The Giving Issue: Digging Deep To Help Those In Need

Giving comes in all forms, shapes and manners. It can be as random as reaching into one’s pocket when approached by a homeless individual on a street or being part of an organization that strives to make the planet a better place.

We now enter a holiday season when giving — or some would say giving back and paying forward — is on the minds of many people, through community service, by toil and sweat, or with a checkbook. Jmore salutes those individuals who find ways to contribute to our world, and we salute the power of giving.

These stories are mere examples of the tzedakah (righteous or charitable giving) and gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) that take place right here in our midst. Let’s hope and pray that we can extend this spirit of generosity throughout the year and learn to be a bit kinder and more magnanimous toward each other. Therein lies the power of giving. — Jmore Staff

Shalom Tikvah removes the barriers of mental health care services for families in need.

Jonathan Smith was a business owner, a prominent member of the Jewish community who donated thousands of dollars annually to charity, and an avid traveler.

Smith — not his real name — never thought his family would need extensive mental health care services. But life became too much for him after his company filed for bankruptcy, in addition to other serious family issues.

“We lost our income, car and health insurance,” he says. “The stress was horrible. Eventually, we could no longer pay our mortgage, so we sold our house and are now renting a place.”

For years, Smith and his family spent approximately $2,000 a month on therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists, seeing no improvement. That’s when, on a rabbi’s recommendation, Shalom Tikvah stepped in.

Founded in 2017, Shalom Tikvah is a nonprofit that offers comprehensive and coordinated mental health services for families seeking an elevated level of care.

“We were at the end of our rope when Shalom Tikvah stepped in and saved our lives,” Smith says. “We have now gone from a quality of life that was at a one to a seven.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five adults and one in six children experience serious mental health illness in the United States every year.

“There are so many barriers when it comes to mental health care, and we strive to take down those barriers,” says Jennifer Grossman, Shalom Tikvah’s co-founder. “Our families look like our neighbors or our children’s friends’ parents. These are good people in tough situations.”

Grossman, an educator who has extensive experience in the nonprofit world, and Dr. Nicole Glick, a licensed psychologist, founded the organization.

“Our innovative, unique comprehensive care model allows us to treat the entire immediate family,” says Glick. “There is a primary therapist for each family who communicates with psychiatrists, school counselors, physicians, tutors and anyone else involved with the family, so the care can be efficient and coordinated.

“Our job is to coordinate all the care and assistance a family needs, including — but not limited to — marriage counseling, individual therapy, behavioral support, transportation, mentoring and respite care as needed,” she says.

Glick’s initial phone call with families includes an assessment to determine their needs. Then there is a diagnostic interview in which Glick and another therapist gather the family history, followed by a goal-setting meeting.

“We want everything to be collaborative,” says Grossman. “Regardless of your means of income, there is no service that exists like this in the mental health world. Clinicians need to be able to spend more time with families to get to the roots of the problems.”

Families pay a stipend of $180 a month for services, and the amount of services is based on individual family needs. The rest of the money to cover care comes from donations and insurance reimbursements. Currently, insurance covers very little of mental health care services, and most payments are out of pocket.

In addition to clinical practitioners, Shalom Tikvah trains volunteers to spend at least an hour a week with families. The volunteers are a part of the care team, providing reports to the clinicians and serving as eyes and ears about what’s going on in a household.

Since starting with Shalom Tikvah six months ago, Smith has started working full-time and now drives for Lyft for supplemental income.

“I jumped out of the boat and into the life raft just in time,” he says. “We were paralyzed by all the obstacles we faced. Shalom Tikvah has helped us take control of our lives again.”

For information, visit shalomtikvah.org.