Jewish Social Services, Our Core Values

By Dawn Berney, Executive Director

The months of August and September have brought significant turmoil to the United States. Charlottesville. Hurricane Harvey. The end of DACA for many teenagers and young adults in our community. Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Jose.

I feel so fortunate to have Jewish Social Services (JSS) here in Dane County. Our team regularly revisits our core values to ensure that our programs, activities and actions are aligned with these values. It gives me hope for myself as well as for my children. It is important to me to show that we can make the world a better place.

Levy Summer Series – this summer we averaged over 90 registrants per luncheon, bringing together people of all ages who might not have met ever before.

Refugee resettlement – Since December, Jewish Social Services has resettled 30 individuals in Madison who could not safely return to their home countries. In addition, we worked to find housing, employment, and schools for another 12 people. These are individuals who had been resettled as refugees to other parts of the United States but had heard about how Madison truly “welcomes the stranger” and has employment options.

Case management – Our team works with senior adults who need appropriate housing. They help families to apply for food assistance or health insurance. They listen to people who are overwhelmed, and need to figure out their next step.

Chaplaincy – JSS and our community is fortunate to have a chaplain who can visit those who need spiritual or emotional support. She provides programs to our seniors where they live, when they cannot necessarily get out into the community at large.

 

If you would like to learn more about Jewish Social Services and our core values, or you would like to receive support or provide support, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can be reached at (608)442-4081 or on our website at www.jssmadison.org.

A Celebration of Janice Beers

By Steven H. Morrison
Executive Director Emeritus

Perhaps the greatest joy and most professionally fulfilling work during the years I served as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Madison and Jewish Social Services was leading our Jewish community’s efforts to resettle refugees from the former Soviet Union starting in 1989. Janice Beers began volunteering for us that year as part of that program.

Subsequently, JSS hired her as the Resettlement Secretary in 1990 for a temporary summer position. After two years of temporary work, the position became permanent. Janice strove to become fluent in Russian and learn the professional skills of social services, both of which she mastered. By 1993, Janice became the director of the refugee program.  Over the years, she resettled over 350 refugees. The program boasted 100% employment for all working-age refugees!

Janice was one of the very first Russian medical interpreters to provide services to the community and the first to complete the “Bridging the Gap” training.

In the early 2000’s, as the refugee resettlement program was slowly ending, Janice recognized the need for low-cost immigration legal services in our community.  She independently researched and discovered the opportunity for JSS to become a United States Board of Immigration Appeals recognized agency and for herself to become a BIA Accredited Representative. In 2005, Janice took the initiative to turn that dream into a reality.  For the past 12 years, JSS was the first BIA Recognized agency and Janice the first  BIA Accredited Representative and for a decade the only agency and representative in Dane County.

In 2008, Janice led the way for JSS to become CLINIC’s (Catholic Immigration Network, Inc.) first non-Catholic subscriber agency.  In 2009, she was a founding member of the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) and  served on the Board for four years.  In 2012, Janice became a member of the Madison Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Leadership Committee and continues to be a member of the local Immigration  Advocate Coalition. In addition to providing direct services to clients, she provides community education presentations on a monthly basis.  In 2013, Janice wrote a Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan that was awarded by CLINIC.  In 2015, she secured funding from Dane County for JSS’ Immigration Program, which provides both legal and social services to clients. This was the first significant funding JSS had ever received from the County. The county funds helped JSS expand its program by hiring a bilingual assistant. That funding is now in its third year.

Over the twenty-seven years she has been part of Jewish Social Services of Madison (including a two-year stint as the JSS Volunteer Coordinator), Janice has touched the lives of some 1,800 immigrants from over 80 countries as well as the hundreds of volunteers and others throughout the community with whom she worked.

Jewish teaching could not be more specific with respect to the treatment of immigrant: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [Leviticus 19:33-34], a principle that is referenced or repeated thirty-five times in Torah, the most of any mitzvah.

Janice Beers has been the living embodiment of this historic value and as she now moves to the Catholic Multicultural Center to continue her life-saving and enhancing work on behalf of immigrants, I invite all in our community to join with me in extending our appreciation, admiration, and affection.