The pandemic’s earliest days brought distress and economic uncertainty throughout Greater Hartford — and the Jewish community was no exception. In response to the financial strain many experienced, Federation responded with the introduction of the Jewish Free Loan Fund (JFLF) in November 2020. Originally intended as a temporary program for those in need of a loan, not charity, the fund has now become a permanent opportunity for local individuals or households facing financial challenges or opportunities, and now enters its third year of impact.
The fund’s interest-free loans, rooted in the Jewish traditions of equity and justice, allow recipients to remain self-sufficient in the face of economic hardship, or realize lifelong dreams, while maintaining their autonomy and dignity. As loans are repaid, funds are recycled to serve new recipients. To date, the fund has helped more than 20 individuals and families, including:
- a retired Hebrew school teacher facing eviction
- a young family in need of help to send their child to Jewish camp
- a single mother hoping to purchase her first home with a backyard for her child
- a young businessman relocating to Hartford to start a new career
- the employee of a Jewish agency facing funeral expenses after the loss of a loved one.
For some, the JFLF opened the door to opportunities they may not otherwise have been able to realize. “After I took out the loan, I had the freedom to upscale my business after paying off my credit card,” said one grateful recipient. “I don't mean to be dramatic, but you guys have changed my life in a very real way.”
JFLF loan analysts have extended more than $100,000 in funds to date, with an average loan amount of $5,986. Of this total, 24% of recipients have used their loan for debt consolidation, with an additional 19% applying the funds toward medical bills. Recipients have also used the funds for home improvements, auto repairs, and the payment of business loans. "It has been humbling and rewarding beyond measure to assist those experiencing financial obstacles and provide them with the opportunity to help themselves improve their current situation," said JFLF Director Jody Angell.
Since the fund’s inception, generous donors have contributed more than $340,000 to its growth; these gifts have been instrumental in expanding the program’s community-wide impact. Federation expects the number of loans to increase from 20 to 30 over the coming year. “I’m just thrilled that not only the number of people we are helping through the free loan continues to grow, but that the fund itself has continued to grow,” said JFLF Chair Ann Pava. “We received a few beautiful gifts this year [and] the impact the fund has had on the community is one I could only imagine. I will be forever grateful that our community had the vision to launch this important endeavor two years ago.”
As the scope of the fund has increased, so have the resources needed to vet applicants and manage loans. If you would like to support this work with a contribution to our general fund, please contact Jody Angell at 860.281.1007 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All gifts to the Jewish Free Loan Fund of Greater Hartford are tax deductible.