The JDC MAZS Foundation’s Holocaust Survivors’ program offers home services to Jewish Holocaust survivors to enable them to continue living with dignity within their own homes. The JDC MAZS Foundation Holocaust Survivors’ program, offers emergency aid, using funds given to it by the Claims Conference “Aid Program for Survivors of Nazi Persecution,” which in turn come from the Holocaust Survivors’ Alliance since it won a lawsuit against Swiss banks in a United States District Court. The Claims Conference, our most important funding source, sets stringent rules that govern Foundation activity and it also monitors adherence. Based on the criteria system set by the Claims Conference the supports are received as a community and are not designed as individual entitlements. In other words, these benefits are not available to all, but are shared on the basis of need in the form of social services to our clients. In all cases the supports take the form of services, and cash is not distributed.
There are two main categories of services provided by the JDC MAZS Foundation’s Holocaust Survivors’ program. One consists of supports based on income (means-tested supports) and the other is services that are not linked to income (essentially entitlements).
How to apply for services
Once we hear from a potential client or a family member a social worker will pay the person a home visit. The social worker will meet with the potential client and obtain information on the client’s living conditions, health status, social circumstances, and ties to family and other relatives. Then, based on the income, monthly expenses, medication costs and certified medical condition of the client, the social worker will submit the client’s application – with a mind to the services the Foundation can offer – to the Advisory Board, whose members are also Holocaust survivors. The names of the applicants are withheld to assist the Board in reaching objective decisions.
Services are available throughout all of Hungary. Social workers maintain contacts with clients in a county-by-county breakdown outside of Budapest, while in the city contacts are based on the district and postal code of the client.
Volunteers, social programs, clubs
The welfare services help day-to-day activity, offering solutions to the most urgent problems. But how does one survive each consecutive day alone, without a family? How can a person face each day if he or she is alone and unable to get out of bed? We believe that a friendly smile, someone who phones, pays regular visits, or offers other forms of personal attentiveness can act as a major spirit-pickup. The Holocaust Survivors’ program clubs serve this goal.
Nearly one hundred volunteers are involved in the various portions of the Holocaust Survivors’ Program. Their work rests on cohesion, caring, and solidarity which strengthens the community by weaving it together with a multitude of threads. As far as the JDC MAZS Foundation is concerned, our volunteers are not simply people who work without pay. They are very special colleagues who devote their time, energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm to the Foundation.
The criteria specified by the Claims Conference includes the following primary components: All Jewish people born before October 30, 1945 who were persecuted during World War II because of their religion, and who survived the Holocaust and currently live in Hungary are entitled to the services financed by the Claims Conference.
Only the people with the greatest need may be supported by the funds made available by the Claims Conference under their criteria. In all cases, the support takes the form of services, not cash.
In ascertaining eligibility we consider the income of the applicant. Maximum allowable income: HUF 88,000 for a person living alone plus HUF 44,000 for each additional person In other words, the maximum amount would by HUF 132,000 for a two-person household. However, should the household income exceed this amount the person still might be eligible since we also consider other factors such as health and social circumstances, and whether the person lives alone or with a relative.
We also consider home maintenance costs and the cost of medications and match it up to income.
The home maintenance costs we consider include condo fees, electricity, gas, water and sewage, heating, and hot water.
Another factor we take into account is mobility. In other words, whether the client is partially self-sufficient, or unable to leave the home, or is bedridden or possibly has a disability such as impaired vision and/or hearing.
Given that every Holocaust survivor is different, so is our level of support. This means that the worse the condition of the client, the higher the level of support we provide.
Our means-tested services are received only by persons living under very poor circumstances who have extremely low incomes, people who would be unable to access even the fundamental resources needed to live on without help. Therefore, we devote our resources primarily to assisting people in dire need, in keeping with donor specifications and our own professional beliefs and knowledge. These services are therefore, not to be considered entitlements, but are unequivocally means-tested assistance!
The following services are available on a means-tested basis:
Help with the costs of medication and medical equipment, help towards paying home maintenance costs, help in purchasing food, transport to medical appointments, remote monitoring when emergency help may be needed (Body Guard Company), help with minor home repairs, and psychological support.
Services offered more or less as entitlements
Services offered essentially as entitlements are available to those of our brethren who live under more affluent circumstances. However, even when income is not considered, the assistance is neither immediate nor automatic. In all cases the offer of services is preceded by an in-depth meeting with our social worker to precisely determine the type of help needed and now many hours per week it requires.
The following services may be accessed by all who really need them:
Professional home nursing, home care, cleaning, and social contacts.
Our volunteers help in the following ways:
Telephone services – When handling the phones our volunteers transfer incoming calls to the appropriate staff members, and take messages and pass them on.
Administrative work – Our volunteers stuff and address envelopes covering essentially the complete correspondence with the JDC MAZS Foundation clients, and they also handle documents filing.
Clubs – Our volunteers run a variety of thematic clubs.
Subjects: l For Life (L'chaim) Club – health maintenance l Meeting of Generations Club – meetings of first, second, and third generations including joint programs l Support Group Trust Club – club for cancer survivors and cancer patients l Eötvös Club – Club in which people organize visits to and attend cultural programs l Shalom Club – for people who would like to get together with others for high-standard recreation. The various clubs have an average of 20 members each.
Szarvas Senior Camp – The recreation center at Szarvas offers holiday-makers a lovely place to relax and enjoy themselves, along with excellent kosher cuisine. Since 2012 we have been offering multiple sessions with varied programs and great companionship.
Home visits by volunteers – Our volunteers pay regular one-on-one visits to nearly 50 bedridden clients in their homes, in hospitals, and in our Alma Street facility.
Keeping in touch – Our volunteers regularly telephone over 50 homes, just to converse with bedridden clients. We have 14 volunteers who regularly work within this program.
Café Program – We hold regular monthly café conversations that volunteers organize for Holocaust survivors. We have 6 participating groups, each with 20 members. Each group is led by a different volunteer who organizes and leads the monthly gatherings.