Among the services offered by QJCC are ESL classes, women’s workshops, a food pantry, support for domestic violence victims, and employment training.
“We service all the needs of Queens residents who are hurting. And any time there’s a need for advocacy, Queens Jewish Community Council is there,” said Cynthia Zalisky, executive director of QJCC.
Zalisky cited as an example the organization’s intention to rally against the MTA’s proposed service cuts, which will disproportionately affect students and seniors.
In addition to the social services that are available to all, QJCC is also devoted to supporting the Jewish presence in Queens. It works with schools and synagogues on cultural events and delivers over 800 kosher Meals-on-Wheels to seniors every week.
Of course, everyone is welcome to partake of the organization’s services regardless of what religion they practice.
“Anyone who comes to our door is helped. If we can’t help them, they’ll at least get a referral,” said Zalisky.
And it does seem like more and more people are reaching out for assistance. Zalisky noted that QJCC has seen a jump in the number of aid requests from the now-unemployed middle class, a group that has never needed QJCC’s help before.
According to Zalisky, QJCC serves about 10,000 clients per year. Over the last 18 months, however, the number of people requesting assistance has increased by 30 percent.
“We’re all walking on eggshells now. Funding for the next year is the major concern,” said Zalisky. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to weather this economic storm.”
Most funding comes from local elected officials like Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who Zalisky credits with providing critical support to QJCC at this time. Despite a reduction in the amount of available resources, Zalisky said the organization won’t stop its work as long as there are people in need, though prioritizing its services may become necessary.
“In these trying times, we’re very happy to be able to help people sustain themselves and get back on their feet,” said Zalisky. “The happy faces make it worthwhile.”