Breakthrough Solidarity Mission: JDC's 120 Strong

This column was written by Dan Brown, founder of ejewishphilanthropy.com, and is crossposted to that esteemed Web site. Dan wrote the columns during and after participating in UJC's next-Gen Breakththrough solidarity mission to Israel's Gaza perimeter region.

Another segment of Israel's elderly population (approaching 700,000) are those elderly and disabled living in their own homes. Working with this population is one of the priorities of The Joint. Through supportive communities, social contact and services are provided through a network of volunteer neighborhood "fathers" who, among other things, assist residents with small repairs, errands and home visits. Participants pay a small monthly fee (subsidized for those unable to pay) that in addition to providing social and cultural programs includes an emergency call button, doctor's visits and free ambulance service. This is a supplement to benefits citizens enjoy through Btuach Leumi, Israel's social security program.

A key component in the war zone is 120 Strong -- initiated in the first few days of the recent war as an emergency program to assist those who were not able to manage as before. The program is financed 75/25 by the Government and the JDC - through Federation dollars. It was launched quickly, which by itself is a study of recruiting and mobilizing people.

Knocking on doors to reach out to 19,000 identified residents, 180 case managers sought to establish individual needs and inquire how they could be of assistance. In some cases, it's simply putting away the groceries, in others who are less mobile and unable to quickly reach shelters, it is helping them identify a safe place in the home to move to when an alert sounds.

The best possible endorsement for the program comes from the participants, some of whom we visited with at home. It is apparent the program fills an identifiable need; and that the recipients are both satisfied and well served.

- Dan Brown