Posted by Jon Federman

MattapanIn Part I of this story, we learned about the decline of the Jewish community in Roxbury and Dorchester in the 1960’s. In Part II, we see how JF&CS responded to complaints from aging citizens in these neighborhoods.

In response to numerous complaints from the aging citizens of the Roxbury-Dorchester communities, JF&CS entered into collaboration with the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged (HRCA) to address these complaints in early 1969. A research team was gathered and elderly residents of the communities were interviewed as part of the “Roxbury Dorchester Elderly Project.”

To start the project, JF&CS used an outreach model because older adults would not be likely to ask for assistance due to lack of information or because they were too proud. HRCA and JF&CS staff canvassed the neighborhoods, interviewed the at-risk elderly, and referred the appropriate cases to JF&CS for casework and services. Five full-time caseworkers were assigned to the project.

The JF&CS/HRCA crew quickly assessed the needs of the elders. They determined that the most urgent needs were assistance with shopping and transportation. Due to their diminished strength, as well as the lack of suitable grocery stores within walking distance, many elders had great difficulty getting food into their apartments. Alarmingly, many elders had been physically attacked in the hallways of their own buildings and were afraid to go out.

Within weeks, a van was purchased for the project and JF&CS volunteers took elders to go food shopping, helping them carry bundles into their apartments without fear of violence. Volunteers also took elders to medical appointments.

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