Agency Q&A: Jewish Family Services

United Way works with 40+ local and regional nonprofit agencies to tackle each of our nine Steps to SuccessGet to know these agencies and learn about their partnership with United Way. We invited Wendy Kreuter, Chief Executive Officer at Jewish Family Services, to tell us about her work. 

Wendy Kreuter
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Family Services

Tell us about your current role and your professional background.

I joined Jewish Family Services (JFS) Richmond as CEO in 2016. We offer comprehensive programming including personal care, guardianship, care management, counseling and adoption.

Previous to joining JFS, I worked for 20 years in retail management at Schwarzschild Jewelers and 13 years as Director of Operations and Finance at The Faison Center, a non-profit organization that provides services for children and adults with autism. The experience I gained in my retail career combined with non-profit administration allowed me to be part of the amazing team of aides, nurses, social workers and psychologists at JFS who are devoted to helping our clients.

What is Jewish Family Services’ mission?

JFS mission is Transforming Lives. Strengthening our Community. For 169 years, JFS has provided exceptional guidance and support to individuals and families of all ages, faiths, and income levels. We are dedicated to building a stronger, healthier and happier Richmond.

How does Jewish Family Services support the Connected & Healthy Older Adults component of United Way’s Steps to Success?

JFS is one of few home health agencies in Richmond that offers low-income seniors customized and comprehensive in-home care regardless of income, ethnicity or insurance, including Medicaid. We offer seniors help with day-to-day life tasks, which allows them to have more independence and mobility.

Our aides focus on developing a relationship with their clients to increase their engagement and fight social isolation.

When more serious challenges arise from social isolation of a home-bound older adult, JFS has the resources to offer care management with a social worker or counseling services to help them. This allows the older adult and their families to have the care that the senior needs in their own home, not an institution, and gives respite and support to family caregivers.

What do you think is the biggest value United Way brings to this area?

As a non-profit focusing in personal and aging life care, counseling, and adoption services, we understand the enormity of the problems facing Richmond from the perspective of our clients from birth to senior years.

United Way’s Steps to Success model has focused the community of non-profits to work together to deliver evidence-based solutions that will impact more Richmonders more quickly. The model also encourages and recognizes innovation.

What project or initiative has you most excited for the future?

We see a great need for skilled Personal Care Aides (PCAs) to place with our clients. We have piloted a low to no-cost PCA Training School that gives students the skills needed to become certified PCAs after completing the 46 hour course and passing the state of Virginia exam. This program is aligned with United Way’s Connected & Healthy Older Adults Step as well as the College- or Career-ready Step, offering high school grads or working adults looking for a career change the opportunity to embark on a career in the fast-growing field of healthcare. One of the grads from our original PCA class went on to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and now works in respiratory therapy—all in one year. That is our mission of Transforming Lives in action!

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