Read stories from our board members, volunteers, and employees that highlight JFS’ mission of Tikkun Olam (healing the world) and show the impact we make every day in our community. Check back each month for a new story.
On a cold day, with snow in the forecast, the Personal Affairs Management (PAM) department felt warm and welcoming. I was given the opportunity to talk with Dorothy Salomonsky as she celebrated her 25th year at JFS.
Dorothy has been the driving force that propelled the PAM department to be nationally recognized as a leader in safeguarding the personal and financial affairs of vulnerable adults (age 18 and older). These clients all have physical and or mental impairments and no family or friends to assist or care for them.
The program got started when Dorothy, who had recently retired from teaching, started volunteering at the old JCC. She had taken some adult education classes and was asked by a friend to help with older adult programming. Shortly after Dorothy started, JFS was given a grant for 10 hours a week to assist with check writing and telephone assurance.
Dorothy never said no and very quickly became the volunteer coordinator with a bigger group to organize. She learned on the job and helped create a new program which became the PAM department. This program for personal affairs management now consists of a multidisciplinary panel that provides a range of services.
In 2018 Dorothy was 1 of 20 women chosen from hundreds of nominees for the title of Woman of Influence. This honor is given to community leaders by Inside Business. Thanks to Dorothy, JFS is recognized as a leader in providing guardian/conservator services performed in a manner that places the least restrictions on a client’s rights and provides the respect they deserve.
In 2020 PAM has 850 clients and 55 employees across the state of Virginia. Referrals come from judges, lawyers, doctors and family members. When asked what makes our program so great, Dorothy replied, “We are here to help the most disenfranchised citizens of Virginia. The common denominator is they have no people. We become their people.”