Meet Jeff Berenholtz

Jeff Berenholtz knows that his “Big” Brother played a huge role in where he is today.

Living downtown, working in health care, while earning a master’s degree, Jeff’s future looks bright. But when he was only five, his parents divorced and his father was no longer a part of his life. His mother reached out to the JCS Big Brother Big Sister program.

“My mom was concerned I would grow up without a father figure. She knew she couldn’t fill that void, and she knew how important it was for a boy.”

His mother contacted JCS and Jeff was connected to a Big Brother. The two began to spend time on the weekends together. “We went hiking, celebrated birthdays and shared holidays together. He took me to Boy Scouts. He made a huge impact on my life,” he says.

When his Big started his own family, Jeff blended in perfectly, becoming “Uncle Jeff” to the kids.

In addition to the activities, Jeff’s “Big” made sure he learned life skills. He taught him how to budget money, and emphasized the importance of hard work and loyalty.

When it was time to apply for college, Jeff’s “Big” sat down and helped him with the college application process. Knowing that finances were a concern, Jeff contacted JCS, applying for one of their scholarships. JCS offers scholarships that are available to Jewish students from the Baltimore Metro area from single-parent homes for assistance in pursuing higher education at an accredited U.S. college or university. JCS also pointed him to other sources that could help him navigate the complicated financial options for paying for college.

In fact, those sources, along with the JCS scholarship that Jeff was awarded, enabled him to graduate with minimal loans – which he has since paid off. Now he has the resources to pursue a graduate degree.

And because of what he gained from his Big, he hopes someday to give back to the community and become a Big Brother, himself.

“Thanks to JCS and The Associated, I was very, very fortunate to meet the right people. There are services out there. All you need is one person to point you in the right direction. It could be the opening to your future.”

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