Jewish Family Service deems Park City resident a ‘Woman of Action’
Jewish Family Service’s Park City office is located at 650 Round Valley Drive. For information about Jewish Family Service, call 435-640-6697 or visit jfsutah.org.
Sara Klein and her husband Jonathan moved to Park City from Pittsburgh in 2001 as part time residents, having skiing there since 1985.
In 2004, they made Park City their permanent home, and Sara immediately got involved with fundraising for the then soon-to-be constructed Temple Har Shalom. In 2009, Jewish Family Service, a nonprofit that serves people of all faiths in Salt Lake City and Park City, asked Klein to serve on their board of directors. After six years as a board member, Klein continued to work on the nonprofit’s development committee.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, JFS honored Klein and Salt Lake resident Ann Bernstein as “Women of Action” during its 11th annual tribute dinner at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
“It was extremely touching,” Klein said. “I’ve never received an award before. My husband has lots of awards, so finally I have one that I can put with his.”
“During the event, we recognize people who have been very involved with the progress of our agency, and (are) loved in the community,” said Ellen Silver, executive director of the nonprofit. “Sara was our first Park City board member, and she began to connect us with people and educate the community about Jewish Family Service.”
Klein said she felt like an impostor when Silver told her she would be receiving the award.
“I really felt like I haven’t done much,” Klein said. “But as the weeks passed, I started to see how much we actually did.”
Silver said honoring Klein was natural.
“She had done so much for us, and she was actually our first step in getting to know people and provide services up here in Park City,” Silver said. “In addition to help raising funds to build Temple Har Shalom, she “She knew a lot of people. So we reached out and talked to her about what we did and asked her if she would like to help.”
Klein accepted the invitation to the board because the nonprofit, which has independent branches nationally, has helped her throughout her life.
“In my married life I have moved to about 11 different cities where we didn’t know anybody,” she said. “I used JFS as a resource and I would call them and ask the dumb questions, like where the synagogue was, and they were very helpful.”
One year, Klein’s family found itself in a predicament. Jonathan’s daughters were living with them in Chicago and the oldest, Debrah, was going into her senior year of high school and the youngest, Melissa, was a rising freshman.
“Jonathan got transferred to Boston, and we had a decision to make whether or not (the girls and I) stay until both girls graduated high school,” Klein said.
Ultimately, the family made the choice to pick up roots once again.
“We decided we weren’t going to live apart that long, so we moved with the daughters and it was such a difficult time.”
Klein called JFS for help and found they had a counseling department for high school students.
“I didn’t know where to turn, and they came through for us,” she said.
Jewish Family Service has grown since 2009, said Klein, now a mother of four and grandmother to eight.
The nonprofit also provides affordable mental health counseling, care planning and management for seniors, caregiver support, financial emergency assistance and a food pantry, she said.
The organization has also developed programs for parents and refugees.
“Ellen is constantly trying to find new ways to serve the community and get funding for those projects, and she is very successful at doing that,” Klein said.
Recently JFS has expanded its counseling services into Park City, and recruited a Spanish-speaking translator.
“I love the counseling we provide, and I am so glad we are able to serve our Hispanic community,” Klein said.
This is one of the goals Silver has as the nonprofit’s executive director.
Community – all of it – is important to Silver.
“We serve not just people from the Jewish community, but the whole community,” she said. “Initially our focus was the Salt Lake area, and it’s only been in the past few years that we have had a presence in Park City. We are working hard to have an expanded presence up here.”
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