Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona (JFCS) is partnering with Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona on a new endeavor—Project Shalom. Project Shalom is a volunteer-based holiday program for Jewish older adults and adults with disabilities.
“We came up with the idea for Project Shalom as a result of the large number of Jewish solo seniors who are experiencing loneliness and financial hardship throughout the year and especially during the holidays,” said Kara Wiesmann, Director of Older Adult & Community Services. “Since the pandemic, we have seen an increase in social isolation and wanted to bring increased opportunities for connection, education, resource sharing and support to the older adults that we serve, not just during the major Jewish holidays but throughout the whole year. Project Shalom is a welcome and much needed addition to our current Jewish holiday programs.”
The goals of this innovative program are to reduce emotional and financial stress during the Jewish holidays, increase engagement and social connection, and reduce social isolation. In essence, Project Shalom is designed to bring joy and a sense of community to older adults and individuals with disabilities.
To achieve these goals, Project Shalom provides holiday-themed gift baskets, organizes social gatherings and outreach with community partners at Handmaker, Tucson JCC, and Tucson Hebrew Academy, and sends newsletters with activities, recipes, resources and more.
This program addresses very real needs in our local community. Pima County is home to close to 25,000 Jewish individuals, 34% of whom are over the age of 65. Nationwide, one-quarter of Jewish individuals have trouble paying their bills, and forty-four percent of adults aged 60 and older are concerned about social isolation and loneliness. Social isolation among older adults is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia, increased risk of premature death, and higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
JFCS, through Project Shalom, will work to decrease these risk factors and ensure that Jewish older adults and adults with disabilities can live more comfortably during Jewish holidays and throughout the year.
If you are interested in volunteering with Project Shalom, contact Kara Wiesmann.