Independent Living is a proud Selfhelp tradition.
In 1936, a group of German émigrés joined forces to help newly arriving European Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi persecution establish themselves in America. They believed that with basic support, new arrivals would be able to use their skills, experiences and strengths to build independent, dignified and productive lives. Thus, on November 10th 1936 in New York City, Selfhelp was born.
In its early years, Selfhelp worked with successive waves of refugees providing the personalized, direct service that has become our hallmark. We guided immigrants through the confounding maze of bureaucratic paperwork, helped them find housing and offered financial assistance to tide them over. While men prepared to re-enter their established professions or refocus their skills, we worked with their wives and sisters to find jobs such as practical nursing and homemaking that built on their household skills.
Decade after decade we have been innovators, at the cutting edge of social and community services.
Selfhelp for German Refugees is established on November 10th.
Selfhelp initiates programs serving the elderly, forerunners of today's home care and training programs.
United Help, Inc., a sister organization to Selfhelp, is established to collect and distribute funds to assist and care for Jewish refugees from Europe.
With partial funding by the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, Selfhelp's Kissena Apartments opens. This is the first state-aided building developed by a not-for-profit organization with on-site supportive services for the elderly.
Selfhelp's vital work on behalf of Nazi victims expands. Community based programs open in Queens and Washington Heights and later in Brooklyn, Nassau County and the Bronx.
The first of six Selfhelp Senior Centers is established in Queens.
The Guthery Institute for Home Care Training is established.
Selfhelp becomes a member agency of UJA-Federation of New York enabling us to undertake important, new programming initiatives.
Selfhelp's first Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) is created.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany provides funding enabling Selfhelp to establish our Brooklyn Nazi Victim Services office. Our partnership continues to this day.
Selfhelp establishes a Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) to provide a full spectrum of home care services to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Apartments, our sixth residence, opens in Flushing.
Client centered technology and telehealth pilot programs are introduced in Selfhelp housing, NORCs and among our home care clients.
Today, initiatives underway include the development of a “senior center of the future” to accommodate all segments of the aging population including baby boomers. We are expanding cutting edge technology in client homes that will enhance the safety and quality of independent living. And, we are preparing for the increasingly acute needs of our Nazi victim population as they age.
As we approach our 75th anniversary, Selfhelp remains dedicated to our founders’ vision to preserve the independence and dignity of the most vulnerable among us.