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JFCS Named 2023 ACE Community Impact Winner

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  • Written By: Phoenix Business Journal
JFCS Named 2023 ACE Community Impact Winner

The Phoenix Business Journal recognized the top revenue-generating and fastest-growing businesses in the Valley on Thursday, Nov. 16, during the 2023 Arizona Corporate Excellence (ACE) awards held at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, sponsored by CliftonLarsonAllen, Vaco, UMB Financial Corp. and Keyser.

More than 350 guests were present at the 29th annual event to celebrate the top 50 private companies, 25 fastest-growing businesses and 11 not-for-profit organizations, which is a new category this year. In addition, four specialty awards were presented to Rookie of the Year, Community Impact CEO of the Year and Innovator of the Year.

Top 3 largest not-for-profit companies:

  1. FSL
  2. United Food Bank
  3. Jewish Family & Children’s Service

2023 ACE Awards Community Impact Winner: Jewish Family & Children’s Service

For nearly 90 years, Jewish Family and Children's Service has helped those with the greatest needs.

Founded in 1935 in Maryvale, the nonprofit offers a range of primary and behavioral health services to over 40,000 individuals each year, almost exclusively serving those hovering around the poverty line.

CEO Lorrie Henderson said 60% of what they do involves mental health care, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Many clients return for repeat visits, depending on their circumstances.

Between 90% and 95% of the people served are at or below the poverty line, Henderson said, making the work they do even more critical as they serve some of the neediest people in the community.

Other services include child welfare such as family reunification, domestic violence shelters with housing for 100 women and children on its campus, homelessness and other adult programs.

“We feel like we contribute to helping the community in a lot of different ways. When we're able to maintain kids and families in the home or we're able to maintain individuals with significant mental illness, when we're able to provide transitional housing and emergency shelter for women and children that need to get out of a abusive relationship — all those things actually help,” Henderson said.

JFCS has expanded since its inception to now have multiple locations throughout the Valley.

The goal of the organization is to make an impact on a local level through a combination of social and health care services available to anyone, Henderson said.

Because of the nonprofit's name, he said some people believe its services are not available to everyone. But the philanthropic organization is open to people of all races, religions, cultures and communities.

“That's something that we always have to work on getting the word out ... in fact, our biggest demographic is Hispanic and then African American, and then white after that,” Henderson said. “We do have programs for Jewish people, but by far the biggest numbers kind of reflect the community.”

Finding ways to impact the Valley

Keeping families together and disrupting generational cycles of abuse and dysfunction is at the core of what the nonprofit does and is the key to making an impact on the community, Henderson said.

“Being able to change that cycle is just really huge in the sense that they will not have to perceive that that's just how the world is, and that's how everybody works,” he said. “We can disrupt that cycle, get them on a path of a healthier life and a healthier way to look at things, and I think that just spreads to everywhere.”

This commitment to making an impact and affecting change has not come without adversity. Notably, the Covid-19 pandemic pushed the organization to be innovative during a time when clients were already struggling with transportation needs. That's when it ramped up telehealth and telebehavioral services.

“We had just started it, and we were really lucky that we did,” Henderson said.

Part of the virtual services included providing mini tablet notebooks to clients to make sure they did not miss their appointments.

As a result, JFCS has been able to expand their reach while maintaining their services.

“It's such a great tool, and that's really the biggest barrier [that] clients will cite is transportation,” he said. “So being able to do that helps them to get and maintain the care that they need. … it's made us more efficient, more effective. Everybody [has] loved it.”

This article was written by Mignon A. Gould and originally published in the Phoenix Business Journal.