Federation assists home’s storm-tossed employees
At the campus are, from left, Monte and Linda Block of East Brunswick, campus CEO Susan Harris, and federation president Seth Gross. The Blocks are longtime leaders in the Middlesex federation, and Monte is Wilf campus president.
Photo courtesy JFGMC
January 14, 2013
Employees of the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset, who suffered devastating losses after Hurricane Sandy, have received help from the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
After hearing of the loss of homes and property, federation donated $1,700 in gift cards to be distributed to employees. The cards were donated to federation as part of its Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, which also brought in more than $52,000 in monetary donations.
“The dedicated employees of the Wilf campus spend their days taking care of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said federation executive director Gerrie Bamira. “When we discovered that these workers themselves were devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy, we were glad to have the opportunity to provide them with some relief.”
Campus CEO Susan Harris told NJJN that “a number of our employees got creamed” by Sandy, losing cars, homes, and possessions. She said the federation had reached out to her and called the gifts “wonderful.”
“All these affected people live in or near the Middlesex federation area, mostly Keansburg and Sayreville,” she said. “That whole area just got decimated. One of our employee’s family actually had to be rescued from their attic.”
Harris said she was impressed by the staff’s commitment to the elderly residents they cared for throughout the crisis and their response to adversity.
“They came to work with smiles on their faces,” she said. “I don’t know that I could do this. Here they were caring for older folks despite what was going on in their own lives.”
When Harris’s search for hotel rooms for employees with nowhere to go proved fruitless, she said, the campus allowed some employees and their families to stay at the facility for several days, providing them with meals.
Among them was Kelly Bell, a nurse at the facility for almost nine years, who told NJJN that her Keansburg home was destroyed by flooding. “It’s still standing there, but it’s been condemned and everything in it has been destroyed,” she said.
Even worse, said Bell, a single mother of a nine-year-old daughter, is that she had bought the home —the first she has ever owned — only six months before the storm.
After spending four days at the campus, mother and daughter moved in with friends and are currently sleeping on couches in her uncle’s home.
“It’s quite devastating for me and is really devastating for my daughter,” said Bell. “FEMA gave everybody who lost a home two months’ rent and offered hotel rooms that really weren’t available. I felt completely lost until, thank God, these kind people here took me under their wing. They helped put me in touch with the people I needed to be in touch with and were mentally and physically supportive.”
She said the facility not only continued to provide her with meals when she was on duty, but would send food home for her and her daughter and provide her with gas money. Additionally, the families of residents continually offered her support.
“I spent the first few weeks crying, I was so grateful,” said Bell. “I can’t even say how much it helped. It really took off some of the pressure and stress.”
But, it was the federation gift cards that proved most meaningful to her daughter .
“My daughter lost all her toys,” said Bell. “Around Christmastime it helped replace some of the things she lost.”
Loans for Sandy victims
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering loans to homeowners and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Businesses and nonprofits of any size may apply for up to $2 million for physical property losses, real estate, machinery, and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Small businesses and most private nonprofits may apply for up to $2 million for economic injury to meet working capital needs (no physical damages necessary to qualify).
Interest rates are as low as 3 percent for nonprofit organizations, 4 percent for businesses of any size; loan repayment terms are up to 30 years.
SBA also offers federal disaster loans to homeowners and renters for disaster-related losses: up to $200,000 for real property (homeowners), up to $40,000 for personal property (homeowners and renters). Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent, with repayment terms up to 30 years.
(Individuals unable to qualify for an SBA loan may be referred to FEMA for additional grant assistance.) The deadline for loan applications has been extended until Jan. 30.