Jewish Family & Career Services

Transforming Community One Family at a Time

When single mom Sherry* first came to JFCS, she was seeking help finding an apartment.

She and her kindergarten son Bryce* were sharing a single space in a West End rooming house. Sherry was understandably concerned about her son’s safety and development in this unstable environment, especially as he started school.

When Sherry enrolled in JFCS Family Strengthening, she and her coach Avery began the assessment and goal setting process. In addition to housing issues, two major challenges Sherry faced were her limited education and a debilitating health condition. Sherry decided to focus on three goals: obtaining safe, stable housing; improving her employment potential by getting a GED; and, applying for disability benefits to ensure a more stable income.

Despite the challenges she faced, Sherry was committed to creating a better life for Bryce. Each of Sherry’s goals involved a complex process of multiple steps. Though Sherry had a strong, local network of family and friends, they lacked the resources to support her in the ways she needed. JFCS was able to provide that support.

Avery helped Sherry navigate complicated and confusing systems while ensuring she had access to essential resources. With Avery’s help and a modest amount of financial assistance, Sherry obtained a copy of her birth certificate, a first step in applying for income-based housing. She completed the Section 8 housing application and was scheduled for an appointment to receive a voucher that would allow her to begin searching for an apartment.

With JFCS and Avery by her side, Sherry located convenient GED locations and applied to restart her educational path. Sherry learned that to apply for disability benefits, she would need updated medical documentation and began looking for doctors who could help. In addition to consistent coaching, counseling and technical support, Avery helped Sherry access the JFCS consumer-choice food pantry. With each step she accomplished, Sherry gained confidence in her ability to achieve her goals.

Then, COVID-19 hit. The disruptions and uncertainty of the pandemic have had a significant impact on Sherry’s confidence and determination. Housing Authority offices closed, GED classes were postponed and doctor appointments cancelled. Sherry’s progress toward her goals stalled, and she now has the added stress of keeping her kindergartner safe and busy all day while managing her own anxiety, depression and chronic pain.

Like everyone, social distancing recommendations have impacted Sherry, but JFCS has provided complete continuity of service to the family. Avery and Sherry have continued remote coaching and counseling appointments since March. Sherry and Bryce receive JFCS Food Pantry customized home deliveries to ensure they have their basic needs met.

The pace is different, but Sherry’s goals and the services she receives from JFCS Family Strengthening are the same. Through the pandemic, she will have the benefit of skilled, compassionate coaching and counseling that support her sense of dignity and purpose, and helps her maintain progress toward her life goals.

* Names changed for privacy.