Supporting our vulnerable – Ensuring help for those in need

The staff at Ometz are there to lend support to those in need.

By Gail Small
Co-Executive Director of Ometz

and Howard Lohner
President of Ometz

People think the Jewish community is a rich community. People have a false idea that there is no such thing as poverty in the Jewish community; that there are no risky behaviors and that our youth don’t have addiction problems. We don’t have mental health issues. There is no conjugal violence. But we have it all.

When people come and volunteer with us, they are astonished to find out what is really happening in the community. People don’t know. You don’t know until you see that people are being evicted; people are homeless; people don’t have enough food in their fridge; that kids are going to school hungry. If kids are lucky enough to go to camp, some of them have to pack their clothes in garbage bags instead of duffle bags. We have needs.

Without Federation CJA, we wouldn’t be able to make sure that the family coming in for help has a roof over its head. Or the family that just lost a parent is able to talk about it. Or the young person who was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia has somewhere to go and has someone with whom to talk. It translates into people helping people.

It’s about us at Ometz being able to offer some hope, some help, some type of support to anyone who walks through our doors. And it’s a whole range of support; it’s not just one thing. It’s a multitude of services depending on what someone needs. If we didn’t have Federation CJA and the generosity of the Jewish community, we wouldn’t be able to do half of what we do today for our community.

But there is a lot more to do. Poverty is passed on from one generation to another. So we need to invest more in our children and our youth to reduce multi-generational poverty. Often when the parents are poor, the children’s futures look bleak so we need to ensure that they are successful in school, that they’re supported and that they see and have opportunities in front of them. We have to make sure that there are enough jobs for every community member who needs one. We have to provide a welcoming environment to our new Canadians. We have to ensure that regardless of who you are, what you have or don’t have, or where you come from, you have a place in our Jewish community.

Every one of us knows someone, a family member, a friend, a colleague who is touched by some problem, some crisis and needs help. It’s not only the poor who come to us and that’s important. It’s somebody who at some point in their life is facing a challenge or is feeling vulnerable or who has a need. A strong community ensures that there is a safety net; that people don’t fall through the cracks. They can call somewhere and get help. They can walk into a building or into a centre and feel supported.  And that there’s someone at the other end of the phone with whom they can identify and who can identify with them. A strong community ensures that there are solutions and that there is hope. People are healthier because they have our Jewish community.

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Agence Ometz delivers services to low-income families, those individuals seeking employment, families in need, as well as assisting new immigrants to establish themselves in Montreal.
Federation CJA allocated $4,412,000 (includes poverty relief fund)

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