JFS among partners to help care for Holocaust survivors in crisis
Thu, Apr 28, 2022
Heavy questions continue to weigh on Holocaust survivors across the country. How will I get food this week if I cannot go to the grocery store? Will I be able to afford my medicine with decreased access and rising prices?
Like other seniors, Holocaust survivors face difficulties inherent in aging, with so many living on fixed incomes, and deeply shaken by the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. As survivors of the Holocaust, they face special challenges – both physically and mentally.
In an effort to make sure this population, for which the community is committed to provide dignity and care during their final years, the KAVOD Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund initiative, launched in March 2019 by Seed the Dream Foundation in partnership with KAVOD-Ensuring Dignity for Survivors, supports thousands of Holocaust survivors across the United States.
In 2022, 34 communities nationwide have partnered through KAVOD SHEF to address unmet needs of Holocaust survivors. The KAVOD SHEF partnership involves collaboration among KAVOD, Seed the Dream Foundation, National Philanthropic Partners, Jewish Federations, local donors and Jewish Family Service agencies.
Houston was one of the first cities to be selected to benefit from this program, with both JFS Houston and the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston working in collaboration with the organizers of this special initiative.
KAVOD SHEF dollars directly respond to survivor needs in nine emergency areas: food, medical, dental, vision, urgent home needs (utilities, rent, repairs), emergency home care, transportation, essential deliveries and PPE.
What began in 2019 as an effort to expand access to emergency services for Holocaust survivors in 12 cities since has filled more than 40,000 emergency requests in 34 communities across the country. All funds raised by local communities are matched 1-to-1 by the Joseph Gringlas KAVOD SHEF National Fund. 100% of KAVOD SHEF dollars go directly toward emergency services for survivors.
Marcy Gringlas, president and co-founder of Seed the Dream Foundation, said, “The survivors’ unmet needs far outweigh the resources available to cover these emergency services. It is for this reason we launched this initiative and are prepared to continue matching every dollar raised on the national level.
“We can and must do more to alleviate these impossible choices and help our survivors live in dignity during their last years. When we come together and work together, our collective reach extends beyond what we thought possible.”
“Seed the Dream Foundation remains committed to KAVOD SHEF,” said Talia Kaplan, executive director of Seed the Dream Foundation. “We will continue to work with our national and community partners to bring most-needed attention to address this silent crisis,”
“Every day,” said Gringlas. “we lose more than 40 Holocaust survivors, and yet, every day we continue to see hundreds of new requests for care. There is no time to waste.”
The KAVOD SHEF national hotline, 720-295-8484, allows survivors not in contact with their local agencies to have a way to begin the process of accessing critical support.
KAVOD Ensuring Dignity for Holocaust Survivors makes a massive impact for Holocaust survivors living near or in poverty in the U.S. KAVOD was created in fall 2015 when founders John and Amy Israel Pregulman learned that one-third of the up to 80,000 survivors living in the U.S. struggle with basic needs when they encounter an unexpected expense. There is little awareness surrounding this enormous unmet need.
“We still get looks of dismay every time we share these numbers,” said John Pregulman. “We get asked, time and time again, how is this possible and why is this happening?”
“The issue is not going away and is not dwindling,” said Amy Israel Pregulman. “Our survivors are getting older and are having bigger financial stresses. We only have a few years left with these courageous individuals and we feel it is our responsibility to take care of them and offer them peace in their final years. They have been through enough and, as a human community, we are responsible.”
“This really is our last chance to help our survivors – those who are still with us – to live out their lives in dignity,” said JFS Houston’s incoming CEO, Carl Josehart, who also is board chair of Holocaust Museum Houston. “We are so grateful for KAVOD SHEF’s efforts to leverage matching funds to double the positive impact on our local survivor community.
“We have had tremendously generous donors locally allow us to fully participate, extending medical and a wide spectrum of safety-net services to Houston’s survivors. This initiative shows the power of collaboration and compassion, and we congratulate Seed the Dream Foundation for their response to the urgent needs of survivors highlighted by KAVOD.”
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Learn more about KAVOD SHEF at kavodensuringdignity.com/kavod-shef-initiative. In addition to the KAVOD SHEF hotline, Holocaust survivors in the Greater Houston area who have not communicated with JFS Houston are invited to reach out for introduction and assistance. Call 713-667-9336 or go to jfshouston.org.
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