Prior to the pandemic, Mirna and Joe Kobel (names changed for the article) were not a wealthy couple, but they got by with Mirna’s travel industry job and Joe’s work at a print shop for their basic needs. As long as there were no unexpected expenses they did fine.
The pandemic changed their situation overnight. When COVID-19 threw a wrench in the wheels of international travel, Mirna’s job ceased to exist. With the economic downturn and subsequent reduction in printing orders, Joe’s hours were significantly reduced; he went from full time to about eight hours a week. The Kobels are both looking for employment opportunities but they, like thousands of others in our community, are seeking jobs in a shrinking market.
With a son in college, they are hoping that things will look better by the time he graduates. But his continued education could be at risk due to his parents' impaired ability to support him. "Parental contribution" is included in the financial aid formula, but colleges are not all quick to increase aid when a family's circumstances change. Their son was awarded substantial scholarships so their part seemed large but manageable -- until things changed. The mounting bills and unmet financial obligations add to the stress of the social upheaval and threaten the psychological well-being of the family.
Like some other local rabbis, Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel's (BEKI's) Rabbi J-J Tilsen applied to the COVID-19 / Maimonides Response Fund of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven for help for a few households in distress. In a matter of days, the family received support to help keep them afloat while they restructured their obligations and looked for longer-term solutions.
“While the gift did not entirely change their situation, it bought them some time and the opportunity to breathe,” said Rabbi Tilsen.
Joe indicated that he appreciated the support, and most of all wants to get a decent stable job with regular hours. He feels gratification in giving to the community through volunteer effort and looks forward to better times. Thanks to the Jewish Federation & Jewish Foundation, this family will be a little farther from crisis and closer to better days.
The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation continue to see ongoing and increasing needs in our community for mental health services as well as requests for assistance with food and rent. Thankfully, a 50% match opportunity is now available through the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with seven national foundations to maximize our imact. Now charitable people in our community have the power to help more people with housing, food, assistance with mental health issues, and other critical human needs.