Caring for community members in need

Photo : Ross Taylor (JFNA)

Photo : Ross Taylor (JFNA)

Statistics don’t do justice to any story. To be told that one in every five Jews live in poverty in Montreal does not convey a sense of a person’s daily challenges. Nor does it offer a sense of how it is possible to help the vulnerable to improve the quality of their lives.

Combined Jewish Appeal, with its emphasis on a community that stands “for one another,” raises money in order to help those in need.

It is probably an over-statement to say that Susan Kling has seen it all during her 26 years as a Jewish community worker at Ometz. But, it is equally an under-statement to merely say that she has seen a lot.

• “I have had to wear rubber boots to visit an elderly man, whose apartment was caked with excrement because he was too frail to take his dog out all winter,” she shudders. But, you would never have the heart to tell him that he couldn’t continue to live with his beloved pet, on many days his only companion.

• “I have held the hands of a woman, shocked to find a bailiff at her home, evicting her because her husband’s gambling addiction kept him from paying the mortgage,” she relates. It gives great satisfaction to have been able to provide her with the resources to stave off foreclosure and to be able to overcome the massive debts that burdened the family.

• “I have encouraged a father to enroll in a professional training program, providing him with specialized tutors and other assistance so that he could secure a job and support his family,” she recalls. Thanks to the range of services available through the agencies supported by Combined Jewish Appeal, the unemployed are able to enhance their skills and improve their chances on the job market.

• “I have watched some of my colleagues organize a Bat Mitzvah for a girl whose mother was dying and just wanted to share this last milestone with her daughter,” she said. In the spirit of being “for one another,” professionals go well beyond their job descriptions in helping others. First and foremost, they are fellow members of the community.

• “I have helped a young boy living with an emotionally unstable parent enroll in a Jewish day school where teachers and administrators are looking out for him, nurturing him, working with social workers to make sure hot lunches are provided and extra school help is given,” she related. Thanks to the Tuition Assistance Allocation, children from disadvantaged homes are still able to reap the benefits of a Jewish education and escape the cycle of poverty that engulfs too many families.

“I have not done any of this alone,” Kling is quick to assert. “None of this could happen without those who give to Combined Jewish Appeal. They are the silent support that enables us to do what we do every day. They make it possible for us to continue to support, to heal and console.”

The Combined Jewish Appeal is the vehicle through which we have the opportunity to help those individuals who turn to the community for assistance. The care that is offered by the professionals is possible because of the support of donors to the annual fundraising Campaign. The people that Susan Kling has helped are just a sampling of the lives touched by the dollars that are donated.