Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Ottawa Annual General Meeting (AGM) | November 2, 2017
Staff, Board Members, Volunteers, Donors, Guests and Interested Parties:
I AM WRITING THIS IN THE DAYS BETWEEN ROSH HASHANAH AND YOM KIPPUR WHEN NATURALLY THERE ARE WEIGHTY THINGS -MATTERS OF LIVING AND MORTALITY-ON MY MIND.
Many of the programs that are offered at Jewish Family Services fall into the category of life’s more important activities: poverty relief, long term support of vulnerable populations and particularly immigrant populations, anti-racism initiatives and short term personal crisis intervention. As I continue with what is for me a decade-long period of deep involvement with the agency, I am amazed by the care and expertise exhibited by our staff and the depth of their commitment to our clientele. The professionals at JFS who work so competently in the community on a daily basis are one of the glories of the agency.
When giving a Dvar Torah at a recent board meeting, I focused on one particular psalm that I have been wrestling with. Psalm 86 refers to God and the many names by which God is known: Hashem, Adonai, Elohim. Towards the end of the prayer, the writer, who is traditionally thought to be King David, enunciates the attributes of God, quoting the exact same ones that Moses expressed on Mount Sinai itself. We sing about those same attributes multiple times throughout the Yom Kippur service. In much the same way, I believe that JFS works in myriad ways within the community doing what I think to be critically important work. At a time when we are all trying to make sense of the world around us, and particularly of how the world’s actions play out in our own community, Jewish Family Services continues to provide our clients with a profound level of support. The agency employs over 60 staff who in addition to their professional responsibilities, enable our many volunteers and supporters to have an extremely positive impact in our community.
Naturally, in a flawed world, JFS remains imperfect as well. The Board, senior staff and I are deeply aware of a variety of ways in which the agency can improve upon its mission. We brainstorm constantly and I personally find myself at the nexus of these activities: considering ways in which to perfect our current service activities and looking to the future with verve. We are committed to strengthening our core programs and broadening the activities of the agency. At the same time, we are entirely dependent on our funders, who are listed in our annual report, as well as on the hundreds of supporters in the community who provide us with many thousands of dollars and countless hours of volunteer time. If the amount of funds in our annual budget is a reflection of our outreach, then an examination of the figures that we report at our AGM reflects well upon the increasing role that JFS plays in the community. Furthermore, the agency continues to be on JFS OTTAWA | ANNUAL REPORT 2017 11 very solid financial footing, enabling us to work effectively and to plan for the future in a funding environment that is highly dynamic.
I’m personally proud to play a part in that development and to lead The Board of Directors in marshalling its resources — both financial and professional — to the overall betterment of the agency. The year ahead will be a reflection of the unique cooperation between our stakeholders. I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the inspired direction of JFS’s Executive Director, Mark Zarecki, who lives and breathes the agency’s mission and who has a deep passion for JFS’ work. There are myriad ways in which God’s work can be manifest in the world and just as God’s name is reflected in many ways in the Book of Psalms, our work at JFS is similarly multifaceted. Our annual report provides a vibrant reflection of what we have accomplished in the last 12 months and offers an insight into the work that is underway and that is planned for the year ahead. I invite each of you to study the report and to consider the work that we do. I invite you to take part in our work in ways that make will enable JFS to meet its goals and to maintain its unique place in the community.
Jack Shinder, President