Syracuse Jewish Family Service proudly spearheads and coordinates crisis response to individuals and families in the Jewish community through the Kol Chai program.
The Kol Chai program aims to ensure (1) that SJFS community resources are spent wisely and to the greatest effect; (2) that Jewish individuals and families are assisted to prevent crisis or to emerge from one with the necessary resources, life skills, and koach to be able to care for themselves and face a better future; and (3) that the Jewish community’s dwindling material assistance funds are supplemented and stretched so the community is able to successfully confront future needs. The underlying principles are to (1) preserve community resources and reduce reliance on purely financial assistance by teaching, counseling, and otherwise creating the circumstances under which temporary monetary support is leveraged into durable benefit to an individual or family; and (2) relieve the burden on funds such as the Jewish Federation’s Franz Beer Fund by securing alternative resources.
Syracuse Jewish Family Service’s Kol Chai program operates in two related areas: (1) we assist Jewish individuals and families in crisis with our signature case management, therapeutic and psycho-educational services, and collection and distribution of financial / material assistance (including nutritional support); and (2) we use these same capabilities to promote wellness, long before crises, in our Jewish community’s individuals and families by offering individual, family and group psycho-educational activities at SJFS, as well as in homes and congregations around the community. Kol Chai ensures that all members of the Jewish community have the same access, whatever their ability to pay, to the activities that support personal growth and build emotional capacity to cope with life’s ongoing challenges, as well as ameliorate the experiences of crisis or personal emergency that do occur.
The core activity of Kol Chai is to meet with Jewish clients in need or crisis, perform psychosocial assessments to determine their short- and long-term needs, and craft and implement a care plan to meet those needs. Some clients need our help to find out about and obtain public or private benefits, for instance Food Stamps, home heating expense relief, home health care assistance, or transportation for medical and key social needs. We use Kol Chai funds and locate other forms of assistance from the community, usually with complete anonymity, to meet other needs: resolve a single issue by obtaining short-term financial or material assistance; learn about and work through issues over time with an SJFS clinician; receive ongoing assistance and information from one of our case managers. We also work to connect or reconnect the client with the Jewish and general community individuals and institutions that are most appropriate to support their nonclinical needs in a prosocial and healthy way.