2016-2017 GRANT HIGHLIGHTS
In 2017, the Blank Family Foundation continued its long-standing tradition of supporting community initiatives that strengthen the fabric of our society and help to rebuild lives and families.
Below are just a few examples of some of the services provided in 2016-2017 by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation with the help of the Annual Campaign and the Blank Family Foundation:
- More than 165,000 kosher meals were provided to seniors through Jewish Community Services’ home delivery and congregate meal programs.
- Comprehensive, personalized case management services were provided to more than 600 Holocaust survivors to ensure their safe and independent living.
- More than $2 million in scholarships and grants were awarded to 11 Jewish day schools and 11 congregational schools in Miami, impacting the lives of nearly 5,000 students who were given the opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage.
- Approximately 2,000 Jews in home, hospital or institutional settings received comfort and spiritual solace through visits by 30 Mishkan Miami chaplains and trained volunteers.
- More than 2,500 worshippers joined in Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at Miami-area synagogues free of charge through the High Holiday Welcome Program.
- $47,300 in emergency grants were provided by The Fund for Victims of Terror to 43 families affected by violence and acts of terrorism. In addition, 627 families received more than $676,000 following the devastating fires which raged across Israel.
- Nearly 5,000 French immigrants received financial, vocational and housing support to acclimate to their new lives in Israel after fleeing their homes in response to increased anti-Semitism and hatred.
- $1.6 million funded 27 programs supporting Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox education in Israel, significantly bolstering the presence of these movements and helping ensure religious diversity and inclusion.
- More than 52,000 elderly live at home with dignity and independence as a result of support services and social activities in more than 260 funded communities.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2016-17 YEAR INCLUDED
- Mitzvah projects – Milk & Honey and Matzo Mitzvah were designed to engage families in a fun and meaningful opportunity to give back to those in need.
- Basel, Bagels and Dreidels was a creative event tying the celebration of Chanukah with Art Basel by inviting children to create and decorate their own Menorahs. In addition to a festive Chanukah party, we deepened the content and reach of the celebration by creating a PJ Chanukah booklet which was shared physically and digitally.
- At Parents’ Night Out at the Jewish Museum, our parents bonded over PJ Library and enjoyed a night of culinary delights from Jerusalem with writer Sara Liss and Chef Maude Eaton.
- We continued our long-standing partnership with Books and Books, Miami’s independent bookseller and the setting for our PJ Library Story Times.
- “Swim, Sun & Summer Safety” was a collaboration between PJ Library, Swim Gym, the Miami Beach JCC and Baptist Health. The event encouraged parents to learn alongside their little ones about water safety, sun safety and CPR. To further our impact, we created an activity book that we shared physically and digitally.
JEWISH COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT NETWORK/JWORKS
The Jewish Community Employment Network continues to extend the program’s reach in the South Florida community and better serve those in need of assistance. Since the program’s inception in February 2010 and through June 30, 2017:
- 1,783 job seekers were provided individual job counseling with JCS career counselors (200 in FY 16-17)
- More than 2,700 positions have been posted on our job board (209 in FY 16-17)
- 1309 positions have been filled by job seekers through the program (197 in FY 16-17)
- 33 job search workshops were conducted and 323 job seekers have attended (123 in FY 16-17)
BLANK FAMILY CHARITABLE FUND
Below are a few examples of situations in which assistance from the Blank Family Charitable Fund has made a life-changing difference in people’s lives:
- A 64-year-old woman with spinal stenosis was the victim of a scam, resulting in the loss of her life’s savings. Facing eviction, she received assistance from the Blank Family Charitable Fund, which enabled her to continue living in her home until she could make other arrangements.
- A 20-year-old recent immigrant from Argentina without insurance did not have the funds to extract two painful wisdom teeth. The check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund enabled him to have the extractions and follow up care and resume his efforts to create a new life in this country.
- Rental assistance was provided to a young wife, two months pregnant, whose husband was arrested for physically and mentally abusing her. The check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund enabled her to seek employment and become self-sufficient.
- An elderly couple needed financial assistance to buy a used car. They both have major health issues, are financially insecure and have no family or friends to help them. Their car had been re-possessed since they could not pay the monthly payments, and they had been renting a car or using a taxi service to go to doctors. The $1,000 check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund helped them purchase an inexpensive used car to provide mobility as well as a sense of independence.
- A 60-year-old man with serious mental health and physical problems was estranged from his family, had no friends and was not able to support himself. He relied on synagogues and rabbis to help him financially. Several of these synagogues joined to commit funds to support him with food, rent, FPL, clothing, and more. Including a contribution from Jewish Family Services of Broward, enough funds were collected to support him for 11 months. The check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund paid for an additional month’s rent, creating a one-year timespan during which he will start receiving Social Security disability payments.
- A 40-year-old man has lived with severe Crohn’s disease for the past 20 years. He lives with his mother as the illness has made it impossible for him to work for the past several years. He used all of his and his mother’s savings to pay for treatment co-pays and medical insurance, but expects to receive Social Security disability benefits shortly. The check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund paid his monthly health insurance bill enabling him to have enough money to purchase food and to support him until Social Security benefits begin.
- A 60-year-old wheelchair-bound woman lives with her 37 year-old disabled son. They were asked to vacate their apartment because their building was sold. The family found another apartment, received assistance for the move from a community agency and used all of their savings to pay part of the rent. The check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund helped pay the remaining rent so the family could once again be financially stable.
- A 14-year-old boy was shot while speaking to friends on the street. Four weeks later, his house was the target of a drive-by shooting and he recently received death threats. His older brother had been shot and killed three years ago. Their mother lost her job last year and has mental health issues. The Miami State Attorney’s Office indicated that once she was current with her rent payments, they would help relocate the family to another state. The check from the Blank Family Charitable Fund helped bring this family closer to moving to a safer environment.
BLANK FAMILY FOUNDATION VETERANS ASSISTANCE FUND
For the past 12 months, this fund provided assistance for veterans in need. Below are the case summaries of several veterans who have been assisted by the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund this past year:
- An Army veteran lost his job after having emergency surgery, and his wife had to resign from her place of employment in order to care for him. They were experiencing financial hardship and were served an eviction notice. The check from the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund enabled them to pay for one month’s rent and provided the veteran the time to recover and return to work.
- An Army veteran has obtained full time employment, enabling him to afford housing for the first time. Although he had adequate funds for a month’s rent, he did not have enough to cover the first and last month’s rents or the deposit. The check from the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund enabled this veteran the opportunity to live in his own home.
- A married veteran and father of two young children, ages five and seven, sustained traumatic brain injury during his service in Afghanistan, causing severe mental health and medical issues. His impaired judgement caused him to make poor financial decisions, leaving his family in financial jeopardy. The checks from the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund paid for one month’s FPL, car insurance and car payments while the family awaited the results of the Veteran’s Administration petition for competency and the appointment of a fiduciary to handle his finances.
- After serving nearly seven years in the Army and achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom was medically discharged due to permanent disability. He, his wife and their two children lived in a hotel upon his discharge. Upon finding an apartment, they needed assistance with the moving costs. The check from the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund enabled the veteran and his family to move into a residence of their own.
- An Army veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder had secured employment with the Bureau of Prisons, but needed to leave his position as it triggered traumatic reminders of combat experiences while he was guarding prisoners. He found new employment and the check from the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund significantly reduced the stress caused by the financial hardship created while he was unemployed.
These examples emphasize the need for assistance our veterans are experiencing and the immeasurable impact the Blank Family Veterans Assistance Fund has on those veterans who benefitted from assistance.
JEWISH COMMUNITY SERVICES OF SOUTH FLORIDA
Since 1920, Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS) and its predecessor organizations have provided high quality, cutting edge social services to the vulnerable in our community. Each year, more than 25,000 people of all ages, religions and ethnicities benefit from JCS’ information referral services, diverse support initiatives and healthcare-related programs, including:
- The delivery of kosher meals to the elderly and homebound.
- Counseling to those in crisis, including for families affected by domestic abuse.
- Providing training and a sheltered workshop for the developmentally disabled.
- Maintaining a Kosher Food Bank for families experiencing financial hardship.
- Supporting the indigent and aging Holocaust survivors in our community.
- Teaching job skills to the deaf and hard of hearing as well as to the county’s homeless population.
The $25,000 grant from the Blank Family Foundation helped support the important safety net programs that JCS operates in South Florida. Below you will find only a few examples of how JCS’ programs impacted the Jewish community this past year:
- More than 12,000 requests for assistance were received by the Jewish community’s 24-hour Access and Information Hotline, a free 24-hour community helpline that directs callers to the social services and health-related programs they need.
- More than 600 Holocaust Survivors in Miami-Dade County received personalized and comprehensive JCS case management services through the Holocaust Survivor Support Services Program. By providing assistance to our Survivors with coordinating care and obtaining benefits, Survivors continue to safely live independently in the comfort of their homes.
- More than 380 families, including 100 Holocaust Survivors, visited the JCS Kosher Food Bank 3,300 times to help put nutritious kosher food on their tables.
- More than 165,000 kosher meals were provided to seniors through JCS home-delivery and congregate meal programs.
- 60 adults and their children, victims of domestic abuse, received services through JCS’ Shalom Bayit program, helping transition them to a life free of fear and intimidation.
- 800 adults, seniors and children benefitted from nearly 10,000 group and individual counseling sessions and other psychological services from the professional clinical staff of JCS’ Behavioral Health Services.
- More than 2,500 Jewish students received sexual abuse prevention services through JCS’ Safety Kid program.
Overall, the Blank Family Foundation distributed approximately $1,000,000 in grants last year to deserving organizations in Florida, Utah, Montana and Israel of so they can continue their good work on behalf of each and all of us.