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Anna P, Recipient of JFCS Educational Loans and Grants, Found Herself on the Front Lines of the COVID-19 Outbreak
When Anna P received the JFCS educational loans and grants that allowed her to attend the University of Massachusetts, she never would have believed that she would enter the nursing field just as COVID-19 had begun its spread, in the epicenter of the pandemic, in a public hospital in New York City.
Anna, whose family emigrated to the Bay Area from Ukraine when she was a child, moved to New York after college. After some career exploration, she discovered her true calling: to become a nurse. Determined as ever, Anna completed a rigid set of prerequisites and then graduated from an accelerated nursing program at N.Y.U.
In February, 2020, Anna started a brand new position as a bedside nurse. Two weeks into her job at one of the largest and oldest public hospitals in the U.S., New York City went into lockdown due to its alarming rise of COVID-19 cases. Anna’s hospital floor became a “COVID Floor”, and her new job became even more of a whirlwind than anyone would have expected.
JFCS Educational Loans and Grants Help Hundreds Each Year
Anna’s story is one of the thousands of success stories of people who have received JFCS loans and grants over the years, including the annual Vivienne S. Camp College Scholarship, to help them defray educational and vocational training costs and achieve their dreams.
“The need for financial assistance cuts across all age groups,” says Michelle Lamphere, Director of JFCS’ Financial Aid Center, noting that scholarships and aid serve a variety of people, including students applying for internships and camperships, people wishing to study in Israel, entrepreneurs and others seeking business loans, and seniors needing medical and dental services they could otherwise not afford. JFCS also offers free college readiness workshops to help students and families explore and apply for income and aid opportunities for higher education.
Pandemic Emergency No-Interest Loans and Grants
Today, JFCS is also providing a lifeline to our many community members affected by COVID-19, through the Pandemic Emergency Loans and Grants Program. “This once-in-a-century pandemic has hit every economic group—families, individuals, businesses—in ways we never could have imagined.” Michelle says.
Michelle adds, “JFCS’ no-interest loans allow people to have the cash they need to get them through this emergency, without having to go through their retirement or other savings. The loans give people time to stay afloat and get back on their feet.”
JFCS no-interest loans have helped many Bay Area small businesses that are severely impacted by COVID-19 and lack the economic reserves that larger businesses may have. Recent recipients of no-interest loans include day cares, restaurants, and alternative medicine centers, for purchases of personal protective equipment and other items needed to open or reopen, at a time when their incomes are already severely impacted.
In addition to loans, JFCS also provides emergency grants through its Pandemic Emergency Assistance Program, to help individuals, families, and businesses with the cost of food, bills, and other essential expenses, and helps people find financial assistance through partner and government programs.
Helping People Who Go On to Help Others
One small business that has received help is the Renaissance Healing and Learning Center in Sonoma County, which uses horses to provide physical and neurological therapy for children, seniors and others with injuries or disabilities. Fran P., who owns the business, was hit hard both professionally and personally by the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time as she had to close her business, she became a full-time caregiver for her adult daughter, who has disabilities, when her daily care program closed.
Fran called JFCS and found immediate help through a short-term, no-interest loan that helped her bridge the cost until she could reopen her business. Thanks to the generosity of our community, JFCS was also able to provide an emergency grant to Fran’s daughter when she did not meet the criteria for the government stimulus check.
Today, Fran’s business has reopened. Fran says, “JFCS got us through an extremely trying time. It is so wonderful to be open again and able to once again do our part to help children, seniors, and others with disabilities.” Fran looks forward to giving back to the community as soon as she can.
Anna Enters the Frontlines of COVID Care
After being quickly trained to handle the basic needs of incoming COVID-19, Anna spent the next three months getting more nursing experience than most first year nurses get in 2 years!
When asked if she was scared, Anna replied, “I was excited.”
“Nursing is very fast-paced,” she says. “Some nights, you’re completely flooded with patients. There are a million things to do to juggle all their needs. There’s no time for processing all of it.”
Despite the rapid pace, Anna makes time to slow down, check in, and reassure her patients.
“I recently had a patient on my floor, Joe, who was brought in with a very high fever and sent to the ICU, where he recovered. A week later, Joe was back on my floor, COVID-positive.” When Joe was then ordered to move to yet another floor, he panicked about his prognosis.
In New York hospitals, according to Anna, the trauma of 9/11 is ever-present. Because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, it brings up physical and emotional memories for many of the workers, as so many patients have suffered respiratory illness due to the impacts of 9/11.
Anna says, “No one had told Joe why he was moving, so he was scared. I was able to talk with him and tell him that he was moving because he was getting better, not because he was getting worse.”
Nurses can often help allay patient’s fears, Anna says, by taking a moment to check in. “It was a real privilege to be able to pause and reflect during this hectic time,” she says.
An Ongoing Connection to Community
“Without financial assistance, Anna would not have been able to start the educational journey that led her to nursing,” Michelle says, “Now she is a hero, saving lives and caring for people on the front lines of this crisis.”
Though she is now living far away, Anna continues to support JFCS and the Bay Area community.
“My family was poor when they emigrated to the U.S., and JFCS loans and grants helped me and my family,” says Anna. “The support from our community has been incredibly meaningful to me, and now I know that others are getting the help they need.”
Learn more about JFCS’ Pandemic Emergency no-interest loans and grants, and about JFCS Educational Loans and Grants.
To hear about upcoming workshops, or with any questions about educational loans and grants, contact Michelle Lamphere, Director of JFCS’ Financial Aid Center at (415) 449-1226
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