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Sunday, October 25, 2020
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(Courtesy of JFS Clifton) Since 2005, JFS has served senior citizens with the goal of aging in place. COVID-19 has created tremendous challenges to the continuity of senior citizen programming. In order to save their senior-citizen services, currently directly and indirectly serving nearly 300 seniors, JFS of Clifton and Passaic is hosting a fundraiser. They hope the fundraiser will raise enough to allow them to continue providing services like daily check-ins by social workers, Zoom training and arts programming. Warmly referred to as a “Zoom-a-thon,” the fundraiser will follow a variety-show concept with live and pre-recorded performances by artists like Zalmen Mlotek, artistic director of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene; Simply Tsfat; members of the Zamir Choral Foundation; and Aaron Jonah Lewis. The event is scheduled for September 13, at 5 p.m.

Club Sequoia is a dynamic four-day-a-week senior center serving the Passaic-Clifton communities (as well as the surrounding neighborhoods of Bloomfield, Nutley and even Jersey City). What once started out as a weekly federally funded program has expanded its schedule and services to include lectures, fitness classes, current-events discussion groups, programs related to the arts and more. More recently, the program was funded largely by the Taub Foundation; however, their support will not be sufficient with so many other funding cuts because of COVID-19. There is a deep level of care and concern amongst this group for one another, as one senior put it: “This is the nicest group of old people you’ll ever meet.”

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JFS has a long history of providing incredible care for free to the senior citizens. From creating programming at their places of residences 15 years ago, to creating spaces for holiday celebrations together at the JFS building in Passaic, JFS has been a trusted partner for their members and their families who know they can always turn to the social work staff to ask for advice with issues in their lives. “They know us, they trust us and they count on us” said Pearl Ricklis, director of geriatric services at JFS. “Club Sequoia is in danger of closing. Our members would be devastated, isolated and bereft,” she added.

While COVID-19 has forced JFS to alter their programming, they continued to offer programming to this most isolated population throughout the closures due to the pandemic—there was not even one day where the programming was lagging. Senior
citizens are not only the most at-risk group for this virus, the loss of freedom and mobility for these people has been emotionally and mentally devastating.

For more information, or to volunteer to perform, sponsor or attend, please contact Hannah Kestenbaum at [email protected]

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