When you live check to check, as many of our clients, any unexpected cost can throw your life into a tailspin. E.F. has a tight budget, but is able to handle her mortage, utility bills, food, etc. There is nothing left at the end of the month. An unexpected car repair bill of more than $1500 took her mortage payment. JSS was able to pay her mortage for the month. She is once again on a self suffcient prigram.
The M.J. family - husband, wife, and year old baby - were doing fine until the father lost his job. The company closed without warning. No longer able to afford day care, he stayed home while searching for a job. When he was called for an interview it was a difficult situation. They do not have family in the area who they could call on to watch the one year old. Thanks to a day care grant , JSS and a local synagogue were able to provide half day care for the baby. After one month, we are pleased that the father found a good job.
EM was a High School teacher. Ten years ago he was in an automobile accident and is permantly disabled. He has two sons who are challenged. For whatever reason, his wife left the family. EM is sole custodial parent for the two boys. Over the years the Jewish Federation provided camp scholarships to special needs camp. We at JSS helped with utilities and other expenses. Last week the father called and asked for utility payment assistance. We had not heard from him for quite some time. He told us that he was diagnosed with cancer and the 20% co-pays for his chemo are eating into his money. We immediately paid the outstanding bills. We need to say a prayer for him and his two sons.
Unfortunate circumstances hit us all....but when you are on small pension and caring for a grandchild it is even worse. SP lived in an apartment that the landlord wanted her to vacate so he could charge more rent. He refused to do repairs and ignored her pleas. JSS did not have the time to press legal action...we had assist her move.
We paid a security deposit and a months rent. Both Grandma and grandchild are now safe and secure.
There exists a gross misimpression that the Jewish community is immune from many of the social ills affecting affecting general society. Alcholism, gambling, domestic voiolence...and now opiod abuse. Our community is no less affected by these issues than any community.
Les K. was doing well. Two children, a nice house, stable family relatonships. Until Les injured his back. His back injury led to a perscription for a pain killer. And then a back operation. It's an all too familiar story. Quickly Les spiraled into a life of perscription drug addiction. The good job was gone. His wife filed for divorce. His children would not have anythjing to do with him. Finally, Les was admitted for treatment. After discharge, with no place to go, he turned to his elderly mother. He was on a wait list for a half-way house but until then would be essentially homeless. Responding to a call from a local politician, Jewish Social Service stepped in. We found Les a modest motel and were able to keep him in a room for a week until approval was granted by the state agency for Les to go to the halfway home. Yes, it does happen in our community. Our all volunteer group is there to help whenever we can.
More than 10% of seniors in the United States go hungry every night. Since Middlesex County has one of the highest populations of seniors in the country, that number is only higher. And we at JSS know, in contrast to popular belief, there are poor Jews...and especially poor elderly Jews. Every month we send between $1000 and $1500 in food vouchers to members of our community. They are the elderly and they are families with children. We will not knowingly allow anyone in our community to go to bed hungry.. Our supporters at the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey continue to provide a generous grant to support this program at its current level. Not a monthe passes when we don't receive thanks from members of our community. In many cases the $50 gift card is the difference between going to bed hungry or not.
With the help of a special grant from Jeff and Rona Shein we provided 31 children with partial camp scholarships of varying amounts.
The number one criteria was need, based on the parent needing to stay home from work to care for the child. We do everything we can to encourage work and looking for work. By providing a scholarship, several parents were able to continue their hours at their job or continue their job seeking efforts. This has become more and more pressing since many of our clients are single parents. The second criteria is the situation at home and the evaluation that the child needs some time away from a stressful or unhappy situation.
Over $30,000 was invested in this program, a significant amount from the Sheins. The letters and cards we receive from some of the children are heart wrenching. For many, it is the only jouful and positive expierience they have expierienced in the past year.