BUFFALO, NY (August 26, 2021) – Jewish Family Services of Western New York (JFS) today officially rebranded itself, shared a new strategic direction for the 160-year-old agency, and began a conversation about Afghani refugee resettlement. At a press event this morning, numerous political officials joined Board Chair Blaine S. Schwartz and CEO Molly S. Carr, Ph.D. to demonstrate their long-time support for the agency’s core initiatives that serve many of their constituents.

Established in the 1860’s to assist with the resettlement of Jewish immigrants from Europe as well as for those returning from the Civil War, JFS has evolved through the years to assist individuals and families regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs. Behind this evolution is the steadfast commitment to improve our communities and make the world a better place.
To achieve this commitment, JFS has adopted several strategic goals summarized by Dr. Carr as “a reimagination of what we can do and who we can serve here in Western New York. Our vision for the next five years is to create pathways for each of our programs to better support diverse populations with complex needs and expand our services to support youth and older adults and their families.”

Further, a framework has been adopted that focuses on three key areas to include community, clinical, and care coordination services. This divisional interconnected framework serves more than 2,000 individuals annually from a multitude of backgrounds and will enable an integrated continuum of care approach. As Dr. Carr puts it, “we have the capacity to assist an incoming refugee, support their employment objectives, and at the same time help them with the complexities of the U.S. social systems and the emotional trauma from their refugee and resettlement experience.” Refugee resettlement services account for 50% of the client volume and is supported in part through federal, state, and local funding sources.

The agency’s mental and behavioral health clinic is 38% of client volume, and during the current COVID-19 pandemic, has seen an increase in demand due to depression, anxiety, and isolation factors. This has prompted an increase in staff to ensure prompt and quality-driven counseling services. The clinic is licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health and offers in-person and telehealth counseling for youth through older adults.

Participating in today’s announcements were Representative Brian Higgins (D) of New York’s 26th Congressional District, NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-141), Chief of Staff Adam Fogel representing NYS Senator Tim M. Kennedy (D-61), City of Buffalo Mayor Byron B. Brown (D), and Buffalo Common Council Majority Leader David A. River (D-Niagara). Each of these officials has been a long-time supporter of the agency and will play a critical role in the expected influx of refugees from Afghanistan and how the local community will support their resettlement.

“It is only by chance that we embark on this new strategic plan as the crisis in Afghanistan unfolds. It was not our intent to talk about Afghani refugees here today, but the circumstances dictate that this is a conversation we must start to have together now. We have seen the reports on the desperation at the airports and know that Afghani refugees are arriving to military bases in the US,” Dr. Carr said.

Just how many will arrive to Buffalo is not clear, but Dr. Carr expressed that “we, Buffalo, the City of Good Neighbors are being called upon to step up and help welcome and care for Afghani refugees as they come to our great city. We can only do this if we do it together as a community”

In addition to the implementation of a new strategic plan and after two years in her position Dr. Carr felt it was time to refresh the agency’s brand and allow a new mission, vision, and values to guide what the brand would be long into the future.
“We wanted to create a look that was unique, strong but humble, and represented diversity,” Dr. Carr says of the new tri-color logo. “In order for us to expand our services to the broader Western New York Community, we needed to come up with a concept that would resonate with everyone – something you would see and quickly know that it was us.” The new logo features a strong charcoal gray in lower case, meant to project strength, familiarity, and humility, while the addition of two colors alludes to the diversity of the public served.

To Board Chair Blaine S. Schwartz, Esq., “I cannot underscore how pleased we are with the direction the agency is taking. Not only do they continue to serve the Jewish community, especially remaining Holocaust survivors, but they are living and working the values of the Jewish culture into their everyday work and accomplishments with such a multi-cultural clientele.”
For additional information, please contact Director of Marketing Todd Geise at tgeise@jfswny.org .

JFS of Western New York is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency specializing in community, clinical, and coordinated care services. Its mission is to partner with families, individuals, and children of all beliefs and backgrounds to help them succeed in transition and overcome the challenges of everyday life.