2017 Hands Up Together Honorees
David & Sherri Romanoff
You don’t have to dig deep to find out why Sherri and David Romanoff call CJFS their “go-to” non-profit organization – the one they’ve served for decades as leaders, donors and volunteers. “We’ve both been clients of the agency, so we know that the professionalism and compassion of its staff are great assets for the community,” Sherri said. “We respect it, we volunteer for it and we want to be involved in it. It’s the agency of heart for both of us.” On the evening of May 16, CJFS will give some of that love back to Sherri and David when they’re honored at the agency’s annual Hands Up Together event.
Sherri’s volunteer history with CJFS goes back to the days when it was known simply as Jewish Family Services, a committee of the Birmingham Jewish Federation. “We were finding rides for people who didn’t drive. Before there was a Buz-A-Bus, there was a little room at the J where I sat, and there was a calendar, and we would get people rides to wherever they needed to go.”
As CJFS became an independent agency and added new services, Sherri’s life was changing too. When she went through a divorce and was dealing with the challenges of single parenthood, Sherri turned to CJFS for counseling. Similarly, when David’s first marriage ended, he also faced the challenges of single parenthood, and he too found guidance and support at CJFS. “At one time, there was a stigma, that CJFS was only for people who couldn’t afford to go somewhere else,” David said. “But we’ve always been big believers; because we did use it, and we’ve wanted to make people aware that it’s for everybody and offers the highest quality services in town.”
Along the way, there were always opportunities to give back. One of the most memorable times was when Sherri’s entire Corenblum family was paired with a Jewish family that CJFS was resettling in Birmingham from the former Soviet Union. “My father (the late Max Corenblum) had come here from Russia when he was 5 years old, after his parents were killed in the pogroms,” Sherri said. “When we were with our "friendship family," my father would speak Yiddish with them and take them groceries and fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. It was wonderful for us to see Daddy have a positive connection to his roots. We were all very involved, and it was a gift to us to help our friendship family transition to life in Birmingham.”
Over the years, both David and Sherri served as CSFS Board President, and David currently is the board’s Vice President for Fund Development. When they need help, Sherri and David still turn to CJFS. The agency was there when David needed guidance in caring for his aging mother in another state. “And then, when I was re-diagnosed with cancer, I called the agency and asked if they could start a support group for women cancer survivors,” Sherri said. “They did, and that group meant a lot to me and the other participants.”
Today, the primary focus of CJFS is helping older adults live independently with an enriched quality of life. But the agency still provides professional counseling for individuals and families of all ages, and it still serves people of diverse races, religions and income levels. “Just to see how it has evolved and continues to evolve has been an inspiration,” Sherri said, noting how the two-year-old CARES respite program has raised the agency’s profile.
Join us as we honor Sherri and David at CJFS’ 2017 Hands Up Together event on Tuesday, May 16 at the Alabama School of Fine Arts Day Theatre, featuring entertainment by The Hot Tamales, Jan Hunter and Kristi Tingle Higginbotham. For information about sponsoring this event or purchasing tickets, please call 205.879.3438 or email Elaine Witt, email@example.com