Enhancing Social Support Services in Our Jewish Community

Two years ago, the Jewish Federation of Howard County embarked on an ambitious process to strategically focus our organization on the key needs of the community. Throughout that process, we identified a priority issue to focus on: Seek to engage and support more community members for the sustainability and growth that are essential to keep our community strong. Our leadership understands that supporting community members looks different to people across the life stage spectrum - from young families who are looking for programming to help build strong Jewish identities for their children to older adults who are looking for bereavement support to help them grieve after a loved one passes.

So, in Fall 2021, JFHC launched a Social Support Services Task Force to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the financial, emotional, and emergency needs of the Howard County Jewish Community. The assessment was designed to look at what support has been provided by JFHC in the past, what is currently being provided, and what areas are not being addressed. The goal was to outline the needs and prioritize the areas in which JFHC can have the greatest impact.

The complete report of recommendations set forth by the task force is here. There are overarching strategic suggestions as well as detailed tactical ideas that drill down on how we can optimize the work that we do in this area. Most notably, with our Board of Directors having adopted these task force recommendations, for the first time ever, we will be hiring a full-time social worker to serve as a Social Services Program Manager. This new position will elevate the impact of our volunteer corps and serve a resource to community members who are struggling emotionally and financially. This role was developed specifically in response to the task force’s recommendation to hire a professional who has previous experience in older adults and program development to coordinate our current social support programs/systems and provide case management to community members. If you know of anyone who may be interested in filling this role for us, please share this position description with them.


Additionally, one of the Task Force’s other overarching recommendations was for the Federation to seek out opportunities to collaborate with local organizations to limit the duplication of services and steward our community’s financial resources efficiently. In consideration of the other options that are now available for Jewish hospice and hospital chaplaincy in Howard County through Howard County General Hospital and Gilchrist Cares, the Board has decided to not renew the contracts for our Hospice Chaplain and our Community/Hospital Chaplain.

Finally, we will be creating a new Social Support Services Committee to assist and work with Federation professionals and provide direction to those individuals who are providing direct services to the community. If you are interested in being involved in this committee, please email Joel Frankel at JFrankel@JewishHowardCounty.org.

Thank you so much for everything you do for our community. If you have any questions about the task force’s recommendations, or you just want to get together for coffee to talk about our Jewish community, please do not hesitate to reach out to either of us directly.


Sincerely,

Joel Frankel, Executive Director

Rachael Simon, President