Gesher Human Services announced as new name for merged metro Detroit nonprofits JVS Human Services and Kadima

Gesher Human Services has been announced as the new name for the merged organizations JVS Human Services and Kadima, two prominent nonprofits serving vulnerable communities in metro Detroit. Gesher Human Services will provide the best of both organizations – JVS Human Services’ career and job-seeking programs, social services and vocational programs including services for people with developmental disabilities; and Kadima’s behavioral health services including supportive housing, for adults with serious mental health challenges. Founded by Detroit’s Jewish community, both JVS and Kadima, now Gesher, proudly serves all metro Detroiters, regardless of religion, race, or other factors.  The new name, which means bridge in Hebrew, has the tagline Gesher: The Bridge to Where You Want to Be.

In August 2021, it was announced that a new single organization would be created to provide a broader continuum of care, more robust and higher quality programs, and overall better outcomes for individuals with disabilities. This new combined organization has been operational since January 1, 2022 and was temporarily referred to as JVS+Kadima. The new name was announced Wednesday at the 25th Anniversary of Strictly Business, an event held in downtown Detroit, which brought together dozens of businesses and individuals to raise funds to assist unemployed and underemployed metro Detroiters.

“Our new name, Gesher, resonated with us because we see our organization as providing a bridge to where people want to be, whether at work, at home, or in their community,” explained Paul Blatt, formerly president and chief executive officer of JVS Human Services and now holding that role at Gesher Human Services. “We proudly offer services and support to all metro Detroiters who can benefit from our expertise, but the name maintains our past, present, and future ties to the Jewish community, which originally founded both organizations.”

For the process of choosing a new name, the national branding and marketing agency TribalVision was hired. Blatt said the focus of the agency and board members in choosing a new name was based on the organization’s work and the impact on the 12,000 people served annually.

“The metaphor of a bridge kept coming up and we were reminded of the old Jewish saying, ‘the whole world is a narrow bridge, the important thing is to not be afraid’,” said Eric Adelman, formerly executive director of Kadima and chief advancement officer at Gesher Human Services. “Our work supports people on that bridge, so they can make it across.”

Gesher is a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the central fundraising and planning organization of the Detroit Jewish community.

There are dozens of services offered by the two agencies including career counseling and job placement for job seekers with obstacles to employment. Unemployment can be as high as 80 percent for individuals with severe and persistent mental health issues, so the new organization will be able to seamlessly assist metro Detroiters suffering from such illnesses. Other services include supportive housing for individuals with severe mental illness, day programs for adults living with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness, a day program for people living with dementia (in partnership with Jewish Senior Life), counseling for families in crisis, financial education, assistance, and support coordination for adults living with mental health challenges, enrichment activities, and more.

Gesher expects that programs will be upgraded, updated, and strengthened because of the merger. Through shared operational and administrative savings, it will now be able to re-invest funds into programs that directly benefit and support underserved community members, such as those with development disabilities, autism, or mental illness. Deeper investments in areas of clinical services and compliance will allow for more data-driven decision making and impact measurement, all exponentially enhancing outcomes for people served and the community at large. All current services of each organization will stay within Gesher without interruption; in some cases, services will be enhanced.