JFS In Your Community
2023 was a year for the books! For JFS, it was a year of connection and growth, of celebration and gratitude. As we look towards 2024, the staff at JFS are so thankful for the support we received this year and grateful that we can continue to serve and support our community members as they struggle though life-changing world events or times of everyday need.
We look forward to sharing our annual Impact Report in the spring, but we can’t help but stop and reflect on some of the people, programs, and events that we are so proud of this year.
Long-time Executive Director and CEO Don Goldman Retires: After 16 years leading JFS, Don Goldman announced his retirement in 2023. His incredible impact on the agency — taking us from a small human services organization to a leading provider and change-maker in the Kansas City area — was celebrated at the annual Nonprofit Connect Award Celebration where Don was named Nonprofit Catalyst (Executive) of the year. He capped his JFS career off at our 120th Anniversary Celebration where he was awarded the Alfred Benjamin Friend of the Family Award. Though JFS misses him greatly, we hear he’s enjoying his retirement with his wife Martha and dog Booker, and we thank him for all the amazing things he created and championed at JFS.
Kelly Davydov Takes the Reins: In October, Kelly Davydov began her role as Executive Director and CEO of JFS. She came to the agency with an incredible resume of serving families and elevating agencies, and is a natural fit for the work that JFS does in our community. In our announcement, Debbie Sosland-Edelman, a member of the search committee and executive director of the Sosland Foundation, said, “her experience in early childhood development, anti-poverty initiatives, and nonprofit management is such a natural fit for the space JFS has been filling in the greater Kansas City community and for where the agency is going.” Kelly, welcome to the JFS team — we are so happy you’re here!
It’s Time to Celebrate: 120 years is a long time for an agency to serve as an anchor in our community, and JFS celebrated that milestone with a series of events that recognized and honored everyone who has been part of our journey. In April we held our Birthday Bash — a big party at the Jewish Community Center for all generations to gather, participate in mitzvah projects, and sing Happy Birthday to JFS with Grammy-award winner Lisa Loeb! Then in August we held our 120th Anniversary Celebration where over 600 of our closest friends gathered in what we’re fondly calling our family reunion. We honored our retiring Executive Director and CEO, Don Goldman, and awarded long-time friend Sandi Fried with the JFS Friend of the Family award. With the amazing support of our community, we also raised over $744,000 for JFS programming.
Serving Our Neighbors: JFS is known for thinking outside the box with innovative programs that meet our community members’ needs with dignity. Our summer Neighbor Market is designed to look and feel like a farmers market with fresh produce and flowers right outside our Brookside location. Participants are also able to connect with community partners like Kanbe’s Markets, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care, and KC Digital Drive. Our June Neighbor Market in partnership with the Heritage Center at the Jewish Community Center also connected older adults to resources and produce.
Providing Safe Spaces with Peer Support Groups: Mental health is integrated into all of JFS’s services and programming, and this year we brought that into our community through our peer-support groups and community conversation events. Each peer support group is led by individuals with direct experience and provides a safe and inviting environment for people to gather, share their stories, and learn from each other. This year JFS hosted groups for caregivers for older adults, caregivers for children with special needs, family members who have children who are transitioning or are nonbinary, and those who have lost a loved one to substance use. In 2024 we will continue to provide these spaces for community members to gather, learn, and support each other.
Increasing Security Through Financial Assistance: Everyone who walks through our JFS orange door at the J, rings our bell at our Brookside location, or calls our Navigator line for support has a unique need that JFS staff work to address. Sometimes we connect that community member with another organization who can better serve that need. Other times we’re able to provide the support and resources they need to thrive. In 2023 our Kesher social work and care management teams were able to provide even more life changing assistance through financial support for rent and utility expenses. Through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds provided by Johnson County, Olathe, and Overland Park, we were able to give 40% more financial assistance than in 2023 and support 10% more Kansas households. Financial support like this helps families stay in their home and provides the security necessary for them to focus on other essential needs.
YOU: Our community members are the heart of our agency. This year our food pantries received over 300,000 pounds of food, household cleaners, sanitary supplies, and more thanks to the generosity of our community members, organizational partners, and business supporters. Thank you to everyone who gave their time, energy, and passion to JFS this year.
We can’t wait to see what we can do together in 2024! Will you join us with your year-end gift to support all of this programming and so much more?