Olga,* a single mom in Brooklyn, struggled to continue her education when she lost her job because of the Covid crisis and then developed some health issues. She received comprehensive case management services and emergency cash assistance to cover her tuition from the Covid Relief Hub at Marks JCH. Building on the mission of the Queens Hub, UJA allocated $4.6 million to launch six satellite hubs with our nonprofit partners in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester. The Edith and Carl Marks JCH of Bensonhurst is one of the six local hubs that offer an array of services, including benefits screening, career counseling, emergency cash assistance, and more.
Olga shared her story with us (edited for clarity).
I lost my job in Brooklyn because of the Covid crisis and then developed some health issues this fall. I’m a single mom and also in my second year at City College studying early childhood education. It was getting tough to cover my tuition. I even considered dropping out. I feared that everything I’ve been working toward since I emigrated from Russia would all unravel.
I believe we shouldn’t hesitate to talk with someone and accept help if it’s offered. So I picked up the phone and called the Marks JCH, a place I knew I could trust. I had volunteered and worked there a couple years ago.
Through their Covid Relief Hub, I got assigned a specialist who provided a range of services. The specialist provided a benefits screening that helped me receive unemployment insurance benefits and support from a mental health counselor. I also spoke with a career counselor who understood how important it is for me to continue my education. The relief hub gave me emergency cash assistance to help cover my tuition and sign up for the next semester. I’m so grateful I can go on with my college classes.
The counselor also suggested some new ideas for my career, combining my love of children with mindfulness and nutrition. I’d love to educate children and integrate experiences about their physical well-being, the food they put into their bodies, and positive ways to respond to their feelings.
I’m grateful to have a career counselor who listens to me and really understands me. I don’t think I’d have figured out this path without her support. What began as a phone call from the fall has now turned into our weekly chat — one that I feel really good about.
*Name changed to protect privacy.