JFS Timeline

1867 – 1900

The Jewish Community organizes the Hebrew Relief Society. It has no paid staff and a budget of only a few hundred dollars. Funds are raised through dues, fund solicitations and charity balls. David Adler elected first president.

The Agency assists in resettlement of over 700 Russian Refugees. A warehouse on Water Street is rented to house the refugees.
The Agency’s first Charity Ball raises $830.

The Hebrew Relief Society is renamed The Hebrew Relief Association and is incorporated by charter. The Agency’s mission is expanded to assist and integrate many Jewish refugees from Russia and other European Countries.

A “collector” is employed to secure funds for financial relief.

1901 – 1950

The Hebrew Relief Association helps organize The Federated Jewish Charities (now the Milwaukee Jewish Federation).

The first trained superintendent is employed.

Russian Aid Society of Milwaukee is formed.

Charles Friend is elected president. He serves for thirty-two years.

The first woman is elected to the Board of Directors.

The Agency locates its first permanent office at 10th and Walnut Street.

A trained nurse is hired, “To give mothers instructions”.

The Hebrew Relief Association helps organize the Society for the Care of Dependent Jewish Children.
The Agency’s concern about the lack of medical care leads to the establishment of medical services. This becomes the nucleus for the Outpatient Department at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

The Sol Fein Memorial Dental Clinic is established by the Agency.

The Hebrew Relief Association is renamed the Jewish Social Service Association and moves to 10th and North Avenue.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Milwaukee Jewish Orphans Home is formed.

The Jewish Children’s Home is opened at 403 N. 21st Street. Many of the residents are refugee children.
The Agency receives its first child welfare license from the State. 26 children are placed in foster or boarding homes.

The first nursery school is established by the Agency and Abraham Lincoln House becomes the nucleus of the present UWM Nursery School and Day Care Center.
The Agency hires its first trained social worker.

Rebecca Tennenbaum is employed as executive director and serves until 1966.

The Agency arranges its first “recorded” adoption.

The Agency moves to Third and North Avenue.

The Great Depression necessitates new vocational programs that later become Jewish Vocational Services. A Self-Help Fund assists the unemployed and immigrants to establish their own small businesses.

The Agency establishes a separate and distinct Refugee/Migration Department.

The Agency expands children’s services to include psychological testing and child guidance.
The Agency becomes licensed to place children for adoption.

At the urging and with the support of the Federal Works Progress Administration, the Agency and its Ladies Auxiliary create a nursery school and day care center. It later emerges as the Edith Babbitz Nursery School.
The Jewish Orphan Home name changes its name to Milwaukee Jewish Children’s Home.

The Agency moves to 2218 N. Third Street.

The Sunshine Club begins and becomes forerunner of the present Golden Age Club.

The end of World War II brings a flood of Hitler’s Jewish victims and another increase in refugee and immigration services. The Agency resettles several unaccompanied minors.

The Agency expands services to children through a merger with Milwaukee Jewish Children’s Home. This merger is acknowledged with a new name — Jewish Family & Children’s Services.

Family counseling services are broadened and a psychiatric consultant is added to the staff.
The Agency is accredited and joins Family Service of America.
The Agency honors Persion Family for serving as foster parents for 25 years and caring for over 20 children.

Margaret Miller is the first woman to be elected president of the agency.
The Jewish Children’s Home moves to 50th and Wright Street.

1951 – 1990

Fee charging for counseling services is implemented.

The Ladies Auxiliary offers a variety of family life education programs including an annual Mother’s conference.

A group home for adolescents is established at 6333 W. Keefe Avenue.

Ralph Sherman is appointed executive director.
The Agency’s innovative consultative relationship with Hillel Academy leads to a substantive support service for the community’s Communal agencies and schools. From that start, the Agency’s Consultation Service grows to serve B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, Hillel Academy, Yeshiva Elementary School, Jewish Community Center Nursery School, J.C.C. Day Camp and Camp Interlaken.

The Agency moves from Third Street office to Plankinton Building.
Adoption Services are discontinued after assurance from Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin that they will place Jewish children in Jewish homes.

The Agency becomes the first traditional social service Agency to employ an outreach street worker in response to the “hippie” and counterculture movements.

The Ladies Auxiliary becomes an affiliate of the total Agency.

The Agency’s first professional volunteer coordinator establishes the Volunteer Services. Department separate from the longstanding volunteer services orchestrated by the Ladies Auxiliary.
The Agency moves to the Helfaer Building.

Under Edith Klein’s leadership, the Share Shop is opened to serve the community at large.

The Agency’s foster care services are discontinued as there are few children in need of placement as the agency has adopted the “Family Treatment” model of therapy.

The Agency establishes a child care (day care) center as an integrated program with the Jewish Community Center for 12 children. It later becomes the Jewish Family Services Child Development Center and served nearly 100 annually.
The Jewish Childrens’ Home property is sold to Jewish Vocational Services on a land contract basis.
The Ladies Auxiliary name is changed to FRIENDS to expand its membership to men.
New By-Laws are developed.

The Agency is certified as an Outpatient Mental Health facility by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, thereby enabling clients to use their health insurance to cover counseling fees.

Golda Meir House is built in 1981 to answer the housing needs of the elderly. It is home to up to 150 residents. The social service component of Golda Meir House is developed jointly by the Agency and the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

FRIEND’S members become Corporate Members of the Agency without a separate board or officers.
The Agency joins with the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and establishes the Exceptional Needs program. The goal of the Exceptional Needs Department is to help clients reach their highest level of independence with the best quality of life.

An Exceptional Needs Program is established as a distinct service.

Housing for Adult Developmentally Disabled is established. The Agency leases four apartment units to provide housing and services for eight developmentally disabled persons. Guardianship and Conservatorship programs are established, primarily for Exceptional Needs clients.

JFS begins supervising a Chaplaincy Program.

The Agency changes its name to Jewish Family Services, Inc. (JFS) to reflect its many services to all generations.

JFS establishes the Jewish Community Task Force on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.

Elliot Lubar is appointed executive director.
A Late Life Counseling program in partnership with Milwaukee County is developed to serve the homebound elderly.

Subsidized Home Care evolves through a Federation grant.

1991 – 2005

The Habush Family donates to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation an apartment complex for housing developmentally disabled adults… now named Habush House.

JFS procures over $1,000,000 as a result of its first Endowment Campaign.

JFS opens its first North Shore satellite office.
Lifetime Services are implemented as a distinct service.

Betty and Sidney Lieberman donate an apartment building to be used for housing for those with chronic mental illness.
The Board approves the employment of a Director of Development and Planned Giving.
The JFS KEYS office is opened – an outreach facility for Soviet immigrant adolescents who are enrolled in the Shorewood School system.

The Agency assists in development of the Coalition on Violence and opens a Hot Line staffed by volunteers.
A nurse is employed to enhance the well-being of elderly clients.

The LinkAges program is developed to assure continuum of care, primarily for older adults.

An Infant Day Care program begins at the Child Development Center.
A Separate department called Services to Refugees and Russian Speakers is established to more effectively serve that population.

The Kosher Mobile Meal program begins, providing home-based clients who are elderly or disabled with a Kosher meal in their home or an area hospital.
KESHET, a program which supports individuals with diverse abilities, becomes part of JFS. Through educational, cultural and social services within the Wisconsin Jewish community, Keshet provides each individual with high quality services to enhance the quality of life for themselves and their family.
Jewish Family Services raises $4.7 million, which enables the Agency to purchase, renovate, furnish and endow its new headquarters building at 1300 N. Jackson Street.
Jewish Family Services opens its new facility on Monday, November 26, 2001.
That spring, the Boards of JFS and Keshet vote to make the Keshet program part of Jewish Family Services.

The JFS Jackson Street Child Development Center opened in February, caring for 9 infants ages 6 weeks to five years.

Because of the success with older adult Russian immigrants, JFS, in collaboration with the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, provides care for frail older adults (Family Care). This is a highly successful program, saving lives and maintaining a quality of life for over 300 clients. JFS is the second largest care management unit in the community.
Pathways to Wellness, a program of JFS which cares for the mind, body and spirit, is funded by a grant from the Jewish Outreach Institute, who is in turn funded by the Helen Bader Foundation.

Our Child Development Center program merges with the JCC in June and the day care facility at 1300 N. Jackson St. is closed.
The new Adoption Services program receives a grant from the Helen Bader Foundation to offer adoption services, counseling and support for families looking to adopt or who have already adopted.

Golda Meir House, a 125-unit apartment building for the elderly, celebrates 25 years! JFS provides various social services, as well as educational activities for and with the residents, through a collaborative effort with the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

Six Critical Conversations: Talking with Your Teen receives funding from the Helen Bader Foundation, to provide programming to parents of pre-teens and teens. The focus is on creating a dialogue on sensitive topics such as sex, dating abuse, internet safety, character development and media literacy.

Elliot Lubar retired as the Executive Vice President. Sylvan Leabman is appointed as the President/CEO.

The Masterpiece: Style & Speed Showcase holds its first annual show on Milwaukee’s Lakefront. This is an effort of the Wisconsin Region Classic Car Club of America with proceeds benefitting the Exceptional Needs programs of JFS.

2006 – 2007

JFS is re-accredited by the Council on Accreditation.

JFS becomes a licensee of the Kids in the Middle program out of St. Louis which offers counseling services for children whose parents are separated and/or going through divorce. JFS will be the exclusive provider of their services in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Waukesha counties. Funding for this unique program was received from the Jewish Community Foundation and the Jewish Women’s Endowment Fund.

The Exceptional Needs Advisory Panel creates a strategic plan to provide more services for exceptional needs individuals and their families throughout their life cycle.

JFS receives a grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to support an Infant Bonding Program. JFS will provide cross training to day care providers, as well as Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses and parents to make them aware of the signs and potential long-term effects caused by a lack of bonding and attachment, which are essential to preventing a lifetime of serious mental health problems.

The mental health clinic continues to receive approvals to become preferred providers for many of the large insurance agencies, making their quality professional services more affordable and readily available.

JFS receives an extremely competitive Community Initiatives grant from the Helen Bader Foundation to create a Health & Wellness Center for Eastern European Immigrants. This is a collaborative project with JFS and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

In October, JFS celebrated five years at our Jackson Street location with an Open House.

The Winter Ball is held in January to celebrate Milwaukee’s Russian Community. The event is a success, with great food, music and camaraderie enjoyed by the 200 guests.

The Leadership Development Program began with 12 members of the Jewish Family Services staff. With the support of a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation, the team has worked independently and in groups on their management skills, communication, time management and future goals, as part of the agency’s succession planning process.

On May 6, 2007 JFS collaborated with the Task Force on Family Violence and Sojourner Truth House on Walk a Mile in Her Shoes – a special event which asked men to walk one mile in women’s high heels to raise awareness of the agencies’ domestic violence prevention programs and advocacy work. The issues were addressed with the support of presenting sponsor Verizon Wireless, the community partners at the Milwaukee Police Department, the City of Milwaukee Department of Health, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University, and over 450 walkers.

Clinical staff completed their first home study under the agency’s adoption program.

JFS celebrates its 140th anniversary and honors its past Presidents and former Executive Vice President Elliot Lubar for their Leadership, Legends and Legacies. Bart Starr delivers his keynote address to over 450 guests.

The Young Adults Independence Project is working with 23 families to develop group homes for young adults with developmental disabilities. This project is the fulfillment of the goals of the Exceptional Needs Strategic Plan to provide services for individuals between the ages of 13 – 34. S. Michele Cohen was hired as the Exceptional Needs Manager to oversee the program’s implementation.

A Kids in the Middle® Advisory Panel was created as part of the new business plan for KIM. This unique program, as well as our other divorce-related therapy, has given multiple JFS staff the opportunity to appear on television and radio programs. The Advisory Panel will assist with outreach efforts to judges and family law attorneys, school districts and pediatricians to help ensure that kids stuck “in the middle” of their parent’s separation or divorce receive the help they need.

JFS received a grant from the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society for its Healthy Marriages Initiative. This project will address relationship issues for couples from the Former Soviet Union, the Former Yugoslavia, and American couples. Courses will focus on developing communication skills in a new cultural environment; parental communication as a role model for children, conflict resolution and potential financial challenges. This is an extension of existing JFS services to new Americans.

Adults and Children Together – Against Violence (ACT) received funding from the Child Abuse Prevention Fund and the Jewish Women’s Endowment Fund to continue our work at Meta House to help mothers in treatment develop appropriate expectations of their child’s behavior and increase parenting skills such as anger management, positive discipline, social problem solving and media literacy.

With the support of the Charles E. Kubly Foundation, the Jewish Community Foundation and the Helen Bader Foundation, the Mental Health Education Project continues another year of work towards reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.

Joy Appel retired as the Vice President of the Clinic and Counseling Division after more than 25 years at the agency. Todd Ephraim, PhD was hired as the new Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of the Clinic and Counseling Services.

Jewish Family Services is the 2nd largest provider of Family Care in Milwaukee County. Our caseload continues to increase, and we are currently providing care management services to over 450 older adults.

Jewish Family Services signed a one year contract to provide Service Coordination to residents in the Park Hill Apartments at 5th and Concordia in Milwaukee. The building is being remodeled and JFS is extremely excited to be a part of this project.

The Older Adult Division hosted its first annul Hanukkah Party at the Jackson Street location. The room was filled with clients and staff enjoying latkes, lighting the menorah and singing holiday songs.

2008 – 2009

JFS received a contract from the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services Economic Support Division to provide Food Stamp recertification to those limited English speaking immigrants who are entitled to Food Share program support.

JFS continues to be a significant provider of Family Care, care management services for low-income adults over the age of 60 in Milwaukee County, serving over 550 member clients during the year.

JFS received $10.4 million in Affordable Housing Section 42 tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and closed on Deerwood Crossing, a 66 unit affordable housing apartment building. Construction will begin in summer 2009 with a projected completion/move-in date of summer 2010. Associated Development Corporation became the Tax Credit investor. As part of this project, JFS Housing, Inc. was created with the purpose of developing housing to support the mission of JFS. A lead gift from the Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust helped solidify the financials aspects of Deerwood Crossing, which will be a Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC) under Wisconsin law.

The Young Adults Independence Project participant mailing list reached 40 households.

JFS began a support group specifically for individuals with developmental disabilities and chronic mental illness to address living with their diagnosis.
Over 375 individuals attend the Community Mental Health Education Conference on depression and suicide awareness.

JFS partnered with Children’s Outing Association to offer an art therapy class for children who have witnessed or experienced gun violence in their home.

The American Psychological Association (APA)-approved Raising Safe Kids parenting program, to continue to work with mothers who are recovering addicts. Meta House and JFS were included in an APA national study of the efficacy of the Raising Safe Kids program, along with seven other sites across the country.

The Honor Your Aging Parent Wellness program presented information to over 130 participants to increase caregiver knowledge of available resources and to increase their comfort level in having difficult conversations with a loved one about issues of aging.

Gina Botshtein, Vice President of Older Adult Services, was named one of Milwaukee’s “Top 40 Under 40” by Milwaukee Magazine and MRA-The Management Association.

The Bayshore Town Center office was expanded and remodeled to office space for individual sessions and a group room was added, providing confidentiality and convenience for our clients.

2009 – 2010

In May 2010, Jewish Family Services was named one the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Top 100 Workplaces. JFS was ranked among the top 100 employers in Southeastern Wisconsin. JFS was ranked 5th in the “small company” sector, based on survey responses from our employees.

JFS received a grant from the Alliance for Children and Families to serve as a mentor agency to a peer organization in Alabama who is looking to develop and strengthen its programming to older adults. The grant is part of the New Age of Aging, a major five-year initiative designed to help prepare human service organizations to better serve older adults, as well as utilize their many skills through volunteerism or professional assistance. JFS was one of 10 agencies selected though a competitive, national process to receive the grant.

Deerwood Crossing, a 66-unit independent and assisted living affordable housing complex for seniors located in Brown Deer, opened at the end of June 2010. This project was the result of $10.4 million in WHEDA Section 42 tax credits and a lead gift from the Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust. Associated Development Corp. is the tax credit investor.

On January 1, 2010 the former Fighting Back, Inc. became a division of Jewish Family Services. As a community leader, Fighting Back aims to reduce substance abuse and provide drug-, tobacco- and alcohol-free lifestyle options for youth in Milwaukee.
Fighting Back serves as a broker that provides resources and technical assistance to youth-serving agencies in Milwaukee County. This, in turn, builds the capacity of these agencies to better serve and address the needs of youth and the community.

Jewish Family Services, Inc. was awarded a $150,000 grant from the Division of Public Health, Department of Health Services to coordinate the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN) through its Fighting Back division. The mission of WAATPN is to utilize education, advocacy, community empowerment, research, and policy change strategies to reduce the health disparities experienced by African Americans due to exposure to tobacco use and environmental tobacco smoke. JFS will work with several community partners including St. Gabriel Church, Jump at the Sun Consultants, and Urban Underground to educate people about the health disparities relative to African Americans and to help promote the Statewide ban on indoor smoking that takes effect July 5, 2010. The WAATPN will concentrate its efforts in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Beloit by working with African American churches and by connecting with youth in these communities. WAATPN will also work to reach other communities throughout the State that have African American populations.

Sylvan Leabman, President/CEO and James Welsh, Vice President of Clinical and Care Management Division, were appointed to serve as a member of the statewide Task Force for the Chief Justices’ Criminal Justice Mental Health Leadership Initiative. The leadership initiative on mental health and the criminal justice system is a national project in its third year designed to assist Supreme Court justices, together with state leaders in developing strategic plans to improve responses to people with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system. Task force members will focus on areas of contact with the criminal justice system including initial contact through sentencing. Following the summit, volunteer courts and communities that are interested in piloting the task force’s recommended practices will be sought.

JFS continued to partner with St. Catherine Residence to provide care management services to their residents. Our staff provided assistance in accessing government entitlements, including Title 19 and other medical coverage and Food Share, finding permanent housing arrangements and identifying underlying health issues and coordinating care. They have also been invited to join our weekly socialization program, the Sandy Naimon Breakfast Club. The Breakfast Club is a safe and consistent activity for JFS clients who have severe and persistent mental illness to interact in a non-marginalized setting for fun, food and companionship.

The Parents Raising Safe Kids program expanded its services to UMOS.

During the past school year, JFS started a pilot program in which clinical staff would provide onsite counseling in 2 Milwaukee Charter schools, Wings Academy and The Milwaukee Cyberschool. The program was a success and will be continued in these schools during the next school year. While there is great demand for JFS to expand the program for other schools, any plans for expansion will gradual as not to extend our existing staff.

2010 – 2011

JFS began “H.O.P.E. – Helping Offenders Process Emotions” to supplement and enhance group treatment that men receive after a domestic violence offense. However, JFS identified a gap in services created by the BadgerCare program – that mental health counseling was not a covered service for men, while it was for women and children. Additionally, many of these offenders also struggle with a mental health issue or have not been successful in group treatment. Our individual therapy approach, helps the men accept their mental illness and the relationship between their illness and their abuse behaviors. A grant from the Elizabeth Brinn Foundation provided seed money to remove the financial barrier for clients on BadgerCare or without insurance coverage.

Another new clinical program, P.E.A.C.E. (Processing Emotions and Communicating Effectively), will combine Parent Communication Coaching (PCC) with a therapeutic component and will allow clients to utilize insurance or a sliding-fee scale based on income. P.E.A.C.E is approximately 6-10 sessions and will include a comprehensive assessment of each individual in addition to their co-parenting relationship. The relationship between the parents and their child(ren) will also be assessed, with education and prevention, if necessary, being tailored to each unique family’s needs. This program is most appropriate for parents entrenched in a high level of conflict that cannot be resolved using traditional parent coaching. These parents are more likely to be successful in a co-parenting relationship once the therapeutic impasse has been addressed.

The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center approached Jewish Family Services to address the immediate need of access to quality mental health services for low-income, uninsured and underinsured LGBT people and their allies. Since last year, the Community Center has been providing referrals to the JFS clinic, and formalized the partnership with a successful proposal to the Johnson Family Foundation. This funding will be used to develop and implement a three year plan to establish and administer a fully-functioning, independent, licensed outpatient mental health clinic for LGBT people and allies in greater Milwaukee. At the end of the three year grant period, the culturally competent program will be widely recognized within the LGBT community as a safe and trusted community resource.

JFS collaborated with Movin’ Out to identify 10 one bedroom apartments in Glendale at which young adults with developmental disabilities can live independently and receive supportive services from JFS.

JFS received tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to fund Bradley Crossing, a 66-unit apartment building which will be marketed to individuals with physical and development disabilities. Bradley Crossing will be a 60 unit apartment complex which promotes the independence and integration for those individuals requiring support services and other forms of assistance. It will be a community of inclusion, welcoming those individuals with developmental and other physical or behavioral disabilities who are eligible for long-term supportive services.

Exceptional Needs programming added “Supported Journeys”, a psycho-educational support group for families and friends of persons whose lives are challenged by severe and persistent mental illness. Participants receive support, encouragement, understanding and hope as well as resources to help maintain an optimal level of functioning for their loved one.

JFS received over $750,000 from the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division to support alcohol and drug prevention programming through Fighting Back. Through partnerships with PEARLS for Teen Girls, Diverse & Resilient, Inc., Boys & Girls Club and the Medical College of Wisconsin, youth in Milwaukee County will receive programming directed at reducing the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Fighting Back, a program of Jewish Family Services, received the Community Partner Award from Rainbow Alliance for Youth/Diverse & Resilient in recognition of significant and outstanding dedication to the healthy development of the LGBT community.

The Older Adult division held 10 community educational programs which attracted more than 260 participants. Topics ranged from caregiver stress to how to age in style to end of life issues from a Jewish perspective. A new relationship with Congregation Beth Israel will create programming for their seniors and encourage wellness and understanding during the aging process. These outreach efforts have resulted in a surge of requests for our LinkAges Care Management and Homecare services, which provide support and assistance to seniors, allowing them to age with dignity and respect.

Jewish Family Services and the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center partnered with the national organization of Sharsheret, to offer breast cancer resources and support to the Jewish community. The mission of Sharsheret, which means link in Hebrew, is to offer a community of support to women diagnosed with breast cancer or at increased genetic risk, by fostering culturally-relevant individualized connections with networks of peers, health professionals, and related resources.

2011 – 2012

After a decade in our Jackson Street home, JFS undertook a modest remodeling project whose goal was greater efficiency through updated use of space. Members of the Clinical staff now have their own dedicated offices, which is used for both therapy and administrative purposes. The many programs under Older Adult Services (Family Care, Geriatric Care Management, Social Services to Russian Speakers) is now located on the same floor; increase storage throughout the agency and accounting functions and storage are all in proximity to one another

The JFS Board of Directors undertook a new three year Strategic Plan which began on July 1, 2011. The focus of the plan is to strengthen the agency’s organizational sustainability, including financial viability; programmatic impact and leadership. To meet these goals, JFS will continue to provide and expand support services that meet client and community needs in a financial manner that reduces the unrestricted subsidy these programs require and leverages our existing overhead; increase understanding of Jewish Family Services among key constituencies in our community resulting in increased philanthropic support; pursue ability to meet the growing need for older adult housing, housing for exceptional needs individuals and onsite services and strengthen JFS with the necessary governance, infrastructure and staff to support the mission and activities of the organization.

Villard Square is a new $10 Million, mixed-use development that provides housing for older adults and their grandchildren and other multi-generational families. The GrandFamily project opened on August 1st with a JFS Service Coordinator on-site to provide social services and connect families to community resources.

Jewish Family Services, Partnership2Gether, the Jewish Home and Care Center and the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center organized a delegation of four social workers from the Sovev Kinneret region in November of 2011. The social workers specialized in various fields but the central focus of the mission was Holocaust survivors and post-traumatic stress disorder. A conference was held in the community, to which professionals from various organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, including representatives from the rehabilitation hospital were invited.

JFS was notified of a $400,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to support the construction of Bradley Crossing Supportive Housing, a 60 unit affordable apartment complex located in the Village of Brown Deer. Bradley Crossing will be a community of inclusion, with one-half of the apartments being reserved for individuals with physical or developmental disabilities who are eligible for long-term supportive services.

The Volunteer Services Program Advisory Committee began in March, 2012. The goals of the committee are to strengthen the current volunteer services program and to enhance volunteer engagement in accordance with the Jewish Family Services mission. Members of the committee are current and former Direct Service volunteers with the experience and insight to provide guidance and direction for the Volunteer Services Program.

The Older Adults Division continued its programming for professionals, local agencies and synagogues. An on-going program on end of life issues for various populations continued this year, with subject matter including the LGBT community, African American and Holocaust Survivors. Additional education programming was provided on benefits for refugees, Family Care and other benefit programs, and for Second Generation Holocaust survivors.

Clinical and Care Management staff participated in various Family Life Education programs throughout the community, partnering with organizations such as Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee, Community Mental Health Education Coalition, LGBT Community Center and Independence First.

JFS continued its wellness programming for staff with presentations from physicians and other health care professionals. Topics included chronic pain management, stress reduction, functional medicine, and nutrition. Employees also participated in walking and weight management programs, as well as in a healthy salad lunch option in partnership with a neighboring supermarket.

Fighting Back sponsored John Underwood’s presentation, “Life of An Athlete” to over 475 students to promote the character development and accountability among young athletes that builds better teams, better athletes and ultimately better adults.

2012 – 2013

The mental health clinic was successful in reaching its target population – those individuals in our community who have limited resources to access mental health counseling services. The clinic set records for clients seen (870) for the fifth consecutive year. The clinic also set a record for the fourth consecutive year by seeing a total of individual, couple and family sessions in a year by having 8,170 sessions.

On June 1, 2013, the clinic opened a new office in Brown Deer, located at Bradley Crossing Supportive Housing Community. In addition to the convenience to our local clients, the new site provides us with the opportunity to promote our services to residents of Germantown and Menomonee Falls.

For over fifteen years, JFS has held a contract with the Milwaukee County Department on Aging to support our Late Life Counseling program. This program offers in-home therapeutic services to homebound adults over the age of 60, who live in Milwaukee County with physical and/or emotional problems which limits their ability to seek outpatient services. JFS provided 1,286 hours of direct service to 73 individuals who received support through the Late Life Counseling program.
The success of our Exceptional Needs Garden Club resulted in the addition of 2 new raised beds; bringing our total to 6 on-site at JFS’ downtown offices. Once again, members of the Sandy Naimon Breakfast Club planted, tended and harvested fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

In 2012, The Young Adults Independence Project (YAIP) held 12 programs for clients, accounting for a total participation level of 199. Topics included life skills building sessions on how to make smart decisions, understanding safety, health and nutrition, boundaries, money management, healthy relationships, managing stress and hygiene. YAIP programs provide an opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities to learn basic skills that will allow them to thrive as independently as possible. As part of our YAIP programming, JFS staff provided two psycho-educational programming for parents to help them learn to let go and how to prepare their young adult and themselves for a move to independence.

Kids In The Middle (KITM) provides a safe place where children whose parents were never married or in the midst of a separation or divorce can understand the changes in their families, express their feelings, and learn how to handle new situations which will result in better peer relationships, stronger family bonds and improvement in their scholastic efforts. Because of the generosity of our funders, we are able to ensure that anyone in need of help received the support and guidance they needed from JFS. This year, the group therapy program was offered at no charge to participants. This resulted in a surge in enrollment that—for the first time ever—warranted the addition of a KITM summer program at JFS.

Beginning in September 2012, JFS added Milwaukee College Preparatory School as a new location for providing on-site mental health counseling to students. JFS psychotherapists continued to offer mental health services at the Central City Cyberschool and for the Village of Brown Deer school system. In September 2013, JFS began providing clinical services to the students at Nativity Jesuit Middle School.

The primary goal of the LinkAges program is to establish secure and stable living environments and the social and family networks older adults need to live healthy, independent lives. In the last three years, we have nearly tripled the number of clients we are serving annually – from 38 to 93. This tremendous growth also demands a tremendous need for resources to support those clients who avail themselves of our sliding fee scale. This allows individuals who “fall through the cracks” to receive the supportive services they need to stay independent without having to deplete their small life savings.

During the last fiscal year, Family Care served over 456 members over the age of 60. Additionally, 84 members with a concurrent diagnosis of a severe and persistent mental health challenge or an intellectual disability received support from the JFS Family Care CMU.

Milwaukee County Department of Family Care continues to set ambitious outcome goals for each CMU. The performance outcomes for the JFS Care Management Unit have averaged 91% during the past year, placing us in the top five of the twenty Family Care agencies in Milwaukee County.

JFS’ Family Care CMU was targeted to receive members who have been identified as eligible under the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration grant. These individuals have been placed in an institutional setting, most often a nursing home, for over 90 days and are able to relocate to the community with the help of long-term care services. This grant provides the State of Wisconsin with enhanced Federal Medical Assistance funding for the first year that each eligible member remains in the community, which ultimately supports Home and Community Based Services.

2013 – 2014

The JFS Family Care program was recognized by Milwaukee County as the #1 Care Management Unit for the fiscal year 2013 – 2014. Over 600 individuals received support from a JFS care manager and registered nurse, helping them to remain as independent as possible by providing advocacy and mental health services, coordinating medical appointments, personal care and direct service volunteers.

Through the generosity of a grant from the Salinsky Program to Feed the Hungry at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, JFS has been able to expand the Feeding America Southeast Wisconsin Mobile Food Pantry to residents at Villard Square Grandfamily and JFS Housing. We will offer quarterly opportunities for residents to receive hundreds of pounds of food and paper goods free of charge in the coming year.

JFS, along with representatives from the Jewish Home and Care Center, Chai Point, the Jewish Community Center and the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, formed a task force to discuss and collaborate on programming available in the community for Jewish seniors. These conversations resulted in JFS opening licensed clinical offices at Chai Point and the Jewish Home in order to conveniently and easily provide mental health services to their residents or any family members.

We received funding from Milwaukee County to partner with Our Space to provide Peer Support Specialists at Bradley Crossing Supportive Housing Community. Together with JFS staff, the Peer Specialists will work one-on-one and in groups with residents living with chronic mental illness. Bradley Crossing is comprised of 60 apartments, of which half were reserved for individuals with disabilities. A planned 54-unit expansion will be completed by the end of 2015.

Through a partnership with the Jewish Home and Care Center, JFS delivered over 2,000 Kosher Mobile meals to homes, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for people who want to maintain their Jewish traditions.

Our state-licensed mental health clinic is on pace to eclipse our record of client sessions. Last year, we provided over 8,170 sessions with clients, and we are projecting 8,300 for 2014-2015.
Because of our strong partnership with the Milwaukee County Family Court system, we received many referrals for our Kids In The Middle program. Four cycles of KITM were held this year, and we were able to offer them free of charge to children coping with family transitions like separation or divorce. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, all children were able to receive the help they needed, regardless of their families’ financial situations.

The clinic added Nativity Jesuit Middle School, to our in-school counseling program. JFS is the first agency in Southeast Wisconsin that has licensed clinicians on site at schools. In addition to Nativity, JFS also sees clients at Central City Cyberschool and the Brown Deer School District.

A second clinic and care management branch office was opened inside Bradley Crossing Supportive Housing Community in July. In addition to Bradley Crossing, clients can also be seen at our Bayshore or downtown offices.

With support of the trustees, the Lieberman Apartments were sold by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. The funds will be put into an Endowment Fund to benefit Jewish Family Services.
Disabilities Care Management staff began an on-going collaboration with the JCC’s Chaverim program to provide skill building education to members of our community with developmental disabilities.

A 30-unit expansion of Deerwood Crossing Senior Residences opened in June, bringing the total of apartments to 96 at this facility. Only seven total are at market rate, with 89 at affordable rental rates. Deerwood is an “age in place” facility, which allows residents to move from independent to assisted living, changing the level of services required based on their changing needs.

2014 – 2015

The JFS certified outpatient mental health clinics continued to see a steady increase in both the number of children and adults receiving services and the number of hours of service provided. During the last fiscal year, 979 clients, 40% of whom were at or below the poverty level, relied on JFS for quality mental health support. This is a significant increase from five years ago, when 539 clients were seen in our clinics.

Through a partnership with Jewish Home and Care Center and Chai Point, JFS is now offering mental health services to residents and their families on-site. We also added the Lighthouse Charter School to the list of schools where JFS offers on-site mental health services to children.

By the end of the fiscal year, JFS Housing will consist of 210 affordably priced apartments in the Village of Brown Deer. Deerwood Crossing Senior Residences is a mix of 96 studio, one and two bedroom units that offers independent and assisted living services, allowing residents to age in place. Bradley Crossing Supportive Housing Community added 54 one, two and three bedroom apartments this year, bringing their total to 114 total units. Half of these are reserved for individuals with physical or developmental disabilities or severe and persistent mental illness.

JFS was selected as one of the sixteen participating agencies in the Jewish Community Foundation’s Create a Jewish Legacy Program, funded in part by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. We have completed our first year of capacity building education for our development staff and lay leaders and have received 32 signed commitment forms – nearly double to goal amount for the first year.

UnMasKEd! became the new signature fundraising event for JFS, raising funds and awareness for mental health issues. Held at the Garage at the Harley Davidson Museum, unMasKEd! welcomed 300 individuals from the community to learn more about JFS, our clinical and counseling services, and to stand together to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Another successful Community Mental Health Conference was held in April 2015, when 300 social workers, care managers, teachers and others in the helping profession came together to learn more about Compassion Fatigue from well-known speaker and author, Mary Jo Barrett. The conference is coordinated every two years in memory of Hirsh J. Larkey, PsyD.
For the last few years, Past Board Chair Bill Heilbronner has challenged his friends and colleagues through Birdies for Kids to sponsor him on the golf course. His incredible golf skills have resulted in $35,000 raised to support programs for children at Jewish Family Services.

The Mobile Food Pantry continued to visit JFS Housing and Villard Square this year. At JFS Housing, we were able to engage a new cadre of volunteers from local organizations and businesses to introduce them to the wonderful clients and the positive impact our beautiful and affordable apartment buildings can have on their lives and in the Brown Deer community. We welcomed volunteers from Congregation Emanu-el B’ne Jeshurun, FIS, US Bank, Rockwell Automation, Direct Supply, United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Alliance for Strong Families and countless individuals and families.



Our Outpatient Mental Health Clinic expands services to survivors of sexual assault and trauma as a co-located agency and service partner at the Sojourner Family Peace Center based on the Family Justice Center Model.


Celebrated 150th Anniversary and launched a two year capital campaign to raise funds to increase access to JFS services, build a community greenspace at JFS Housing and investment in our agency endowment.


Hosted  largest special event in JFS history with nearly 1,000 guests in attendance: Home and Hope – A Community Call To Action  featuring a keynote address by Professor Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City and a community stakeholder panel discussion.


Completed a successful capital campaign led by co-chairs Bonnie Bockl Joseph and Marlene Lauwasser raising over $800,000 to support access to JFS programs, build a greenspace at JFS Housing and funding for our agency endowment.

Completion and public announcement of the Bonnie and Leon Joseph and Sue and Allan Selig Community Greenspace, a half-acre recreation and leisure space at JFS Housing’s Bradley Crossing Campus and Friendship Place: Built For Dreams, Fun and Play -a dedicated playground area also made possible through the generous support of Bonnie and Leon Joseph and Sue and Allan Selig.

The Department of Justice awarded JFS a competitive Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant for $1.6 million over five years for our Outpatient Mental Health Clinic to expand mental health and counseling services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and hate crimes.

Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) added as a social service program. CCS is a support program for adults living with mental health disorders, substance use disorders, or both, who have Medicaid/T19 coverage and reside in in Milwaukee County.


Launched Friendly Caller Program to serve seniors in Milwaukee County who are at increased risk for depression and anxiety due to increased social isolation and stress related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Formal partnership with Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee (PSGM) with JFS acting as fiscal agent.

Partnered with Milwaukee Jewish Federation for a Feeding Families Initiative (FFI) to meet emergency food needs in the Jewish Community and extended communities benefiting seniors and low-income families during COVID-19 crisis.