The United Task Force for Families and Children at Risk, the group that unites over 37 pivotal frum organizations, is preparing to take the next step forward in streamlining our community’s response to crisis.
On Wednesday, November 12, representatives of the various Task Force organizations gathered in the offices of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for another of their regularly scheduled conferences. The meeting’s agenda centered on the development of a uniform system of response to crises that extend beyond any one particular organization’s purview.
Each of the task force’s member organizations already handles crises on a regular basis; however, the roles and goals of the different organizations vary greatly. To bring a few examples: Hatzalah, Shomrim, and Bikur Cholim handle crises related to health and safety, while Ohel and COJO deal with dysfunctional family situations. Counterforce and MASK specialize in at-risk issues, while P’tach and HASC work with special-needs children and adults. Shalom Task Force and Sister-to-Sister focus on marital problems, while Agudath Israel of America, National Council of Young Israel, and the Orthodox Union address political or social needs within their respective communities. Often, a crisis can supersede the boundaries of any one of these organizations, and the appropriate response calls for a combination of interventions from several of them.
Under the umbrella of the United Task Force, these organizations are working together to create a streamlined system of communication that will allow each organization to work with the others for the benefit of the family in crisis. Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender of Achiezer, a lead voice of the task force, is excited. “When organizations can collaborate, and work hand-in-hand with one another, our community members and the Jewish people at large can accomplish so much more for one another.”
“Wednesday’s conference proved to be a significant step forward in this process,” said Dr. Faye Zakheim, co-chair of the task force. In addition to its primary agenda, the conference included a special commemoration to task force founder Rabbi Dr. Joel S. Rosenshein, whose work on behalf of learning-disabled and handicapped children has impacted hundreds of children over the course of the past four decades.
The task force represents a tremendous outlet of help, whereby each community organization can rely on the assistance and expertise of every other. By creating a smooth and easy platform for communication, the task force moves one step further in its goal of ensuring a seamless response to any type of crisis.