Our world is chaotic. The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is continuing to rise. We get conflicting messages. Communities are beginning to open up in phases, but many people are still wary of re-engaging. Others are going about life as normal with no regard for social distancing or wearing masks. What will be the impact be of this reopening? Will we see a resurgence of reported infections and hospitalizations? What will our work environments look like?
Federation, while adapting to a virtual platform, has been busier than ever fulfilling our mission of sustaining and enhancing Jewish life at home and around the world. For example, we have personally reached out by phone to 1,300 people for check-ins, and we continue to see that our community members are well and appreciate having a friendly voice to talk with.
A main strategic initiative of Federation is: to inspire generosity and coordinate a broad spectrum of funding sources. We are doing this through our Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund, which provides financial assistance to individuals who have been affected as a result of the pandemic. This fund is part of our Chesed Fund, which for many years has supported those in dire need in our community. To date, we have raised close to $60,000. In addition, we have raised additional funds for our low-interest loan program to meet the increased need for small bridge loans for individuals at this time.
We have also committed funds, alongside our partners, Jewish Community Foundation and Menorah Heritage Foundation, to provide for the stabilization of core functions provided through multiple Jewish organizations in KC. And of course, our ongoing annual campaign will continue to fund a great number of important programs both locally and overseas.
Two other strategic initiatives of Federation are: to convene the community to facilitate collaboration to identify and satisfy needs and promoting Jewish engagement along life’s continuum. We have been proactive on this front by convening groups from our agencies and synagogues with the goal of sharing information, best practices, and concerns to identify overlap and duplication, as well as fill gaps in the community response. Groups addressing young families, teens, college students, young adults and seniors have been formed. This has been highly effective in boosting collaboration and support.
A big community-wide issue currently presenting is the canceling of many regional overnight camps. This issue affects many of our families with young children, teens, as well as college students. How can those in our community (both parents and kids) be supported with this change of events? Federation is at the forefront of gathering people together, finding resources and identifying best practices to address this challenge.
Attracting and developing quality leadership is fundamental to what we do. I am thrilled to announce that our Community Leadership Forum for Chairs and Chairs-Elect has launched. We have 10 people engaged in this program representing agencies and synagogues. Our goals are to not only develop leadership skills but also to form a cohort of community to build relationships, friendships and support for one another.
Given the pandemic, our first session focused on Leading in a Time of Crisis. We have adjusted the curriculum to reflect the current situation as we all have to adapt, especially those in leadership positions. Our successful Statland Young Leadership Institute for young adults launched its second class in January and continues to meet virtually. We have an impressive group of budding leaders who will be the next generation to lead our Jewish community.
Our final strategic initiative is: best in class communication through implementing stellar marketing. We had revamped our enewsletter, JewishKC, to focus on our community as a whole. Please check your email as it arrives weekly and highlights all that is going on in the Jewish community. We have also expanded our reach by increasing our social media posts and communication.
As you can see, Federation is hard at work doing what we do best, sustaining and enhancing Jewish life at home and around the world. The world may be a scary place right now and we may not know what tomorrow will bring, however Federation is here for you today, as always. Please reach out should you need anything at all.
Together we will get through these dark times and come out on the other side, because together we are better.