"Best Part of the Week" - JFM Grants Have a Lasting Impact at JCFS

by Stu Slayen | Mar 02, 2018
No matter the weather, 81-year-old Gregori Mostkov rarely misses his Thursday morning program with Jewish Child and Family Service. He even has an attendance certificate recognizing his loyalty. 

“It is the best part of the week,” says Mostkov. “Through the program, I learn about life in Canada.”

JCFS launched the Integration Program for Immigrant Seniors in 2011 in response to an unexpected influx of about 80 Jewish seniors following their adult children to Winnipeg. Initially, the program’s exclusive focus was on English language training, but the curriculum expanded to meet a broader set of needs. Two $15,000 grants from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba in 2012 and 2013 allowed JCFS to enhance the program.

“The Foundation grants helped us enrich the lives of the participants,” says Cheryl Hirsh Katz, Manager of Adult Services at JCFS. “The program prevents isolation. They go on outings, they have created a social environment for themselves, we celebrate Jewish holidays together, and they learn about life in Canada. For some of them, this is the only time they get out in a week. We are still benefitting from those early grants.”

Some of the participants – like Mostkov – have been with the program since its first days. 

His story resembles that of many of the participants. He was born in Ukraine where he worked as a mechanical engineer, and moved to Israel with his family when he was 54. He settled in Arad, and worked in Israel until he retired to look  after his grandson. His son Vladimir started researching new opportunities in Canada, and chose Winnipeg because of the support and enthusiasm of the Jewish community. Vladimir, wife Victoria, and son Igal moved here about a decade ago. Gregori Mostkov followed about nine years ago, not long after his wife passed away in Arad.

Mostkov’s life in Winnipeg has been fulfilling. He lives with his son, swims regularly at the Rady JCC, and looks forward to every Thursday. 

“I like Winnipeg – even in the winter. It’s a very good city with good people,” says Mostkov. “The program is very important to me. It is good for my mood and good for my health.”