In response to the area’s growing Jewish population, the Monroe office of Jewish Family & Vocational Service of Middlesex County has expanded its space and services and added staff.
Construction is complete on an expansion of the JFVS offices at Concordia Shopping Center, in space vacated by the adjacent Rite-Aid.
With its space increased by more than 60 percent, the agency has room to hire a male therapist, a counselor whose specialty is children, and another specializing in adolescents.
“This will really give us a more well-rounded clinical staff to meet the needs of the community,” said executive director Sara Levine. “Sometimes we get clients who feel more comfortable talking to another man. We just want to create more options for our clients.”
Responding to the growing number of adult communities with significant Jewish populations, the additional space will allow the agency to expand existing programs and to add others. Its breakfast and lunch clubs for seniors had been particularly pressed for space.
“Before, people would call and we would have to tell them they couldn’t come because there was no room,” said Levine. “Now we are already growing.”
The breakfast club now meets twice weekly, the lunch club once a week, but, Levine said, they will likely be offered more often.
JFVS also has an office in Milltown.
Demand for family, teen, and children’s services has also grown along with the population growth in the Monroe area, a result of increased housing built in formerly open space. The Monroe office recently began offering counseling for the first time one night a week and expects to add a second night in the spring.
“Everyone is very excited about it,” said Levine. “This really makes a statement to this growing community of senior adults and families. When this office was first opened its focus was on seniors, but this area has really grown because there are so many more families. This gives us so many opportunities to plan things in the future.”
Beginning this month, the agency is offering “game afternoons” on Mondays for retirees. The game program will be held weekly; if successful, JFVS will offer it more frequently.
On Fridays, JFVS serves a Shabbat lunch, for which reservations are required. “We hope to grow and open [the Shabbat lunch] to the entire community,” said Levine.
Expansion is also planned for the JFVS Women’s Club for widows and other women on their own.
JFVS is currently exploring establishing a book club, a lecture series, and an art class and is looking for an Israeli dance instructor. Levine said it is in the process of creating an evening support group for adult children of aging parents. It now offers a caregivers’ group during the day, mainly attended by spouses.
Other services, already in Milltown, to be added in Monroe in the near future include groups focusing on children’s socialization, teen decision-making, and parenting as well as career services, including counseling, job hunting, and help writing a resume.