As events unfold quickly, we wanted to keep you informed on UJA’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis.
This terrible virus disproportionately targets the elderly and those who have weakened immune systems. The growing economic crisis is hurting those who already struggle with poverty. And it is devastating the livelihoods of many community members who have never experienced financial insecurity.
Here's an update on seven key initiatives we have launched to address the needs of our community’s most vulnerable:
- Providing groceries and supplies to those with immediate needs. At-risk community members should never have to put their health in danger to pick up groceries or medicine. As we noted last week, we have launched a phone tree and mobilized donors and volunteers to ensure safe delivery of supplies to those who request help. In a few short days, more than 1,500 volunteers and donors have answered our call-to-action. More than 7,000 phone calls have been made and those who are at-risk are being identified. We have arranged grocery deliveries to individual households and sent entire vans full of food to partner agencies who have asked for urgent help to feed their clients.
- Expanding our investment in Kosher Meals on Wheels for vulnerable seniors. This crisis is not likely to end any time soon, which is why we need to ensure food security for isolated seniors not just today but in the months ahead. We have deployed an extra $130,000 to our partner agency the Bernard Betel Centre to enable it to provide Kosher Meals on Wheels to at-risk seniors and survivors throughout the community.
- Increasing support for Holocaust survivors. Holocaust survivors shouldn’t be left to navigate this crisis on their own. Their unique needs have become more acute due to the dangers and uncertainties of the pandemic. We are investing an extra $100,000 to enable our partner agency Jewish Family & Child (JF&CS) to strengthen its dedicated support for survivors.
- Bolstering our investment in rent subsidies for vulnerable seniors. Seniors living below the poverty line shouldn’t have to worry about keeping a roof over their head during the pandemic. Through our partner agency Kehilla Residential Programme, we are investing an extra $115,000 to support sustainable rent subsidies for our community’s most vulnerable members.
- Making interest-free loans accessible online. Community members facing a financial crisis should never feel their only option is to call an interest-charging lender. Our partner agency Jewish Free Loan has launched an emergency loan program for community members who need support to cope with the pandemic. We have deployed an extra $50,000 to create a simple online application portal for this special loan. At a time of social distancing, this will allow more community members in financial crisis to safely apply for interest-free assistance.
- Supporting the individual needs of social service agencies. Our team is continuing to work closely with our partner agencies to assist with their unique needs. Our immediate focus has been on helping secure the resources they need to continue safely serving community members, from personal protective equipment to Zoom licenses.
- Advocating for government investments in the charitable sector. Through our advocacy agent CIJA and alongside other Canadian Federations, we are calling on governments to take bold, concrete steps to invest in Canada’s charities (more details may be found in a Globe & Mail op-ed we recently co-authored).
This is just a start – and there is so much more to do. Through it all, we are constantly examining the shifting needs of our community to ensure our donors’ generous gifts are dedicated to the areas of greatest priority.
Thank you to all community members who have generously donated their time and funds to this vital cause. For more details on how you can make a difference for those in need at this difficult time, click here.