FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 10, 2017  
Contact: Elisheva Lock |  (347)268-0030 [email protected]

Connect2:  Providing Crucial Lifelines to NYC Holocaust Survivors
Weekly Visits Provide Socialization, Sense of Community and, Often, Life Saving Services
As the many Holocaust survivors living in the New York City area continue to grow more frail, this one of a kind population presents a unique set of challenges. Many find themselves without an emotional support network and can experience a devastating sense of isolation further exacerbated by their declining health and other physical and mental issues.
Connect2, a project of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, was founded in 2001 to meet the needs of elderly Holocaust survivors.  More than just a home visiting service, Connect2 focuses on forging firm bonds between survivors and volunteers with once a week, hour-long visits designed to build fulfilling friendships that span the generations.
 "Many of our survivors don't have living friends anymore and their family is either far away or non-existent," said Elisheva Lock, director of Connect 2.  "By bringing a special relationship into their lives, the program provides a lifeline for survivors and a connection to the outside world."
Funded by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Connect 2 prides itself on carefully matching survivors with volunteers.  In addition to providing companionship, Connect2 offers a wealth of rewards to participants on both ends of the spectrum.
 "Obviously our survivors benefit from these visits but so many of our volunteers come back and tell us how much they gain from their visits," said Lock.
Connect2 typically supplements other home based services that survivors may be receiving, filling a void that is typically unmet with both compassion and human services.  Because many survivors are homebound and live alone, their weekly visits have a positive effect on their physical and emotional well being. 
"We have heard back from our survivors and their children how their Connect2 visits are the highlight of their week," noted Sarala Lieberman of Connect2.
More than just providing soft services, Connect2 volunteers have also been involved in life saving efforts.  In one instance, a volunteer was visiting a survivor couple in Brooklyn when the wife experienced a stroke.  The volunteer contacted Hatzolah immediately who got the woman to the hospital in time for doctors to take life-saving action. 
In another case, a Connect2 volunteer was visiting her survivor whose agoraphobia prevented her from leaving her home and noticed that the survivor had cellulitis on her leg that appeared to be worsening with each visit.  After being notified about the problem, Lock called the woman and persuaded her to let Hatzolah transport her to the hospital.
"She made it to the hospital, where the doctors told us we brought her in just before she reached a life threatening stage," reported Lock.
Suicide is a rarely discussed issue that can plague Holocaust survivors who find themselves overwhelmed by the often harsh realities of aging. Volunteers are trained to be on the alert for any indication that a survivor may be considering harming themselves and  Connect2 can provide support and mental health referrals as needed.
Yet for all the services that Connect2 provides to Holocaust survivors, the benefits that volunteers enjoy are too important to overlook.  One recent volunteer to Connect2 was a teenage girl who was encountering anti-Semitism in her school and found that spending time with a Holocaust survivor boosted her self esteem while strengthening her Jewish identity.
Both the survivor and the volunteer are finding themselves tremendously enriched by their weekly visits.
"That's what Connect2 calls a successful match," said Lock.
To find out more about Connect2 visit them online at www.connect2ny.org or contact them at (718)449-5000.