End Of An Era
MJAC ceases operations; Jewish Family Service will take over some of its programs.
fter more than 12 years as
a Michigan nonprofit
Michigan Jewish AIDS
Coalition (MJAC) closes its books
Jewish Family Service of
Metropolitan Detroit will consider
integrating selected MJAC programs
into its social service offerings, said
JFS president Terran Leemis of
JFS fully supports the goals of
MJAC, Leemis said. "We've agreed
to examine their programs and look
at each in the context of our mis-
sion. Right now, we can't promise
more than that."
Although the issues that spurred
the formation of MJAC more than
12 years ago haven't gone away,
funding has become more and more
difficult to find, said Michelle
Passon of White Lake, who chaired
the MJAC committee that worked
on arrangements with JFS.
"It was not a unilateral decision,"
Passon said. "Two very good, consci-
entious groups of people — one
from MJAC, one from JFS —
worked very hard on this."
. What the groups came up with
was a plan that combines the servic-
es of the two agencies, said Ellen
Yashinsky-Chute, JFS director of
"MJAC will not be a separate dif-
ferentiated entity," she said.
"Programs will be blended, integrat-
ed into the services we provide."
According to a press release from
the MJAC Ad Hoc Committee, "JFS
has agreed to evaluate each of
MJAC's programs and, consistent
with its current programmatic func-
tions and financial ability, will use
reasonable efforts to integrate some
of those services inside JFS in sup-
port of the HIV/AIDS and GLBT
(gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender)
Yashinsky-Chute said JFS, which
has more than 75 years of experience
is the structure and boundary that
wraps around all the services we
A beneficiary agency of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
and United Way Community
Services, JFS receives about 65 per-
cent of its operating expenses from
these two agencies.
Based in Southfield,
JFS charges its clients fees depend-
ing on the specific service provided,
"magic") was a social serv-
Yashinsky-Chute said, and the
ice agency for people
Outreach), which charges for any former MJAC service
infected, potentially infect-
would be "just as any other JFS pro-
created and ran
ed or touched by HIV, the
virus that causes AIDS, or
"Therapeutic services are based on
by the disease itself.
ability to pay," she said. "We gener-
adults and chil-
In addition, the non-
ally don't charge for outreach."
dren at local
profit agency served as an
"JFS has always done GLBT coun-
seling for youth and in the work-
ECHO also co-
teaching the community
place, and had a support group for
sponsored a dis-
about homosexuality; an
families affected by AIDS,"
advocacy group for those
who self-identify as gay,
Passon said she would have a diffi-
ing in society as
lesbian, bisexual and trans-
cult time deciding which of MJAC's
a gay person.
gender; and a home away
many programs was most important.
from home for members of
"There are so many risk groups —
the GLBT community.
single parents, our teens, our
Faced with rising expens-
she said. "The need of
es and falling contribu-
HIV/AIDS education is crucial for
tions, MJAC board mem-
bers had been seeking
"This is not to underestimate the
some sort of assistance for
GLBT issues. Not a week goes by
er preteen girls,
the past year.
that someone doesn't tell me a mem-
"The programming isn't
ber of their family is GLBT, and
going to fade away," said
they don't know where to go, who
former MJAC president Linda Lee of
else to tell."
drugs, body image and relationship
West Bloomfield. "The community
MJAC "certainly has provided a
issues. SHARE (Supporting Senior
still needs HIV-AIDS education and
much-needed service to the commu-
Health Through AIDS Resources
GLBT programming, and I'm glad
and Education) brought awareness of nity," said Yashinsky-Chute.
Jewish Family Service realizes that."
The organization "has a wonderful
modern sexuality issues to the older
Edwina Davis of West Bloomfield,
of volunteers and we would
MJAC's first paid employee and final
community that has seen the greatest very much like them to continue,"
president, said she would continue
she said. El
rise in HIV frequency in the past
to "do anything possible to keep the
Davis is especially concerned
about continuing the organization's
Policies And Practices
HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
has always welcomed non-
Currently, JFS has provided a
"The services we've provided are
people to its programs, and
telephone line at its Southfield
absolutely vital to the community,"
the JFS will continue that practice,
office for the use of the Michigan 4
Jewish AIDS Coalition. Call
MJAC has worked on an individ-
"What makes JFS Jewish is that
(248) 559-1500 and ask to leave
ual level with community members,
everything we do is based on Jewish
a message for MJAC; someone
helping refer them to medical and
values such as tikkun olam [repairing
will return your call.
counseling services and acting as an
advocate with government, insurance the world]," she said. "The `J' in IFS
in all facets of social serv-
ice, is not planning to hire
additional staff to handle
potential new programs or