In weeks since October 7 life in Israel is becoming more dire as much needed basic necessities are running out in some areas. Jewish Family Service of Nashville and Middle Tennessee stepped in to help facilitate sending tons of supplies through an organization called Project Cure. Project Cure works globally to send medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in underserved communities and countries.
In recent weeks, a request came from two agencies in Israel for emergency supplies like diapers, formula, medicine, and other items. Ellen Levitt is a retired nurse and has been volunteering several years for Project Cure. “I was exploring things to do and meaningful ways to spend my time and I learned about Project Cure by word of mouth,” she says. She immediately reached out to JFS executive director Pam Kelner. “Ellen called me, and we tried to figure out the best way to help,” she says. The two began reaching out to the Jewish community for donations, as well. “It was great that we could engage the community in a meaningful way at this time,” says Kelner.
Kelner notified the Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, congregations, and day schools, and in just a few days, donation bins were filled to the brim. Levitt and other volunteers for Project Cure began the process of sorting and packing the items, which included socks, gloves, ski hats, underwear, towels, backpacks, and other supplies for children. The shipment also included several tons of mattresses provided by Project Cure.
The next step in the undertaking was figuring out the plan to move the massive quantity of donated items and mattresses, something undertaken by local volunteers. Virginia Ballard, executive director for Project Cure says volunteers are essential to the organization. “We can’t do anything without them,” she says. Project Cure has been in Nashville for 25 years and is largely a volunteer run organization, having only 35 employees nationwide.
And once again, there was a Jewish community connection. Marisa Bayard, operations director for Project Cure is the former director of youth programming at the GJCC. She was on hand to oversee the shipment. “It was an unusual circuitous route,” she says. The decision was made to move everything first to Dallas by truck, and then loaded onto a plane headed for Israel.
Once on the ground in Israel the items will be distributed through United Hatzalah and Magen David Adom. Ballard says the organization will continue throughout the current war and beyond. “We intend to continue supporting Israel and we will be there to help rebuild,” she says. Levitt adds, “It is wonderful the two organizations can work together to achieve this.” She says Project Cure has also been sending shipments of supplies to Gaza.
The Jewish Observer is published by The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville and made possible by funds raised in the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign. Become a supporter today.