The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty celebrated its 40th anniversary with a cocktail and dessert reception, live auction and award ceremony at Guastivino’s in Midtown East on Thursday, April 25th. The event raised approximately $2 million to support Met Council’s Food for Life Campaign and other critical programs combatting poverty in New York City.
Met Council honored Robert L. Freedman of Colliers International with a Leadership Award for his support and advocacy for Met Council’s low-income housing program for seniors. Henry Orenstein, a Holocaust survivor, and his wife Susie were presented with a Lifetime Chesed (“kindness”) Award for years of generous donations to Met Council’s anti-poverty work. And Met Council’s Director of Crisis Services Jackie Ebron, known as the “Mitzvah Mama,” received a Lifetime Achievement Award for nearly 40 years of work helping New York’s neediest.
“I am so proud to be a part of this special agency that has its finger on the pulse of the community and responds quickly and effectively to address its needs,” said Met Council’s Director of Crisis Services and Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Jackie Ebron. “I am so rewarded that I have been able to alleviate the suffering of seniors, families in great need, and the working class poor.”
Met Council helps more than 100,000 New Yorkers fight poverty each year through home care, housing, employment, crisis intervention and other social and community services. Their unique “no wrong door” method of service looks at the complex problems surrounding poverty and helps finds find both short and long-term solutions. A person who comes in for family violence counseling may receive a food package from their Kosher pantry network, help enrolling in public benefits, crisiscash assistance to avoid eviction, and career training to gain employment – all at Met Council.
In recent months, Met Council has amplified their efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Since the storm hit, Met Council has given more than $2 million in emergency cash assistance, 170,000 pounds of food staples, and 85,000 prepared meals to hurricane survivors. During Passover, Met Council provided 2.65 million pounds of food to more that 50,000 households, including dedicated distribution efforts in Sandy-ravaged communities.
Over the last 40 years, Met Council has experienced exponential growth in the amount of services offered to poor and needy New Yorkers. In the past 20 years alone, Met Council and its network of 25 Jewish Community Councils have grown from providing 75 units of affordable housing to more than 2,000; from providing $370,000 in financial assistance per year to more than $2.2 million; and from serving less than 200 households per month with its food pantry network to more than 14,000. The organization went from serving roughly 350 seniors each year with home care to more than 5,000; from providing career assistance to less than 500 people per year to nearly 9,000; and from having virtually no organized volunteer program to a program in which volunteers spend more than 66,00 hours helping Met Council last year.
“Despite our exponential growth, we are outpaced by the expanding needs of the individuals we serve, and rely tremendously on the generosity of all of our supporters and stakeholders,” said Met Council’s Executive Director & CEO William Rapfogel.