The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia announced that its Maimonides Fund reached a $1 million fundraising goal in just six weeks — and that total will be bolstered by an additional $500,000 grant from Jewish Federations of North America.
The entire $1.5 million will be distributed to Jewish community organizations for pandemic-related needs.
Jewish Federation Executive Vice President Melissa Greenberg said the donations received either came from new donors or were from existing donors who went above their prior donation levels.
“People have been beyond generous,” she said. “We really are amazed by the generosity of the community.”
Both professionals and volunteers had one-on-one conversations with potential donors about contributing, Greenberg said, noting that this is how Jewish Federation can best serve the public.
“We are here to really provide the resources to support people,” she said, adding that the organization is nimble in marshaling assets in times of crisis.
The ongoing pandemic has increased demand on local agencies trying to meet the need of clients — needs such as food insecurity, financial instability, job loss and isolation. Agencies selected to receive funding are on the front lines of meeting pandemic-related needs.
Agencies receiving grants include Abramson Senior Care, Federation Housing, Inc., Female Hebrew Benevolent Society, Friendship Circle, Golden Slipper Gems, Hebrew Free Loan Society, Jewish Family and Children’s Service, JEVS Human Services, Jewish Relief Agency, KleinLife, KAVOD SHEF, Mitzvah Food Program and JCHAI.
Allocations will be used for a variety of needs, including rent relief, home repairs for seniors, extra meals, information technology upgrades for clients, technology assistance, supermarket gifts cards, additional staff, a new refrigerator/freezer, overtime costs, transportation and for buying health and safety items like hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment.
“Food insecurity and mental health are two of the areas we wanted to focus our COVID-19 philanthropic dollars on,” donors Bethany and Garett Shiner said. “We know that a lot of people are struggling this year and feel fortunate to be able to make our gift go further and help even more people by supporting the Jewish Federation’s Maimonides Fund,” KleinLife President and CEO Andre Krug said the money his organization receives will be used to buy meals to deliver to homebound seniors.
“Jewish Federation has really stepped up and helped us since day one” of the pandemic, he said.
KleinLife has delivered about 90,000 meals to more than 600 seniors since the pandemic began. The number of meals delivered each month has nearly tripled since the pandemic began, Krug said.
The fund provided will allow KleinLife to buy about 45,000 meals, Krug said.
Transitioning online required a significant early effort in revamping delivery programs and teaching seniors how to use computers, Krug said. KleinLife is now offering 10 to 15 programs a week online for seniors, in addition to other virtual programming.
“We’re as busy as ever,” he said. “It’s just been a different kind of busy.”
In addition to agencies receiving grants, there will be two other initiatives — an emergency cash assistance fund managed by JFCS that will provide individual grants to those in need — and an emerging need funds for things such as bulk purchases of tablets to help reduce social isolation, trauma-informed training to care for Holocaust survivors and the acquisition of PPE.
Brian Gralnick, who is Jewish Federation’s director of social responsibility, said agencies are generally seeing increases in the need for their services, which ebbs and flows as the pandemic continues.
“We’re seeing a wide variety of individuals who are coming and seeking support,” he said. “We’ve seen people who’ve never been in these circumstances before.”
He noted that some former agency volunteers are now clients themselves.
Greenberg said the money likely will be distributed in the first quarter of 2021.
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