Three hundred and thirty guests went “Dancing through the Decades” — some wearing the vintage garb of some of the earlier eras — at Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County’s gala annual dinner-dance.
Two groups were honored at the dance and silent auction, which took place Feb. 20 at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village — the Board of Rabbis of Princeton Mercer Bucks and JFCS’ Senior Services Department.
The event raised $100,000. “I’m thrilled with the turnout,” said JFCS president Norma Saks as she greeted guests. “Clearly people are aware of the importance of our work, especially in these difficult economic times.” Saks noted that more people were using the JFCS food pantry than in previous years and that the demand for counseling services has increased.
Before hitting the floor to dance to tunes from the 1940s through the 2000s, the guests, some dressed in clothing that recalled those earlier decades, pored over the silent auction offerings. They put in bids for items ranging from cookbooks to airline tickets to jewelry.
Joyce Kalstein, JFCS first vice president and event chair, presented the award to the members of the board, saying that they “use their pulpits to support JFCS and our mission of tikun olam within the community.”
Rabbi Jay Kornsgold of Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor and Board of Rabbis president told the gathering he was “truly humbled by the honor bestowed on us tonight. Our partnership with JFCS goes back many years, and I know that when a congregant needs their help, they are just a phone call away.”
Echoing both sentiments was Rabbi Eric Wisnia of Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction. “Rabbis rely on JFCS, but, it’s a symbiotic relationship too,” he said. “We encourage our congregants of all ages to support JFCS programs, whether by donating their time stocking the food pantry or making a monetary gift.”
According to JFCS executive director Linda Meisel, who accepted the award on behalf of the Senior Services Department, JFCS aided more than 5,000 individuals in 2009, including 1,200 seniors. “The elderly population is growing, and JFCS has taken a leadership role in making sure they are treated well and with respect.
“Our Senior Services Department has done an outstanding job carrying out this mandate,” said Meisel.
Jill Jaclin, JFCS director of Senior Services, credited not only her staff for their commitment, but also the many volunteers who give their time to Secure@Home, the Kosher Café, and Kosher Meals-on-Wheels. “They are an integral part of these programs,” she said as she mingled among the party-goers, “and not just because they help change light bulbs or drive a person to a doctor’s appointment. Their interactions keep the older people engaged and stimulated and, as a result, they still feel connected to the community.”
Four-year volunteer Gil Gordon of Monmouth Junction said that his involvement in JFCS had given him the opportunity to meet people, like retired professors, whom he otherwise would never have met. He also learned that the “smallest things can make a huge difference in the life of a senior citizen — and help to keep them in their homes.” Besides making basic home repairs, he has set up computers and explained the intricacies of big-screen televisions.
“Recently we have been seeing well-intentioned kids give their elderly parents 55-inch HD TVs with multiple remote controls,” he laughed. “It’s my job to trim that down to one.”