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Grant given to program that helps seniors find services

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The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has provided a $40,000 grant to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, to assist with the design and development of DoortoDoor, a comprehensive strategy to help seniors and survivors in the Jewish community.

DoortoDoor is comprised of numerous social service agencies, including Jewish Family & Child, JIAS Toronto, Circle of Care, JVS Toronto, the Bernard Betel Centre and the Kehilla Residential Programme. Instead of accessing each agency individually, DoortoDoor allows seniors to go through a single intake process, and will then assess their needs and determine how best to serve them.

“UJA Federation recognized that many Jewish seniors and survivors were falling through the cracks and were either not aware of the programs and services that were available to them, or had difficulties in accessing these services,” wrote Patrick Erlich, senior director of communications for UJA Federation, in an emailed statement. “We wanted to create a program that made the process easier, more efficient and that would ultimately provide more services to more people in need.”

DoortoDoor can be accessed through both a website and a phone line, which link up vulnerable seniors with the organization, or organizations, that can best serve them.

Some of the services that DoortoDoor will provide include “rent subsidies, help with critical financial emergencies, provision of home care, delivery of kosher meals, provision of medical equipment and supplies, and vital opportunities to socialize with peers and lessen the effects of social isolation,” wrote Erlich.

DoortoDoor used the funding from OTF to aid in the measurement and tracking of the seniors who use the program and plans to utilize that feedback to improve the process.

During DoortoDoor’s three-month pilot phase, it was able to help over 140 at-risk seniors. The goal, according to Erlich, is for DoortoDoor to provide services for 300 seniors a year. With the success of the pilot phase, UJA Federation is working with its donors and partner agencies on securing more funding for the project in the future.

Erlich said that UJA Federation recognizes the many issues that senior citizens and survivors face, including poverty, chronic health issues, an inability to cope with their past trauma, declining physical and cognitive abilities and isolation.

“UJA Federation believes that it is our shared responsibility to sustain our community’s most vulnerable seniors and Holocaust survivors. We must ensure they get the help they need, and that their basic needs are met, so that they may live the rest of their lives in dignity,” he said.