Meet Board Member and Jeff’s Best Friend, Jay!

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I recently joined the Board of an organization, near and dear to my heart, Jeff’s Place, and boy do they deliver  the goods.  Jeff’s Place, in Framingham, assists, supports and counsels grieving families while  providing hope for these grieving families that touches me to the core.  Some of you may know my story and for those of you who do not, here is a brief history of how I became passionate about this organization.

In August of 1983 I came home from work for lunch and the phone rang.  I answered the same time as my mother did and I knew something was wrong as I listened to the conversation.  I distinctly remember hearing Jeffery is gone.  Jeff was my best friend, almost like my twin brother because we were born on the same day, spent most free time together, our families were like families and our parents, who’ve been friends for 60 years, are still family to each other today.

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So, to say this was devastating to me, our family, extended family, and multiple friends of the Kaplans is an understatement.  We weren’t prepared to deal with this type of tragedy, we didn’t understand, nor could we wrap our arms around the void. I remember one common theme: stay strong, don’t cry or show emotions around the Kaplans, we need to be strong for them.  Personally, I was leaving for college 2 weeks after that call and didn’t head off in the best frame of mind.

Fast forward, 37 years, wow have things changed, and it’s all due to Dr. Jenny Kaplan, Rick Kaplan and Helen & Bob Kaplan.  Jenny and Rick were Jeff’s brother and sister, and Helen & Bob were his parents.  Jenny went on to receive her PhD in childhood bereavement while working tirelessly to fill a large void in the grieving arena for children and families that was sorely lacking.  Keep in mind; death affects everyone and discriminates against nobody regardless of race or economic status.  The loss of a child, sibling, parent, or caretaker between the ages of 3-19 can and does change the family dynamic on so many levels.  This is the special sauce that Jenny and the professional staff at Jeff’s Place contribute every day to the lives of these kids.

I’ve been involved a bit here and there in both Jeff’s Place and another organization that Jenny started.  And now, I thought it was my time to step up, join the Board and make an effort to help Jeff’s Place really move forward, gain exposure, create awareness and communicate the excellent results this organization brings to all the families who walk through the door.  Jeff’s Place offers counseling and support free of charge to all their families. Please check out our website and spend a few minutes learning about what and how they do it.  We’ve outgrown our current space and secured a new home in Framingham.  This will allow us to provide a more functional space for the current programs, extend the number of families we can provide services, and alleviate waitlists for kids and families who need our services.  This new home will help us grow, expand and improve our service offerings, and help us move into the future. You can mail a check, donate online, through your DAF, or donate stock.

So, I’ve never been in a position to ask for donations before.  I am hoping you can help me by helping Jeff’s Place build an even better foundation for their future. I truly believe in this grass root organization that delivers results, provides exceptional programming, and to be blunt “they get it and get it done,” just ask the families who’ve gone through the program or who are currently in the program.  So, I’m asking for your financial support to help us on many different levels.  100% of all the proceeds go into running Jeff’s Place and making sure we continue delivering results.

If you want to learn more, I would be glad to speak with you directly or Jenny Kaplan, our Founder and CEO, would love to meet with you or speak with you as well. In addition to financial support, the more Jenny can get out and educate and inspire people about Jeff’s Place, the better she and her team can meet the needs of grieving kids and families. Please help me connect her with you or those you know.

In advance, I want to thank you very much for your financial support.  I promise you your support goes beyond anything you can imagine and hopefully never have to experience.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my story and why Jeff’s Place is important to me.



Jay Shapiro