In a bucolic setting far from the problems and poverty the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Monmouth County (JFCS) works hard to alleviate, 175 supporters gathered to celebrate the agency and honor Cheryl and Scott Metzger of Marlboro for their dedication to helping others.
The 35th annual JFCS tribute dinner, held Aug. 2 at the Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, raised about $100,000, according to executive director Paul Freedman.
The money raised funds for, among other services, JFCS’s substance abuse treatment, aging-in-place program, counseling and psychotherapy, food pantry, kosher meals-on-wheels, Holocaust survivor assistance, and senior activities.
Freedman acknowledged the total was down slightly from the previous year, but, he said, “we budgeted for $90,000 so we’re in good shape. We’re always very conservative when it comes to projections.”
He cited the vital role many of the JFCS programs play and the need to continue to secure funding. For example, the Holocaust survivors program already serves 80 clients, but “eight are waiting to receive services we can’t provide because we don’t have the money.”
There are now 110 people in the agency’s addiction treatment program in Asbury Park, half of them with mental health issues, said Freedman. Underscoring the importance of the effort, he said, “There were 65,000 people who died from opiate overdoses in this country last year.”
Additionally, through its food pantry programs, 160 families a month are provided with bags of food each Friday in Asbury Park; some families, said Freedman, line up 90 minutes before distribution time. As a member of Fulfill, Monmouth & Ocean, the counties’ food bank, JFCS is eligible to receive federal- and state-donated food, such as eggs, cheese, fish, meat, produce, and canned goods.
“We purchase fresh produce or get it donated by growers during season,” said Freedman, adding that all the food came from the garden at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls; it donated more than 1,000 pounds of produce last year.
Overall, through the agency’s programs, thousands of people are helped annually, said Freedman. “The way I was raised and what Jewish people believe is we help the whole community where it’s needed,” he said. “We serve everybody,” within and outside the Jewish community.
The Metzgers were lauded for their activism in support of JFCS and the broader community.
Cheryl, a real estate agent, has served on many committees for what is now the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey. Scott, a physician, served on the JFCS board from 1997 to 2000 and has remained an honorary board member. He is vice president of the Marlboro Township Council and serves on the executive committee of the state medical board. The couple are active members of Marlboro Jewish Center and support Chabad of Western Monmouth County and Torah Links of Monmouth County and were previously honored by both. They have four children, who are all involved in volunteer activities.
In accepting the honor, Scott praised the “incredible, really amazing work” JFCS does. “Cheryl and I clearly understand the importance of tzedakah,” he said. “We are strong proponents of involvement in the community.”
Having passed down the importance of giving back to their children, Scott said, he has witnessed a willingness among them and other young people to volunteer in service to those in need.
Others attending the event spoke glowingly about the organization to NJJN.
Tamara Casriel of Deal, who helped found the agency 42 years ago and remains on its board, said she reveled in its growth over the years. The agency, she pointed out, has grown to occupy three offices, in Eatontown, Asbury Park, and Morganville. She and her late husband, Carl, donated the Asbury Park building 35 years ago.
“My husband always said if people need help, we should help,” she said. “I believe it is my business to help.”