Lifelines: Receiving and Giving

Lifelines: Receiving and Giving

When Dr. Sarah Unterman needed a lifeline, JCFS Chicago was there for her.

“It was really a big deal,” she said emphatically. “It helped me a lot.”

In the early 2000s, Sarah was struggling to pay her bills while living in Chicago and attending medical school. Her grueling academic schedule didn’t allow time for a job to help. A classmate, who also was Jewish, told her about a JVS Career & Employment scholarship offered to Jewish students studying in the health field. The scholarship could be used for either tuition or living expenses. Sarah filled out the application, interviewed for the scholarship, and won it - not once, but twice.

“So, for the last two years of medical school, I didn’t have to take out any loans, which halved the amount of loans that I had,” she said. “It was really a big weight off my mind. I still had to pinch and save, but it was enough for me to be OK.”

Several years later, when she had settled into her career as an emergency physician, Sarah started giving back to the JVS program, and has done so ever since.

“I finished paying the loans, and then, I was thinking, now that I’ve paid my actual creditor, I can give back to the folks who helped me out and who weren’t expecting to get any money back,” she said. “It felt like the right thing to do.”

Now, as a board-certified emergency medicine physician and Chief of Staff/Chief Medical Officer at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, Sarah continues to make referrals to JVS services.

Sarah added, “I haven’t, fortunately, been in need of further services from JVS, but I’ve been able to tell people who were like ‘I need job training services, job placement services or I’m looking for a job,’ I tell them, why don’t you try that?”

If you would like to learn more about the college scholarships and loans administered  by JVS Career & Employment, visit our scholarships page. To learn about JVS services, visit our career services page. To donate to JCFS Chicago, use this weblink or call 773.467.3895. We appreciate your interest and support.