Just a few months ago, my work day was consumed with hospital and nursing home visits, resident chaplain training, teaching classes, and coordinating volunteers. However, like others on the JFCS staff, much of my usual day-to-day work has been put on hold due to the virus.
While the work of the Chaplaincy Department continues in a more restricted manner, other programs at the agency have been swamped. One of these is that of our Financial Assistance program… the calls keep coming. As a result, I’ve been trained, together with a few other staff members to help make these calls. Generous donations enable us to provide rent, utility or mortgage assistance to those who qualify.
So I’ve been making calls, sending out paperwork, helping clients navigate the details, putting together their documents and submitting them for consideration. I’ll admit to being overwhelmed with the stories people tell as to how their incomes have been cut entirely or drastically reduced. The kitchen worker at a restaurant, the housekeeper at the 4 Seasons; the security guard at the World Congress Center, the medical records transcriber, hairdresser, manager at a music venue, photographer, caregiver from a group home…. The volume of calls together with the worry and desperation people convey give an all-too-clear picture of the grim situation we as a country (city, state) are in.
What balances the sadness of managing such calls is that several times a day I will get an email from our FA committee with the instruction, ‘You can call with the good news!’ as someone whom I’ve shepherded through the process has been approved. Those calls are easy, with the recipients expressing relief, joy and deep gratitude.
These are strange times, requiring that we all adapt to new circumstances. I was hired to be the Community Chaplain as part of JF&CS’ mission to serve the spiritual and emotional needs of the Jewish community, particularly hospital patients and the elderly. I will be glad to return to the work for which I was hired when that time comes.
For now, my job is to contribute to the greater mission of JF&CS which stipulates that we care for everyone in our community, irrespective of age, race, religion, etc. Our goal is to inspire Hope and Opportunity by which we extend a helping hand to all.
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