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What I've learned from JFS

by Cynthia Sanchez
JFS Social Work Intern

When I started my internship at Jewish Family Service this past August, I was a bit nervous. Being a non-Jewish Latina, I wondered how I would fit into a Jewish agency. My professors told me that this was the best placement for me and advised me to just be myself. They were right! I was thrilled that my education at Cedar Crest College and my life experience more than prepared me to tackle this internship and to embrace the cultural differences. 

Everyone at the agency accepted me right away, and I was provided with the opportunity to dive right into the world of client-based practice as a case manager under the supervision of my field instructor, Rebecca Axelrod-Cooper, MSW, LSW. This position allowed me to work one on one with clients in achieving mutually agreed upon goals and collaborating with other agencies to provide the best resources for the client.  I sat in on financial assessments and learned how to ask specific questions and perform need-based assessments for JFS clients. Over time, I was given the chance to help out in many different ways: I supported other case managers and assisted in other departments of the agency, like the Community Food Pantry. I attended informative and educational events such as the Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Community Conversation and LGBTQ Awareness training at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. I am proud I was able to take advantage of my research and data collection skills from my course work at Cedar Crest to develop JFS’s 2019 Food Pantry Survey. This survey will impact the 280 families that utilize the JFS food pantry.

During the past year, I have acquired many new skills at Jewish Family Service. The JFS mission to empower and uplift the community by providing social services, professional counseling, education, volunteer opportunities and community programs creates an energy that makes you excited to come to work every day. Not only have I been able to learn from experienced leaders, but I have also been pushed to meet higher standards and encouraged to think critically when it comes to assisting JFS clients. Although we are all a little different, when we come together with our unique talents, skills and backgrounds, we create something impactful with the goal of unifying, strengthening and inspiring our communities. 

Between the experience gained and the people I was able to work with, this internship was more than I could have hoped for. JFS prioritizes extending gratitude to those who offer support and assistance to its daily operation. So today, I give my gratitude to JFS: I am appreciative for the opportunities I was given and the work I completed for your agency, with a truly dedicated staff. Thank you for preparing me for my future career.