IN THE NEWS: Q & A with Danielle Hartman, JFS President & CEO, Published in Sun Sentinel

We are pleased to share a Q & A with Danielle Hartman, President & CEO of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, that was published in the Sun Sentinel on September 24, 2014. The Q & A sheds light on the current needs of the community that JFS serves.

Danielle Hartman, president and CEO of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services
5:52 p.m. EDT, September 24, 2014

Q: Who does your organization serve?
Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides a range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, counseling and mental health, career and employment services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year.

Q: Where do you see the biggest service gaps in South Palm Beach County?
Access to affordable psychiatric care continues to be a big issue. Numerous doctors only take private pay which many people cannot afford. Publicly funded agencies have long wait lists and non-profits have limited resources. Transportation for seniors also continues to be a problem … because for many just the thought of figuring out how to access the service is beyond their comfort zone. Many middle income seniors do not have the means to pay for private services and most do not have long term care insurance to help defray the cost.

Q: Tell me about the needs of the elderly in our communities.
According to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Palm Beach County ranks second in the state as the most populous county for those aged 60 or older. In order for our aging seniors to remain living safely at home when many of their families live out-of-state, we will need better coordination of care between geriatric case managers, home care agencies, medical professionals and other service providers.

I believe there is a huge learning curve in people truly understanding the value a geriatric case manager can bring to this process. Geriatric case managers act as the surrogate children for the families and play a critical role in coordinating care for the senior parent living here. Many people do not plan for this need in advance and we get called in to assist only after a crisis has occurred.

Q: How are you getting younger people involved in the organization?
Primarily through volunteer opportunities. We encourage children to volunteer at our food pantry or make cards which get distributed to our clients. Bar and bat mitzvah-aged teens choose JFS for their mitzvah project and we allow them to be as creative as possible in this regard. We also offer opportunities for singles and families with children to volunteer delivering food or visiting with a homebound senior. We have also made a concerted effort to include “younger” people (under 40) on our board of directors. Anyone interested in volunteering should visit our website at www.ralesjfs.org

Q: What is your favorite get away?
I absolutely love the beach so any time I can get there is good for me. My youngest daughter just started taking up surfing so we try to get to the beach as often as possible.

Copyright © 2014, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, career & employment services, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS call 561-852-3333. Learn more at www.ralesjfs.org.

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