The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), one of the nation’s largest and most respected nonprofit mental health and social service agencies, celebrated its Annual Spring Benefit “Made In New York” on Wednesday, April 21 at Guastavino’s (409 East 59th Street @ 1st Avenue). JBFCS will honor three extraordinary New Yorkers: Russell Simmons (Co-Founder of Def Jam; Co-Founder, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Co-Founder and Chairman of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, Creator of Fashion Lines, Phat Farm, Argyleculture, American Classics), John A. Herrman (JBFCS Chairman, Board of Trustees) and David F. Everett (JBFCS Vice President).
In anticipation of his being honored by the nonprofit organization, Russell Simmons, along with Rabbi Marc Schneier with whom he co-founded FFEU, spent the day touring two JBFCS facilities and meeting with adolescents that these institutions serve. Mr. Simmons and Rabbi Schneier met with Break-Free Program, a mental health and substance abuse program for a diverse group of teens that includes an alternative high school, and B’not Chaya Academy, an alternative Yeshiva high school for at-risk Orthodox girls. The young men and women who are part of these powerful programs shared their stories, detailing their past challenges at home, school and on the streets; at times heart-wrenching, many of these young people shared the extraordinary challenges they have experiences in their short lives. Looking forward, the youth also spoke of their current personal objectives and how JBFCS has helped in turning their lives around.
Throughout the day, Mr. Simmons engaged in conversations with the participating youth in each program as well as the staff, identifying role models and mentors and encouraging the adolescents to make ‘smart choices’ and walk away from those who may prove to be a negative influence in their lives and ‘drag them down. Acknowledging that such choices are difficult to make at any stage in life – especially as a teen – Mr. Simmons congratulated them on their resilience and courage. Throughout the course of the day, Mr. Simmons communicated his experiences with some 315,000 Twitter followers (www. twitter.com/uNcleRUSH .)
JBFCS has been an innovator in treating social problems for more than a century and has fostered a community where everyone can belong—in the world’s largest neighborhood: New York City. Under the leadership of Paul Levine (Executive Vice President & CEO), JBFCS has stood firm, dug deep and consistently come together as a community to create new approaches to building community partnerships, developing programs, achieving success for those served, expand supporters and strengthen the talent of JBFCS staff. On an annual basis, JBFCS provides services to more than 65,000 New Yorkers regardless of their religious, ethnic and economic background. JBFCS’ philosophy is “no matter who you are, whom you worship (or don’t), or how much money you have (or don’t), you are a member of the human family”. JBFCS believes that people must take care of one another. JBFCS’ programs are located throughout the NY metropolitan area—from as far south as Staten Island to a campus in Westchester County. The mission of JBFCS is very clear, 175 social programs. one mission: to get help to those who need it.
All proceeds from the event benefited JBFCS’ social service programs. For further event details and information on JBFCS, please visit www.jbfcs.org.