This #TBT JUFJ staff wishes everyone a Happy Father’s Day!Here are some pictures of our staff with our dads, granddads, and fathers-in-law. We honor their caregiving this Father’s Day by working to pass Paid Family Leave in DC. Join us by telling the DC Council you’re ready to #LeadOnLeaveDC: wetweet.org/dc
“When I was eight, we lived in Boston. My grandfather was slowly dying of cancer in Florida. My dad, who has always been a great caretaker when anyone is sick, went to nurse his dad through his final few months. It was hard for our family for him to be gone and to have to give up the earnings we needed. But it was the right thing to do. I hope my work for #PaidFamilyLeave honors my dad's caring and my grandpa's memory.”
-Rebecca Ennen, Communications and Development Director
"Every afternoon for the last month or so of my Grandma Polly's life, my dad would go into work early to be able to drive 90 minutes in the afternoon to visit her, deal with her estate, make her final arrangements, or clean her apartment, and drive home to do it all again. He should have been able to take Paid Family Leave to take care of his mom in her final days, without worrying about getting into work in the morning."
-Carla Hashley, Operations and Events Manager
“As a little girl, I had cochlear implant surgery. After the operation, I woke up incredibly dizzy and sick. The kind where you can’t stop throwing up, everything is a bit blurry, and your mother won’t let go of you. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to see your six year old daughter with half of her hair shaved off, yards of gauze swathed around her head, barely able to communicate, and shaky.
The doctor needed to rule out meningitis by doing a lumbar puncture, which is a huge spinal needle that goes into the middle of the patient’s back and collects fluid. The aftereffects of the procedure have given me a lifelong distaste of needles—just seeing medical needles in TV shows like “House” puts me in a high state of anxiety, similar to PTSD.
My mom couldn’t stop shaking as she held my hand, watching this monster of a needle get closer to my back. The doctor needed me to stay still and eventually kicked my mother out because her tension made me anxious and wiggly. I wanted my dad, anyone I loved, to be with me. Thankfully, my grandpa came in. His hand was firm and gentle in mine, a strong solid presence through that painful experience.
I’m happy he was able to be there when I needed a hand to hold, and for my mom when she was freaking out about my post-surgery complications. I’m sure my dad appreciates it as well. He couldn’t take the time off to be there himself—someone needed to pay for my hospital bills after all.
My grandpa also taught me basic addition with M&Ms. I’m sure he’d agree with me that the math behind this campaign is pretty easy: Paid Family Leave + Hospitalized child = Being there when it's scary.”
-Allison Wessels, Online Organizer and AVODAH Corps Member
“Having a newborn is mentally and physically exhausting. So it was really important for me, and for my family for me to be able to be present and focused on caregiving in the early days after each of my sons were born. Having access to Paid Parental Leave meant that I could be a real partner to my wife as a caregiver to our babies. And being so present early on helped us setup the routine of shared parenting that we both hoped for.”
-Jacob Feinspan, Executive Director
DC Community Organizer Sam Jewler’s parents reflect:
“Though I worked for a nonprofit company with liberal policies, paternity leave was not available to me when Sam was very young. My own father worked six days a week in his corner grocery store and was not as available to his children as we or he would have liked. I resolved to spend as much time with Sam as possible and share in his upbringing.”
-Len Jewler, Sam’s dad
“Actually, Dad did take off two weeks early in your life—presumably as vacation leave. His presence/assistance was invaluable, and it would have been terrific if he could have stayed home longer, both because new parenthood is exhausting, physically, emotionally, and mentally; and because he and Sam would have bonded in a somewhat different way if he had been as constant in his life as I was (until I went back to work, of course, when Sam was three months old—way too soon!).”
-Andrea Rosen, Sam’s mom
“When I was born, my dad worked from home and took care of me while my mom went back to work after just two short weeks of leave. The two of them split their parenting responsibilities, allowing me to grow up with a connection with the two of them I am incredibly grateful for. It’s clear from their stories that sharing responsibilities in the beginning helped to create more gender-balanced parenting when my sister was born and while the two of us grew up together.”
-Hannah Weilbacher, Community Organizer and AVODAH Corps Member
“We cared for my father-in-law for about 2-3 years - the one year in particular while he was in a nursing home with Parkinson's dementia. Hilary went every morning before work and every evening after work. We both went on weekends, and Hilary spent most of the weekend there as well. Even before the nursing home, when he started to need a lot more help, we were the primary family support.
Those years caused an incredible strain on our lives and on our relationship. Essentially, all Hilary could was work and take care of her dad. If we had each been able to take paid family leave for some part of that time it would have made a world of difference for us. We might have kept him home and out of the nursing home for at least some period of time, and that would have made a difference too. Having to put him in a nursing home, because we had to keep working and couldn't supervise and manage the kind of care he needed at home, was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced.
In particular, since we were also helping to pay for his care, there was no way either of us could take a chunk of time from work unpaid.
Taking care of an aging parent is so stressful and difficult. It can be a financial strain as well. Paid Family Leave would have made a difference for us – and my father-in-law.”
-Holli Levinson, JUFJ Montgomery County Community Organizer
“My dad has always been an amazing father, and it's only gotten better since my own children were born. He's taught me that you never stop being a parent, no matter how old your kids are. When I need him, my dad will make the 3.5 hour trip to DC at the drop of the hat and then do some pretty extraordinary things. When my daughter was six weeks old, he spent a week getting up in the middle of the night to feed her so I could get some desperately-needed sleep. When my son has gotten sick, my dad has been there to take him to the doctor and comfort him while my husband and I are at the jobs we need to support our family. None of this would be possible if my dad didn't have a flexible job and wasn't able to get paid while taking time out to care for his family. All dads should be able to do for their families what my dad has done for us!”
-Elizabeth Richman, Rabbi-in-Residence and Program Director