These last few months, we’ve all given our all.
If we’re doctors or healthcare workers, we’ve put ourselves at risk to save lives every day. If we’re parents to younger children, we’ve become full-time teachers, homeschooling often while juggling working from home. If we’re older adults, we’ve learned to catch up with family on Zoom calls and give virtual hugs. We’ve also adapted to missed seders, graduations, weddings.
It’s been more than hard, and we’re so grateful to see that New York is beginning to reopen at last. But the truth is that hardships being felt across our community will not end soon.
That’s why we’re asking you — those who can — to consider joining our efforts.
Think about what we’ve faced together: When New York shut down, suddenly many older adults who used to rely on lunches at community centers were left without those meals, and with no way to shop safely for groceries. With unemployment surging, low-income New Yorkers struggled even more to pay for the basics like rent and utilities. Food pantries, serving many of these same low-income New Yorkers, were inundated with calls. Heroes at front-line human service agencies — delivering food or providing homecare to the elderly and people with disabilities — needed hard-to-come-by masks and other PPE to keep everyone safe.
Perhaps most tragically, people were dying of the virus at a horrifying rate. In some cases, a victim’s family could not afford a funeral. Others died without family who could see to final arrangements.
There are not many organizations positioned to respond to all these needs, all at once.
But UJA could. And we did.
Over the last 100 days, we have allocated more than $46 million in a combination of interest-free loans and grants to sustain the human service agencies and Jewish institutions that are the heart and soul of our community. We made sure that food could be delivered to those who need it, and helped food pantries increase capacity. We provided emergency cash grants for the poor and those who have lost jobs and have no safety net. We funded PPE for our front-line heroes and helped track the equipment down. And we made sure that Jewish victims of the virus could have a dignified, traditional funeral — regardless of any family’s means.
But looking ahead, there is so much work we need to do to get New York back on its feet. We need to contend with increasing food insecurity, and help pantries meet rising demand. We need workforce development programs that can get the newly unemployed back to stability with new skills and tools to find meaningful work.
We need to address a massive mental health crisis that will require extensive funding to ensure we can reach all those suffering from the effects of isolation, fear, anxiety, food insecurity, substance abuse, domestic abuse and more.
We need to help our beloved JCCs that lost critical income from closed camps and revenue-driving programs to open their doors again and welcome our communities.
And to help New York heal on another equally important front, we need to stand with allies in communities of color to fight all forms of hate. That is also our charge and our promise.
What’s enabled UJA’s response so far has been our annual campaign and the generosity of tens of thousands who came together year after year to ensure our preparedness, long before any of us could imagine a global pandemic upending life as we know it.
It’s this annual campaign, which has run uninterrupted since 1917, that has always represented the best of who we are and what we stand for — a community that is there for one another, in crisis and every day.
So when we look around and see uncharted terrain, we’re not lost; we’re not daunted. We have a community — made up of people like you — that is our true north, allowing us to care for those who need us most and giving us the courage to face whatever comes next
To give to UJA, please visit ujafedny.org/donate2020