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Jewish Healthcare Foundation Provides $2.5 Million to Jewish Community Center for COVID Relief

JCC Staff are helping feed to one of their most vulnerable populations, seniors, with their AgeWell “Meals to Go.” They have been able to modify their regular food service programs in the safest and most creative ways, ensuring they continue to support the community during these challenging times.

The current pandemic is historic, and it is wreaking havoc—medically, financially, socially, and mentally. The Jewish community of Pittsburgh is working on a coordinated response in coordination with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to ensure essential services remain available. To support this effort and to bring critical funds to a central agency in the community, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) has awarded a $2.5 million dollar emergency grant over two years to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater Pittsburgh.

When Governor Wolf announced the shutting of all but essential businesses effective March 18th, the JCC was faced with unprecedented service and financial challenges and made difficult decisions to furlough some of its staff while it regrouped to meet ongoing community needs. The JCC's facilities, including its buildings in Squirrel Hill and the South Hills, were closed for over 2 months due to the health mandates intended to reduce the spread of the virus. Roughly 80% of the agency's revenue comes through membership and program fees from its day care, fitness and wellness centers, summer camps, afterschool programs and senior services, all of which were reduced significantly. The shortfall from lost revenue is estimated to be at six million dollars.

Despite these challenges, the JCC has continued to provide services for the community. Since the lockdown began in March, the JCC has:

  • conducted community blood drives, collecting, to date, over 850 donations to meet the needs of 2,500 patients
  • provided over 14,000 meals for seniors including 2,000 home delivered meals
  • conducted approximately 5,000 telephone wellness checks through AgeWell
  • provided online programming reaching over 800 seniors, teens, community members weekly
  • served more than 425 campers and booked more than 80 family retreats
  • developed a weekly schedule of more than 60 fitness classes for all ages
  • assumed responsibility for the Virtual Senior Academy
  • and renewed their 10.27 Healing Partnership work.

In order to prepare to address the community's needs, particularly first responders and essential workers, the JCC's team worked with the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative to develop procedures to safely reopen health and fitness activities, child care and day camps, permitting parents (many of whom are essential workers) to feel comfortable returning to work and to give children the social experiences they have foregone.

As of 7/22/20, AgeWell at the JCC served 13,219 Meals to Go and delivered 2,587 meals since their building closed.

"We cannot thank the Jewish Healthcare Foundation enough for their commitment and confidence in us, our mission, our values, our leadership, and determination to ensure that the JCC fulfills its role to the best of its ability during the pandemic," said Brian Schreiber, President and CEO of the JCC. "COVID-19 created the most sudden and dramatic financial reversal in the JCC's 125-year history. The response by the Foundation sends not only a deeply needed cash infusion, but the boldest possible expression of support in everything the JCC is and stands for each day."

"The Jewish Healthcare Foundation has a long history of being there for others when they are in crisis or are dealing with unforeseeable health challenges," said David H. Ehrenwerth, JD, Chair of the JHF Board of Trustees. "Our Board is particularly proud to be able to respond to the unprecedented financial needs facing the JCC, an invaluable organization which provides crucial services to both the Jewish and the general community. This funding will enable the JCC to continue to provide essential services to seniors, adults, children and preschoolers. These are precisely the types of urgent needs that the Jewish Healthcare Foundation exists to satisfy."

The JCC is following all state, county and local guidelines and Centers for Disease Control recommendations including mandatory masks, social distancing, sanitation practices and extensive cleaning protocols. But some programming remains closed for the time being — including key income-generating overnight camps and afterschool programming. While the JCC has successfully pursued PPP loans/grants, these funds will fall short of enabling the JCC to maintain its required level of staffing without a further infusion of funds from philanthropic donors. JHF funds will enable the JCC to keep a full complement of staff and its programming intact and assure that the organization can continue to respond with creativity and flexibility under the stressors of the pandemic.

This emergency grant is in addition to JHF's COVID-19 Emergency Fund established in March, which is making community-wide grants on an as-needed basis.

Read more in the TribLIVE: Pittsburgh's Jewish Community Center back in operation after receiving grant

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