Mar. 3, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A non-profit group with a large presence in Queens is set to receive millions of dollars to be allocated for holocaust survivors.
Selfhelp, a Manhattan-based non-profit which provides a range of senior services, will receive nearly $31 million via the German government to help the organization care for elderly residents across the New York region who survived the horrors of the Holocaust.
A portion of those funds will be used to support Selfhelp’s Holocaust Survivor program in Queens, which it operates out of an office at 70-20 Austin St. in Forest Hills.
The program provides home care assistance, money management services, community support and social programs. There are around 600 Holocaust survivors who live in the borough, according to Aubrey Jacobs, a managing director of the program.
Out of the roughly 600 Holocaust survivors living in Queens, 125 of them live in Forest Hills, Jacobs said.
The $30.7 million comes via a global non-profit called the Claims Conference, which works with the German government to get the funds.
Claims Conference has been securing reparations for Holocaust survivors living around the world since the early 1950s. The organization makes annual payments to hundreds of non-profits, including Selfhelp.
The payments, which come annually, are the main source of funding for Selfhelp’s Holocaust Survivor program, Jacobs said.
Jacobs said that the funding is of vital importance to help Holocaust survivors live out their final years in comfort. Many Holocaust survivors are frail and aged in their 80s and 90s, she said.
“The support that we receive from the Claims Conference is of crucial importance as it allows us to… provide the services, support and care our clients deserve to help them live with dignity and independence,” Jacobs said.
Funding received by Claims Conference last year, Jacobs said, also went to cover the cost of medical care, food, utilities and other emergency needs Holocaust survivors required during the pandemic.
In addition, Selfhelp social workers provided virtual programs, phone calls and home visits to help address increased isolation of survivors during lockdowns.
Jacobs said it is hard to gauge how much of the funds being received this year will go towards supporting Holocaust survivors living in Queens, given Selfhelp operates other Holocaust Survivor programs across the New York City region.
Selfhelp’s Holocaust Survivor programs support around 5,500 Jews outside of Queens., she said.
Since 1952, the German government has paid more than $90 billion in indemnification to victims who suffered from persecution by the Nazis, mostly through negotiations with Claims Conference.
This year, Claims Conference is being awarded $720 million from the German government, which it will disburse among more than 300 non-profits and social services agencies throughout the world.