During the COVID-19 pandemic, Creve Coeur’s Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry saw an eightfold increase in new families in need of fresh produce, shelf-stable food and other items. “Our food pantry clients increased exponentially, and we are thankful that staff and volunteers have stepped up in a huge way to accommodate the needs,” says Brian S. Braunstein, president-elect of Jewish Family Services, a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.
In 2019, JFS served more than 55,000 area residents, and the food pantry served more than 15,000 residents. During 2019, JFS also gave 1,700 presentations at 150 schools that empowered more than 35,000 children, teachers and caregivers with skills and information about body safety, the warning signs of abuse and safe internet practices. More than 1,500 children, adolescents, adults and seniors received diagnostic evaluation, counseling and psychiatry services, and more than 1,600 adults 60 years or older received in-home support, fall-prevention education and screenings, hospital readmission prevention care management, chaplaincy visits and referrals to needed resources.
Braunstein serves on JFS’s executive committee and chairs its board of governance committee, and he will become president of the organization in 2021. A member of its board for more than three years, he says he “quickly learned that it is a tremendous agency, even more so during the pandemic.” He brings essential risk management and strategic planning expertise to his leadership role.
Braunstein is assistant vice president and risk management counsel for Enterprise Holdings and its Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands. “COVID-19 has certainly impacted the travel industry, and as local papers have captured, it has also impacted Enterprise significantly,” he says. “Recently, we have seen a large uptick in business and are hopeful that it will continue. My role has not lessened. As you can imagine, the risk management side of any business is a focus point today.”
Braunstein graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business from State University of New York in Buffalo and a Juris Doctor degree from Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University.
Born in New York, Braunstein was raised in the suburbs of Long Island. “My mom passed down the [importance of] volunteer experience to me,” he says of his childhood. “She was a docent at the Holocaust museum in New York and now in Chicago. … My father taught me to live one day at a time and to make the most of the time you have. There are not many 90-year-olds who still play golf three days a week.”
A member of Creve Coeur’s Congregation B’nai Amoona, he enjoyed playing on the temple’s softball team for about 20 years “until I realized I could not keep up with those players 30 to 40 years younger than me.”
Braunstein and his wife, Debbi, met as college freshmen. “She shrugged me off for a bit, but we will be married 37 years in August,” he says. Debbi Braunstein is director of Sharsheret Supports at the metro area’s Jewish Community Center, which provides free breast cancer and ovarian cancer programs and support groups. They have lived in their Creve Coeur home since relocating here and are the parents of two children, both of whom have followed careers in the medical field.
This article first appeared in Ladue News on July 16, 2020.