Gail Baer

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we live and interact. Although we have been asked to social distance, our perseverance has helped us find new ways to connect with those we love and cherish.

As vice president of philanthropic services for Jewish Family & Children’s Service, I have the rare privilege of working with individuals and families who transform others’ lives.

Like many of my colleagues in the nonprofit sector, I was concerned that the recent pandemic and uncertainty for our future would affect the generous behaviors and spirit of people in our community. I could not have been more wrong.

Our community’s collective heart is extraordinary. You showed up and stepped up — motivated, inspired and compelled to help. Volunteers are delivering goods, making masks and donating blood. Donors are digging deep in their pockets to offer financial support so that others can meet their basic needs.

The outpouring of commitment and support from the community has been and continues to be remarkable. 

We, like other nonprofits in the Valley, are currently experiencing an urgent and rapid demand for services. Donors believe in our mission and understand their personal impact on thousands of individuals and families in our community. For that, I say thank you. Without your support, things would look a lot different. You are the backbone of all we do, and you are our partners for providing hope and healing every day.

People yearn for purpose — and when asked, people deliver. Philanthropic giving at any level yields numerous personal benefits, especially a true sense of meaning. Giving is a vehicle that enables us all to perform a critically constructive task in the midst of a tragic situation. JFCS, like many other charitable organizations, established an emergency fund for individuals and organizations to financially support the Valley community in need.

Volunteers are the lifeline of many nonprofits. COVID-19 social distancing restrictions leave nonprofits with more people to serve and not enough volunteers to assist. Many organizations are offering safe, socially distant volunteer opportunities. If you have a passion area, see if the nonprofit of your choice needs volunteers. Here are a few suggestions:

Support any of the Valley’s local food banks by donating non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and personal care items. Be sure to check websites for drop off instructions.

Purchase school supplies for students in need. Students require essential school supplies for current homeschooling and appropriate school clothing and supplies for when they resume onsite instruction.

Provide art activity kits for youth at home, allowing young people of all ages to engage in art stimulation.

Sending a card is an important way to connect with anyone, particularly with homebound older adults. This generation values handwritten notes and letters.

Our spirit has been tested, but through this crisis I have witnessed first-hand the best of humanity. People helping people — nonprofits supporting each other’s programs and religious communities coming together to serve the community-at-large. All have gone above and beyond to heal and transform countless lives.

The need is still great, your support is still needed. But our collective heart beats strong. Together, we will get through this. JN

For more information, visit 

Gail Baer is vice president of philanthropic services at Jewish Family and Children’s Service. JFCS strengthens the community by providing behavioral health, health care and social services to all ages, faiths and backgrounds. JFCS’ Emergency Assistance Fund provides immediate support to the community.

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