Our Community’s Problem-Solvers

Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) and Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS East Bay) have tended to the social service needs of individuals and families in crisis for over a century, and have been our community's “problem-solvers” since their founding. 

It was thus not surprising that in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they were among the first organizations to respond in the Bay Area, where hundreds of displaced men, women, and children have sought refuge. They have been providing multifaceted aid, including immigration and legal services to help with work permits, asylum representation, and family reunification.

In recognition of the magnitude of their missions, the Jewish Federation of North America and our own Federation have partnered with JFCS and JFCS East Bay through the recently launched Ukrainian Resettlement Grant Initiative.

Photo courtesy of JFCS

The Federation’s grants—totaling $320,666—will enable JFCS and JFCS East Bay to hire support staff to address the needs of displaced Ukrainians of all backgrounds. Specifically, JFCS has utilized a portion of its Federation grant to create a Russian-speaking Volunteer Manager position and has expanded the hours of their case managers to meet the increasing needs of refugees. Indeed, the care being provided is comprehensive. Their Refugee Services team provides new arrivals with welcome kits, hygiene items, and clothing, while their Volunteer Services team offers vital resources such as ESL tutoring, transportation assistance, translation services and, of course, food.

We have been able to help hundreds of people since the war started. And we are probably getting three or four new cases every week. We are deeply appreciative of the support the Federation has offered, because it will allow us to continue to expand the services we’ve been able to offer.

-Nancy Masters, Associate Executive Director at JFCS

Photo courtesy of JFCS

And now, with the help of the Federation and other community partners, JFCS and JFCS East Bay will have the enhanced capabilities to provide greater access to housing, employment, and public benefits, as well as additional case management assistance for driver’s licenses, school enrollment, medical screenings, and psychotherapy that is culturally and linguistically responsive and trauma-informed.

Still, the ongoing effort to service the needs of hundreds of refugees continues to present obstacles. One of which is that while they are expecting to serve several hundred more Ukrainians, they “don’t have any way to predict if they are all showing up next week or next month,” said Ami Dodson, Volunteer Services Manager at JFCS East Bay. “So, being able to stay nimble in our services is really a challenge.” But the largest obstacle, according to Dodson and JFCS East Bay Chief Advancement Officer Michael Chertok, is finding these newcomers housing and employment. Accordingly, they have been offering job search and placement services, and have added a full-time Housing Specialist and a team of volunteers that are undertaking the task of finding their clients affordable homes. “Searching through enormous databases of housing listings can be onerous,” said Dodson. “But it’s worth it because it can basically provide a lifetime of secured, affordable homes.”

Photo courtesy of JFCS East Bay

When it comes to disaster response—from pandemics to fires to floods to the fallout from war—JFCS and JFCS East Bay have been loyal and dependable partners, helping us meet our mutual goal of acting as a proactive safety net for our community.

Your continued support allows us to grant funds to organizations like JFCS and JFCS East Bay. Please consider giving as generously as you can to our 2023 annual campaign online or by recommending a grant through your Donor-Advised Fund.


February 20, 2023


Jon Moskin