Thursday, February 26, 2015

Outreach, Needs Assessment, and Education

Well it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks. I have been working on the staff training and I am very happy that JFS has decided to make the first in the series a mandatory training. It will take place just before Yom HaShoah and will start with a breakfast and I will present for about an hour and a half. Overall an hour and a half is not a lot of time to lecture about something as complex as the Holocaust, but I believe that it will allow the staff an opportunity to refresh their current knowledge, learn about new aspects, and possibly interest them in learning more. The plan is to provide optional “booster” trainings that will look at additional topics more in depth. The first couple of boosters will discuss topics that relate to our Survivor population, based on where many of them come from and experience that many of them had. The other boosters will be based on feedback from staff. I will survey the staff to see what topics they are interested in, and pick a couple of topics based on that feedback. In addition to offering training, I have also been working to offer continuing education credits for staff that need it. Having this foundation in place is good and will allow us to keep learning as a staff, and in the future we can then apply for CEUs for the community wide training we plan to create.

I am very excited to announce that we have finally set a date and time for our children of survivors town hall. This town hall will allow the children of survivors, who quite often are care providers for their parents, to discuss the needs of their parents, as well as an opportunity for them to find out about the services JFS provides. This town hall is the final step in my comprehensive needs assessment of the survivor community in Metro Detroit. Once this step is completed, I can finalize my report and present it to JFS and other organizations. I am very excited to hear from this group as they often have a different perspective on the needs, and are more willing to disclose the needs of their parents. It is often harder to ask for help for yourself, than it is to ask for help for someone else.

Finally, I attended the February CafĂ© Europa and had another amazing time. I ended up staying an hour past the end of the event to continue talking with an amazing survivor I met. She was imprisoned at Auschwitz and worked in the munitions factory. She was absolutely fascinating to talk to, and she had so much to share with me. I feel very fortunate that she was willing to talk to me not just about her experiences during the Holocaust, but her needs, her feelings about what JFS is doing, and even what she thinks about the world she lives in today. I am so grateful that I am allowed to share this time with the survivors, as it allows me an opportunity to remember why I am doing what I am doing, and that everything I do has an impact in the lives of these amazing people.