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IAJF COVID-19 COMMUNITY RESPONSE
Since the start of the crisis, IAJF has been hard at work trying to reduce the burdens on the community by launching the IAJF COVID-19 Community Response.
IAJF is here for the needy. Food has been a particularly significant challenge during this time - for those in the community who already had financial needs before the Coronavirus hit, for those whose income is now impacted due to the crisis, and for seniors who simply could not risk leaving the house to shop due to health concerns. In the months immediately following the start of the pandemic we:
*Purchased supplemental groceries for dozens of families
*Worked with UJA and Commonpoint Queens to bring in over 300 boxes of food pantry items
*Sponsored and delivered 844 holiday meals for Passover 2020, including Seder items for the first nights
*Sponsored several weeks each of Shabbat dinners for 200 people in need
2021 Feed the Needy Initiative
The pandemic continues to impact our community, particularly those who are homebound, struggling financially, or isolated from relatives. In response to the ongoing concern of food insecurity, this year IAJF launched a Feed the Needy initiative as part of our Local Emergency Assistance Fund. In partnership with other community-based groups, IAJF sponsors the purchase of groceries for 85 needy families each month. The support is provided in the form of store accounts, enabling qualified families to shop independently for their own food. IAJF is pleased to facilitate the purchase of nutritional and desirable food for the neediest in our community, in a way that ensures their privacy and dignity.
IAJF is here for our dedicated area healthcare workers and local businesses.
In support of area restaurants, and as a show of appreciation to healthcare workers, IAJF arranged for the delivery of hundreds of meals to local hospitals over a period of 3 weeks in April and May, 2020.
The Tikvah Program, an expansion of IAJF's Local Emergency Assistance program, strives to take a respectful, comprehensive approach to assess the needs of individuals or families facing a vulnerable time in their lives. It focuses on designing sustainable plans allowing each client access to the many Commonpoint Queens and UJA-Federation of New York partner programs and services available, from food pantry to counseling to employment assistance.
The ongoing pandemic has created or exacerbated a number of areas of concern within the local community:
- Lost jobs and income: Record numbers of people now have additional financial needs and fear over how to pay rent, mortgage, and utilities;
- Small businesses: Small business owners had to make layoffs and struggle to stay afloat;
- Food insecurity: Whether due to loss of income or access to food, many families suddenly experienced food insecurity for the first time;
- Social isolation: Quarantine and social distancing have had significant mental and emotional impact, especially for some seniors;
- Marital and family stress: The crisis has left families coping with caregiver stress, the need to home school, significant changes to daily routine, and with loved ones who became ill or passed away often times alone in a hospital;
- Increased Vulnerability: COVID has intensified fear and struggle among families who reported they had never fully recovered financially from the 2009 financial crisis;
- Benefits and relief: There has been significant confusion over eligibility for stimulus checks and lack of familiarity with tax and government systems.
During these first 3 months of the crisis alone, Tikvah provided the community with counseling, assistance, and access to resources in all of these areas of concern:
- 91 clients served, each with at least one area of need
- 29 households received home delivered food pantry items 1-2x a month since start of pandemic
- 14 individuals, couples, or families received counseling
- 9 received financial consultations
- 14 received referrals to the employment program
- 4 received assistance navigating Unemployment Insurance
- 10 received assistance understanding how to apply for stimulus checks
- 11 received assessments and qualified for one-time payment of bills, for a total of $11,407. (These payments were made from a special fund from UJA in the month of June 2020 for lower income individuals impacted particularly hard by the pandemic.)
- 39 received assistance with enrolling in health insurance or at least one government benefit
- 9 received legal referrals regarding health care or landlord/tenant issues
- Three mass food deliveries were made to the community - one for Passover and two for assistance during the pandemic - serving approximately 250 households in addition to the services provided to the 91 clients detailed above
M. and R. are a young couple with an infant. He worked in the finance industry and lost his job. R. was initially planning to be a stay-at-home mom but since M. was having trouble finding a job, she considered entering the workforce. The couple were both referred to the employment program. Their needs were assessed and they both worked with the Employment Specialist. M. has now been offered a new full-time job at a $90K salary which meets their family’s needs. He has started the new position. R. continues to care for their child at home and has decided to continue to work with the Employment Counselor to explore her options for work for the future.
M. is an 87 year old man married to a 77 year old woman. They have had a happy, fulfilling marriage. However, M. has developed symptoms of severe dementia and his wife is trying to care for him at home. He is often up all night, sometimes does not recognize her, and has intermittent delusions and can become agitated. His wife is overwhelmed, exhausted, and guilt ridden as she finds herself getting angry at him despite knowing it is not his fault. COVID isolation has made this situation more difficult as she is now isolated with him and must provide care 24/7. She does not want to bring someone in to help due to COVID but feels he deserves to remain in the home they built together. Tikvah counselors are working with the wife to develop new strategies to make it easier to cope, including structuring the day and having tools to release her own stress. In addition, the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is working with M. on prescribing psychotropic medication to reduce the agitation and delusions which would also enable him to sleep better. This couple is receiving care through practitioners in Tikvah's Licensed Mental Health Clinic.
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