The Impact of the Pandemic on the Local Immigrant Community/Neighbors Link pivots in response
What Bet Torah is Doing to Help
The mission of the Social Justice arm of the Social Action Committee is to mobilize our community using Jewish principles of moral righteousness.
One critical effort of the Social Justice Committee has been to support Neighbors Link which is an extraordinary organization working to integrate immigrants into the community at large. Bet Torah became acutely aware of the plight of immigrants in our midst during the deportation of our long-time custodian, Armando Rojas. We are now, during this global health and economic crisis, committed to recognizing and helping those who are most vulnerable in our midst.
Neighbors Link serves 4,200 people in our area through three sites: Mount Kisco, Ossining, and Yonkers. It creates allies for immigrants within the community and offers training and education which focuses on working with the police department, providing parent education, teaching English as a Second Language, and providing legal support for immigrants through its legal practice. Its three major areas of programming include: a children’s program with parental education, legal services, and work opportunities.
THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC ON NEIGHBORS LINK
The pandemic has hit this community especially hard. Carola Bracco, the Executive Director of Neighbors Link, explained that in circumstances such as these the immigrant population is the first to lose their jobs and the last to return to employment. There is no safety net of benefits or job security for this population. They find themselves part of the essential work force, the first ones called upon to clean facilities after a COVID exposure, to make the deliveries and to work in grocery stores. Yet, they live in close quarters with the inability to isolate a sick individual. Many have no way of cooking within their homes and most importantly, isolating at home is not an option. In addition, they have been deliberately left out of the stimulus recovery package. Those who are undocumented, get no assistance or support and are ineligible for coverage of medical testing and treatment. Many Neighbors Link clients who are working with green cards and legal status, received no stimulus money if there was a member of the household listed on their tax return as a dependent without a social security number. As a result, this segment of the population is left without any aid from the federal government, thereby limiting their ability to pay for the essentials such as food, medical, and housing.
NEIGHBORS LINK ACTIVITIES
Currently, Neighbors Link has shifted its focus based on the needs of its clients including the alleviation of food insecurity; it now partners with Feeding Westchester to feed 3,000 people per week, to facilitate hot meal vouchers from restaurants, and to distribute gift cards.
Many families have been under incredible emotional stress. They fear for their children and for elderly relatives who may get the virus. In addition, the Public Charge Rule which refuses visas or status if immigrants are suspected of becoming a charge because of lack of economic resources, has added to the concerns of immigrants. Because of this, they are distraught about seeking medical care or testing or even accessing food distributions as this will identify them as utilizing services.
WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP
Bet Torah Social Justice Committee has continued discussions with leadership at Neighbors Link to identify actionable items. We are currently working on several items including one that needs to be addresses as soon as possible:
Neighbors Link Diaper Drive
Won’t you help Neighbors Link provide much-needed diapers for their littlest clients? A recent change in their supplier has left Neighbors Link without sufficient diapers.
Here is what they need:
Huggies or Pampers to avoid any allergic reactions or problems with generic diapers.
|N||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||Pull-ups 2T-3T||Pull-ups 2T-3T||Pull-ups 2T-3T|
When do they need it?
As soon as possible. The drive will begin July 22 and will end August 2, 2020.
How do I get them to Neighbors Link?
Please drop off your diapers at Linda Dishner’s house, 28 Fox Lane, Mt. Kisco, and email her (email@example.com) with the size you are bringing so we can best match our efforts to their needs. They will then be given to Neighbors Link for their distribution on August 3.
FEEDING WESTCHESTER is another option where we can help out since they will be moving their food distribution to Mount Kisco Elementary school for the summer with a weekly distribution. Neighbors Link is identifying a protocol for volunteers to help package food and distribute into vehicles. The emphasis will be on fresh fruits and vegetables. The link to sign up to volunteer is https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080c4daeaf2b0-pick
Remote Summer Links Video Project
Neighbors Link has suggested that Bet Torah congregants might participate in an initiative where a family or a small group of young adults can teach or share one of their passions. Examples of this are teaching soccer drills or creating an arts and crafts project. The idea would be to create a teaching video to introduce the project. They then would raise funds for something to help implement the activity such as a soccer ball, or art supplies. NL would then share this with their clients. This initiative allows for an active form of engagement, giving something of yourself. For the recipient they are getting a legitimate activity that is entertaining and learning a skill. Other ideas might be gymnastics, yoga, meditation, dance, science experiment, math skill, sharing a favorite book and telling why you liked it, and what you got out of it. You can contact Jill Ratner at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Pre-School Supplies: Packaging and Delivering
Lastly, Neighbors Link has asked our community to package and deliver pre-school supplies to 33 families. They are providing most of the supplies but asking for the addition of new containers of unused Play-Doh. Please contact Jen Sokol at email@example.com for more information.
Bet Torah is fortunate to have such a robust organization in our midst that provides an ongoing partnership to engage with our community in meaningful ways.