Park City Community Foundation awards Jewish Family Service executive director
For information about the Park City Community Foundation’s Trisha J. Worthington Award, visit parkcitycf.org/archive/trisha-worthington-award.
During the week between the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jewish Family Service Executive Director Ellen Silver had one more thing to celebrate.
She was named the recipient of the the Park City Community Foundation’s Trisha J. Worthington Community Service Award, which is given for work in charitable and community endeavors.
“It was a big surprise,” Silver said. “The award came at a time of year where there is a sense of renewal when I reflect on what I’ve done and what the organization has done in the past year. I was speechless, which doesn’t happen very often.”
The award, named after the former Park City Community Foundation executive director, is usually given out during a grant awards ceremony, but due to COVID-19, the presentation was done more informally, according to Silver.
“I was asked to speak to their board about what Jewish Family Service has been doing through the pandemic, and after I said a few words, I was presented with the award by (board member) Anna Frachou.”
Silver’s name has been added to a long list of Trish J. Worthington Award recipients who include People’s Health Clinic founder Dr. John Hanrahan, Susan Richer, who helped establish the Community for Children’s Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the Summit County Children’s Justice Center, and Zulema Espinoza for her work at the Christian Center of Park City.
“I’m extremely proud and honored that Ellen was nominated and selected for this award,” Worthington said in a statement. “This has been a challenging several months for many people and Ellen’s team has strengthened our community during these difficult times. Her dedication to individuals and families of all backgrounds has been vital during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
With the support of donors and the Worthington Family Fund, Park City Community Foundation will grant $1,000 to a local cause chosen by the awardee, which will be Jewish Family Service this year.
“I’m thrilled to be recognized by those who I respect, and the Community Foundation has been an organization that I have respected from the very beginning,” Silver said. “The staff and everyone in the office are a joy to work with. They are so committed to everything they do.”
During the novel coronavirus pandemic, Jewish Family Service, which serves people of all faiths, primarily worked to provide rental assistance to local families, Silver said.
“We’ve helped 900 families in Summit County, and close to an additional 300 in Salt Lake City, with our offices there,” she said. “These are families who have either experienced lost jobs or have been under-employed and worked reduced hours, which haven’t been sufficient enough to pay for all their basic needs. We’re thrilled as an organization that we can be there to do that for them.”
Silver also worked to beef up the nonprofit’s counseling services during the past six months.
“Through this time, counselors have been seeing families virtually and dealing with the stressors that have been popping up through this pandemic,” she said. “While we want to help families meet their basic needs, we also want to make sure these families have their mental health needs met.”
Since March, JFS has seen an increase of clientele from the local Latinx population, Silver said.
“We have a great bilingual counselor to help with that, and I think helping these families through this difficult time has strengthened the trust within that community,” she said.
Silver, who moved to Park City from New Jersey in 2004, and was appointed executive director of Jewish Family Service in 2008, originally planned a career in special education.
“During my high school and college years, I had worked with those who had developmental disabilities, but somehow my path took me to social work,” she said.
Silver’s path was encouraged by her parents, who knew she enjoyed volunteering and helping others.
“I started my career in direct service being a clinical therapist with families that have suffered trauma and loss, and I specifically worked with first responders, their families and other survivors of the 9/11 attacks,” she said. “Now, as an administrator at JFS, I’m working with a great group at JFS. I feel this award was given to me because of the hard work from my staff, because the work at the agency is really done with their boots on the ground doing the hard stuff.”
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