By Jenn Ross
Thank you to all of our health care workers for the sacrifices you have made in the past year. Your jobs are never easy, but the work has been even more tireless, stressful, and hazardous during this pandemic. I continue to be thankful for the members of our Medical Advisory Team - Drs. Katzman, Kawasaki, Reid, and Smith - for providing us with a wealth of information and guidance which has helped keep our staff, participants, and members safe. Additionally, I applaud the extraordinary efforts of the entire staff of the Campus of the Jewish Home who are dealing with these unprecedented challenges in an already demanding field under “normal” circumstances.
An important aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic is the negative impact on mental health. Prior to COVID, Federation had partnered with Jewish Family Service on numerous occasions to help destigmatize mental illness and addiction. The isolation, loss of loved ones and financial stability, health issues, and other struggles caused by this pandemic and concurrent civil unrest have created broader understanding of the mental health struggles throughout all communities. I commend JFS for being so active in increasing services to members of our community struggling with depression, anxiety, and isolation. Last month, JFS added 60 new clients and have just hired two part-time therapists to meet the increasing demand for high quality mental health counseling.
Our national association Jewish Federations of North America has been curating resources for individuals and professionals and is sharing many resources on this page to help people stay in mental, emotional, and spiritual health during this time: https://www.jewishtogether.org/for-the-self. Although many houses of worship are limited to virtual services, I encourage you to consider this option. Staying connected through virtual Shabbat services and attending uplifting interfaith services during this time has helped me refill my cup and continue to be part of the community safely.
The JCC continues to offer virtual opportunities for seniors and other members of our community to connect and for all to stay fit. We also have opened our doors in a safe way for fitness and recreation following all state and CDC guidelines including requiring masks at all times (except in the pool), social distancing with restricted numbers of participants, sanitization of the facility and access to hand sanitizer, and of course handwashing with soap.
Youth and teens can stay fit too! We’ve hosted Girls on the Run and will relaunch it this Spring. Youth basketball from Iddy Biddy and JHoops through Middle School and High School teams are all meeting safely. Swim lessons and swim team have been active and we’ll be offering lifeguarding certification in April and recertification on February 27.
Learn about these opportunities and many more at www.jewishharrisburg.org and sign up for our weekly community emails and regular SFR (Sports Fitness & Recreation) emails, too.
I encourage you to get vaccinated when possible and hope that you can receive it soon. I hope you are safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you at the J or online at an upcoming program. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about our safety procedures or want to talk about anything else at 717-236-9555 x3104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.