Screenshot of Perry Ohren during the JCRC/AJC's webinar series about "Vulnerable Populations During COVID-19."

CEO Perry Ohren assures the community that although JFS has gone virtual, they are still readily available to serve those in need.

Despite the shift to its methods that are necessary due to the coronavirus, Jewish Family Service (JFS) wants to reassure the community that they are still committed to provide their services to those who need them.

Perry Ohren, CEO of JFS, spoke about their tactics April 29 during the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC Detroit’s four-part webinar series on “Vulnerable Populations During COVID-19.”

JFS serves both the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community by providing human services to older adults, people with mental health issues, the financially vulnerable and Holocaust survivors.

“The ways that people used to get help from JFS have pivoted, just like everything else has pivoted in the past five to six weeks,” Ohren said. “We are no longer seeing somebody face-to-face in three dimensions; we’re seeing someone face-to-face in two dimensions. We’re still there to help people, but it’s just a very different dynamic.”

Currently, a majority of the JFS staff members, including their therapists and social workers, are working remotely from their homes. However, the JFS drivers who take those in need to essential appointments are still operating, but at a much smaller scale.

“On a normal day, we would provide around 120 rides to older adults to get them to their essential appointments,” Ohren said. “We are no longer providing those 120 rides, but it is more so around 10-15 rides to the very essential appointments such as chemotherapy or dialysis. Our drivers who are doing those rides are wearing proper PPE and maintaining social distancing.”

JFS is also enlisting volunteers and some of their drivers to help aid Kosher Meals on Wheels to help bring those home delivered meals to older adults’ homes. 

“It is very different than it was before, but we’re open for business,” Ohren said. “It is certainly not ‘business as usual,’ it’s ‘business as unusual.’ But we are still here to serve the community and help families and individuals in need.”

Ohren predicts that in the coming months, JFS will need to add more staff members, such as social workers, until they are nearly doubled in staff to continue to help those in need, especially the employees who work in the family support services.

“We are constantly striving to try and figure out rational ways to provide more connectivity and services to our community, especially the older adults we serve,” Ohren said. “The more connected we can be and the more connections we can make and keep, the better off we will be as a community.”

If you or someone you know is in need of their services, JFS can be reached at 248-592-2313.

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