Jewish Family Service awarded grant for Holocaust survivor care

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 23, 2016

 Author and Holocaust survivor Irene Miller shares her personal story and anecdotes from her book, “Into No Man’s Land: A Historical Memoir,” with an audience at the Southfield Public Library on Nov. 6, 2013.

Author and Holocaust survivor Irene Miller shares her personal story and anecdotes from her book, “Into No Man’s Land: A Historical Memoir,” with an audience at the Southfield Public Library on Nov. 6, 2013.

File photo by Brian Sevald

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit recently received a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America for new programming for Holocaust survivors. 

The grant — which is through the Jewish Federations of North America’s recently launched Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care — is a combination of federal and philanthropic dollars raised by Jewish Federations totaling over $160,000. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the federal government has provided direct funding for Holocaust survivor services.

The Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care was launched in fall 2015 after the Jewish Federations of North America received an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for up to $12 million over five years to advance innovations in person-centered, trauma-informed services for Holocaust survivors. According to a press release, person-centered, trauma-informed services is a holistic approach that promotes the dignity, strength and empowerment of trauma victims.

“Taking care of Holocaust survivors, ensuring that they have their physical and emotional needs met, is of the utmost importance and a fully attainable goal if we continue to work together,” said Mark Wilf, chair of the federation’s National Holocaust Survivors initiative. 

CEO Perry Ohren said the grant will allow Jewish Family Service to work on person-centered, trauma-informed services for survivors in metro Detroit. Jewish Family Service currently serves about 500 local survivors, and the grant will also allow the organization to support smaller survivor communities in Flint and Ann Arbor. 

Ohren said that oftentimes, it is potentially more traumatic for Holocaust survivors to move into an institutionalized setting because of their general mistrust for such institutions. Because of this, Jewish Family Service staff need more training to provide services that allow people to stay home and age in place, he added.

“For us to provide additional support to help Holocaust survivors age with dignity and respect for the rest of their lives is the most important thing we can do as a Jewish family service agency,” Ohren said.

Jewish Family Service is one of 23 grant recipients throughout the nation, according to Yuliya Gaydayenko, senior director of older adult services. 

“I think this population needs the extra support. … This grant will help us create awareness and provide support to the family caregivers and professionals who work with this population,” Gaydayenko said.

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