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From the CEO

Update on Our Wildfire Relief Efforts

As we begin this new year, I want to share an update on how our Federation responded to the local wildfires that dramatically destroyed and damaged many of our beloved institutions and organizations and impacted individuals and families. We have immense gratitude for the community’s continued support, which has enabled us to respond to crises each and every day. Our effectiveness was evidenced, especially over the past few months, by our ability to devote our time and resources to deal with challenges and help those in need. Our Federation continues our steadfast commitment to the safety, care, well-being, and future of our community.

The Federation mobilized immediately to provide support as soon as the fires began on November 8th. This is what we were able to accomplish together:

  • We instantly set up a 24-hour emergency hotline with dedicated professionals to provide social services as well as legal and financial assistance.
  • Our Federation’s Community Security Initiative comprehensively monitored the situation, sending alerts and communication details to all institutions in the impacted areas.
  • We quickly created the L.A. Wildfire Relief Fund, which raised almost $600,000. A task force was established with Federation leaders from the impacted areas who have been meeting on a continual basis to determine the most impactful and effective way to use the funds.
  • We organized professional, in-person services to provide counseling, financial and legal assistance, and more. These services were offered by our Federation’s Ezra Network, which works with our partners Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and Bet Tzedek. Federation partner Jewish Free Loan Association was also on site to assist with time-sensitive financial needs. These services were offered at our valley offices to help those facing hardship and dealing with evacuation, loss, trauma, and other issues as a result of the wildfires.
  • We organized a free, in-person “Right to Know” workshop.
  • We turned our valley offices into a crisis center and continue to provide office space to the Shalom Institute and Camp JCA Shalom.
  • Our program staff organized and coordinated temporary programming for children and families while several impacted schools were closed.

The damage inflicted upon institutions and individuals was great and will take years to repair. We are working hand-in-hand with our partners and with the affected institutions, continuing our relief efforts in the following ways:

  • Our Federation hired an additional social worker for our Ezra Network to provide counseling support and resources.
  • Through Federation partner the Israel Trauma Coalition, we are providing trauma support and training at the end of January for clergy and their synagogues and for camp and day school professionals.
  • We are working with impacted Jewish institutions and their leadership on relocating and rebuilding so that children can attend school and camp as previously planned this year and in the near future.
  • Our Federation’s Real Estate Professionals Organization (RPO) continues to provide expertise to each of the affected camps as well as the Ilan Ramon Day School.
  • We engaged an emergency services company to do a second round of needs assessment to determine the next phase of L.A. Wildfire Relief Fund disbursement.
  • We distributed funds to synagogues to be used for rabbinic grants for impacted individuals and families, which will be disbursed shortly.

I am extremely proud of what our Federation and community have been doing and will continue to do to address these critical needs.

I hope this inspires you as we begin a new year. Again, we are profoundly grateful for your continued dedication and generosity. We ended 2018 truly feeling the power of community.

Thank you for your support yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Wishing you and yours a happy and meaningful 2019.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jay Sanderson
President & CEO