Sustaining a Safety Net

May 27, 2016
By Sol Silverman, MSW

I have the honor of coordinating JFCS East Bay’s Project Ezra, which serves as the East Bay Jewish community’s safety net. The program provides targeted assistance to East Bay Jews facing a financial crisis. In our large and diverse community, this is a critical ongoing need.

By the time someone calls me seeking assistance, it’s likely they have already exhausted every other option. The client could be a senior who is facing eviction due to an unexpected rent increase or a single mother who is newly homeless after leaving an abusive relationship. Whatever the circumstances, the need is immense and the assistance we provide can often prevent larger crises from happening. This was the case for a client I’ll call Steve.

Steve is a fifty-eight-year-old man who contacted Project Ezra after his employment was terminated suddenly. He only had enough money to pay for part of his rent, which was past due for the month. Steve was concerned that he would be evicted, but if he used what little money he had for rent, he wouldn’t be able to afford food or transportation to job interviews.  He was estranged from his family and didn’t feel he had any friends he could ask for help.

Project Ezra was able to pay the remainder of Steve’s rent and we also provided him with a BART card and a Safeway gift card. By intervening with this financial assistance, we prevented Steve’s eviction and bought him the time he needed to become employed. Some time after receiving assistance, Steve emailed me to report that he would be starting a new job the following week. Later Steve called me to say, “I just wanted to say thank you for everything. You have no idea how much it really helped and made my current situation possible.”

As our Executive Director Avi Rose says, “We’re always going to need a safety net. There will always be Jews in our community facing crises who need some help getting through. The need will not go away. Project Ezra is here to help those people feel that they are not alone, and ideally get them out of crisis and into equilibrium.”

This year, our goal for Project Ezra is to provide financial assistance to 50 East Bay Jews in financial crisis. As the only Jewish social services agency in the East Bay, we are uniquely qualified to provide for the most vulnerable people in our community. Many of these people are in danger of falling through the cracks; through Project Ezra, we work hard to ensure that they don’t.

—Sol Silverman, MSW, is JFCS East Bay’s Project Ezra Coordinator and a Geriatric Care Manager serving older adults and their families.

Project Ezra is sustained through the generosity of community members. Please join us in ensuring that this vital safety net remains available to all who need it.