Nonprofit Direct Aid Group Finds the Needs for Assistance of Remaining Holocaust Survivors Continue to Grow in the U.S.by The Blue Card January 25, 2017
The Blue Card, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing ongoing, direct aid to Holocaust survivors in the United States, saw requests for assistance grow by 20 percent in 2016 over the year before.
As International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches on January 27, The Blue Card is calling on the community to lend its support to its time-limited mission to improve the quality of life of the many struggling survivors in the United States. Not widely known is that around one-third of the approximate 100,000 living Holocaust survivors live at or below the poverty line. It is estimated that 61 percent of the Holocaust survivors living at the poverty line live on less than $23,000 per year, making it difficult to afford proper medical care, mental health care, nutrition and other basic necessities.
As the number of survivors declines, the need for financial assistance of those still alive increases. In a survey of Holocaust survivors that The Blue Card works with, it found the greatest needs for financial assistance were for homecare (13 percent), food (12 percent) and utilities (12 percent). These were followed by assistance with supplies for Jewish holidays (11 percent), dental care (10 percent), medication (9 percent), housing expenses (9 percent), transportation (9 percent) and medical supplies (8 percent). Last year, it also saw an increase in requests for telephone emergency response systems (7 percent).
Studies have found that Holocaust survivors face a higher rate of chronic and acute illness such as cancer and heart disease, frequently leading survivors into financial distress due to a growing amount of medical bills. This can be attributed to various health issues dating back to the famine and elements they were exposed to during the war. Not only do these individuals suffer from physical injuries and disabilities, but they are permanently living with psychological and emotional scars of the atrocities they faced during the horrors of the Holocaust. These scars are intensified as survivors age, due to feelings of isolation from the loss of spouses and family support systems, and the fear of being institutionalized and having to move out of their homes.
“On this day of remembrance, The Blue Card wishes to honor the memories of those we lost by also commemorating those survivors still with us who are struggling to live their remaining years in dignity,” said Masha Pearl, Executive Director of The Blue Card. “There is so much more we all need to do to ensure that Holocaust survivors who are in their 70s through 100s do not have to worry whether they can pay for basic needs such as food, rent or utilities. The time to help is now.”
The Blue Card is also proud to announce the inaugural “Elie Wiesel Memorial Award” in honor of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, human rights activist and Holocaust survivor, the late Elie Wiesel. This special recognition will be presented at the organization’s annual benefit in November. It will go to an individual who personifies the legacy and values that Professor Wiesel had championed throughout his life. His wife Marion Wiesel and son Shlomo Elisha Wiesel will be involved in the selection of the award recipient.
For more information about how you can help, visit www.bluecardfund.org.
About The Blue Card
The mission of The Blue Card is to provide direct financial assistance, with utmost respect and ever mindful of their dignity, to needy Holocaust survivors in the United States. Financial assistance is available on a monthly basis for most basic needs, as well as for emergencies, such as medical and dental care, special equipment, rent and utility shut offs, along with many other programs. For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.BlueCardFund.org.
Founded in Germany in 1934, and reestablished in the United States in 1939, The Blue Card has distributed nearly $30 million to Holocaust survivors date, with 100 percent of annual contributions made by individuals going directly to survivors. The Blue Card is Better Business Bureau (BBB) certified, and was named as one of the best Jewish charities in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Federal Times.
About The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity
Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. The Foundation’s mission, rooted in the memory of the Holocaust, is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality.
The international conferences of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity serve as a catalyst for change and action. The conferences, which focus on themes of Peace, Education, Health, the Environment and Terrorism, serve to bring together Nobel Laureates and world leaders to discuss social problems and develop suggestions for change. The Foundation hosted its inaugural conference, Facing the 21st Century: Threats & Promises, in 1988 gathering 79 Nobel Laureates in Paris. The Conference paved the way for a series of conferences including: The Anatomy of Hate; Tomorrow’s Leaders; The Future of Hope; and the Petra Conferences of Nobel Laureates.
In the United States, the Foundation has for 27 years offered the Ethics Essay Contest which challenges college juniors and seniors to analyze the urgent ethical issues confronting them in today’s complex world.