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JEVS Human Services Awarded $269,992 in AmeriCorps Funding Supporting 20 TechServ Members

Philadelphia, PA — JEVS Human Services (JEVS) announced today that it has received $269,992 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service programs. Funding will support 20 AmeriCorps TechServ members in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ.   

This federal investment will support 20 AmeriCorps members. These AmeriCorps members will tackle some of the  toughest problems in Philadelphia and Camden by providing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and digital literacy skill-building opportunities to at least 400 students in grades 5-12 at neighborhood recreation centers, schools and community organizations. 

TechServ is unique in that it addresses two key community issues:  the digital literacy and STEM skills divide among school-aged children in low-income communities and the lack of access to career pathways for young adults in the technology and science sectors in the same communities. TechServ members will provide much-needed skills development and access to technology for youth as trainers and mentors, while building their own technical and leadership skills and earning credentials in the STEM and technology fields that will put them on a path to their own career success. 

“TechServ is a win for the young adults who will serve as Corps members AND for the children who will benefit from increased access to technology and STEM. This program will also create a pool of trained young adults eager to continue their careers in technology and science, something sorely needed by our region’s employers to maintain our edge in the tech and science sectors,” says Jay Spector, president and CEO at JEVS Human Services.  

CNCS will also provide up to $116,300 in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by this grant to help pay for college, vocational training, or pay back student loans.

JEVS is currently recruiting for AmeriCorps members to begin service this fall. AmeriCorps members typically receive a modest living stipend and a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, or scholarship, upon completion of their service. Those interested in serving can start the application process by visiting www.jevshumanservices.org/techserv-app

Beginning this fall, AmeriCorps members serving through TechServ will join the more than 80,000 AmeriCorps members serving across the country in 21,600 locations. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.

Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than 1 million men and women have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1.4 billion hours of service and have earned more than $3.3 billion in education scholarships to pay for college or pay back student loans, more than $1 billion of which has been used to pay back student loans debt.

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AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads volunteer initiatives for the nation. For more information, visit www.NationalService.gov.

Welcome New Board Chair & Members

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Ivan Szeftel as JEVS Human Services’ new board chair. Szeftel previously served as Treasurer of JEVS’ Board of Directors and is a retired financial services executive. 

Joining Szeftel as board officers are Peter C. Rothberg, Vice Chair; Lisa Washington, Vice Chair; John Polidori, Treasurer; Ellen Kraftsow-Kogan, Secretary; Bernard Eizen, Esq., Immediate Past Chair; and Samuel M. First, Esq., Past Chair.  

In addition, JEVS’ Board of Directors has also elected two new members, Laura Bessen-Nichtberger and Denise Portner. Bessen-Nichtberger is a retired physician executive and Portner is Senior Vice President at SteegeThomson Communications, where she manages marketing and development communications programs for mission-driven organizations in health care, education, human services, and the arts.

As we welcome our new board chair and members, we would also like to take this opportunity to thank our immediate past chair, Bernard Eizen, Esq., for his countless contributions to JEVS Human Services, especially during our 75th anniversary year. Thank you!

Pictured above (left) immediate past chair Buz Eizen and (right) new board chair Ivan Szeftel.  

JEVS Caps Off Year With 458 Graduates

It’s that time of year. Graduation! A time for high school and college students to celebrate, but also a moment for us here at JEVS Human Services to reflect on all of our programs that held graduations this year for its students and members. This is what “making hope happen” is all about for us!

For many, individuals completed short-term skills training programs in order to better their employment situations or prospects. For others, their graduation from JEVS meant attaining their GEDs, building the confidence to move on to the next step in life, or gaining the know-how to enter the workforce. We are celebrating 458 graduates this year. JEVS is proud of their accomplishments and their futures ahead. See how this breaks down in our infographic below. 

JEVS Graduate Infographic

JEVS Partners with Philadelphia Fight to Provide Life-Saving Screenings

Pictured above are Ricardo Rivera (left) and Nabori Brown (right) from Philadelphia Fight.

JEVS Achievement through Counseling and Treatment (ACT) program has teamed up with Philadelphia Fight to provide hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV screenings to patients on-site at both of our drug treatment clinic locations.

Philadelphia Fight is a comprehensive health services organization providing primary care, consumer education, research and advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS and those at high-risk. The HCV/HIV screenings are provided through a program within Philadelphia Fight called “C a Difference,” which goes out to community programs to provide education and testing around hepatitis C, a virus that spreads through contaminated blood and causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. 

If a patient has a positive screening test for HCV, confirmatory testing is performed and an appointment is scheduled for them with a doctor at Philadelphia Fight Community Health Centers. All services are free up until the client is connected to treatment.

“We have new medications to treat hepatitis C that are successful for producing very high cure rates,” said Dr. Trusandra Taylor, medical director at JEVS-ACT. “In the past, successful treatment defined as a “sustained virologic response” produced cure rates of 30 to 40 percent in many cases.

Ricardo Rivera, a phlebotomist HC and HIV tester for Philadelphia Fight, explained that there are 9 current treatments for hepatitis C that cure the virus.

“Access to these new medications for hepatitis C will really improve our patients’ long-term survival,” said Dr. Taylor.

Several JEVS-ACT patients have been successfully treated. Last month, 6 patients received counseling and referral to Philadelphia Fight.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Susana, an ACT patient. “Especially for people that have kids; it’s my family that I worry about.”

Currently, screenings are held once a month. If you or someone you know would benefit from these services, call ACT at 215-609-6040.

Career Advice Corner: Good Economy Still Leaves Many Silently Struggling

“I had no idea others felt this way,” my client said. “I thought something was wrong with me.”

In an era of dueling, politicized employment rate numbers, it can be difficult to know what the truth is. But for those who are out of work – who want to be employed – truth may arrive each day in the sense of a bill that is delayed, a feeling of lacking a place to belong, or a missing part of identity.

These feelings of displacement and uncertainty are something that many JEVS Career Strategies clients experience and feel, particularly those who have been out of work for a long period of time. It is not a unique phenomenon. Philadelphia’s unemployment rate, as of March of this year, continued to hover around 6 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prior to the Great Recession, just 18 percent of those who were considered unemployed were “long-term unemployed” (six months or more); today, that number is 28 percent.

The potential root causes of long-term unemployment are many. Age discrimination continues to be an issue, particularly for those 55 and older; there has been a contraction in the number of stable, long-term jobs; and a marketplace shift in work options has led to more people cobbling together contract work in a gig economy, frequently with no benefits or health insurance.

But as The Psychology of Working notes, work is a “central aspect of life” and is “central to mental health.” And we know that good mental health is critical to maintaining motivation, focus, resilience and a positive attitude during a job search.

We see this every day. As career advisers and counselors, we know that long-term unemployment is a designation that cuts across all races, genders, employment sectors and educational levels — bringing with it a host of psychological stresses. Some clients are angry, upset, scared and worried about the future. Frequently, someone who is long-term unemployed may withdraw himself or herself from friendships or family, as well as from the networking relationships with former colleagues or business contacts that are so vital to a successful job search.

The experience of repeated rejection makes the long-term unemployment experience different from those who are quickly out and back in the job market, or the experience of returning to the workforce after caring for a child. It affects self-esteem and dignity — and makes the process of networking (key to securing employment) more emotionally fraught.

For more than 75 years, we’ve assisted workers in the Delaware Valley, providing the tools and processes — as well as job placement services — to help people find their next great career. Focusing on the barriers facing those who have endured the stigma of long-term unemployment during this “economic recovery” is both crucial to the individual and vital to our regional economic picture.

If you’re finding yourself in the midst of a job search, and looking for some new options – one-on-one career counseling, interview preparation, resume assistance, networking advice – even new contacts, computer classes, and job search and placement assistance – why not give Career Strategies a call? Now, with Skype, it’s possible to consult with our team, privately and confidentially, from your own home.

 

– by Peggy Truitt, Program Director, JEVS Career Strategies

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If you are interested in learning how JEVS Career Strategies can help individuals get to the next stage in their careers or job search…

> Learn more.

> Submit an inquiry form, anytime of day!

> See/attend our upcoming free workshops.

> Read our career advice blogs.

> Contact us at 215-832-0878 or cs@jevs.org

Fishtown Local Goes From Near-Felon to Valedictorian

Michael Flanagan had worked a string of low-paying jobs, hamstrung by the fact that he never graduated high school. He was taking care of a newborn daughter. And he was selling and recreationally using marijuana.

Then, in February 2016, a neighbor called the police on him, sending Flanagan, a Fishtown resident who was not yet 25, towards a potential felony conviction.

His case was referred to Judge Marsha Neifield, who gave him a choice: Flanagan could proceed to trial, or go to a diversionary program for first-time nonviolent drug felony convictions, called The Choice is Yours (TCY).

“They’re selling for economic reasons. They come into the program with legitimate jobs and they’re trying to make ends meet,” said Kristen Rantanen, a communications expert at TCY’s parent organization, JEVS Human Services.

“It was fast money,” Flanagan agreed.

Read more about Michael and The Choice is Yours in the Spirit News.

Teens are Making the World a Better Place Through New Jewish Federation Program

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Teen Giving Project wrapped up a successful inaugural year this past week at the program’s first granting ceremony. This year the participating ninth- and 10th-graders raised more than $10,000 and have chosen to fund three programs: HIAS Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program, JEVS Human Services Lasko College Prep Program and St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children Community Oral Health Initiative. The ceremony was an opportunity for the 10 participants to celebrate their accomplishments with their families and community members, while also sharing how the 10-month program made a lasting impact on their lives.

Learn more about the program in The Jewish Exponent.

Move to Repeal and Replace Obamacare Could Hurt Jewish Agencies

Now that House Republicans have succeeded in approving a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, the consequences of doing so are hitting home for a lot of people.

Compared to ACA, proposed changes include phasing out the expansion of Medicaid, leaving it up to the states for funding the federal-state program of health insurance for the poor; ending cost-sharing subsidies for private health care; increasing prices of premiums; and letting insurance companies charge older customers as much as five times more than younger-and healthier-individuals.

Backlash has ensued, armed by the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 24 million Americans will be affected by the change, leaving them without health insurance by 2026 and cutting $880 billion from Medicaid over a decade. Local Jewish agencies, while relatively measured in their responses, are similarly concerned.

There isn’t an easy solution to the nation’s health care affordabililty crisis, but Jay Spector, President and CEO of JEVS Human Services, said repealing ACA is “devastating.”

Read more about the impact of the proposed changes and CEO Jay Spector’s views on Medicaid in The Jewish Exponent.

Tikvah Residence News: Grant Award, Fixer-Upper Event and More!

Grant Award

There are many positive changes happening at JEVS Tikvah Residence, which offers affordable housing for adults with mental health needs. We are pleased to announce that the program has been awarded $24,536 in funding from an anonymous donor. This award will be used for enhanced staffing at Tikvah Residence, allowing JEVS to provide additional clinical services and to expand the non-clinical services offered with the aim of supporting residents in their pursuit of health and overall wellness.

In addition, this funding will allow us to more robustly implement our evidence-based Happy Healthy Life (HHL) curriculum, including offering HHL classes to Tikvah residents as well as to additional community members.

Fixer-Upper Event

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, JEVS Human Services volunteers and staff gathered together with Tikvah residents at our first Fixer-Upper Event to help spruce up the Tikvah Residence and grounds in Drexel Hill, Pa. A beautiful mural was designed and painted in the community room, flower beds were freshened up with new flowers and mulch, interior walls were painted, and even the exterior signage was given a new coat of paint. JEVS also collected donations from volunteers to enhance the decor and function of the common room, such as paintings, rugs and a flat screen TV. Thank you to all of the volunteers who continue to help us Make Hope Happen in our community!

Want to help with a donation? Tikvah Residence is still in need of the following:

  • An exercise bike
  • A doctor’s scale

If you or someone you know has one of these items and wants to donate it, please contact Ranee at 215-854-1844.

See photos from the Fixer-Upper here!

Musical Celebration of Life

On Sunday, June 4, 2017, Tikvah Residence will host “Musical Celebration of Life,” a concert open to the public featuring The Troika Quintet and Dr. Fredrica Mann Friedman. The program includes piano, soprano, flute, guitar and bass with duo pianists Olga and Dmitry Borisovsky, guest artist folk singer-songwriter T.J. Smith and singer Dr. Aggie Hewitt.

Proceeds from this concert will help maintain Tikvah Residence and support the residents in maintaining a balanced and healthy life.

Get your tickets here!

GED Program, Project WOW, Offers New Career Options & Opportunities

In a few short weeks, high school seniors will experience an exciting, life-changing event. Graduation. The pride of accomplishing a giant educational step. The first step, of many, toward entering the workforce and preparing for a career. But for a large percentage of students in Philadelphia public schools, each June is a reminder of their decision to quit school, dropping out for variety of reasons: pregnancy, boredom, bullying, poor grades, needing to work to support the family, to name a few.

Over the past two years, 108 young individuals have found their way back to school. This time at JEVS for a free program called Project WOW (World of Work). The program helps dropouts who want to get their lives on track by offering GED® test preparation–the main attraction of the program–as well as skills training and job search assistance.

Starting this July 2017, Project WOW has a different look and feel in response to students’ feedback about the program, as well as the idea of tailoring program offerings to meet the needs, skills and interests of each individual. We are currently accepting applications for the July class. Keep reading for Frequently Asked Questions about the new options and opportunities at JEVS Project WOW.

Project WOW FAQs

Who qualifies for JEVS Project WOW?
This program is no cost to Philadelphia youth ages 18–24 who have dropped out of high school and meet financial requirements.

How is JEVS Project WOW different than other GED programs in the city?
While the program is academic, featuring high school equivalency or GED (General Educational Development) test preparation through focused classroom study of reading, math, science and social studies, Project WOW offers so much more. Students also receive hands-on training that will enable them to secure their first job on a new career path. In addition, through our Professional Development curriculum, Project WOW prepares students for the world of work, teaching workplace ethics and etiquette, building a résumé, preparing for an interview, and matching students to job openings with JEVS’s employer partners.

How is the program structure changing?
At JEVS, youth have a voice! Program participants in earlier Project WOW classes demonstrated differing learning styles and motivations, and spoke up about wanting more choices to achieve success. Our new, individualized “career pathway” program structure will debut with the July 2017 class to now offer:

  • Hands-on career training options in high-demand industries, such as building trades (specifically property maintenance and repair), as well as a new track in IT (specifically coding and web design). If these career areas are not of interest to students, they can elect to participate in a paid work experience to gain real-world, on-the-job training and skills.
  • Participation in a service learning project for students who thrive on “learning by doing,” while experiencing the rewards of giving back to the community and working as a team. Some of the projects will be performed on-site at JEVS’s residential programs for individuals with disabilities, such as winterizing homes. While other projects may take place in students’ neighborhoods or benefit local organizations or charities in need of a hand.
  • Incentives, including a weekly transpass for getting to and from class, and GED test fees covered. However, one of the best new features of Project WOW are the financial rewards! We want students to commit to and complete the entire program, so they’ll receive monetary incentives for reaching particular program milestones.
  • Our new Job Coach will work with each student individually to assess his/her skills and career goals, and match the student with good job openings at companies that turn to JEVS to hire new, reliable employees.
  • Student support services to help Project WOW students succeed during the 24-week program, as well as support them for up to a year as they begin their new journeys and careers.
  • Pre-apprenticeship program that provides a stepping stone and prepares students to enter a registered apprenticeship.

Why is this new program structure important to high school dropouts?
Think of JEVS Project WOW as a gateway…guiding youth to take the next step toward a promising future! To provide a second chance to young adults who realize that they need to finish their education and gain solid skills that employers are looking for. So many of our Project WOW applicants say that they want to join the program so that they can get a good job to support their kids, make their families proud, or go on for a college degree. As one applicant put it, “to take control of the unfinished business in my life.” The new Project WOW structure is based on best practices to help youth build a path to stable careers and self-sufficiency.

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