In the wake of reductions in government aid that previously supported Holocaust survivors, Glencoe residents Diane and Steve N. Miller will provide $1 million this year to the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago to help meet the pressing needs of this vulnerable population.
"When I learned about the immense needs of the several thousand survivors living in our community, I knew this was a cause I wanted to support," said Steve Miller, principal and co-founder of Origin Ventures. "These people have suffered so much in their lives-it's imperative that we provide for them and let them age with dignity. My wife and I sincerely hope that our fellow community members will also step up to support this important work."
Miller, a longtime leader in Chicago's Jewish community who serves on JUF's Board of Directors and has been involved with numerous JUF committees, made this gift as part of JUF's Centennial Campaign.
"We are deeply grateful to the Millers for their incredible generosity, and cannot thank them enough for their ongoing support of our work," said Steven B. Nasatir, JUF/Federation President.
The Millers' generous gift will benefit Holocaust Community Services (HCS), a program formed in 1999 to advance the Jewish Federation's commitment to prioritizing the needs of Holocaust survivors. They were an aging group-proud, independent, and reluctant to ask for help-but living without some assistance was becoming problematic for many. To meet their needs, the Federation stepped in to form the HCS program, enlisting its affiliated agencies, Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS) and CJE SeniorLife to provide necessary, specialized services.
Since that time, as entitlements have shrunk, and the population has aged, displaying all the usual problems of aging plus some only exhibited by survivors, resulting in a dramatically increased call for service. The Federation is committed to seeing that survivors live out their lives with dignity and as comfortably as possible. The Millers' generous gift will be used over the next 10 years to support the needs of this youngest cohort of survivors.
"There's a major misconception that the needs of the survivor community are dwindling, but in actuality, the reverse is true," said Yonit Hoffman, Manager of HCS at JCFS. "The complex needs of many survivors in our community are just beginning to emerge."
Funds from the Millers' gift will be used to help HCS provide for clients' basic needs, expand staff capacity, and enhance socialization opportunities, support, and education groups in order to improve clients' emotional well-being.
Last year, HCS provided services to 385 clients-and the requests keep on coming. In the last five months alone, the organization has received over 200 new requests-a figure particularly staggering considering it is almost double the 215 total clients HCS served in 2011.
"Words cannot express our gratitude to the Millers for helping us respond to these constantly growing needs," said Hoffman. "We are so thankful for this major boost to our efforts as we prepare to confront our increased client load moving forward."
To make a gift to support Holocaust survivors, please contact Donna Kahan at (312) 357-4853 or DonnaKahan@juf.org. To learn more about Holocaust Community Services, please contact Yonit Hoffman at 847-745-5409 or YonitHoffman@jcfs.org.