Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Cincinnati 2020 in 2016: Fran Gafvert
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s visionary plan for building an exceptional future.
This week, the Director of Community Building at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Barbara Miller, and the chair of Cincinnati 2020, Tedd Friedman, talk with Fran Gafvert, Director of Vital Services for Jewish Family Service. Gafvert leads the team that runs the Barbash Family Vital Support Center in Clifton, which helps vulnerable individuals and families experiencing hunger, financial need, and mental health disabilities move from crisis to stability.
How did you first get involved in Cincinnati 2020?
Cincinnati 2020 and the research and development by Jewish Family Service for the business plan for Barbash Family Vital Support Center both launched in 2010. These two initiatives captured the interest of community leaders and not by happenstance. The Community Study of 2008 affirmed for Jewish Family Service and for 2020 leadership what our agency had been experiencing in recent years: yes, there are vulnerable members of the Jewish community who need our help. Jewish Family Service wanted to do more to support our community members in need. We had a small staff, a small budget, and the beginnings of a better plan for positive change. When we saw the 2020 priorities of Caring, Connection, and Community, our team recognized we were on the same path as the 2020 vision.
What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you, given your involvement with Barbash Family Vital Support Center?
The services we provide at Barbash Family Vital Support Center are aligned with the “Caring” platform of Cincinnati 2020. The 2020 vision says the Jewish community cares about helping those who experience hunger, poverty, and poor health and that the community will support Jewish Family Service in this vitally important work. Yet our work goes beyond Caring to creating “connection” for unaffiliated and often disenfranchised Jews, and to help make a “community” where all are welcome. Our donor canopy display in our lobby reads, “From strength to strength.” With your strength, my strength, all of us working together, together we are strong. That is Caring, Connection, and Community.
Why should Cincinnati 2020 be important to the community?
Every community needs a plan, a strategy, to be a safe place, a healthy environment, and one in which everyone has opportunity to lead a fulfilling life. Given that as a premise, each of us has our own special needs and some of us may need more family and community around us to succeed. For some, misfortunes of poor health, bad genes, situational or generational poverty, or a struggling economy may impact our lives in devastating ways. When Jewish Family Service opened our first food pantry site 13 years ago, volunteers working there or donors visiting had their eyes opened to the reality that poverty and poor mental health can affect anyone, religion notwithstanding. Cincinnati 2020 and Jewish Family Service bring these issues to the forefront and remind us all that we each cannot be successful without a basic stable platform for health and welfare.
Has Cincinnati 2020 been successful so far?
Yes. Cincinnati 2020 has set standards for a thriving Jewish community. It has raised awareness and brought many stakeholders together—professionals, donors, and volunteers—in support of the work that is critical to everyone’s well-being. At Jewish Family Service we are seeing big successes: The success of helping someone with a chronic mental illness find part-time work. Success in helping a woman manage the emotional turmoil of being alone and without a home because she must leave an abusive relationship. Or, seeing an older gentleman without family, sing the ma’nish tanah at our community seder, relying on a childhood memory after so many years of silence on Passover. With the community vision of Cincinnati 2020, we do so much more.
Cincinnati 2020 has also inspired a new level of collaboration between our community’s organizations. Hebrew Union College works with us daily at Barbash Family Vital Support Center providing pastoral counseling to clients, leading Jewish cultural events, and working with us in a community garden on-site to stock our food pantry. I see collaboration between Jewish Family Service and JVS Career Services, where we coordinate the best from each agency to meet the needs of the unemployed, no matter what their skills or background. We see the JCC, Cedar Village, and Jewish Family Service coming together to help senior adults, the fastest growing segment of our population, age safely and successfully.
What do you hope the community accomplishes through Cincinnati 2020 in the next five years?
We would love to see more volunteers and donors visit Jewish Family Service Barbash Family Vital Support Center and Heldman Family Food Pantry and help us expand our work. We appreciate new and innovative ideas, ways to support our clients in employment, or housing, strategies to streamline our processes, and approaches to making the community more welcoming and accepting of everyone. How can anyone not hold important the priorities of Cincinnati 2020: Caring, Connection, Community? What else is there?