With Rosh Hashana upon us and, as the number of calls to Jewish Care continue to grow, there has never been a more important time to reach out to help make the new year a little sweeter for those in serious need.
In the past year, Jewish Care received over 18,600 calls for help compared to the 6,000 calls typically received each year. The impacts of an economy that has been in recovery, the uncertainty of snap lockdowns and restrictions, and the winding back of State and Federal Government support measures have meant that many individuals and families who were just managing to make ends meet, have been struggling more than ever. And for many, including those who had never sought help before, Jewish Care has been the only place they have had to turn to.
One of the calls Jewish Care received was from Saul*. Saul, his wife Samantha* and their children are one of many families Jewish Care has helped with the support of our wonderful community.
Whilst Saul and Samantha each experienced a challenging childhood, they felt blessed to have found each other and couldn’t wait to start their own family. They had twins, Abigail* and Jonty*, two years after marrying and moved into a two-bedroom rental just before their children were born.
Saul and Samantha were doting parents and, though they just made ends meet, they provided a happy and loving home for their children; something that neither of them had ever had.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit…
Saul, who worked in hospitality, lost his job. He and Samantha were fraught with worry about losing their home and not being able to put enough food on the table, but were just able to survive on the salary Samantha earned as an administrative officer and the much-needed Job Keeper allowance. They were also able to negotiate a temporary reduction in rent.
When things started opening up again this year, Saul was able to go back to work. Though he was only able to secure part-time work, like most of us, he and Samantha felt relieved that the worst was over.
That was, until Samantha started experiencing abdominal pain.
As the pain persisted and became increasingly unbearable, Samantha went to see a doctor and was referred for some tests.
Tragically, the tests confirmed the worst. Samantha had cancer.
Devastated by the news, ten-year-old Abigail and Jonty were terrified of losing their mother. Abigail couldn’t sleep at night and wouldn’t eat. Jonty refused to go to school, his trouble re-adjusting to the classroom after online learning exacerbated by the added trauma of having to deal with his mother’s illness. Saul was left to care for and support his children at the same time as caring for his gravely ill wife while she was going through chemotherapy.
Added to this, their family was at risk of homelessness. With Saul only working three days a week and Samantha unable to work, they had fallen behind in rent and the landlord had threatened eviction.
Saul, shaken by how rapidly their lives had been turned upside down, felt helpless and had no family to turn to for support. That’s when one of Saul’s colleagues suggested he contact Jewish Care for help.
Saul was referred to a social worker. After assessing the family’s situation, the social worker engaged one of Jewish Care’s financial counsellors who was able to negotiate a payment plan with Saul and Samantha’s landlord and the eviction notice was cancelled. In addition to this, frozen meals were delivered to their home so Saul didn’t have to worry about shopping and cooking and some additional funding was given to help pay for cleaning.
The social worker talked with the school about Jonty’s school refusal and counselling was arranged for him, which helped greatly with his anxiety. The social worker suggested Abigail play netball with Maccabi, which she loved. The exercise helped her to sleep and eat better. One day when Abigail arrived home from school, she saw a package waiting for her - a new netball uniform arranged by the Jewish Care social worker.
All of this took a huge weight off Saul’s shoulders and allowed Samantha to concentrate on her recovery.
A few months on, Samantha is responding well to treatment. Each day has its ups and downs, but the family are hopeful that she will soon be in remission.
Saul and Samantha’s are so grateful for all the support that Jewish Care has already given and continues to offer their family. Recently, Saul said to the social worker that he didn’t know what they would have done without Jewish Care; that the doctors were saving Samantha’s life but Jewish Care had saved everyone else’s.
There are so many families like Saul and Samantha’s who have not only been affected by COVID-19, but have been affected by compounded challenges and have reached out to Jewish Care with requests including food items, rent assistance, financial aid and support around mental health issues.
Jewish Care is now in its 172nd year. With its robust infrastructure, Jewish Care is uniquely positioned to help those most in need in the most responsible, efficient and holistic way possible. Jewish Care is the safety net for our community. With your help, Jewish Care will continue to be there for our community.
As these unprecedented times continue, those in serious need in our community continue to depend on you, more than ever. You can make a real difference which is why I am asking you to please give generously at this special time of year.
Every dollar counts.
Please donate by clicking on the button below or phone us on 1800 539 474 today.
Wishing you a Shana Tova. May we all keep healthy and be blessed with a sweet New Year!
*Real names and image have been changed to protect client privacy.