(Courtesy of JFS MetroWest) Jewish Family Service of MetroWest (JFS) held its annual gala, “An Evening of Laughter,” on June 1, 2022 outdoors at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. This year, JFS honored the legacy of Maxine Myers, z”l and renamed its volunteer department the Maxine Myers JFS Volunteer Services Department.
Maxine Myers, z”I was a cherished friend, benefactor and longtime board member at JFS who provided leadership funding to assist with JFS Safety Net, the Horizon Endowment and the Rachel Coalition Endowment. Maxine assisted JFS in establishing its Legacy Society and Major Gifts Society and in doing so, strengthened our MetroWest community for generations.
Nearly 200 people attended the event, purchased “Cookies for a Cause” to support the critical needs of our community, and enjoyed comedian Ryan Hamilton.
At the event, JFS also honored some of its volunteers. The following are the 2022 Volunteer Service Award Recipients:
Maxine Myers, z”l, Volunteer Award Recipient: Stephanie Gerstein (West Orange)
Stephanie Gerstein has been a volunteer with JFS since 2015. She is a committed, warm and devoted volunteer who actively serves in many JFS volunteer initiatives for children like Reading Buddies and Listen to Children, and for older adults with Friendly Visiting and Tessie’s Touch. She brings joy, connection and warmth to all her clients, particularly those who are isolated and in need of a supportive companion. She profoundly impacts the clients she serves by always going above and beyond, often adding personal touches that foster deep, meaningful relationships with JFS clients.
Programs Award Recipient:
Gary Berger (Maplewood)
During the pandemic, JFS started a meal delivery program for Holocaust survivors and other vulnerable older adults who would benefit from a socially distant weekly hot meal and check-in. Gary immediately stepped up as a volunteer. He delivers meals to clients across Morris, Essex and Union counties. In addition to delivering meals, Gary delivered care packages of necessities to survivors when supermarket staples were most difficult to get. He is also a part of the virtual Reading Buddies program and reads weekly to students in West Orange.
Reading Buddies Award Recipient: Susan Rueda (Nutley)
Susan Rueda joined Reading Buddies in 2020, one of our most challenging years for the program. Engaging students via Zoom can be difficult, but Susan is energetic, flexible, and great with the children she reads to from Pre-K up to second grade. With her dogs, Leela and Odie, and a variety of hats for humans and canines alike, she has been an instant hit with her classrooms. In addition to two regular classes, Susan has been a last-minute substitute on multiple occasions.
Older Adult Programs
Paul Brownstein (Livingston)
Paul Brownstein is a dedicated Money Management volunteer who has served JFS clients over his five-year tenure in the program. He is a kind, patient and dedicated volunteer who devotes his time and expertise to helping his senior clients remain financially independent. Paul is always willing to go above and beyond, often seeking out new ways to give back to his community.
Medicare Counseling (SHIP) Program Award Recipient:
Ayne Klein-Chasid (East Hanover)
In the almost two years Ayne Klein-Chasid has been a SHIP counselor, she has demonstrated patience and efficiency in counseling clients in the Essex County community. Ayne has received positive feedback from clients who feel more confident and reassured in navigating the complicated Medicare process. Ayne has also taken on the new responsibility of monitoring JFS’s SHIP Helpline to assign referrals of new clients to our roughly 20 SHIP counselors. Ayne has become a great addition to the Essex County SHIP, helping clients to navigate the “twists and turns of Medicare,” as expressed by one of Aynes’ former clients.
JFS MetroWest would like to extend a special thank you to all of its corporate event sponsors for their support, including Sunrise Shoprite (West Caldwell and Parsippany), BNE Real Estate Group, Lereah Financial Group, Shufro Rose Wealth Management, McCarter & English, New Frontier, The Preferred Client Group, The Saritte Harel Team at Keller Williams, Amanda Damesek at Sotheby’s Prominent Properties, Goldman Sachs, Toshiba Business Solutions, and SAX Accounting.
For more information, please call (973) 765-9050 or visit www.jfsmetrowest.org.