During the Jewish Child & Family Service’s Annual General Meeting on June 8, representatives of  different agencies and organizations that work with JCFS to provide services of one sort or another to members of our community were on hand to receive certificates of appreciation from JCFS.


From left-right, they are: Elaine Stern of the Gwen Secter Centre; Joanne Katz (who, along with her husband Sam Katz, presented a scholarship certificate to a local student); Marilyn Regiec and Karen Grant, also of Gwen Secter; Robyn Avery, Aleph Bet Child Life Centre; Eleonora Caporalini, Rady JCC; Sam Katz; Laurie Binder and Joyce Kerr, Gray Academy; with Ian Staniloff of the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue between them; Rose Aziman, National Council of Jewish Women; Rabbi Baruch Heidigsfeld, Chabad Lubavitch Centre (sort of hiding behind Rose); Dr. Earl Hershfield, Herzlia Synagogue (also sort of hiding behind) Reva Craven, NCJW; Miral Gabor, representing both Temple Shalom and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg; Cindy Lazar, NCJW; Irwin Corobow, the Simkin Centre; and Albert Benarroch, JCFS. (We apologize that not everyone’s face is clearly visible in this photo but just try and get that many individuals’ attention to look at the camera at one time!)

As Annual General Meetings go, the one held by the Jewish Child and Family Service on June 8 in the Berney Theatre of the Asper Campus was an extremely well-run one.

JCFS President Jeffrey Gilbert delivered his report in a succinct and often humourous style, pointing out the continued importance of the agency in delivering a wide range of programs.

Gilbert was followed to the podium by JCFS Executive Director Albert Benarroch, who paid tribute to two long-time employees of the agency who had departed within the past year: Emily Shane, Benarroch’s predecessor at the JCFS who retired after 30 years with the agency; and Merrill Shwaid, the agency’s communications director, who also retired this past year after 30 years of service.

Benarroch also noted the departure of social worker Jeff Kryger, after 14 years of service; and the arrival of two new staff members: David Azuelos and Wade Bilodeau (who will be occupying a new position specializing in child welfare). As well, Benarroch said there will soon be someone occupying the newly created position of Director of Communications and Outreach. (Since then we have learned that the person to be occupying the position is Rena Elbaze, who is currently the Engagement Specialist with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.)

Continuing in his remarks, Benarroch referred to the JCFS’s ongoing efforts to improve its operations, both in terms of the services provided to the “community and staff engagement.”

He noted that the JCFS “reached over 2,000 families last year” and “impacted over 5,000 individuals.” As well, the offices of the JCFS are about to be renovated and expanded.  Also, the JCFS has plans to open a second location somewhere else in the city that will service clients there, as well as having centres for addiction, recovery, and wellness.

The JCFS’s financial statement showed that, while there had been a decrease in the amount of revenue available to the agency this past fiscal year, there was a similar decrease in expenses, so that the agency was able to remain in the black.
Revenues were down from $3,099,268 in 2014 to $2,903,990 - a decrease of $195,278. A major reason for the decreased revenue was the decrease in funding from the Province of Manitoba - some $109,410.

Insofar as expenses were concerned, one item that stood out was the decrease in funding for child maintenance - from $752,588 to $603,752 (a decrease of $148,836). In an e-mail response from Al Benarroch, he explained both the drop in funding from the province and the reduced expense for child maintenance: “The reduction in revenues of $149,000 for Child Maintenance ties directly to lower numbers of children in foster care from the previous year.  This information is all publicly available in the MB Family Services and housing Annual Report available online.  We had a reduction of children in foster care from 25 in 2012/2013 to 15 in 2013/2014.  This is a huge success in that children were either returned home, successfully transitioned to adulthood or were adopted.  A reduction of 10 children in care accounts for the reduction in revenues which is then balanced by the same amount of reduction in expenditures.  As such, while it shows as a reduction in revenue, there were also no expenditures in this amount so it balances dollar for dollar.”

In the same e-mail Benarroch expanded upon something else he touched upon during his report at the AGM: Plans by the JCFS to concentrate upon improving services to treat addictions of all sorts within the Jewish community. In a conversation that I had with him following the formal part of the evening Benarroch mentioned that there is a significant problem of addictions to all sorts of things in our community, including: “heroin, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, alcohol, gambling, and pornography”.

In the same e-mail in which he responded to my question about child maintenance Benarroch offered this comment about addiction services provided by JCFS: “At present, we hoped to grow some of our addiction services this year, but with the reduction in allocations from Federation, we will defer this planning.  Our current costs going into addiction services are the salaries attached to our Addictions Services Coordinator’s salary (completely funded by the Federation), some costs for building internal capacity by training all JCFS staff to be better equipped to assess and address addiction related issues in their clients (funded by grants from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and some private donors that have specified a desire to support addiction recovery services.  We continue to plan strategically in order to grow this area of service so as to best meet the needs within the community.”

Following Benarroch’s report and some other official business, attendees heard a very interesting talk by Dr. Harvey Chochinov, a full report of which can be read at http://www.jewishpostandnews.ca/features/1995-dr-harvey-chochinov-on-dignity-and-reflections-on-end-of-life-care.

The final part of the evening was given over to an enthusiastic performance by the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue’s “Dor Chadash Youth Choir”, under the direction of Cantor Anibal Mass. (You can watch an excerpt from that performance at http://www.jewishpostandnews.ca/video-library/viewvideo/178/local/shaarey-zedek-dor-chadash-youth-choir.