BY ANDREW LIPKIN
CEO, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation
YOUNGSTOWN – Closing the doors in March to the Jewish Community Center and limiting visitation at Levy Gardens Assisted Living Facility and Heritage Manor Rehabilitation & Retirement Community seemed to go against the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation’s desire to bring the community together during this time of need. With safety protocols in place, these agencies are again open, both virtually and in person
The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation is the umbrella organization for Heritage Manor, Levy Gardens, the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Family Services.
At the start of the pandemic, the JCC sought approval for a temporary pandemic child care license from the state and opened one of the area’s first child care options for essential workers. Nearly 50 children benefited.
Jewish Family Services and JCC launched a hotline to connect people with mental health assistance and other resources. They also partnered with Direction Home of Eastern Ohio to expand our mobile meals program. And JFS counselors changed the way they traditionally work with clients and began offering teletherapy.
Meanwhile, the JCC began offering a wide variety of virtual programs. And many programs are now being offered both in person and virtually.
Last year, the Paul and Yetta Gluck School of Visual Arts at the JCC opened its doors. The studio is a flexible space that can be used for gatherings, instruction, a makerspace, and performance art. 2020 also saw the opening of the JCC Esports Arena.
To combat the isolation felt by many older adults, staff worked with Levy Gardens and Heritage Manor families so they could Skype, Facetime or Zoom loved ones and arranged for window visits when possible.
The Jewish Community Relations Council, an advocate for the community, is staying in contact with community leaders and public officials (local, national and international) to monitor needs and exchange updates.
An emergency round of funding from the Thomases Family Endowment of the federation awarded over $120,000 to area organizations, helping them through the COVID crisis.
January saw the launch of the JCC Winter Campus and School of Theatre. The Winter Campus includes an ice rink and curling lane.
The new JCC School of Theatre began offering classes in January. A racquetball court is being converted to a performing arts space. The School of Theatre joins the School of Dance and School of Music, to complete the JCC performing arts options for all ages.