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Federation Responds to Economic Stress

September 3, 2009 By:
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The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is taking a pro-active role in helping members of the Jewish community who are hard-hit by the economic downturn. Over the summer, Linda Roth, director of Federation's Jewish Information and Referral Service, has seen a 10 percent rise in telephone calls from people who need assistance locating and connecting to social services throughout the area.

Many of these calls, according to Roth, are from "first-timers -- men and women who were doing fine until they or their spouses were laid off from work or faced an unexpected medical emergency."

One young woman who recently called the JIRS hotline experienced both of these traumas simultaneously.

"She was living independently until she lost her job and was diagnosed with a disabling illness," said Roth.

Because of her connections with area social-service agencies, Roth was able to help the caller complete the necessary paperwork and receive monthly food packages from Federation's Mitzvah Food Project, as well as supermarket script redeemable for food and other essentials at local markets.

Another caller, a middle-aged man whose company downsized, has exhausted his unemployment benefits. Roth referred him to JEVS Human Services for career guidance, as well as to Jewish Family and Children's Service for counseling to help him to cope with feelings of anger and depression.

The escalating volume of these requests for support and referrals has all but overwhelmed Roth, JIRS Associate Sandi Brecher and JIRS' eight volunteers, who identified a need to create a brochure that outlines the -comprehensive network of regional programs that provide immediate, short-term and, in some cases, long-term aid.

This was the impetus behind the creation of the brand-new booklet Resources for Stressful Times -- a comprehensive guide to the broad-range of Jewish and secular programs and services available throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.

The document, which can be downloaded as a PDF file from www.jewishphilly.org, contains information about agencies that offer housing assistance, early learning and childcare, emergency financial aid, legal assistance, care management, debt counseling and a host of other social-service programs.

To obtain a copy of the booklet or for more information about these and other available resources, call JIRS at 215-832-0821 or e-mail Linda Roth at: lroth@jfgp.org.

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