By Young-In Shin, LSW
Can you remember a time when you felt alone or vulnerable? Perhaps it was after a move to a new area, after the loss of a parent, or a job or simply just a tough day. You may have wished you had someone to talk to who could be impartial and nonjudgmental. Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties (JFS) has created a program designed to address these needs for families with elementary school age or younger children. Our Family Mentor Program matches volunteers with families with these kinds of feelings of vulnerability. And, our volunteers tell how much they receive in return; especially the satisfaction of helping someone else by giving back what they have learned.
Ms. Jackson, a single mother to 2 children, was matched with Tina who is also a mother. Ms. Jackson has a medical condition that has left her with nerve damage which causes difficulty in speaking. She struggled to navigate the school system for her children as well as adjust to a new town they recently moved to. Tina visited Ms. Jackson weekly and they spent their time doing different things. Sometimes they filled out necessary paperwork and sometimes Tina and Ms. Jackson just talked. Tina listened to Ms. Jackson’s feelings about her deteriorating health and struggles of managing young children. Ms. Jackson said “Tina is a huge help to me and I’m truly thankful. She provides her opinion and helps me think things through.” Tina also feels rewarded every time Ms. Jackson and the kids’ faces brighten when she comes to visit.
Read more from JFS here: https://www.theconnectionsnj.com/jfs-launches-new-volunteer-programs-to-assist-seniors/
This is one of the ways our mentors support the families in the program. Our volunteers are called “a friend, a role model, huge help and listening ears” by the families. They are a consistent presence and sounding board for the family. Through The Family Mentor Program, families receive emotional support and the volunteers make a difference in the community by building healthy relationships.
The next volunteer training will be held in September 2019. If you are interested in more information about becoming a volunteer or attending the fall volunteer training, please contact JFS at 908 725-7799 to speak with Young-In Shin. If you, or someone you know could benefit from having a volunteer, please call us, as well.
The Family Mentor Program is supported through grants from the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and the Somerset Board of Chosen Freeholders. Services are provided at no cost to the family.
JFS is a not for profit, nonsectarian social service agency serving the needs of individuals and families in Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties since 1980. JFS is committed to serving the needs of the entire community and offers a continuum of programs and services. Licensed clinical social workers provide individual, couple and family counseling as well as geriatric assessments, supportive counseling and case management services for home bound elderly. The Family and Senior Mentor Programs recruits, trains and matches volunteers with vulnerable young families or with elderly persons for friendly, supportive, in-home visits; Families with children with special needs are assisted through social groups, parent groups and through the Family Mentor Program. The Senior Shopper, Cooking Companion Project and Good Deeds Corp provide friendly home visits for seniors. Career Counseling helps individuals in many aspects of their job search. Ohr Tikvah-Light of Hope Jewish Healing Services offers presentations, support groups, and individual spiritual counseling to address the health, wellness and healing needs of the community. All information is confidential. Many programs are at no cost, on a sliding fee scale or payable through third party insurance. If you are interested in learning more about JFS’ programs, please contact us at (908)725-7799, visit our website: www.JewishFamilySvc.org, like us on Facebook. Jewish Family Service of SHW, Inc. 150-A West High Street, Somerville, NJ 08876.