Seniors. Special Needs Families. Midtown/Downtown Jewish residents.
These important segments of our Memphis Jewish community, according to Jewish Community Partner (JCP) 2014 Community Needs Assessment, are among several groups whose needs were not being fully met by a Jewish community organization.
Choosing seniors as the first area to tackle, JCP convened the Senior Services Collaborative (SSC) and brought together agency representatives and community members who would address senior needs from a more global perspective, sharing resources and generating strategies to improve ease of access to senior services.
“The Senior Services Collaborative (SSC) is one of the gems of our community,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, JCP staff coordinator of the SSC. “It is comprised of individuals who are passionate about and committed to the wellbeing of Memphis Jewish seniors. And, the Collaborative knows how to get things done. It is a privilege to be part of a group making a real difference and impact in our community.”
The SSC’s first task was to create a more efficient process for seniors to find out what was going on in the community. “We needed one central number or information point that would help seniors connect with the services they needed,” said Bluma. With representatives from each organization sitting around a table together, it was easy enough to talk about what each organization does. The next step was to bring that information together into a single digest of community-wide senior services.
The SSC was able to address this issue by designing, printing and distributing a Senior Services Directory, a large-print, glossy, quad-fold brochure with a comprehensive listing of senior services provided by the Memphis Jewish community, broken down into categories such as Vital Needs, Companionship, Transportation and Wellness. This information is also available in digital form at www.memphisjewishseniors.org. The costs were covered by a grant from Jewish Foundation fund holders Patti and Bill Weiss.
The printed brochure and website were finalized in March 2017, with brochures mailed directly to seniors’ homes. Extra copies of the brochure are available at the JCP office, Memphis congregations, and local agencies serving Jewish seniors, as well as at independent and assisted living facilities, geriatric medical offices and hospitals.
“The senior directory and website has been very helpful to me as a resource to provide both to seniors and to their caregivers,” noted Janet Rubin, Intake, Referral, and Volunteer Coordinator for Jewish Family Service at the MJCC. “A lot of people come in to ask about navigating the process of moving their loved ones to Memphis, and they want to know what services will be available once they make that transition. I give them the directory, which makes it easy for them to follow up as needed with the appropriate service providers.”
Building on its first success, the SSC also applied for a “Fedovation” grant from Memphis Jewish Federation to hire a Roving Jewish Activities Coordinator who would provide Jewish content and engagement opportunities to Memphis Jewish seniors currently isolated from Jewish engagement. The grant was approved enabling the SSC to move forward with the hiring process. Recently Hillary (Hilly) Safier was offered the position and is eagerly connecting with community seniors.
“When we first began talking about forming the Senior Services Collaborative a year and a half ago, I never would have imagined how much we’d have accomplished in such a short time!” said an enthused Joel Ashner, Director of Community Relations for Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab and chair of the SSC.
Here’s to more good work to come.