Homebound seniors in Middlesex County in need of transportation to attend synagogue or other Jewish programming will be able to get a lift, thanks to a program set to launch on Friday, Dec. 5.
Wilf Community Connects is a partnership of agencies and synagogues collaborating through a $20,000 grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
Ever since the federation’s 2009 community demographic study, said its director of planning and allocations, Laura Safran, “and even before, we certainly knew senior transportation was needed, and we always wanted to do something about it.”
The federation allocation committee tapped Wilf Transport, a nonprofit community transportation program affiliated with the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset. It provides medical and social/quality of life transportation to seniors and adults with special needs living in Middlesex, Somerset, and eastern Union counties.
Others in the initiative are: Wilf at Home, helping older adults to stay in their own homes independently; Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County; the Lena and David Wilentz Senior Residence on the Wilf campus; Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick; Congregation Beth Mordecai in Perth Amboy; East Brunswick Jewish Center; and Temple B’nai Shalom in East Brunswick.
“It’s a very exciting grant and a very exciting program,” said campus chief administrative officer Rina Richard, who also oversees Wilf Transport.
Richard said the program will provide transportation once a month to Friday evening Shabbat services on a rotating basis to the participating synagogues. Seniors can also be transported to cultural programming offered by JFS at both its Milltown and Monroe offices as well as cultural programming at the designated synagogues, and, in some cases, Saturday morning services.
Seniors must be within a 10- to 15-mile radius of the participating institution.
“We’re appreciative of federation partnering with us on this,” said Richard. “All the institutions involved wanted to do this for quite some time, and I think this will have a tremendous impact on the lives of many seniors.”
She noted that over time the program will be expanded to other synagogues and institutions in the county.
Safran said as part of its commitment to help older adults, the federation has for the second year also funded the Shabbat Connects program. That program brings seniors within a 10-mile radius to the JCC of Middlesex County in Edison on Fridays during the day for social programming that includes a Shabbat theme.
Seniors interested in participating in the Wilf program should call 732-649-3505.