can be found here and here.

Lindsey is a career mom of three with a high stress job in pharmaceuticals. She was a single mom when she began counseling, before she met her husband, and needed help managing the stress of working full-time while raising her kids on her own.

Why did you begin counseling?

“When we talk about micromanaging my life, and having all the stress in the world, I’ve kind of been there, done that. I have always had the worst problems sleeping. And I think a lot of it goes hand in hand with stress and dealing with as much as I deal with on a daily basis. So, with the stress and lack of sleep and my brain just having to be constantly on with the job that I am in, and then having three kids on top of that, it got to the point where I was sleeping maybe 1-2 hours a night. And I was just like, “I cannot sustain this.” So I sought out medication, and my primary care forwarded me on to Danielle at Christiana Care at first and then she shifted over to JFS. And I just adore her. She’s just an amazing person to work with. She listens, she’s engaged. When you talk about trusting someone with your life story and why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling and needing the help that you need, she made me feel like I could trust her and tell her anything and wasn’t judging me; she was there to help me. So she was the reason why I shifted over to JFS because I just love her to death. Then it was just one of your policies that I had to start seeing a counselor when you’re on certain medications and undergoing medication management with JFS, so I started meeting with Jackie. And she too is also amazing. So I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with JFS.”

What improvements have you seen since starting counseling?

“Well, I’m sleeping better. But also, just knowing that I have somebody to talk to that is a non-biased person that is there to listen to me for me, that’s been the biggest change for me. It’s always just a very trusting and open conversation with my counselors. I’ve laughed with them, I’ve cried with them, I’ve never been angry with them, but I’ve been angry in my interactions with them, and they just listen and offer up excellent advice and opinions and thoughts, and it just makes you feel better when you have somebody you can talk to.”

Is it important to find the right therapist?  

“Yeah, I feel so strongly about that that I even sent my daughter to JFS. My oldest daughter sees Danielle, also. She has bi-polar disorder, depression, anxiety, and with all of that I felt so comfortable with Danielle that I thought my daughter would love to talk to her too.” 

Would you recommend therapy? 

“I always tell people, if you are feeling stressed or anxious or depressed, start therapy. I recommend therapy to all my friends and family. If you have the time and the desire to make yourself feel better and improve your mental health, go talk to somebody. Even if it’s a one-and-done, at least you experienced enough to know if it is or isn’t for you.”

Any final thoughts?

It’s been a very positive experience. Even outside of Danielle and Jackie, the other staff at JFS have been fantastic too. They are very responsive to emails and phone calls. If I’m scheduling something and I need to make a change, everybody is super friendly, they’re on top of it, and I rarely have more than an hour or two between me engaging them and them getting back to me with whatever I need. You all have a super buttoned up facility and I really appreciate that, because not all places are like that.”

This interview was also published in the January 2024 issue of Jewish Living Delaware Magazine. Click here to read it.

Dan is a teacher, runner, and new father. He teaches 8th grade social studies. Dan started counseling with JFS in the summer of 2022.

Why did you begin counseling?

“COVID happened. That through me for a loop. Being an athlete and really invested in my health, I had an increase in thoughts about worse case scenarios. My life got really difficult after we had a baby. I had a lot of paternal postpartum depression, and an aversion and resistance to change in my life.”

What were your paternal postpartum feelings like?

“A lot of insomnia; a lot of disinterest and inability to do things that I love. At its worst, some panic attacks; just feeling out of control and very anxious about the future. And even muscle stiffness and soreness. Just not being able to move on, feeling stuck in the moment. Yeah, just a really hard time with accepting change and my new identity (as a father).”

Have you seen improvements since starting counseling?

“Massively. February of last year was a really low point for me. I was seeing someone from JFS weekly and started seeing improvement in the later part of the spring. I was on paternity leave during a lot of that time, and I was going back to work in May and feeling a lot more functional. Throughout the summer I saw a lot of progress, and now I’m back to school and have been able to get back to some of the activities that I love to do and be more social and be invested in taking care of my son and my family.”

What have you learned from counseling?

“My counselor has done a really good job of talking about thought reframing, especially with my health-anxious intrusive thoughts. Challenging them and going through things logically. And on the depression side, it’s just been talking a lot about change and control. Understanding what my personality type is and how that interacts with the fact that our lives are constantly changing. And this is a big one that I’ve been subconsciously resisting and have felt trapped by. So, processing a lot of those thoughts with her and just being vulnerable and having someone who is not judgmental. Because it’s hard to say, “I don’t like being a dad.” People tend to not like you if you say that in public. So, it’s been really helpful to talk with my counselor about that.”

Did you have any reservations about starting counseling?  

“Being an educator, you gotta practice what you preach. We talk a lot about social and emotional awareness with students, and it’s something that I implement as a teacher in the way that I run my classroom. And it’s something that is important in my life too.” 

Any final thoughts?

With JFS in particular, the team aspect of it, with Sheila as my counselor, doing psychiatry with Danielle, and then when I was really experiencing a bit of crisis, I worked with Mike a few times, and everybody is very accessible. Even Amanda, who works in the office for psychiatry. Everybody is very responsive, and you feel treated with a lot of dignity as a person. You’re not put through the whole automated system to wait for someone like other healthcare providers. You always feel like you can get in touch with someone, and it’s very humanizing.” 

This interview was also published in the January 2024 issue of Jewish Living Delaware Magazine. Click here to read it.

Written by: Amie Baker, JFS Older Adults Program Manager

Hanukkah has always been a fun holiday for me, like most Jewish kids. After all, it does not require a visit to synagogue, and you get lots of gifts. There is also the added bonus of latkes, donuts, and chocolate gelt!

The memories I have of Hanukkah as a child are of lighting the candles together and singing the prayers. Everyone got a gift each night, and yes, socks were often given. (I mean it is 8 days after all). I remember trying to buy my parents the least expensive, best gift I could think of at the mall. This usually consisted of little glass animals for my mom and a Snoopy tie for my dad.

Amie’s son, Ethan, in 2012.

As a grown-up on my own, I did not really observe the holiday with much energy. Most years I lit a menorah once maybe during Hanukkah, and rarely did I even have a latke. But when I got married the tradition was revived, and when our son was born, we went into overdrive! As members of the JCC, we enjoyed many kid-friendly programs around all the Jewish holidays. Our son, Ethan, has always loved the lighting of the candles. Of course, the gifts are great too. I do think the latkes are his favorite and he has even been known to eat them cold. This year will be his 14th Hanukkah, just six months after his Bar Mitzvah. The time has passed so quickly!

Each year it fills my heart that we continue this tradition in our small family and remember that we are observing this miracle with Jews all around the world. Today, believing in miracles is so important. Let this Hanukkah remind you of miracles, hope, faith and love.

Written by: Liz O’Neill, Executive Committee Member on the JFS Delaware Board of Directors

More years ago than I care to acknowledge, my family traveled to Israel in late December to celebrate my younger sister’s Bat Mitzvah. Having grown up in a suburb of Boston where Jews were a minority, the very first thing I remember being aware of was the sight of a huge menorah as our El Al flight touched down at Ben Gurion Airport. Not a Christmas tree, not wreaths, no red and green lights! For the first time, I considered what it would be like to experience being in the majority, of having Jewish holidays celebrated by the larger community.

As a child, Chanukah played an important role in my life. My parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered for festive dinners and enjoyed lighting the menorah and exchanging gifts together. Celebrating Chanukah was a great antidote to the ubiquitous Christmas music on the radio and Christmas decorations that adorned our town. Admittedly, I sometimes longed for a Christmas tree to decorate and stockings to stuff, but I always reminded myself of the Chanukah traditions I loved. I appreciated that every year, one of the gifts my parents gave my sister and me was the opportunity to give tzedakah; she and I chose a charity that touched our hearts. Some years, we donated to an animal shelter, other years it was a non-profit that helped individuals and families experiencing homelessness or health issues.

I recall learning about Chanukah in Sunday School – the Jews’ triumph over their Greek oppressors, the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the small amount of oil that miraculously lasted eight days. To me, it was, and remains, a powerful story of Jews’ resilience and fortitude. Chanukah serves as a reminder that the ostensibly strong do not always prevail and that “miracles” (or I would say – unexpectedly good things) can happen.

Israel and Chanukah are inextricably linked, not only because the Maccabean Revolt and the miracle of the oil took place there. It is also symbolic. Both Israel, as a country, and Chanukah, as a holiday, represent religious freedom, standing up for what is right, and determination. The modern-day creation of Israel is, in some sense, a miracle, and its continuation is miraculous. Jews constitute just 0.2% of the world’s population, yet we have our own homeland.

As an adult, many of the Chanukah traditions I grew up with remain but have taken on different forms. Because my husband and stepchildren were raised Catholic, our family celebrates both Chanukah and Christmas. I have found myself navigating and appreciating all the various traditions and customs of the holidays. When we decorate the Christmas tree, the very first thing I do is hang a Star of David ornament that my stepdaughter gifted to me years ago. The glow of the menorah (passed down to me from my paternal grandparents – about a century old) often has the glow of our Christmas tree lights in the background. We eat chocolate gelt and also Christmas cookies. And as I light the shamash, there are multiple Santa Claus figurines “listening” to the blessings.

While the menorah lighting observance likely began years after the Hasmonean victory, it doesn’t diminish the meaning of bringing light, both literally and metaphorically, into darkness. I have read the reason Chanukah lights are traditionally placed near a window is so people on the outside can see the brightness and be reminded of how that even during times of darkness, light can be found. As fall turns into winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the illuminations and festivities of the season make the darker afternoons brighter. Sharing our light, as well as our traditions, with others is special, meaningful, and truly enlightening.

I love that Jews around the world celebrate Chanukah at the same time and with similar traditions. We all use the shamash as the “leader” candle to light each candle as we say the blessings. Many of us eat latkes, sing songs, and exchange gifts. However, the dreidels we have here are slightly distinct from the ones that families in Israel spin. The Hebrew letters on my dreidels represent “A great miracle happened there.” And, in Israel, the Hebrew letters represent “A great miracle happened HERE.”

(Released by Leadership Delaware, Inc.)

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 6th, 2024

Contact: Jaimie Watts, Chief of Operations, jaimiewatts@leadershipdelaware.org

 

Leadership Delaware, Inc. Announces the Class of 2024

(WILMINGTON, DE) — Leadership Delaware, Inc. (LDI) annually selects Delaware’s best and brightest leaders to join its program, and they are proud to welcome the Class of 2024, LDI’s 16th class of Fellows.

In this transformational, year-long program, participants meet and hear from over 150 speakers, each prominent and accomplished Delaware leader from across the state, who present on topics and issues related to government, the legislature, healthcare, education, finance, and banking, the nonprofit sector, life sciences, corporate governance, agriculture, energy, and more. The program challenges participants to rise to ever higher levels of impact and accomplishment in each of the following three areas: their career field and profession, the nonprofit sector, and government and politics.

After an intense and competitive application and interview process, the interview committee selected thirty-one outstanding candidates.

Jennifer Cohan, CEO of Leadership Delaware, stated, “LDI is proud to congratulate the incoming class of 31 Fellows that will begin their year-long journey to expand their knowledge and influence of all things Delaware starting in January of 2024.”

LDI’s Class of 2024 is made up of dynamic and talented individuals. They provide an excellent and diverse balance with their backgrounds and experiences.

On Wednesday, December 6th, the incoming Class was officially welcomed publicly during the 15th Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2023.

LDI Class of 2024 Fellows:

Tony Adkins – New Castle County
Tamara Brown – Longwood Foundation
Peter Brown Jr. – DART
Michelle Burrus – New Castle County Police Department
Peggy Carter – Exelon
Benjamin Collins – Bayhealth
Wendell Covell – JFS Delaware
Tracey Duffy – New Castle County Police Department
Lauryn Elder – The Holistic Behaviorist LLC
Jacqueline Flowers – EDiS Company
Christopher Gunter – Capital One
Charles Hammond – Goldey-Beacom College
Shana Hilliard – CSC
Erin Hutt – Erin Hutt Consulting LLC
Alana King – Bayhealth
Kelley Kovatis – ChristianaCare
Katie Kutler – kaffe KARMA
Rachel Lindeman – WSFS Bank
Christine Lowthert – Boys & Girls Clubs of DE
Bryan Mack – Delaware Prosperity Partnership
Conor Nally – Nally Ventures
Ryan Paden – City of Wilmington – Mayor’s Office
Jordan Perry – New Castle County
Tamara Smith – Teach For America
Charles Stanton – Adesis
Darren Stephenson Jr. – Gener8tor
Lauren Stracuzzi – Nemours Children’s Health DE
Kimberly Taylor – Coursera
Minda Thompson – Administrative Office of the Courts
Stacy Tyson – CSC
India Williams – India Sage Media Agency LLC

About Leadership Delaware (LDI): LDI is a nonprofit organization founded in 2008, whose mission is to recruit and mentor the best and brightest outstanding Delawareans, who can and will transform their communities and the state. Our program offers a series of issue-oriented forums and experiences, which are based on the belief that knowledge is a key element and prime motivator of leadership. Leaders with integrity, vision, knowledge, and the ability to make a positive impact within their communities are desperately needed in Delaware and throughout the United States. In fact, the need for principled leaders has rarely been greater. For more information, visit leadershipdelaware.org.

For the Giving Back issue of the Jewish Living Delaware Magazine, several of our volunteers reflected on why they give back and the impact that volunteering has had on them and the lives of those they serve. Len Dwares shares his thoughts below.

When JFS asked for volunteers to teach English to Ukrainian refugees I immediately thought of my grandfather operating a grocery store for about 50 years without speaking English fluently. He and about 95% of his customers spoke Yiddish. In fact, he kept all of his financial records in Yiddish. He didn’t need anything else.

I thought how many people in Wilmington speak and read Ukrainian? The language is different and the alphabet is much different. I thought that even though I have no formal educational training, I could help someone settle into Wilmington. I do have 22 years of experience as a professor at University of Delaware, teaching accounting, but it’s completely different than teach English and being an accountant for many years I didn’t even have to do a lesson plan.

I started by teaching my student the ABC’s. He is a very bright student and picked that up quickly. He reads very well, but in speaking with him he didn’t understand what he was reading so I decided to teach him every day things that would help him adjust. I began by teaching him street signs in English. They are similar to the ones in Ukraine but he has to learn them in English. I don’t know how much it helped, but he recently received his drivers license! And then I taught him every day things such as family names, clothes, schools, money, and other things he would see every day. He now has a job, and I hope I am helping him get through the early stages of his being in this country. I explained to him that English is very difficult and it takes a long time to learn it.

This program by JFS is something that my grandfather never had and maybe never needed. I think it is very important now.

If you would like to volunteer with JFS Delaware and make a difference in the lives of those we serve, click here. You can also donate to JFS Delaware here.

For the Giving Back issue of the Jewish Living Delaware Magazine, several of our volunteers reflected on why they give back and the impact that volunteering has had on them and the lives of those they serve. Michele Weiner shares her thoughts below.

In his book The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman presents five ways through which we can choose to express love in all kinds of relationships: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service. The secret is to match the language or the way of expressing love to fit the occasion or the mission, or the needs of the loved one.

In my relationships with others who are beyond or outside of my personal sphere, it feels good and right to choose the language of service. Making the conscious choice to love through assisting others who need and want assistance along their life journeys and then engaging in acts of volunteerism ennobles my soul. The choice and the action demonstrate what it means to be created in the image of G-d. As we, the Jewish nation, enslaved in Egypt and living as strangers in a strange land, were redeemed through G-d’s choice, we, too, can make the choice to assist others as they take their journeys to greater freedom and prosperity.

In the Torah we are instructed and commanded multiple times to care for strangers and refugees since we were once strangers, and, certainly more than once, were refugees. The Torah asks me to learn to feel and express empathy through acts of service for those who are estranged and in need. I am asked, I am commanded, to speak this language of love.

I have chosen to support JFS Delaware in its efforts to resettle refugees because I am able to play a small part in JFS’s mission to welcome the stranger and because it is an opportunity for me to expand my capacity to love others unconditionally through the language of service.

If you would like to volunteer with JFS Delaware and make a difference in the lives of those we serve, click here. You can also donate to JFS Delaware here. To view the Give Back article in Jewish Living Delaware, click here.

For the Giving Back issue of the Jewish Living Delaware Magazine, several of our volunteers reflected on why they give back and the impact that volunteering has had on them and the lives of those they serve. Ruth Newman shares her thoughts below.

As I reflect back on this past year of 5783, it stands out to me that one of my most important and personally rewarding endeavors has been the work I have done in tutoring English with a Ukrainian refugee!

It was Basherte that just as I was thinking that I needed to do more to assist Ukrainian refugees, the opportunity to tutor through JFS Delaware presented itself during a meeting of the Jewish Community Group where I live!

As someone who has retired from a long career as a teacher, it was a perfect fit for me to be able to continue teaching, and to branch out into a new area of teaching. I have learned, though, that you need not have experience in the education field to do this work. Jewish Family Services partners with Literacy Delaware, who provides a wonderful training program along with learner assessments and tutoring materials! The hours can be very flexible, and there are options for virtual tutoring.

I look forward each week to working with my learner, who as it turns out, is from an area in Ukraine not all that far from where my father was born. This experience gives me more understanding of the refugee/immigrant hardships and challenges that many of our ancestors and others faced. The learner with whom I work is truly inspiring in her motivation to learn English and help her family adjust to life in the United States, while holding close to thoughts and connections with family members still in Ukraine. I am amazed by her fortitude and pleasantness in the face of all that she and other Ukrainian refugees have been enduring. I am so glad to be able to help her learn English and better understand some aspects of American life.

The support from JFS Delaware has been great, as has been the support from Literacy Delaware. I always feel that there is someone to answer questions and address any issues that arise!

As I look forward to 5784, I wholeheartedly plan to continue with this tutoring work! I would highly recommend that anyone who thinks they might have an interest in tutoring, contact Jewish Family Services of Delaware. I understand that the need for tutors is great!

If you would like to volunteer with JFS Delaware and make a difference in the lives of those we serve, click here. You can also donate to JFS Delaware here. To view the Give Back article in Jewish Living Delaware, click here.