Debra Steinbuch — How You Help
Not Quiet: Helping Our Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic: By Chrissie & Josh Blatt
By Chrissie and Josh Blatt, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati Campaign Chairs
Given mandatory stay-at-home orders, it can seem as if nothing’s happening in the Jewish community. The J is closed, events are cancelled—even synagogue services—and everything is quiet. But, as Jewish Federation of Cincinnati Campaign chairs, we know the reverse is true: so much is happening. An enormous amount of work and energy in this time of coronavirus is going to help those in increasing need, and our whole Jewish community.
We wanted to share, as only Federation can, some of the really impressive work our Jewish community professionals are doing to support all of us. As the saying goes, we were there on 9/11 because we were there on 9/10. The Federation is organizing the community response and convening our agencies, schools and congregations to keep them running and providing essential support. The Federation and its partner organizations are—virtually—open, and are actively helping as much as they possibly can.
For example, it’s already clear that the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in six areas of increasing need: need for groceries and supplies; need for jobs; need for counseling; need to care for our most vulnerable; need to stop increased isolation and stay connected virtually; and crisis management.
Here is how our community organizations are addressing escalating needs:
Helping people get groceries & supplies
- Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry is still fully operational. They have modified their pick-up so clients receive pre-bagged groceries and supplies, while making sure their staff are maintaining safety protocols.
- With Passover two weeks away, Jewish Family Service is ramping up efforts to provide approximately 650 kosher Passover meals to food-insecure individuals and families.
- With the help of our staff and other community professionals, the Mayerson JCC prepared and delivered 5,000 meals to local homebound seniors through Meals on Wheels. That’s a 14-day, shelf-stable supply for every person.
- The JCC is also continuing Meals on Wheels deliveries as long as they are allowed to do so, and fielding calls from older adults who are having difficulties or have questions.
Helping with job support
- JVS Career Services is working diligently through video chat or phone conference calls to deliver critical support services for job-seekers. These services are currently free of charge to those experiencing financial hardship.
Helping through counseling
- Jewish Family Service is continuing to provide counseling to all its clients, primarily over the phone or through video conferencing.
Helping by caring for our most vulnerable
- Jewish Family Service is checking on Cincinnati’s Holocaust survivors and Russian-speaking seniors, and meeting their needs—whether buying groceries, rescheduling medical appointments, or connecting them virtually with family members.
- The team at the Mayerson JCC has done an “above and beyond” deep cleaning of every surface at the J, so that when people return, it will be a safe space for all of us.
Helping lessen isolation / staying connected
- To keep our Russian Speaking older adults connected, Jewish Family Service Russian Jewish Cultural Center is offering participants English classes online. Classes start March 30.
- The Mayerson JCC has developed an entirely new program of at-home resources. The entire list is being continually updated at mayersonjcc.org/athome. Anyone, member or not, can jump into live-streaming workouts in the J Cincy Fitness Community Group; find arts, culture, and community connections; or find PJ Library stories and more in the J Cincy Families Group.
- The Federation created digital resources to keep us all connected: a COVID-19 Resource Hub, a Virtual Community Event Calendar, and a way to share creative ideas for how to stay connected and support each other. Access all at jewishcincinnati.org.
Crisis management: Federation is helping our agencies, schools and congregations continue operations, so they can help thousands of community members. This includes:
- We accelerated our next funding allocation to community agencies, including to Jewish Family Service, the Mayerson JCC, and JVS Career Services, so they can continue to serve the most vulnerable among us.
- Our Shared Business Service professionals are supporting over 20 agencies, congregations, and schools, while operating remotely and despite fast-changing financial realities.
- Federation is providing a communications backbone for the community – convening our agency and organizational professionals and rabbis every week by video call to understand everything from how to secure government relief funding to how to do funerals safely during the crisis.
- Seeking financial relief for our Jewish nonprofits, in collaboration with our national umbrella organization and our Jewish Community Relations Council.
- Our Jewish Community Relations Council has been doing government advocacy to ensure that state and federal relief includes support for our community.
It’s thanks to this community that our institutions remain so strong. Thanks for doing your part in giving back and staying safe. Know that the Jewish Federation is here for you during this time.
Thanks for caring about our community and what we do.
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