By Kristin Lobenstein, JFS Financial Coach
There are few times in a person’s life that bring a sense of profound helplessness. The sudden death of a spouse or partner is one of those times. When this occurs, there is little time to say goodbye or get your affairs in order. JFS has often been a referral source for such occasions, and we are proud to offer services to widows and widowers on their journey to repair and rebuild their lives.
Such was the case of Rebecca*. Her husband of twenty years, with whom she shares three children under the age of eighteen, passed away quickly after being diagnosed with cancer. Before his death, Guy* came to JFS seeking a notary for his will and assistance for his wife. Guy was worried about Rebecca. How would she handle everything on her own following his death?
Since coming to the United States in 2013, Guy had managed everything while Rebecca took care of the kids. Rebecca came to the United States with Guy from Israel, but her home country is France. She is fluent in English, French, Hebrew, and Spanish; however, she did not understand how to manage her household’s basic expenses. She had worked in various jobs across two different countries, but she had not worked in several years and never in the United States.
When Guy came to JFS seeking help for Rebecca, he didn’t just give her a resource; he gave her a lifeline. The wraparound services JFS offers literally wrapped around Rebecca, offering her support for just about everything. From her frequent questions – how do I access the mortgage, how do I order a prescription, who do I call for insurance, what does the IRS do? – to her emotional needs. All addressed by staff members at JFS. Few people in the organization did not have a phone call from Rebecca or some form of contact with her.
She received counseling for herself and her kids, financial and career coaching, grief support, and more. And over time, Rebecca learned how to become creative, resourceful, and whole. So resourceful, in fact, that she has become a resource for other women in the community, helping them understand their finances. When I asked Rebecca what the most powerful moment of her experience was, she said, “I was just a peanut. I knew nothing. I was so confused with everything I had to do – all the bills, changing names, filing paperwork, the house. It was so difficult. I didn’t even know I could do all of this. But I am doing it!”
After a year, and with the help of her career coach, Rebecca got a job. Something she thought would take much longer. “I thought it would take years for me and my kids to become stable. It was much shorter than I expected. JFS gives me hope. They have become family for me. I feel loved.”
Congratulations Rebecca! We are proud to have helped you on your journey.
*names have been changed for client confidentiality