A friend of mine recently told me that he is researching his family history on several “ancestral” websites. So far, he has traced one branch of his family tree back 11 generations to Lithuania in the late 1600’s. As he described his findings to me, I started to think about how many generations JF&CS has helped since it began 150 years ago this month.
As we get ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of JF&CS this year, I wonder if we might have helped anyone in the family trees of some of our clients today. Could the adorable baby being welcomed through our Welcome Baby! program have had a great-great grandmother who was helped with a loan from our predecessor agency when she arrived in America from Eastern Europe in 1910? Did she have a great-grandfather who was placed into a loving family upon coming to America as an orphaned “displaced person” after World War II? Has her grandmother been helped by our Visiting Nurse Association or by one of our programs for people with Parkinson’s disease? Do her parents receive food from JF&CS Family Table, New England’s largest kosher food pantry?
Through the years, we have evolved to help people in many challenging situations, but our mission – our soul – stays the same throughout: We help vulnerable populations. In 1908, we assisted thousands of recent Jewish immigrants who were left homeless by the Great Chelsea Fire. Exactly 100 years later, during the economic crisis of 2008, we paid rent for at-risk families through Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing grants. Although the causes of these crises might have been different, the effects, the outcomes, and our mission stayed the same.
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