Lana Marks Pulver, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver annual campaign chair. (photo from JFGV)
The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver’s annual campaign is entering the homestretch with an ambitious set of goals. This year, the theme is “strengthened by where we have been, inspired by where we can go.”
“The goal for this year’s campaign is both quantitative and qualitative,” campaign chair Lana Marks Pulver told the Independent. “We aim to raise a minimum of $9.5 million, and we want to strengthen the culture of gratitude within the Federation organization, that affects all constituents, including donors, volunteers and staff.”
As has often been said in the past 21 months, these are times like no other in recent memory. The pandemic has touched us all, yet, for some, the campaign points out, it has “caused a cascading effect of challenges.”
“The goals haven’t shifted due to the pandemic, but the needs have certainly increased because of it. Therefore, we hope to raise more than our financial target to ensure all our partner agencies survive the current uncertainty in which everyone is operating and all community needs are being met,” Marks Pulver said.
“The past year-and-a-half was extremely tough on our community and our partner agencies. However, with the incredible show of support from donors and volunteers, our community proved to be resilient. Our partner agencies were able to survive the uncertainty and continue to provide their much-needed services because of the support from Jewish Federation and our donors.”
Groups within the community that were already vulnerable have faced more challenges. Among the groups Federation is helping are low-income individuals, the elderly and youth struggling with mental health concerns.
Well before COVID-19 hit, the region was one of the most expensive places in the world in which to live and it has become increasingly unaffordable; many, as a result, are left with hard choices regarding paying for rent, bills and food. Meanwhile, most seniors in the community are eager to reconnect socially and spiritually after extended separations from their families and communities.
Increasing numbers of youth, too, are contending with anxiety and depression as they encounter isolation from their peers and continued disruptions to their routines. At one local Jewish school this past year, the demand for counseling services doubled. In light of such statistics, Federation has formed a committee of local professionals and volunteers to develop a comprehensive approach to assist both youth and their families.
The basic plan involves employing a community mental health professional to offer counseling at community locations; collaborating with other mental health organizations in supplying professional development to those working directly with children and youth; and encouraging youth to take leadership roles in raising awareness among their peers about the importance of accessing appropriate support.
The pandemic has had a negative impact on youth mental health globally, including in Federation’s partnership region in Israel. The Mervo’ot HaHermon Regional Council has witnessed a rise in troubling behaviour among youth, especially those whose routines and social opportunities have been disrupted and who may not have supportive adults in their lives. Demand for services in the Israeli municipality has grown by 35%, according to Federation. Because of the need, and based on a successful pilot program in the spring of 2021, Federation is helping efforts to enhance counseling services and create new educational and social programming, in the hope that early intervention will lead the youth in this region along a healthier path.
Marks Pulver concedes that, while there are hurdles to overcome in organizing a campaign in the midst of a pandemic, the community response has been unflaggingly supportive.
“Typically, the campaign goes hand-in-hand with community gatherings,” she said. “A big part of campaign is the opportunity to connect with other community members at events. The pandemic has prevented us from having these gatherings in person and, instead, we have resorted to virtual ones. However, people are ‘Zoomed out’ and tired of the online events; therefore, making it more challenging to get people together.
“Recent experiences, however, have demonstrated the strength of our community and how we come together to help others in a time of need,” she stressed. “This show of support, both financially and with volunteerism, is beyond inspiring and I, personally, am incredibly grateful to be part of this community, that steps up and makes a difference.”
Marks Pulver, who has served as women’s philanthropy chair at Federation and was major donors chair for the past few years, sees her role as campaign chair as a natural progression and feels honoured to lead this year’s effort.
“I am proud to be serving alongside women chairs of both Federation and the Jewish Community Foundation. I believe you get out of life what you put in, and it is this belief that inspires me to volunteer. I also thoroughly enjoy working with others in the pursuit of helping others, and feel grateful for the opportunity to be able to make a difference.”
To donate to the campaign, go to jewishvancouver.com.
Sam Margolis has written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.