OHEL’s ‘tent’ has always remained open and available to the most vulnerable, providing an array of services for over 50 years. This ‘tent’ has expanded like never before. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the demands for OHEL supportive services persist. While there are so many impacted by the global health crisis, thousands of individuals rely on the care, comfort, and support that OHEL offers to nearly 15,000 unique individuals on a yearly basis.
OHEL is caring 24/7 for 500 young adults and adults in our group homes and apartments,individuals with developmental and psychiatric disabilities, who call OHEL ‘home and family’. It’s our heroic and indefatigable residence managers, direct support professionals, nurses, and case managers who are doing everything possible to keep all healthy and safe. Necessary Personal Protective Equipment has been secured and there is ongoing disinfecting of all group homes. Residents received Pesach catering and had access to engaging Sedarim, uplifting and enjoyable, all the while indoors. Most importantly, each of these individuals are receiving the love necessary to manage during this time of uncertainty.
There has been an increase in fun programming for thousands of OHEL individuals, to serve as a meaningful and healthy diversion from daily worries. OHEL has provided access to free virtual concerts, from Jewish singers including Shloime Dachs and Joey Newcomb, DJs, magic shows, exercise programs, yoga & meditation sessions with Nesha (for mothers & their children), a Smile Club with gratitude motivator Sara Younger, and more. There has been a significant focus on offering entertainment while teaching coping skills for children and adults in these challenging times, and thousands have enjoyed this programming which we plan to continue.
OHEL successfully launched “Thera-Zoom”, a hub for tele-mental health services to anyone in need. With over 4,000 sessions and over 1,000 individuals availing themselves of these critical services in three weeks, OHEL was and remains available to meet the mental health needs of countless children, adults, and older adults. OHEL’s Crisis Team, led by Dr. Norman Blumenthal, Zachter Family Chair in Trauma and Grief Counseling, has facilitated over 20 virtual webinars, available to communities in need throughout the United States. Collaboration with other organizations, including UJA Federation of NY, World Mizrahi, RCA, OU, Agudah, Achiezer, and Foundation for Jewish Camp has increased impact, as noted by a representative of Sephardic Bikur Holim, on a webinar on grief and loss. “We are getting rave reviews about how helpful the information provided by Dr. Norman Blumenthal was and how on target what you said was to the people who needed to hear it. We are getting thanks and thanks and more thanks as the hour goes on. Thank you so much!”
Providing services for older adults has been a top priority as well, impacting the lives of over 4,000 individuals that are part of OHEL’s Lifetime Care and Geriatric Programs. Check- in calls arranged with older adults, their caregivers or family members, food deliveries, virtual therapy sessions, and a warm voice at the other end of the phone from OHEL staff have touched many. A client’s daughter reflects that “Dad is very anxious, especially after the death of mom last Shavuot. He is now even more fearful without his routine and so much has fallen on me; our OHEL therapist providing increased Zoom sessions has literally served as my lifeline.”
Safety and solace have been ensured for over 20 women and children residing in OHEL’s Domestic Violence shelters. While sheltering in place, they were given access to tech equipment to participate in Thera-Zoom sessions, Pesach food and clothing were provided, and countless tools were offered to their children to maintain their school schedule and immerse in the holiday with joy.
OHEL’s mandate has consistently been to provide a safe haven to re-build lives and strengthen families and communities. Today, in this time of crisis, OHEL stands as a sanctuary of safety, healing, and hope. The OHEL Board, staff, and leadership have been working tirelessly to meet the needs of all individuals that rely on its highest quality, results-oriented, and evidence-based services, to continue doing the heavy lifting and to recognize that there is human need behind every call for help and love. OHEL’s tent will not fold. It is there…then, now, and always.
To help elevate someone’s life today, please visit: www.ohelfamily.org/donate
OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services offers a breadth of services that meet the everyday needs of individuals and families.