As 2020 winds down (it can't come soon enough), we know things unfortunately are going to get worse during the holiday season. Tragically, we will see an increase in the number of cases and deaths. The good news is there are better treatments to fight COVID-19, as well as vaccines on the way, which will cut transmission. With these vaccines, more schools will be able to move toward reopening, and the economy will slowly work to get back to “normal.” However, too many have died from COVID-19, perhaps even someone you know, many families will be changed forever, and people who lost jobs may have difficulty finding new employment approaching their prior salary and benefits. I only hope our economy will recover sooner than later and that the coronavirus will finally be in our rearview mirror.
Many in our community have stepped up over the past nine months, and for this I say thank you. Whether you contributed to our Emergency Relief Campaign or donated to our 2020 Annual Campaign (which is the engine that drives everything Federation does in the community), we all played a role in combatting the worst pandemic that swept across the globe in over 102 years.
Though 2020 had its downs, it’s certainly had its triumphs, as well.
- Our community came together and raised over $250,000 in much needed funds during our Emergency Relief Campaign from individual donors, businesses, and foundations.
- We awarded over $120,000 to Valley organizations in an emergency round of funding from the Thomases Family Endowment.
- Jewish Family Services and the Jewish Community Center launched a hotline to connect people with mental health assistance and other resources, including helping people with shopping and picking up medications.
- We offered childcare for essential workers at the JCC from the beginning of the shutdown, including our employees from Heritage Manor and Levy Gardens.
- We partnered with Direction Home of Eastern Ohio and prepared/delivered over 3,500 meals a week to those 60 years of age or older, redeploying some of our staff at the JCC.
- Heritage Manor and Levy Gardens helped families of residents and tenants connect with their loved ones through virtual visits via Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype.
- We successfully reopened the JCC in late May, as well as summer camp and our Logan Campus in early June, in compliance with guidelines set by the State of Ohio and the Department of Health.
- We opened the Paul and Yetta Gluck School of Visual Arts with both virtual and in person classes.
- We began offering a wide variety of virtual programs: Early Learning Center learning opportunities, fitness, music, and dance classes, art classes, meditation and yoga classes, and more.
- JCRC co-hosted a Census 2020 Stakeholder’s meeting and hosted a voter registration drive on National Voter Registration Day.
- JCRC worked closely with local and national African-American Communities on crucial initiatives following the murder of George Floyd.
- JFS continued with its Life Stories program, an intergenerational project to improve the health and quality of life for its clients.
- As the school year began in the fall, we opened All Day Care for students who are learning virtually for all or part of the school week.
- Premier Bank donated $5,000 to the JCC, as a thank you gift for the work we do for the community.
- Federation was chosen as a COVID-19 Hero by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter.
I wish I could say that I have a crystal ball and everything will be back to “normal” at some point in 2021, but I don’t. But I can say with 100 percent certainty that I am honored to work with such a tremendous staff that has worked tirelessly since the pandemic began. And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the commitment of our lay leadership and all members of our boards and committees.
Looking ahead to 2021, we have learned a lot from our many virtual programs and Zooms and hope to be able to incorporate some of that into future live events and meetings, meaning members of our community who no longer live in the area or winter elsewhere will be able to join us virtually!
I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah, and please stay safe!
Chief Executive Officer, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation