Jewish Community Foundation Helps Seniors Connect Online

The Jewish Community Foundation – the endowment program of Jewish Federation – is uniquely positioned to partner with community organizations and fund holders to address community needs in impactful ways. The Seniors Technology Lending Program is a great example of the impact that is being achieved through collaborations and strategic partnerships.

The past year has been an isolating time for us all, but some people in our community have been impacted more significantly than others. When it comes to seniors, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, many have not left their homes in months. Combined with the lack of access to technologies that many of us take for granted, such as internet connectivity and video calling, some seniors are doubly vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact on mental health and social isolation. The Seniors Technology Lending Program aims to alleviate these challenges by providing seniors with the tools they need to connect virtually to community programming, as well as with their family and friends.  

The Foundation was able to launch this initiative by partnering with the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) and the JCC’s Waldman Jewish Library. This pilot program allows seniors to borrow tablet devices and learn their basic functions, and provides mobile data service to those borrowing the devices when needed.

The Seniors Technology Lending Program addresses two critical needs identified by Jewish Federation’s Community Recovery Task Force: access to technology and technical support, and mental health support. In order to meet these needs, the Foundation, with the support of a fund holder, identified VHEC and the Waldman Jewish Library as ideal partners. VHEC was a natural choice, because of the number of seniors they work with and the services they provide, as was the library, with its existing information infrastructure and expertise in lending materials.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Jewish Community Foundation, the VHEC, and the Waldman Jewish Library, the Seniors Technology Assistance program will enable seniors to participate virtually in community life until it is safe to resume in-person programming. During this challenging time of social disconnection, it’s encouraging to see how our community continues to come together to ensure that no one is left behind.