Philadelphia, PA • Since 1819

When It Rains, It Pours

Harsh economic times can press an organization’s capacity to its limits, increasing the plea for donor support. Faced with many requests, donors often have a hard time knowing where to give, how their gift will be used and to what extent it will actually help those in need. FHBS prides itself on giving 99 cents of every gifted dollar to our clients. We have no galas, luncheons or marathons. Continuing the practice established in 1819 of being a quiet charity, we send just one solicitation letter annually, at the inception of the Jewish New Year.

With our updated website, we can now share the stories of the people we help with greater frequency, and you can learn where your dollars are going. Emergency aid takes many forms for women who have been identified by communal professionals as deserving of immediate assistance. Three of the women FHBS has assisted recently have physical, psychological and financial burdens that would challenge even the strongest among us.

Marian is a 33-year-old single woman living with her mother, who has rheumatoid arthritis and heart problems, and her 9-month-old daughter. A former administrator at a local utility company, Marian lost her job a year ago; unemployment benefits ran out in December 2013. This past June, her infant daughter stopped eating and drinking. After extensive testing at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, no diagnosis was reached. The child is on a feeding tube with a special formula for the foreseeable future. W.I.C. does not cover the cost.

Saddled with student loans, medical bills and debit-card debt, as well as a 2002 car and expenses that exceed a household income of $29,000, including Social Security, Social Security Disability and food stamps, Marian is beyond overwhelmed. FHBS is providing a $50 CVS pharmacy gift card for the next six-months to help pay for the formula.

Janice was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and had a mastectomy. She continued to work a part-time, 15 hour-a-week job until the pain from her illness became unbearable. Now 74, she has been told that her cancer has metastasized, and she has six to 10 months to live. Arthritis and spinal stenosis complicate her weakened condition, and she ambulates slowly with a cane. A single woman with no family, Janice has no one on whom to rely for support. Her monthly income is now $650 in Social Security and $175 from SNAP. Her landlady, a friend and former colleague, lowered her rent from $550 to $450 a month, and her social worker applied to MANNA for home delivered meals.

Janice has been accepted into the palliative care program at Penn Home Care, which will provide an aide to help with bathing and some meal preparation, but she is reluctant to follow through with her social worker’s suggestion to get additional support to assist with shopping and transportation to doctors’ appointments. FHBS began an emergency monthly stipend in the amount of $150 on September 1 and will also pay October’s rent, easing some of Janice’s financial burden and hopefully giving her peace of mind.

Nadine is a 50-year-old woman with a complicated family situation and a home infested with bed bugs. She is divorced from her first husband and lives with their three college age children in the home she acquired in the settlement. She married a second time, in a religious ceremony only, to a man who physically and financially abuses her. She paid off all his debts, and while he lives in her house, he has never worked or contributed to the household expenses. Nadine works at a daycare center with reduced hours in the summer. She tried to combat the bed bug problem on her own but the treatment was unsuccessful. She then turned to a professional but waited so long between the first and second treatments that he had to begin anew. FHBS paid the exterminator $600 for three consecutive visits with a guaranteed outcome. Nadine’s home is on its way to becoming a bed bug free environment.

It’s a mitzvah to help those who so desperately need it and have no one to whom to turn for assistance. To continue this work, FHBS needs your support.

Written by Judith Richards