In 1957, Long Beach was a modest-sized city poised for growth. It was predominately a Navy town that was experiencing the fruits of the strong post-war economy, with new housing tracts, schools, and shopping areas that were being built on former bean fields all across the eastern part of the city. The Jewish community consisted of a population of about 2600 families comprising some 8900 people among a total city population of perhaps 325,000 at the time.
Along with this thriving Jewish community came the need to provide counseling for families and individuals with their personal problems, emergency financial aid, and when necessary, assistance with the resettlement of refugee families. Fortunately, energized members of the National Council of Jewish Women were determined to satisfy that need. It was they who spearheaded the development of Jewish Family Service of Long Beach, and in January of 1957, the JFS was born. In 1958 additional services were added, such as aid to the aging, unemployment services, and those coping with vocational, housing or health issues. After only two years, the scope and focus of the organization expanded, and with the support of the City of Lakewood, JFS began to offer its services to all Lakewood residents. In doing so, the agency gained its acceptance as a constituent agency of the United Neighbors Community Chest, now known as United Way. This new partnership gave the organization further recognition and stature in the community.
In 1961 the agency created its first support groups, which consisted of a group for women having marital problems, and one for adolescent girls aged 14 to 16. In the 1980’s the agency took a major leap by adding programs specifically to serve children. The agency distinguished the new service by incorporating children into its name. The 1990’s brought expansive growth due to a successful effort to obtain grants from foundations to fund additional services.
Today, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Long Beach has grown to a current budget of nearly $1 million, due to its commitment to meeting the needs of the community and to the many generous donors who have believed in its vision of “a community healed, one person, one family at a time.”