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Spring – A time of New Beginnings

By Carol S. Wolf

Spring is here at last! Spring always brings new beginnings so take this time to think about new things that you might like to do. Volunteering is a great way to serve the community and help others. It also connects you to new organizations and friends. I am doing that myself.

One thing I have been doing is exploring organizations that I am unfamiliar with that are doing great things in our communities. Therefore, I invite you, if you are involved in a community organization, to email me something about the organization and contact information for whomever is in charge. My email address is


I met with Marlene Schillinger, President/CEO of Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Buffalo and Erie County. She told me she was born in the Bronx and raised in Queens until she was 19 years old. She then went to the University at Buffalo (UB) and got her degree in English. I asked her how she came to go to UB and she said all her friends were going there so she went too. She said she loved the school and many of the people she met there are still her friends. She graduated in 1972 with her Master’s degree in Education. Marlene continued, “After that, I was in California for awhile and came back to Buffalo. I realized I was not a west coast person. My father encouraged us not to live in New York City. He said it was too difficult. I taught English in the Buffalo schools and then I worked at the Clarkson Center for 18 years.” The Clarkson Center is one of the largest community-based organizations in Erie County. They provide services to disadvantaged youth and adults. Marlene’s next job was at Jewish Family Services and she has been there for 25 years. She said, “I think I am one of the few people who have had only two jobs in their life. It has been a real honor to be there.” She said JFS did a national search and she was thrilled when got the job because it allowed her to do what she loved doing- social action and advocacy. Marlene went on to tell me she will be retiring at the end of July this year to explore different things. She said she loves to work in her garden and will explore what she would like to do in the community.

I asked her what Jewish Family Services does and she said they are a social service net and source of new hope for many people. She went on to say that JFS has been a non-sectarian, not for profit, community-based social service provider since 1862 and shared that not many organizations can say that. She said they are the social service safety net for the Jewish community for which they were founded, as well as for anyone in the community who needs help. JFS care coordination services help elders, children, and individuals with disabilities and connect them to the full scope of medical, mental health, and social service supports they need. They help to keep people healthy and safe.

She said they resettle refugees who become valued members of the community. They also facilitate training to reduce stigma and inform individual response associated with mental illness.

This is what JFS believes: “We believe unconditionally that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. This is the prime directive of the board, leadership, and talented staff, who each day provide compassionate, high quality service to every client, regardless of religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender identity or economic status.”

Marlene went on to say that “when a young woman with an eating disorder, a working dad with a gambling problem, a young adult struggling to find a career path, or a torture victim from a faraway land reaches out for help, we help them. We help people of all ages with any problem. This is what JFS does.” Our mission is the following: “JFS Buffalo partners with families, children and individuals of all beliefs and backgrounds to help them succeed in transition and overcome the challenges of everyday life.”

They have a mental health clinic for older adults and kids, people of all ages and are the only agency that can go into a senior’s home who has a mental health issue and treat them in their home.

JFS also offers Mental & Behavioral Health Treatment & Counseling, Care Management/Health Home Services, Community Support, Career Services, and Refugee and Immigrant Services/Western New York Center for Survivors of Torture.

She said, “In order to continue to grow and provide the right services at the right time, we are making changes to ensure we continue to provide the WNY Community with services it wants and needs.”

They can accept most insurance.

For more information, call 716-883-1914 or email

If you know of a successful program in your community or would like more information please let me know at

Carol Wolf is a writer, speaker, storyteller, and leader of workshops and retreats. She is retired from 35 years in health care administration and co-hosts a TV show called Challenge for the 21st Century for the Network of Religious Communities. She is the author of Journey into Prayer and Biblical Storytelling in Youth Ministry. She has been married to Dick for 58 years and they have two sons, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson.



Carol wrote this book as part of her two year Master's program in the Academy for Biblical Storytellers. It has just been published and is available for $10.00. Carol is an author, speaker and leader of workshops meditations and conference.
"This book give you an opportunity to experience how, when we become a part of the biblical story, we often find meaning for our own life. It is an incredible resource for confirmation, baptism, and intergenerational groups." Trracy Radosevic, Dean, Academy for Biblical Storytellers.
Anyone interested in buying a book can email me The book is $10.00 + $2.00 mailing.