This past February, Jack Belitsky celebrated his 80th birthday surrounded by family and friends. Now Belitsky’s life looks much different — like all of us, social distancing has radically changed how he spends his days. But even at 80, Belitsky does more than most people half his age as part of his lifelong quest to give back.
Belitsky has long been a pillar of our community, actively serving on the Jewish Federation’s Board of Trustees, is a vital part of KleinLife’s RSVP program, past chair on the Community Advisory Council of the Jewish Federation’s Northeast NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community), volunteer head of the Northeast Jewish Life steering committee, a member of the Advisory Council for Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, on the Public Relations Committee of Philadelphia Protestant Home and a member of the board of directors and executive board of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.
Belitsky normally spends much of his time at KleinLife, a partner of the Jewish Federation, but has not been able to visit since the facility closed early on to protect the safety of its older adult clients. His time there typically included leading current events and book discussions, heading its Advisory Council and volunteering for their RSVP program for volunteers 55 and older, as well as the weekly food packing and deliveries. Unfortunately, these opportunities aren’t safe for him to participate in now since he is part of the high-risk demographic.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Belitsky now relies on initiatives like the Mitzvah Food Program for basic needs so that he can remain safely at home. Belitsky is keeping in good spirits with a regular routine including morning walks outside and calls from his family and friends.
The Mitzvah Food Program is a grant recipient of Jewish Federation’s Emergency Response Fund. As of Aug. 1, more than $2.1 million has been raised to provide for the most urgent needs in our communities, including individuals who now find themselves experiencing food insecurity or who are homebound and unable to shop for groceries.
The Emergency Response Committee has made initial grants totaling more than $1.7 million. Read more about the grants and check out our COVID-19 resources page for additional information at Jewishphilly.org/covid19. To make a donation to our Emergency Response Fund, visit jewishphilly.org/donate.
Mental Health Resources As COVID-19 Continues
If you’re feeling anxious, sad or worried during this time, you aren’t alone. The coronavirus pandemic presents challenges for everyone, and adjusting to this new reality is a tall order.
Many people have lost a loved one, or are frontline workers in chaotic and stressful environments. Others may be dealing with job loss or uncertainty, while still others are coping with everyday stressors like homeschooling or a return to the classroom, boredom or missing friends and family. Whatever your situation is, your feelings are valid.
You don’t have to feel alone in this struggle. There are plenty of options for affordable mental health support you can access from home, from teletherapy to online support groups and art therapy. Check out this roundup of local and national resources below.
Jewish Family and Children’s Service
Variety of mental health services, including a call-in line for teletherapy and support groups
Center for Spiritual Well-Being
Roundup of mental health resources both local and national
Affordable Therapy Sessions For First Responders
Free and low-cost online therapy sessions for first responders
Open Path Psychotherapy Collective
Options for individuals without health insurance or for whom cost
is a barrier
Council for Relationships
Nonprofit offering low-cost therapy
Philadelphia City Mental Health Services
Resources from the city
Pennsylvania State Mental Health Services
Resources from the state
CDC on Stress and Coping
Tips from the Center for Disease Control