Over the past year and a half Jewish Family & Community Services of Southwest Florida (JFCS) has been called upon to provide our full-range of core services to 16 Holocaust survivors. The survivors are frail, and in desperate need.
The survivors are turning to us now for assistance for a variety of reasons. For example, a Holocaust survivor is managing well and then her spouse dies. Her benefits are cut and she can no longer pay for food, health care and/ or rent. Or, a Holocaust survivor moves to our area from Boston, New York, Cleveland or New Jersey for warmer weather, to live near a friend, or near family. He or she had been getting home care services through their local JFCS through funding provided by the Conference on Material Claims against Germany, known as the Claims Conference. The survivors move here believing they can access the same services through our JFCS. However, JFCS of Southwest Florida does not receive funding from the Claims Conference because the numbers of survivors in our community, even if we include Lee and Charlotte Counties, are too small. The mission of JFCS is to empower individuals and families by giving them tools to address life’s challenges. Addressing food insecurity, preventing homelessness, and providing a decent quality of life to seniors who have suffered the atrocities of the Holocaust are at the core of our mission. We work with each survivor to make sure they live out their last years with the dignity, and with the services they deserve. Our case managers work with the Claims Conference to try and access funds on a case by case basis, but when that fails we turn to generous donors in our community for support.
Let me give you an example of what we do: Mrs. H. is an 80 year old woman who is the sole caregiver for her 92 year old husband, a Holocaust survivor who has early dementia. They were only married for two years when he was diagnosed. His children feel that he is her responsibility and her children want him placed in a facility.
She is socially isolated and emotionally stressed. JFCS arranged for her husband to receive a scholarship so that he could attend one of the JFCS dementia respite groups. Through our emergency financial assistance program JFCS provides two days of home health care which gives Mrs. H. respite and helps Mr. H. with basic needs. Mrs. H. attends the JFCS caregiver support group on one of the days when she knows her husband is at home with his aide.
Mrs. R. is a Holocaust survivor who lost her husband after being married 55 years. With the sudden death of her husband, also a Holocaust survivor, her income dropped by close to 50 percent making meeting her basic needs almost impossible.
JFCS helped Mrs. R. obtain food stamps and is helping her with food through the JFCS Food Pantry, bereavement support and recently assisted her with an FPL bill.
For more information about the JFCS Holocaust Survivor Program and how you might help please contact Dr. Jaclynn Faffer
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239.325.4444.