By Terri Herman, Jewish Family Services
Ann has been a volunteer with Jewish Family Services for many years. She was on the board for eight years and still stays involved. “I attend JFS events and contribute where I can. Having been connected with JFS for years, I know many personal stories that inspire me to stay involved. I believe we all need a little support at times in our life, and when we’re able – we give back by helping others.”
“Ann Stern is a quiet, humble, compassionate and generous woman dedicated to improving lives throughout the Kansas City community,” says Rachel Krantz, Development Director at JFS. She has volunteered with Jewish Federation, United Way, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). She is on the board of the Midwest and Foster Care Adoption Association as well as various Jewish Community Foundation committees. She is an animal lover and has volunteered with Wayside Waifs, a nonprofit humane society and animal welfare organization in Kansas City. “It has been my pleasure to work with Ann and have her so genuinely involved with JFS,” says Don Goldman, Executive Director & CEO of JFS.
One JFS program that Ann is connected with is Help@Home. According to Dawn Staton, Director of Older Adult initiatives at JFS, “The member based Help@Home program began in 2008, and that’s how long Ann has been a member.” With a monthly fee (based on your ability to pay) this program provides high quality, dependable minor home repairs and access to a variety of other services needed to help older adults maintain their independence. “I love having Help@Home because they come when I need them and even help me find things that I need to do. They perform safety checks of my smoke alarms and fire detectors. They check and change all the batteries as needed. I think this is very important, especially for seniors. They will do more than just repair. People may not know they can get grab bars and safety items installed. It gives me peace of mind knowing I have someone to call and they will be there.”
Ann makes an effort to help those in need; but, as time often reveals, occasionally we’re the one in need. Several years ago, after Ann’s husband died, she experienced intense grief and loss. She found comfort through a spiritual grief support group facilitated jointly through JFS Community Chaplaincy Program and the JFS Counseling Department. As is expected, the degree of grief, sadness and loss are directly proportional to the strength of an attachment to a loved one. Roger Goldblatt, Co-Facilitator of JFS Grief and Loss Support Group, advises, “there can be other factors as well, such as guilt, what ifs, the cause of death, whether the death was sudden or if there was time for preparatory grief, or one’s innate and learned coping abilities.”
According to Ann, “The spiritual care resources offered by our Jewish community sustained me.” The process of listening and being listened to by other grieving community members and by two caring professional facilitators is often very beneficial for those suffering such a loss.
When Ann started working as a volunteer with JFS, she didn’t know that she would be a recipient of their services. She came to experience JFS and its programs on many different levels. Though she was always an advocate, she feels even more resolute today when promoting JFS programs, “I often refer people to utilize their programs; because everyone, at some point in their life, may need Jewish Family Services.”
For information regarding Help@Home, or the Grief and Loss Support Group, please contact JFS at 913-327-8250 or on the website: www.jfskc.org.