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At Central Synagogue

Special Support Available to Seniors by DOROT Social Worker Jackie Pykon

Posted April 3, 2019

Jackie Pykon brings special expertise in geriatric care to our Central members. Whether congregants are dealing with an illness or injury, or struggling with loneliness or isolation, Jackie is available to offer advice and recommend agencies that can help. She and Rabbi Lori Koffman also lead several bereavement and support groups for those who have lost a spouse or partner, for those who have lost children, or those who are caring for loved ones. See below to read more about Jackie and the services she provides.

1. Could you describe your role at Central?

My role is to provide emotional support as Members go through a variety of life transitions.  As a social worker, I partner with Rabbi Salth and Rabbi Koffman to offer supportive services to senior members of our congregation and to members of the “sandwich generation” who might be caring for an elderly parent. Some issues may relate to adjusting to retirement or coping with physical or cognitive decline. Also, a lot of the help I provide is case assistance, helping to identify and refer people to resources related to senior housing, legal help, Medicaid, memory loss, personal emergency response systems and caregiver support. Additionally, as a Social Worker for DOROT – a nonprofit organization whose mission is to alleviate social isolation among the elderly and to help keep them living independently in the community, I refer older congregants to an array of the programs and services offered.

2. What would you say is your main goal?

My goals are to help congregants feel supported, connected and independent. For example, I’m working with Rabbi Salth to promote Central’s Caring Committee, which is establishing a pool of volunteers from the congregation who can support congregants who may be homebound, or returning from a hospital stay.

In addition, with Rabbi Koffman I co-lead a bereavement group for those who may have lost a spouse or partner, and the Caregiver Café for those who are caring for loved ones who are struggling physically and/or emotionally. Rabbi Koffman also leads a bereavement group for parents who have lost their children (at any age).

3. What made you interested in becoming a social worker?

My first career was in human resources, but I decided I wanted to be part of a helping profession outside of corporate America. I realized that I needed real training if I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, so I went back to school and attended the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, which is part of Yeshiva University. It was there that I began working with seniors and found that I loved helping this population.

4. What has been the most rewarding about the work you do at Central?

When people feel isolated, or alone, and you can provide them with resources and social support, you can change their lives in a really meaningful way. Sometimes just changing one thing in their life or their world can trigger so many positive outcomes. I like to believe that I help to instill hope. When I can make a change and show someone that there’s still value and quality of life for them – that’s incredibly rewarding.

Would you like to know more about Central’s social services, bereavement groups or assistance for seniors? Please contact Rabbi Mo Salth at clergy@censyn.org, Rabbi Lori Koffman at koffmanl@censyn.org, or Jackie Pykon, LMSW at jpykon@dorotusa.org.