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April 04, 1986 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-04-04

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Norma Silver and
her 30 volunteers at
the Jewish Information
Service have the answers
to your questions.

Special to The Jewish News


f you've got a question, chances
are that Norma Silver and her
volunteers have the answer.
The questions for them at the
Jewish Information Service (JIS)
telephone hotline range from sum-
mer camp for kids to meals for the
From the Jimmy Prentis Morris
Branch of the Jewish Community
Center in Oak Park, Mrs. Silver
works with a staff of volunteers
trained to answer questions about
Jewish agency services. Whenever
possible, JIS refers callers to local
organizations and agencies that can
be of assistance.
Since its inception ten months
ago, JIS has received more than
1,000 calls. Many inquiries have fo-
cused on care for the chronically ill
or elderly, like the man seeking in-
formation on local nursing homes for
his mother. Other callers want to
know about study. scholarships in Is-
rael, about infant day care, about a
latch-key program for the children of
working parents.
The woman behind JIS is
Norma Silver. A health care profes-
sional for more than 40 years, Mrs.
Silver retired as associate adminis-
trator at Sinai Hospital in 1982. She
then joined the Jewish Welfare Fed-
eration as a planning consultant to
the Task Force on Community Based
Services to the Non-Institutionalized
Elderly. When the Task Force cited
the need for a phone-in information

1 4.tesmr
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service, Mrs. Silver accepted the
position of director, while remaining
a consultant to Federation.
"The unique thing about us,"
says Mrs. Silver, "is that we follow
up, we call back, and we keep cal-
ling back until we are convinced

Jewish Information Service


.that the people are linked to appro-
priate services."
"An elderly man who wanted to
move out of Detroit called us re-
cently because he felt that he was
being taken advantage of. He
wanted to sell his house, but his real
estate agent would not offer him a
fair price for it. We arranged for an
ethical real estate agent. We called
back, and he said he needed transpo-

rtation, so we arranged for that.
We've been in touch with his agent
to make sure he got a fair price for
the house. When it came time for
him to move, we found a volunteer
to help him pack."
To serve a greater number of
people, JIS networks with other
Jewish federations and agencies
across the United States. Some cal-
lers planning a move to Detroit want
to know the different services and
programs this Jewish community
has to offer. "We also help adult
children whose parents live in other
states locaie proper services and
facilities (for their parents)," adds
..Mrs. Silver.
"We're in the 'mitzvah' busi-
neis," she says. "Doing good deeds is
what we're all about." Some good
deeds require a special effort as was
the case of a woman from Indiana
*wlfo , wanted help finding her
mother's grave.
The caller was eight years old
when her mother died and was
buried in Detroit. Soon afterward,
her father moved the family to In-
diana and she lost all contact with
her mother's family.
When her father died, the
woman decided to find her mother's
grave and her lost relatives. The In-
diana Jewish federation referred her
to JIS. It took Mrs. Silver and her
staff of volunteers three hours to lo-
cate the grave. And the following
day, the woman was speaking to her

mother's sister for the first time in
29 years.
While some calls are unusual,
Mrs. Silver says that most are for
services that are needed by
everyone. "Years ago, people didn't
worry about transportation and child
care. Today they do and the agencies
must meet the need."
Running an information service
is no easy task. Mrs. Silver is as-
sisted by 30 part-time volunteers
who answer phone calls and make
referrals. "We couldn't function
without our volunteers," she says.
She characterizes them as
"enthusiastic, innovative and con-
cerned," adding, "They use their
hearts, as well as their heads." In
turn, one volunteer describes Mrs.
Silver as "one of the brightest, most
energetic people I know."
Aside from working with the
volunteers,. Mrs. Silver has built up
a Jewish Information Service adver-
tising campaign with the cooperation:
of the Jewish Welfare Federation's
Public Relations Department and
The Jewish News. Articles and ads
have appeared, posters have been
placed in libraries, synagogues and
temples, and public service an-
nouncements are currently running
on cable television and 11 radio sta-
tions. Mrs. Silver maintains, though,
that "the best publicity is a satisfied
customer. Many of our clients are
word-of-mouth referrals and second-

Continued on next page

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