Since its establishment in 2020, the Jewish Foundation's Jewish Elderly Grants Committee, chaired by Craig Sklar, has made a significant impact awarding $620,000 to various Jewish organizations and agencies for innovative projects and programs that enhance the quality of life for the Jewish elderly in the New Haven community.
In 2023, the initiative continued its positive impact, by awarding $176,000 to three deserving agencies: Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven, The Towers at Tower Lane, and Chabad of the Shoreline — all previous grant recipients. The funds enable the agencies to develop new and innovative programs that address needs of the elderly in the Greater New Haven Jewish community.
The population of Connecticut is aging; between 2013 and 2025, the share of Connecticut residents 60 years and over will grow by 44 percent.* As the elderly population grows, the need for resources and support for older adults becomes even more significant. The Jewish Foundation's Grants for the Jewish Elderly is dedicated to serving and funding this need, thanks to the generous contributions from the former Jewish Home Building Fund Corporation and several funds of the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven, including the Isaac & Mary Liveten Fund, Marion Litsky Fund, Irvin Shiner 75th Birthday Fund, Benjamin & Freda Cohen Memorial Fund, Eva Kahn Fund, Harry Braffman Fund, and the Leo Links Fund.
"We are thrilled to continue to support the Jewish Elderly in Greater New Haven through these grants. The $176,000 awarded to Jewish Family Service, The Towers at Tower Lane, and Chabad of the Shoreline reflects our dedication to addressing diverse needs as the aging population grows,” said Craig Sklar, Chair of the Jewish Foundation's Jewish Elderly Grants Committee. “We are honored to collaborate with our partners, promoting innovative programs for food support, socialization, community outreach, and social work services, ensuring joyful, dignified, and independent golden years."
Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven was among the recipients of the grants, supporting their Care Navigators Program. This program welcomes aging adults from all walks of life, regardless of socioeconomic status, faith, culture, or race. The Care Navigators program provides assessments, referrals, and support to ensure elderly individuals can safely stay in their homes or, where appropriate, help them find appropriate new housing.
The Towers at Tower Lane is utilizing its grant to create a new Community Garden on its campus. This transformative project replaces a decaying and unusable basketball court with an accessible garden space. The community garden will feature a fruit and vegetable garden, equipped with wheelchair-accessible beds for seniors to plant while seated; an herb garden; a chicken coop for fresh eggs; reflection area; shaded gathering area; bocce court; and a dog run.
"Thank you to the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven for providing this grant for the second year in a row. These funds allow us to embark on an exciting project at The Towers at Tower Lane, which is scheduled to start in September,” said Jennifer Bayer, The Towers Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives. “The Towers is dedicated to creating a thriving and inclusive community, where our seniors can enjoy nature, cultivate their interests, and connect with people of all ages. We are deeply grateful for being awarded these funds and look forward to seeing the Community Garden flourish in the months ahead."
Chabad of the Shoreline received a grant for its Friendly Visitors program, pairing volunteers for weekly visits with Jewish elderly living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The program aims to bring joy and stimulation to seniors, reducing isolation and increasing socialization. Additionally, this program organizes Intergenerational Jewish projects that provide both the elderly and volunteers with uplifting and enriching experiences.
Rabbi Yossi Yaffe, Director of Chabad of the Shoreline, shares about the program: "Throughout the year, Chabad of the Shoreline’s senior-services coordinator Mel Van Emmenes visits every assisted living and rehab center on the Shoreline and River region that has Jewish residents. This has allowed her to match residents with our friendly visitors. The impact of the friendly visitors has been tremendous. And some true friendships have blossomed, enriching both the visitors and their elderly hosts.”
Chabad of the Shoreline’s Friendly Visitor Program is expanding to reach seniors who are still living in their homes but would like a weekly visitor. Rabbi Yaffe sees these dedicated volunteers as a living example of the Torah’s command to respect the elderly. “They are offering kindness and friendship in a dignified way to our community’s seniors,” notes Rabbi Yaffe. “A program like this is so important, especially in this time of increased isolation, fragmentation and disruption since the COVID pandemic. With the financial support of the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven, we can create a more connected and caring community for the Jewish elderly population on the Shoreline.”
“Through the Jewish Senior Task Force and Jewish Senior Initiatives, The Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven welcomes the opportunity to provide funding and support these initiatives,” said Lisa Stanger, Executive Director of the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven. “Our goal is to ensure that the golden years of our elderly are filled with joy, fulfillment, and independence. We look forward to continued support of our partner organizations.”