Being Great at Doing Good
Interviewed by Nadja Atwal / Cover by Sean Pavone – Shutterstock
During this unusual time in Miami we have been overwhelmed with new realities and news, of which most were sadly not positive – even though Florida has handled the crises better than most states. Naturally we are gravitating to messages of hope, help and encouragement. And unless we feel totally helpless, we desire to help others and often turn to charities for that matter. In a pool full of selfless service, several organizations stick out during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Blue Card is one of them… one that has earned lots of recognition and media attention lately. We sat down with the Executive Director Masha Pearl for an exclusive interview in order to learn more…
You are all over the (good) news right now and your work has gotten the praise of many – including governors; what makes your efforts so remarkable in your view?
The mission of The Blue Card is incredibly unique – we are the only national organization in the United States with the sole mission of aiding needy Holocaust survivors. We are a trusted agency with a strong service and operational performance history. In April 2019, we received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. We are recognized with the Best in America Seal of Excellence from The Independent Charities of America. Furthermore, we are certified by the Better Business Bureau as having met all BBB standards and have been awarded the BBB Charitable Giving Alliance Seal and was named as one of the best Jewish charities since 2012. It is safe to say our work is unduplicated by any other agency and we are always reinventing ourselves to provide financial support through a number of carefully designed programs as survivors’ needs very greatly from person to person. Many people don’t know that there are currently tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors in the United States with a third living either at or below the federal poverty level. Last but not least we cater very much to the places where we are the most needed, like Miami-Dade.
What a record! Now, in times like these have you noticed that people are acting less selfish and are motivated more to help others?
Yes, tough times bring people together and makes one realize the importance of human connection. Giving back boosts happiness and “feel good” hormones. During such difficult times, those more fortunate want to give back and foster a connection with a Holocaust survivor. Now is a perfect opportunity to improve a survivor’s life and The Blue Card has created the following programs to do so. As an example, to combat isolation, The Blue Card is supporting survivors by undertaking a tribute video message program, giving volunteers the opportunity to submit a brief video to survivors: https://www.tribute.co/thebluecard/ These videos, family and pet friendly, are a simple, yet meaningful way to remind survivors that they are cared for. We have received an overwhelming response from our support network and countless number of video messages have been distributed to survivors. The increase in for mental health support has been dominating the news as people feel lonely and overwhelmed and yes, we addressed that issue by providing culturally sensitive and language-friendly therapy sessions via telephone. These sessions and other opportunities for connection for our survivors is especially crucial at this time.
What are you focusing on?
Volunteers have been ordering and delivering groceries, as well as basic essentials for survivors during the crisis. We have come to rely heavily on Amazon, FreshDirect and other providers which allow for quick deliveries with no contact to ensure safety.
Andy Cohen hosted your last event. tell us about your collaboration with him?
Andy Cohen was a pleasure to work with. He graciously hosted The Blue Card’s 2019 Annual Benefit Gala and was so kind to have made a personal donation and promote us on his Sirius XM radio show and even invited our staff to his show on Bravo network: “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen”. He was very charming and charismatic, and everyone absolutely loved him! At the gala, we honored our Young Professionals and when presented with their awards on stage, Andy was kind enough to take a selfie with the group.
Which other celebrities or notable people have supported your efforts ?
There is a wide range … from politicians like Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer to actors like Michael Douglas, Cynthia Nixon to top journalists and authors like Ronan Farrow and Rita Cosby.
How can people in Miami help your efforts best?
For the last 5+ years we have been partnering with the JFCS of South Florida to co-sponsor a team to
participate in the Miami Marathon.
“The Blue Card JFCS” Team participated in a Marathon to raise tens of thousands of dollars to benefit
survivors in the Miami-Dade area.
This critical funding allows us to provide much needed support through a number of various programs.
The Blue Card has many prominent donors and a Board member, Benjamin Jaffe, based in Florida who serve
as ambassadors for our time sensitive mission.