Each year, more than 500 Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors receive services through our agency that range from case management to access public benefits and entitlements to in-home support, including handyman and housecleaning visits, as well as holiday food package delivery from teen volunteers. The provision of a comprehensive program serving our most frail population enables the agency to be in the right place at the right time to serve as the safety net when one of our clients is in crisis. Recently, one such client faced insurmountable challenges as a result of her apartment building becoming infested with bedbugs. Forced to dispose of her infected furniture, including her bed and sofa, she had no choice but to use her rent money in order to purchase temporary fixes like an inflatable mattress until she could figure out a better solution. Loathe to depend on others, Nina, a 92-year old émigré from Kiev who was a high school principal earlier in her life, finally felt that had no choice but to reach out to the J in her time of need. Arriving for the first time at the J in 1999, Nina was an active member of our social clubs for survivors, until she became homebound as her health began to deteriorate. Nina is no longer able to get to the J on a regular basis, but we come to her, in the form of regular telephone reassurance calls by our club leader volunteers, in-home case management visits from our social worker as needed, and holiday food package delivery by our teens. Aiding our homebound survivors is a top priority for the agency. Simply put, our survivors might not continue to survive if it were not for our help. This help is not episodic; it is part of our comprehensive approach to serving survivors, which includes support from UJA-Federation of New York, NYC City Council, the Blavatnik Foundation, the Ivker family and friends, many of you, and most recently, a sizable grant from the Jewish Federations of North America, to focus on advanced care planning and the requisite spiritual support to enable survivors and their family members to talk about end of life concerns, empowering survivors to retain control over their decision making as long as possible.
For Nina, this week we’re providing cash assistance. For another survivor, we’re making a home visit in order to help them remain connected to community in the face of their inability to leave their home. For others, it’s the repair or purchase of an air conditioner ahead of the spring/summer season, to enable them to remain comfortable and as healthy as possible as the warmer weather approaches. Nina and so many survivors like her pride themselves on their ability to remain independent. Our work is to help them learn to ask for help when needed, and to be there when they need it. In the wake of her crisis, Nina received a one-time grant of $1,000 to help cover the cost of not only her rent, but for the purchase of a new mattress as well. We extend our invitation to any of our supporters who wish to join a home visit to a homebound Holocaust survivor in our community to be in touch with us today. Ahead of our 90th anniversary celebration, it is especially meaningful to visit our eldest elders – those older than the J!