Agency Spotlight: JFCS

PHOTO: Justin Zellinger, a JFCS Board member, and son Matan (now 8) every year help pack Thanksgiving Food Boxes the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It is one of the agency’s signature efforts and events. JFCS provides 150 boxes with many meal fixings – to feed about 600 people – to low-income clients, including Holocaust survivors, older adults, people with disabilities and families struggling during a tough time.

In the coming months, The Jewish Review will feature one of the 18 local beneficiary agencies that received allocations from Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s 2022 Annual Campaign.


Service Area: Social Service: Holocaust Survivor Services, Counseling, Disability Support Services and Community Support (emergency aid) | 503-226-7079
2022 Allocation: $182,290
Mission: To improve the quality of life and self-sufficiency of the Jewish and broader communities throughout the Portland metro area in accordance with Jewish values.
On May 18, 2023, “Celebrating Generations” will mark the 75 years JFCS has provided stability and hope. Through the years, JFCS has been very flexible and poised to adapt and respond to community needs. 
The pandemic was a challenging time for mental well-being, perhaps especially so for children and teens. This past spring, JFCS hired child and family therapist Laura Cohen, LCSW, to meet the needs of the community’s youngest members.
Another service area has evolved at the opposite end of the generational spectrum. Care needs and costs are escalating as Holocaust survivors age. The agency currently serves 60 survivors, whose average age is 85. JFCS is grateful to the Jewish Federation for its increased overall allocation, a significant portion of which supports Holocaust Survivor Services.
“JFCS is dedicated to fulfilling clients’ desire to age with dignity and in place; Federation’s support helps us carry out this mission,” says JFCS Executive Director Ruth Scott. “The majority of (survivor) clients are from the former Soviet Union; 48 percent are from Ukraine. Many people aren’t aware of these survivors’ stories and how they differ from those of survivors from central and western Europe,” she adds, noting many suffered during Germany’s eastern blitz and then behind the Iron Curtain under Stalin. 
JFCS is extending its expertise with Ukrainians by collaborating with certified partner organizations to provide for new refugees arriving from Ukraine.
Jewish Federation support also enabled JFCS to hire a volunteer coordinator two years ago. JFCS’ volunteer coordinator educates the community about agency needs and how individuals can help with their gift of time. To learn more, visit




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