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JFS, Federation collaborative effort lands grant for enhanced training to help Holocaust survivors

Jewish Family Services, working in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, has been awarded a grant to better serve Holocaust survivors in the Kansas City area.

The grant focuses on person-centered, trauma-informed supportive services, and comes from the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, recently established by the Jewish Federations of North America, or JFNA (the national organization that represents Kansas City’s Jewish Federation and others across the United States and Canada). 

The funding is a combination of federal and philanthropic dollars raised through JFNA and its members. This marks the first time in history that the United States federal government has provided direct funding for Holocaust survivor services.

Research indicates that Holocaust survivors often need more support dealing with age-related illness and disability because of the trauma faced during that horrific time. As they age, many survivors can benefit from additional supportive services to successfully meet their health and psychosocial needs, live in their own homes, and stay engaged with their communities.

JFS put together a compelling grant application seeking funding for enhanced trauma-informed care training, and for increasing the hours of a bilingual staff member serving Holocaust survivors. The conditional grant was then awarded pending the raising of matching funds in the Kansas City community. JFS partnered with the Jewish Federation to raise matching funds, and thanks to the generosity of Sam Devinki and Mary Stahl, local survivors will benefit from the additional training and services.  

“We are so grateful to Sam Devinki and Mary Stahl for the match they provided to the JFNA grant,” said Don Goldman, JFS executive director. “Their support enables us to significantly expand our services to survivors and better incorporate knowledge about the role of trauma in people’s lives into how we design and deliver our services.”

“It is a pleasure to partner with Jewish Family Services to bring the best care available to those in need in our community,” said Helene Lotman, Jewish Federation president & CEO. “Together we are helping Holocaust survivors live their lives in dignity here in Kansas City, just as we do in Israel and around the world via our overseas partners and programs.”

Something unique about this partnership is that it goes beyond the local agencies, as the funds come from the national Federation organization. 

“We’re grateful to JFNA’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care for this opportunity to enhance our services to Holocaust survivors,” said Richard Odiam, JFS chief program officer. “What’s so great about the trauma-informed care (TIC) approach and training is that it applies to everyone: it’s not only about those we serve, but also about self care, resilience and creating a safe and trusting professional environment.”

JFS staff members say the grant will help them in providing services in many ways.

“The trauma-informed care paradigm helps to contextualize the experiences of individuals who have suffered significant trauma. It guides us both in our care of these individuals and our care of ourselves,” said Laura Gilman, JFS care management team manager. “We feel grateful to have the opportunity to offer this training to each department in JFS and to our community partners who also serve our Holocaust survivors. We believe this education and understanding will help all of us better serve our Holocaust survivor community in particular, as well as anyone else who may have suffered serious trauma,” Gilman says.

Under the grant, JFS staff will receive enhanced trauma informed care training as will private homecare providers that work with survivors, caregivers, volunteer drivers, food pantry volunteers and staff at other Jewish organizations who interact with this population. JFS will also be able to significantly increase the hours of a bilingual staff member who serves its Holocaust survivor clients.

Sarah Chao is JFS’ Russian-speaking care manager who often works with Holocaust survivors. She said the training through this grant will be very helpful for the work she does.

“It is important for me to understand how past trauma affects their lives today,” Chao said. “I want my clients to feel safe, and my awareness of potential triggers reduces any risk of re-traumatization.”

For more information about the services JFS provides for Holocaust survivors, contact Laura Gilman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 913-730-1441.