This week, when Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey's COVID-19 Emergency Relief committee met, the group evaluated the most recent in a string of applications to make its latest grants for people hardest hit, financially, by the COVID-19 crisis. What was remarkable was just how unremarkable the applicants and their situations appeared: ordinary people, like the committee members, people who have been active in the community, have supported Jewish Federation, synagogues, and other Jewish casues over the years. Now, with their lives turned around, where else can they turn? They turned to Federation and this is how we are helping.
In March 2020, the world we live in, as we know it, ended. COVID-19 hit hard and fast as our community (and the nation, and the world) adjusted to a whole new way of life. Shelter-in-place and quarantine were the new norm. Masks and gloves were a staple. Toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer and disinfectant were impossible to find. Grocery stores were left empty as hospitals prepared for the worst and prayed for the best.
Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, like sister Federations across North America, had to act and act fast. We quickly rolled-out a community-wide COVID-19 Emergency Relief campaign that would be used to support as many people in the community as it could. We enlisted our community partners, lay leaders, volunteers and friends – all who came together to raise money for what was to come.
That time is now. As the effects of COVID-19 has coursed through the Jewish community, vulnerable individuals and families have faced loss of income and support services, increasing mental healthcare needs, and inability to navigate a new way of caring for themselves. The COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund helps these folks with basic needs.
Federation put together a small committee of community members who are responsible for the distribution of dollars from the Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. This group determined that best ways to use the funds, is to provide significant help with basic needs to families affected by COVID-19. Distributions from the fund are intended to address an immediate need to support families while they work to resolve ongoing concerns/issues. The dollars distributed are meant to help families with basic human needs: food, shelter, clothing, health & wellness, and medicine.
Applications come through our Jewish community's human services agencies, Jewish organizations' and other community leaders. The application process is simple and straightforward; the decisions almost immediate.
The committee meets weekly and to date has given out thousands of dollars to families who lack the means to buy produce, meat, fish and vegetables to sustain their families; must-have medication that is no longer covered by health insurance because of job loss; and rent and/or mortgage help to those who have fallen behind significantly.
No one wants to be in the position they’re in. Each family, in their own right, is doing what they can to find work and get back on their feet once more.
Through Federation's partner network of organizations, referrals can be made for employment-related and other support services. In addition, Federation has created a portal to a wide range of COVID-19-related resources at JewishLifeOnline.org.
If you or someone you know needs help or can help, please contact us.