A Little Re:Spect Goes a Long Way– Marks JCH Single Parent Center

By Max Slutsky
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Victoria is a Russian-speaking Jewish single parent who emigrated to the United States with her then-8 year old daughter in April of 2016 from Israel. This was their second immigration: Victoria was originally born in Ukraine and emigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 1992, where she married, had her daughter, and soon after, divorced. Like many immigrants, Victoria faced significant challenges trying to assimilate to her new life in America. She had distant relatives who were able to provide a roof over her head for her first month in the U.S., but she then had only a few weeks to find a job, a more permanent apartment, and childcare for her daughter. Victoria arrived at the JCH in May 2016 after hearing from a sister émigré that JCH “helps single moms”. That same day, she met with our Re:Spect Single Parent  Resource Center concierge, and thus began her involvement as a client and member of the J.

Funded generously by UJA-Federation of New York, Marks JCH Re:Spect program for single parent families offers a comprehensive approach to serving the unique needs of now more than 200 émigré Jewish single parent families. From case management to mental health support, socialization support, and financial assistance, Re:Spect extends Marks JCH’s unique 360 degree approach to providing help to a new cohort of clients in need.

Victoria needed assistance with nearly everything – finding a stable job, sufficient childcare, housing, and applying for various government entitlements, and more. With the J’s help, she steadily began to achieve success. After Victoria enrolled in a medical billing course at Marks JCH, she was able to secure stable employment in a local doctor’s office, which allowed her to work and sustain her family financially. As summer approached, Victoria was unsure what to do about childcare. While she was very satisfied with her job and was able to make ends meet with the salary that she was earning, she was unable to pay for summer camp for her daughter. Her income was just over the limit to qualify for a childcare voucher. She now fell into the all too common category of “near poor” – not poor enough to qualify for the fullest range of public assistance, but not able to afford the cost of living in New York City. Victoria didn’t want to quit her job, because she understood that she needed to continue moving in order to build family’s future.

Thanks to the support of our generous funders and donors, Marks JCH was able to help Victoria so that she would not have to choose between trying to advance her family’s status in this country or staying home with her daughter and remaining fully dependent on government support. Victoria’s daughter qualified for a spot in the Marks JCH Summer Day Camp through a special program for low-income families funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development. She was enrolled in seven weeks of full-time childcare at no cost, which provided a great summer camp experience – learning new skills in our traditional camping program, building lasting friendships with other children her age, and exploring NYC through cultural outings and trips.

Today, Victoria is an active participant in our Re:SPECT program, attending each events without fail, including our Sukkot weaving class, Rosh Hashanah apple picking outing, Thanksgiving celebration, and winter ice skating trip.  Victoria’s story is not unique; each year, there are countless stories of so many like her. Marks JCH is privileged to provide the safety net needed in our community for all who struggle, and most especially, to provide Re:Spect for single parent families.

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