Small Business Spotlight on JFSNEPA

Scranton Chamber of Commerce Member since 2014

Sheila Abdo

Small Business Spotlight on JFSNEPAJ which was founded with one thing in mind: to serve the community.

Jewish Family Service (JFS) of NEPA was founded with one thing in mind: to serve the community.  Open to all faiths and backgrounds, Jewish Family Service is a human service organization whose mission reflects the Jewish tradition of caring and compassion for all people in need. Through professional counseling, advocacy and educational programming, JFS seeks to enhance and strengthen the quality of individual, family and community life.

As executive director Sheila Nudelman Abdo explained, JFS recently celebrated its centennial and has plans to continue its growth and expansion by continuing with its mission of community service and charity.

Can you tell us a little about Jewish Family Service of NEPA? How long have you been in business?

In 1915, concerned community leaders organized to coordinate the relief activities of all service organizations in existence in the Jewish community at the time. They established an organization whose mission was of philanthropic and charitable purpose that was also devoted to improving the quality of life for individuals and families in the Jewish and general community.  This past June, Jewish Family Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania celebrated its 100th anniversary, each year serving hundreds of people who turn to JFS to achieve well-being, health and stability.

What are some of the services you offer to clients? What types of clients do you accommodate?

The largest program at JFS is mental health services.  The organization offers counseling for individuals, couples, families and groups by social workers licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Life can get complicated, and we’re here to help people through their challenges.

The JFS comprehensive approach works for clients of all ages.  JFS social workers are by their client’s sides as advocates working with teachers, employers, physicians and others. The social workers’ assistance extends well beyond the office doors.  Our services seek to enhance and strengthen the quality of individual, family and community life.  JFS is a human service organization that reflects the Jewish tradition of caring and compassion for all people in need, not just those who are Jewish.

In addition to mental health, other JFS services include older adult services and case management, adult guardianship, dental care services, family life education, among others.

How do you envision the Chamber helping to promote your business in the future?

Research shows that each year indirect costs of untreated mental health disorders can result in a more than $80 billion loss to businesses due to decrease of productivity and absenteeism, and  more than one million people miss work every day due to stress at work and home.  JFS joined the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce to make businesses aware of these alarming statistics and to let them know that we can help through mental health counseling or employee assistance programs.  Being aware of a problem is the first step to solving a problem. We, as humans, often wait too long to seek help.

What is something unique about JFS of NEPA that you would like people to know?

Our Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program stabilizes the mental and physical status of those affected by Nazi persecution in order for them to live their remaining years in dignity and as independently as possible. Last year alone,  JFS helped regional Holocaust survivors receive more than $9,000 in financial assistance with monies received from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany Emergency Assistance Program. Since the program has been established in our area, more than a quarter million dollars has been distributed locally.

Our Dental Care Center has been part of JFS since 1920. This unique dental service is one of two such programs affiliated with a JFS in the United States, the other being JFS Atlanta.  The Dental Care Center is collaboration with the Scranton Dental Society and Fortis Institute and it has provided more than $26,000 of free dental care for eligible Lackawanna County residents who are uninsured and unable to afford dental treatment.

How can the community at large get involved with Jewish Family Service of NEPA?

JFS continues to move forward growing through strategic partnerships with other community organizations and building our services and programs within the community. A large portion of our growth is through the generous support of the community itself. JFS relies on the community for donations, funding, volunteers and, most importantly, spreading the word.

Why did you join the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce?

The goal at JFS is to continue to grow within the community and building relationships and networking with community organizations and local businesses is a large part of that. Joining the Chamber is a great way to become part of that community through the Chamber’s programs, events and initiatives.

Small Business Spotlight on JFSNEPA originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Momentum Magazine by the Scranton Chamber of Commerce.  Reprinted with permission.

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