Collaboration is key, says new JFS outreach coordinator
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Collaboration is key, says new JFS outreach coordinator

Karen Brand will market JFS as a 'partner' in community programming

Karen Brand – recently named outreach coordinator for Jewish Family Service of North Jersey – has two goals.

“We want to educate people in the community as to what’s available” from our agency, she said. But in addition, “we want to market JFS as a partner with other agencies in the community.”

“Some local organizations are unaware of our services,” she said, noting that she has already met with area principals about offering programs in their schools for both faculty and students.

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Karen Brand, new JFS North Jersey outreach coordinator

“We’d like to replicate a program on bullying that we did in the spring at the Y in Wayne,” said Brand, most recently former coordinator of the Elderlink program at Jewish Family Service of Metrowest. “We’re hoping to do it in October at a middle school in Wayne and Fair Lawn.”

Brand, who joined the North Jersey JFS in May, said she was prepared to speak with students on issues such as eating disorders, loss, and social interaction; for the faculty, she might discuss behavior management, stress alleviation and support, and crisis intervention.

“We’re still evolving [a strategy] for working with synagogues,” she said, pointing out that JFS, which offers Café Europa for Holocaust survivors at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center, might consider expanding such programs as well as other services to survivors.

In addition, she said, she is planning community presentations on topics ranging from “The Golden Years” to “Stress Management.”

“I’ve facilitated programs on [stress management] for all ages,” she said, “from children to older adults as well as professionals.”

One planned program, “Thanks for the Memories,” will highlight techniques to jog the memory. A big fear of older adults is that forgetfulness equals dementia, she said.

“The pathology of dementia frightens everyone,” she said. In her presentation, she will explain that “normal forgetting is part of the aging process.”

Brand said that while she is a licensed clinical social worker and for some 23 years offered therapeutic early intervention services for children, worked at New Jersey Y Camps, and coordinated services for senior citizens, “my orientation and area of expertise is community work, group work, and networking. My goal is to reach out.”

As part of that effort, she recently finalized plans for three “mini-workshops” at an assisted living facility in Paramus, where she will tackle a variety of caregiving issues, including a presentation on resources available to the “sandwich generation.”

“We’re in the process of assessing the needs of the community and will be available to create programs that are appropriate and fill any gaps in our agencies and schools,” she said.

Leah Kaufman, JFS North Jersey executive director, noted that Brand “has already hit the ground running,” scheduling a number of programs for the fall. “Her skills will enhance the agency’s ability to develop programs and partnerships that will serve the wider community,” said Kaufman.

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