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Jewish seniors focus of Greensboro funder

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Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A pastoral care program at Temple B’nai Sholem in New Bern provides funding for nurse visits to Jewish seniors.

The Jewish Community Center in Asheville provides adult day care for Jewish seniors to give their caregivers a rest.

And the North Carolina Museum of Art sends a bus to pick up Jewish seniors in Greensboro and a handful of other cities throughout the state for a tour of its Raleigh facility, including its Judaic collection.

Providing grants that support all three programs is the Greensboro-based BJH Foundation for Senior Services.

Formed to serve Jewish elderly in the Carolinas, the foundation is the offspring of the former Blumenthal Jewish Home for the Aged in Clemmons.

The Home was established in 1962 by the Blumenthal family in Charlotte to provide nursing care to Jewish residents of the two states.

But in the 1990s, competition from skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities, often located closer to their families, resulted in a steep decline in the number of Jewish elderly living at the Blumenthal Home, says David Moff, president of the foundation and CEO of The HR Group in Greensboro.

With fewer Jewish residents, the Home served an increasing number of people who were not Jewish and whose costs were covered by Medicare and Medicaid, Moff says.

So the board of the Home spent several years looking for a buyer and in early 2000 moved its remaining residents to rented quarters at the Masonic and Eastern Star Home in Greensboro while it built a new facility on Wireless Drive in Greensboro.

Universal Health Care, which provided services in the rented quarters, now owns and operates the Blumenthal Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Wireless Drive.

The foundation provides support for Jewish activities at that facility, including a religious director and a weekly Torah study group there.

And the board of the Home, which also oversees the foundation, endowed it with most of the proceeds from the sale of the Clemmons facility, a former estate that now serves as Fair Oaks, an upscale residential community.

With an endowment now totaling $6 million, down about $1 million as a result of the recent decline in the capital markets, the foundation typically makes grants totaling up to $10,000 each to any charitable group in the Carolinas that serves Jewish elderly.

“We don’t want anybody to feel we’re only focusing on one geographic area,” says Wendee Cutler, the foundation’s executive assistant and only paid staff.

In 2007, its first year of grantmaking, the foundation awarded 14 grants totaling nearly $200,000, funding nearly all the groups that applied.

And in 2008, it received 43 applications totaling $378,000 and awarded 23 grants totaling $189,000

In Greensboro, for example, Jewish Family Services, a division of the Greensboro Jewish Federation, received $10,000 each year for its congregational nurse program.

Begun by the Moses Cone-Wesley Long Community Health Foundation in Greensboro to provide nursing care through programs offered by different religious organizations and congregations, the nurses provide services that include health education for seniors, flu-shot clinics, blood-pressure screenings, and medication monitoring.

Groups throughout or outside the Carolinas that serve Jewish elderly in the two states can apply for up to two grants, each totaling up to $10,000.

The deadline for submitting grant applications is March 1.

“We’re hoping to attract more grant applications during the 2009 cycle,” Moff says.

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