Aiding Seniors and the Disadvantaged


The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is allocating $5.9 million to local programs that serve the hungry, help the economically insecure and support seniors for the next fiscal year.

That figure — which includes unrestricted funding along with restricted and pass-through gifts — is down by about $160,000 from last year. But two new initiatives in the works could mean a big boost in the community's efforts to serve local Jews in need.

CEO Ira M. Schwartz announced at a July 26 board of trustees meeting that the Federation has nearly reached its $2 million campaign goal for a newsupermarket-style pantry at the Klein JCC in the Northeast. This facility, expected to open in the fall of 2013, will allow low-income individuals more choice than a typical food pantry and operate on a point system to incentivize healthy eating habits.

The choice program "will be a major step toward eliminating the hunger problem for the Jewish community here in Philadelphia," Schwartz told the trustees.

The Federation has also helped coordinate a partnership between Klein JCC and the Einstein Healthcare Network to establish a Wellness Center at Klein. Together, the initiative would provide "one-stop shopping," said Brian Gralnick,who directs the Federation's Center for Social Responsibility.

"It will utilize space to meet the needs of our community in an innovative and comprehensive approach to health and wellness," he said.

The 2009 "Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia" found that 45 percent of the area population is over the age of 50, and 10 percent is older than 75. This reinforced the long-held belief that among Federation's top priorities should be caring for a vulnerable elderly population.

The center's allocation of more than $3.8 million in unrestricted dollars represented a $20,000 drop from last year. The Center for Social Responsibility also received $905,665 in restricted gifts and $715,435 in pass-through dollars, which means donations that go directly to specific center-related projects and are handled by the Federation.

During the 2009-2010 fiscal year — the height of the economic recession — the Center for Social Responsibility received the most dollars of the three Federation centers that direct funds to communal programs. But in the past three funding cycles, including the current one, it has received the second most, behind the Center for Jewish Life and Learning.

Social responsibility is allocating nearly $1.8 million to fund eight programs under the rubric of healthy aging, a figure that remained unchanged from the previous year.

This includes:

· $800,000 to the Klein JCC for senior socialization programs that are aimed at "improving the quality of life."

· $125,000 for an initiative at the Klein JCC to help seniors in the Northeast with transportation needs.

·$647,000 to the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia for its Healthy Aging at Home initiative.

· $75,000 to the Abramson Center for Jewish Life for a new medical adult day center located at Federation Housing's Arbor House in Northeast Philadelphia.

The area of special needs funding remained unchanged from last year: $143,000 is being split among three agencies, with the bulk going to JFCS.

Allocations for economic security increased somewhat from last year, up to $ 1.3 million from $1.2 million.

These grants include:

· $682,000 to the Jewish Family and Children's Service for assistance to vulnerable populations.

· $550,000 to JEVS Human Services for a job-training program.

The area of food insecurity decreased from $722,500 to $585,000.

That was mostly due to the cut to the kosher food program at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life, which last year received $285,000 and this year is getting $72,500. Federation officials said this was transitional funding for the program, which will be totally cut in the future.

Karen Kramer, who chairs the Social Responsibility board and also sits on the Abramson Center board said that, in focusing on food insecurity, board members reasoned that nursing home residents are getting three meals a day.

"As opposed to the 90-year-old woman living alone in Northeast Philadelphia who can't always get three meals a day," said Kramer. "She's food insecure. She's the one we want to be out there helping."

The Center for Israel and Overseas is funding about a dozen programs in Israel and the former Soviet Union that also focus on social services.

That center has allotted $1 million for eight programs that serve disadvantaged Jewish youth abroad, including two run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. It also has awarded $736,000 to four programs focusing on safety and food insecurity in Israel, Siberia and the Russian Far East, an increase from nearly $600,000 last year.

Joan Stern, co-chair of the Center for Israel and Overseas, said that in feeding Holocaust survivors here and in Israel, "there is a symmetry with what we are doing here and what we are doing abroad."


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