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connections to community

JPAG Project Phase 2

In the GTA, over 20,000 of our Jewish neighbours, relatives & volunteers live on the fringe of community life, marginalized from our affluent community by living in poverty. The Jewish Poverty Action Group (JPAG), a strategic collaboration of four agencies - JIAS Toronto, Jewish Vocational Service, Jewish Family and Child (JF&CS) and Kehilla Residential Programme - worked with 10 Jewish families living in poverty to enhance their standard of living and improve the quality of their Jewish communal lives through collaborative strategies. JPAG made an investment in the families’ future. It identified three major challenges that contribute to poverty, and then sought to collaboratively address them: unemployment/underemployment, unaffordable/under-housing and lack of social inclusion/connectedness to community. Within a framework of shared values and guiding principles and actions, JPAG created a transformational poverty-reduction model that crossed agency lines to break the cycle of poverty. During the course of overseeing this program an urgent need was exposed in the Jewish community. Jewish social service organizations and institutions demand that every applicant repeat the onerous and restrictive registration process in order to qualify for service or membership. It became obvious that Jewish community members living in poverty are faced with this additional barrier to their affiliation with Jewish institutions and services. The JPAG Project Phase 2 seeks to address that need by developing and implementing a single, seamless point of access to Jewish social services and community institutions, and developing and institutionalizing a Charter of Care for the vulnerable in our community. Our poverty reduction pilot was a game changer, and it is incumbent upon our community to ensure its potential is harnessed in order to transform the lives of the roughly 20,000 Jewish poor in Toronto. We see the promotion and nurturing of Jewish life and affiliation as a community imperative. This is a big idea, and we need a big player like SixPoints to help us make it work.