A Pandemic, A Community, A Future


In March 2020, the world turned upside down. The older adult, the parent, the young adult, suddenly found themselves facing a new reality, one where connections went virtual, lunches with friends were put on hold and life events were altered. 

Although many faced difficulties, what would get them through, was their community. And The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, with its extensive network of agencies, would be on the frontlines, helping them connect, find answers and survive.  

 

New Concerns for Domestic Violence Victims 

Lauren Shaivitz 

As Executive Director of CHANA, The Associated agency for people who experience abuse, Lauren Shaivitz and her team have been working tirelessly since March to make sure that domestic violence victims are safe. 

How is it harder? 

Domestic abuse victims are already scared to leave. Now they are increasingly worried about where to go. They are afraid if they leave and move to a family member’s house or a hotel, they could get coronavirus.  

In addition, some abusers are taking advantage of the outbreak and finding new ways to abuse. For example, they may purposely spit on their victims. Others fail to practice social distancing, then take steps to scare their victims. We had one woman call about the stay-at-home orders. Her quote to me was that she could be dead, and no one would even know it. 

Stories? 

One woman was stuck in her home with an abuser and numerous guns. We had to move quickly to get a protective order. Then we worked to find her transportation and a place to live out-of-state, which was made more difficult by the pandemic.  

How is your CHAT helping? 

Our Live CHAT, found on our website, is particularly helpful for victims who can’t find a place to call, or for younger victims, who are accustomed to using technology to communicate. Available Monday to Friday, victims receive the same level of support and advocacy. 

What’s next? 

We are afraid that when the pandemic is over, many victims will be ready to leave. But, with the economic situation, it will be a hard time to become self-sufficient. Thankfully, The Associated is committed to ensuring that no one will have to remain with their abuser. 

 

Preventing Social Isolation 

Gayle Newman 

For the past 13 years, Gayle Newman, the Director of Activities at CHAI’s Weinberg Village, has been working nonstop, planning two to three programs a day for the residents. After all, she says, socialization is what makes these senior living facilities so special.  

Yet in March, when social distancing became the norm, she had to reinvent her role.  

How did you pivot?  

Initially, I made personal phone calls to virtually every resident to see how they were doing. I asked if they had a smart phone or computer and I sent them information on Myerberg and JCC classes. I began creating activities and programs that they could do in their rooms to connect and avoid becoming socially isolated.  

Such as? 

I put together craft kits … a gardening package with pots and seeds so they could grow plants in their room, since they couldn’t plant our outdoor gardens. I worked with Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), where volunteers wrote letters to the residents. I’m getting entertainers outside so residents can watch through their windows. 

What have you heard?  

The residents like the connection. Some only come down once a day to pick up a meal and they are alone and frightened.  

Food?  

Yes, since our shuttle wasn’t running to the store, we added additional food to our building stores. CHAI (an Associated agency) is delivering boxes of fresh produce, personal care items and other products every two weeks to interested residents. I talk to the residents to find out what they need. I could not have done all this without the support of CHAI and The Associated.  

 

Saving a Life 

Zina Sanders 

Zina Sanders’ world was spiraling out of control. Her mother, whom she was very close with, had died. As she fell deeper into depression, she lost job after job. Then she discovered Sherri Sacks, a Jewish Community Services’(JCS) job coach. She credits JCS with where she is today.  

What was it like for you? My mother was my best friend, roommate and confidant. After she died, I suffered extreme depression. My car was repossessed, I lost countless jobs and was evicted from my apartment. I wasn’t sure what I had to live for.  

How did JCS help you?  

When I got my depression under control, JCS helped me find a job. I had been a massage therapist for many years. I had no idea how to translate that job into something new. My resume needed a complete overhaul, and Sherri helped me showcase my strengths, prepare for my interview and navigate difficult questions. Today, I am an assistant front manager at a local grocery store.  

What happened after you were evicted?  

I moved in with someone and it wasn’t great. When I was at JCS, I noticed a sign for Hebrew Free Loan. I made an appointment. They helped me secure two no-interest loans that paid for my security deposit and first month’s rent. I moved in October, last year, and I expect to have it all paid off at the end of this year.  

Has the pandemic affected you? 

 I’m so grateful to have a job I love. Sherri has been checking in with me by email and phone. I told a friend that I hope when I come into money, I can give a big fat donation.  

If you know is struggling during this difficult time, contact our community helpline at 410-466-9200. 

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