Family agencies get Sandy relief funding
Grants from federation, foundations help meet needs of storm victims
Super Sunday volunteers help load boxes of food for the JFS of Central NJ kosher food pantry, supplies needed more than ever after Superstorm Sandy.
Photo by Elaine Durbach
December 19, 2012
Dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Jewish Family Service agencies affiliated with the Greater MetroWest community have welcomed an influx of additional funding.
The Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ has provided $25,000 each to JFS of Central NJ and to JFS of MetroWest. It is part of $100,000 in post-Sandy funding provided to member organizations by the Jewish Federations of North America.
The Grotta Fund for Senior Care, a community advisory fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, has also made available grants of around $5,000 to each of the agencies to help with the additional social work services to seniors affected by the storm and its aftermath.
The Central NJ JFS also welcomed a $5,000 grant from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, based in California.
Tom Beck, executive director of JFS of Central NJ, said, “Conditions were already bad before the storm, but the needs of our clients have definitely increased since then.” Beck and his staff, whose agency serves Union County and parts of Somerset County, presented a list of expenses to the federation. In addition to stepped-up food supplies, it included the costs of providing clients with emergency kits, including food, blankets, and flashlights.
“Where before the storm we thought in terms of people having a few days’ worth of emergency food supplies, now we’re thinking they should have a week’s worth, or even enough for two weeks,” Beck said.
The extra demand for food was alleviated somewhat by collections during the federation’s Super Sunday phonathon on Dec. 2. At the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains, volunteers assembled 130 boxes of supplies for Sandy victims.
Reuben Rotman, executive director of JFS of MetroWest, said work on post-Sandy issues “has come in waves — if you’ll excuse the pun. I have a feeling that will continue, as the level of need that we’re seeing comes and goes as people try to deal with insurance issues and FEMA claims.” His agency has offices in Florham Park, Livingston, and Jersey City.
Debbie Rosenwein, director of planning and allocations for the federation, said valuable guidance came in from Jewish leaders in New Orleans who dealt with the challenges of Hurricane Katrina. “They warned us that it takes time to realize the full impact of such a storm, and to get objective about just what is needed for recovery,” she said.
Jewish Family Service of Central NJ provided this example of a post-Sandy relief case:
An Elizabeth family with five children found themselves short of income when the husband, who works in construction, lost work for several weeks after the storm. JFS gave the family an emergency food package and assured “Mrs. P” they could come for an emergency bag of food when needed. They also helped her apply for assistance with her utility bills, and temporary help paying the rent.
The family’s apartment lost power for about two weeks, and during Mrs. P’s interaction with JFS, it became clear her children were having a difficult time coping with the lack of power. She explained that about two years ago, she left the children alone for several hours and a fire started in the house. Mrs. P said the children “lost everything,” and the recent loss of power had triggered anxiety reactions in them. To help them cope, JFS has begun seeing the three younger children for counseling.