Alliance’s COVID-19 emergency campaign makes immediate impact

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The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Campaign has raised over $235,000 from close to 400 donors. As of mid-June, over $30,000 had been allocated to 150 individual households, as well as organizations doing direct service work in the community. 

The goal of the campaign, co-chaired by Rich Glucksman and Amanda Isenberg, is to help individuals struggling financially due to the pandemic.  

To determine the community’s needs, the Alliance brought together leadership from agencies and synagogues throughout the state.  To ensure that the funds were distributed in a community-minded and effective way, a distribution committee was appointed to review all requests. 

“From the beginning of this crisis, the Alliance worked closely with its partners in the community to understand the need and take action,” said Alliance President and CEO Adam Greenman. “Our synagogues and agencies have helped identify people in need, and have helped us to get help to those who required it most.  We continue to meet weekly with our agency partners, and I’m inspired by their work. It demonstrates the power of our strong, vibrant community.”

Food insecurity was the first need that was expressed by individuals and families.  In many cases, these were families that had never requested assistance before, but due to job loss, additional people living at home or less access to food, they were now in need. 

The campaign was able to restock the shelves at The Louis & Goldie Chester Full Plate Kosher Food Pantry, in Providence, more than once thanks to an $8,500 grant from the Women’s Alliance Endowment Fund and other allocations. The campaign also helped to provide Kosher grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches for children until the program was shifted to the Providence Parks Department. The Alliance also worked with local restaurants, such as Garden Grille and Providence Bagel, to prepare meals for those in need.

The campaign has also provided:

  • Assistance in paying for funerals and facilitating the donation of food for shivah.
  • Fabric and mask donations for the staff at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence, in Warwick, as well as community members.
  • Gift cards for individuals and families to offset the costs of groceries, medications, gas and hygiene products.
  • Care packages for families with young children, in conjunction with Henry Bear’s Park.

The distribution committee anticipates that the remaining funds will be used for similar things, as well as financial assistance for rent, utilities and medical needs.

The committee has received feedback from aid recipients about the importance of so many people stepping up to give so significantly.  One mother stated that she was “moved to tears” when she realized “there are people who really get what we are going through.”  Another mother said her family “felt so blessed to have such generous, giving people in our community.” 

The Talmud states, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh” – “All Jews are responsible for each other.”  In this time of great need, many kind and charitable people took this to heart – and had an immediate impact on the lives of their friends and neighbors in the community. 

The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis will be felt for months to come. To help support the COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Fund, go to  jewishallianceri.org/emergency-fund, call 401-421-4111, ext. 165, or send a check to Relief and Recovery Fund, c/o Jewish Alliance, 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence, RI 02906

If you are in need of emergency support, mental health services or have other needs, please contact Jewish Collaborative Services at 401-331-1244.

SARA MASRI (smasri@jewishallianceri.org) is chief development officer at the Jewish Alliance of Greater RI.