Jewish Healthcare Foundation gives $2.5 million to JCC for COVID relief
COVID-19Grant will help JCC weather pandemic losses

Jewish Healthcare Foundation gives $2.5 million to JCC for COVID relief

The JCC has continued to provide services to the community throughout the coronavirus crisis

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill. (Photo by Adam Reinherz)
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill. (Photo by Adam Reinherz)

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation has awarded a $2.5 million dollar emergency grant over two years to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh to address needs arising as a result of the pandemic.

With the shuttering of all non-essential businesses beginning March 18, “the JCC was faced with unprecedented service and financial challenges and made difficult decisions to furlough some of its staff while it regrouped to meet ongoing community needs,” according to a press release distributed by the JHF. JCC facilities, including its buildings in Squirrel Hill and the South Hills, were closed for more than two months. About 80% of the JCC’s revenue is generated “through membership and program fees from its day care, fitness and wellness centers, summer camps, afterschool programs and senior services, all of which were reduced significantly.” It is estimated the shortfall in lost revenue totals $6 million.

Throughout the pandemic, the JCC has continued to provide community services, including: conducting blood drives; providing meals for senior citizens; conducting telephone wellness checks through AgeWell; providing on line programming; provided camp and booked family camp retreats; and renewed its 10.27 Healing Partnership work.

The JCC staff has worked with the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative “to develop procedures to safely reopen health and fitness activities, child care and day camps, permitting parents (many of whom are essential workers) to feel comfortable returning to work and to give children the social experiences they have foregone,” according to the press release.

“We cannot thank the Jewish Healthcare Foundation enough for their commitment and confidence in us, our mission, our values, our leadership, and determination to ensure that the JCC fulfills its role to the best of its ability during the pandemic,” said Brian Schreiber, president and CEO of the JCC in a prepared statement. “COVID-19 created the most sudden and dramatic financial reversal in the JCC’s 125-year history. The response by the Foundation sends not only a deeply needed cash infusion, but the boldest possible expression of support in everything the JCC is and stands for each day.”

“Our Board is particularly proud to be able to respond to the unprecedented financial needs facing the JCC, an invaluable organization which provides crucial services to both the Jewish and the general community,” said David H. Ehrenwerth, chair of the JHF board of trustees, in a prepared statement. “This funding will enable the JCC to continue to provide essential services to seniors, adults, children and preschoolers. These are precisely the types of urgent needs that the Jewish Healthcare Foundation exists to satisfy.”

While the JCC continues to follow all governmental guidelines and Centers for Disease Control recommendations, some programming remains closed for now, including “key income-generating overnight camps and afterschool programming,” the press release stated.

JHF funds will “enable the JCC to keep a full complement of staff and its programming intact and assure that the organization can continue to respond with creativity and flexibility under the stressors of the pandemic,” according to the press release.

This emergency grant is in addition to JHF’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund established in March, which is making community-wide grants on an as-needed basis. PJC

Toby Tabachnick

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