Client Stories

UJA Impact Stories: Bethea

Bethea is one of thousands of people impacted by your donation to UJA. A mother of three, she had to file for bankruptcy when she got divorced. She received financial and emotional support from many agencies funded by UJA. Bethea says she doesn’t know where her life would be without your help.

Miracle Baby

BabyAfter 13 years of trying to conceive a child, we are delighted to announce that our long-awaited miracle has arrived. Annie was born on Saturday, March 4, 2017 weighing in at 6 lbs.2 oz. Anybody who has experienced the infertility journey knows that, in addition to the emotional and physical pain, there is also a huge financial burden. Our little miracle could not have come into the world without the JFLT Fertility Loan. From the bottom of my heart, I thank JFLT for being there when we needed them most, and for giving my husband a new branch on his family tree that was cut short by the Nazis. Thanks to you, JFLT, we now have a little one who will carry on his name.
– Jessica B.

On My Way to Recovery

SulyDJewish Free Loan Toronto helped me during the worst month of my life. It may be hard to believe, but last month when I was on my way to pay my landlord, I was robbed of my rent money and then later struck by a car. During the accident my glasses broke, I suffered a minor head injury, and now need dental work. When I showed JFLT the police report, the bill for the ambulance and the estimates from the optometrist and dentist, they gave me a loan within days.

I would like to thank my Jewish Family & Child social worker Simon Kalkstein for helping me over the years, and show my appreciation to JFLT for being there when I needed them most. Hopefully one day I can give back by becoming a volunteer.

– Suly D.

Step by Step to Success

During his three years in Israel’s Elite Academy / NAALE Program for High School Students, Russian-born Georgy Fradkin learned much more than just another language. And once he emigrated to Toronto in August 2002, he put those essential life skills and study habits to good use. After settling with his family in a rental apartment, Georgy immediately began working at a series of part-time jobs to contribute to his family’s income. Realizing that education was his key to a successful future, he also attended ESL classes to improve his language skills. Georgy wanted more from life, and he was determined to better himself and his family.

In January 2004, Georgy was accepted into Seneca College’s three-year Accounting and Finance diploma course, but even with financial assistance through OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program), he could not afford his tuition and books.

After hearing about Jewish Free Loan Toronto from his social worker at JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services) Toronto, Georgy approached JFLT for an interest-free loan. After completing all of the necessary documentation and providing JFLT with his OSAP information, Georgy was granted a student loan of $1,800. “This money was extremely helpful,” said Fradkin. “Back then, my parents and I had a zero balance in the bank. Eighteen hundred dollars was exactly what we needed for my first semester.” With JFLT’s financial assistance, Georgy was able to concentrate on his studies. “Accounting and finance was completely new to me – new language and new material. The $1,800 loan from JFLT meant that I did not need a part-time job during my first semester. I could study and work hard to get good marks.”

At the end of his first semester, Fradkin’s efforts paid off. “I was able to apply for scholarships once I got my first semester results,” said Georgy. “I liked my courses and I was doing well so I just kept studying full-time, right through the summers! In April of 2006 I completed the program and I graduated with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.5 out of 4.”

Georgy accepted a full-time accounting position with SolidCAD immediately after graduation. Three years after Georgy’s JFLT loan was granted, he is proud to say that his loan is fully repaid, he is happily married to his sweetheart Alisa and his dreams for their future together are coming true. “I could never have managed all this without my loan from Jewish Free Loan Toronto” said Fradkin. “That money made all the difference to me and to my family.”

When I am Successful, It Will be Because of You

Eliza’s goal was to open a small, computer-based business to provide some much-needed financial stability for her family. With three toddlers and a physical disability that limits her mobility, Eliza decided her dream would best be realized from her own home.

“I didn’t know what to do next, so I asked my social worker at Jewish Family and Child Service,” said Eliza. “She told me about Toronto Jewish Free Loan Cassa’s [now Jewish Free Loan Toronto] loan programs for new start-up businesses. I came right down the elevator (of the Lipa Green Building for Jewish Community Services) to TJFLC and asked a million questions. It was hard because I had all three kids with me but we managed!”

After completing a business loan application, Eliza and the children jumped back on the TTC. “I wanted to stand in my apartment and think about my options. I knew that a home office would mean dealing 24/7 with the distractions of babies underfoot,” said Eliza, “but when my husband and I really thought about the whole picture, the pluses outweighed the minuses. We decided to go ahead and try to make our dreams come true.”

Eliza’s husband returned all the necessary documentation, including the application, signed guarantor forms, promissory note and a business plan, to the TJFLC offices. He was told that Eliza’s interview would take place the following Tuesday evening.

“Some people may have thought we were crazy,” said Eliza, “but the two TJFLC interviewers seemed to understand what my husband and I wanted to accomplish. Their comments were positive and encouraging, and I was thrilled when I found out that the Loan Committee approved my application.”

“I used the $10,000 from TJFLC to buy good quality, second-hand equipment for my business. I am really careful with my expenses,” said Eliza. “I’m proud of myself each month when I make my loan payment. I want TJFLC and our whole Jewish community to know how grateful I am for your confidence in me. When I am successful, it will be because of you.”

Eliza’s story is a composite based on actual experiences of JFLT clients.

I’m a client from before. Do you remember me?

Everyone likes a feel-good story where Jewish Free Loan Toronto grants a loan to a qualified applicant and that money changes their life. Our volunteers and staff are happy to be here for those applicants. But not all clients’ problems can be ‘fixed’ with one interest-free loan. Many of our applicants are proud ‘repeat customers’ who rely on JFLT for a revolving source of credit. We must be here for them as well.

These returning applicants are often single, divorced or widowed women, living on pensions, disability allowances and minimal salaries. They are trying to cope with medical and emotional problems and family issues. Their Personal Loan requests generally reflect a need for help with moving expenses to more affordable housing or dental care for the replacement of dentures.

Applicants may want to purchase a monument for a parent, spouse or child: they may need to replace their bed or their furniture. For an applicant in this situation, the purchase of a television may be the only way to bring an outside influence into a life of depression and isolation.

Jewish Free Loan Toronto provides loans to people in these situations. Dvora Even* is one such client. Dvora has received five JFLT interest-free Personal Loans over the past fifteen years, and is in the process of applying once more. After repaying each loan with a 36 month repayment schedule, Dvora has a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Although her financial situation has not improved from year to year, JFLT loans provide Dvora with the ability to maintain her dignity. She is proud she has never received a handout.

A JFLT loan allows Dvora to say, “I am your customer from before. Do you remember me? Look it up! You’ll see I always pay back!”

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, JFLT will continue to give clients like Dvora optimism, hope and dignity through our Personal Loan program.

*Name changed at request of interviewee.

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