About Us

Selfhelp Community Services was founded in 1936 to help those fleeing Nazi Germany maintain their independence and dignity as they struggled to forge new lives in America. Today, Selfhelp is one of the largest and most respected not-for-profit human service agencies in the New York metropolitan area, with 46 programs offering services throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and Westchester. Selfhelp provides a broad set of services to more than 20,000 elderly, frail, and vulnerable New Yorkers each year, while remaining the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America. We offer a complete network of home care and community-based services with the overarching goal of helping seniors live with dignity and independence and avoid institutionalization.

Among its program highlights, Selfhelp:

  • Operates the oldest and largest program serving Holocaust survivors in North America, providing comprehensive services to over 4,500 elderly and frail individuals.
  • You canb+ Owns and operates eleven affordable apartment buildings, in Queens, the Bronx, and Long Island that house over 1,400 low and moderate-income residents in apartments with services that are accessible and on site, as needed. Two new buildings are currently in the pre-development phase in Brooklyn.
  • Manages five city-funded Senior Centers, including one of the first to be designated by the City of New York as an Innovative Senior Center. Selfhelp also offers an Alzheimer's Social Adult Day Program to care for those coping with Alzheimer's and related disorders, as well as much needed respite for their caregivers.
  • Trains and employs 1,500 home health care workers who provide approximately 2 million hours of service each year to the elderly, infirm, and families at risk.
  • Offers comprehensive services for seniors living in four Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) in Queens.
  • Serves as legal guardian for hundreds of individuals in need through three Court-Appointed Guardianship Programs.
  • Is a leader in providing groundbreaking Aging Services Technology, enriching the lives of elders living independently through virtual communication and telehealth monitoring.
  • Operates NY Connects program in Queens, which serves as New York City's point of entry for information and referral to long term services and support for older adults and people of all ages with disabilities.

Selfhelp is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the independence and dignity of seniors and at-risk populations through a spectrum of housing, home health care, and social services and will lead in applying new methods and technologies to address changing needs of its community. Selfhelp will continue to serve as the “last surviving relative” to its historic constituency, victims of Nazi persecution.


Notable highlights from Selfhelp's history of providing comfort and dignity to victims of Nazi persecution and thousands of other New Yorkers at risk of losing their independence.


1936 On November 10, 1936, in a New York City apartment, Selfhelp for German Refugees was created by a group of recent German émigrés to help those fleeing Europe escape the threat of Nazi persecution.


1940 Concerned about those stranded in Europe, funds are raised and sent to Brussels, Geneva, Prague, Zurich, Paris, and Shanghai to buy supplies, ship tickets, and other necessities to help refugees reach friendly countries.

1941 – 1945 As refugees from the war begin to arrive in increasing numbers, Selfhelp initiates Home Nursing programs providing care for elderly and frail refugees as well as urgently needed job opportunities for the newly arrived. These early programs become the precursors of our social work, home care, employment and training programs of today.


1950 By the early 1950s, Selfhelp's summer vacation program provides refugees and their families much needed respite. The program expands to several locations over the next years including Fleischmann's and Hunter House.

1955 United Help, Inc., a sister organization to Selfhelp, is established to collect and distribute funds for care and assistance to Jewish refugees from all of Europe.


1960s Fundraising concerts previously held in privates homes are moved to larger venues including Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall where world renowned artists perform.

1964 Selfhelp's Kissena Apartments, the first housing residence developed by a not-for-profit organization with on-site supportive services is built for Holocaust survivors. Funded in part by reparation money, it is the first state-aided project to be built in New York by a not-for-profit organization.

1969 After several interim name changes, the name Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. is chosen to reflect the organization's comprehensive network of community-based services. The same year, Project Pilot in Manhattan is established, the first of our three case management programs.


1972 The vital work for Holocaust survivors expands through community-based programs in Washington Heights and Queens, and in later years Brooklyn, Nassau County, and the Bronx.

1975 The first of five senior centers is established in Queens. Today, Selfhelp’s senior centers serve approximately 8,000 seniors throughout the borough.

1976 The Selfhelp Community Services’s Training Program is established with funding from the New York State Department of Labor.


1980 Significant expansion of services to elderly Russian émigrés takes place at our Kensington program in Brooklyn.

1983 Selfhelp becomes a member agency of UJA-Federation of New York enabling us to undertake a number of exciting program initiatives.


1990 Selfhelp emerges as a leader in establishing Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs).

1993 The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany provides funding enabling the establishment of our Brooklyn Holocaust Survivor Program. Within the next few years, the Claims Conference becomes Selfhelp’s most significant funder of programs serving Holocaust survivors, making possible numerous other vital projects.

1995 Selfhelp establishes a Certified Home Health Agency to provide a full spectrum of home care services to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.


2002 Continuing our building boom of the 70s, 80s and 90s, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Apartments, our sixth residence, is opened in Flushing.

2003 Senior Source, a new private-pay geriatric care management program is initiated.

2005 Aging services technology, including Computer Learning Centers, sensor technology, telehealth and brain fitness programs are introduced in our residences and among our home care clients.

2008 The Selfhelp Community Services Foundation is founded to raise, manage and steward philanthropic funds to support the work of Selfhelp Community Services. Toward this end, Project Legacy, an ambitious initiative is launched to secure funding for the last generation of Holocaust survivors. Selfhelp opens its second Brooklyn site in Kensington to provide much-needed services to the growing number of Holocaust survivors requesting assistance.

2009 Selfhelp publishes "Sixty-Five Years after Liberation: Holocaust Survivors in New York Today through 2025," a demographic analysis of the existing population of Holocaust survivors in New York. The study projects the numbers and needs of survivors through the year 2025.


2010 Selfhelp launches its internationally acclaimed Virtual Senior Center in collaboration with Microsoft, the NYC Department for the Aging and the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. This transformational program now serves 275 seniors in six locations.

2011 Selfhelp commemorates its 75th year of service. Among the many events held was Selfhelp's Fourth International Conference for Professionals Working with Holocaust Survivors.

2012 Selfhelp brings Witness Theater to New York, partnering with the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School. An innovative and emotional, full-year "journey" for Holocaust survivors and high school students, Witness Theater began in Israel by JDC-Eshel. Today five schools are participating with 11 performances and a live internet stream.

2013 In collaboration with UJA-Federation and the Defiant Requiem Foundation, Selfhelp participated in bringing The Defiant Requiem–Verdi at Terezín to Lincoln Center to raise funds and awareness for New York's Holocaust survivors in need. So successful was this event, that an encore performance took place in March, 2015.

Selfhelp expands its affordable housing portfolio to Long Island through an affiliation with the Kimmel Housing Development Foundation. Two affordable housing developments, as well as three Selfhelp programs are housed at the Westbury site.

2014 Selfhelp opens its seventh affordable housing residence, featuring innovative aging services technology, a recreational green roof and an on-site health and wellness facility.

2015 Unprecedented new funding from the NY City Council and the Federal Government is awarded to support the needs of Holocaust survivors. Selfhelp is a primary beneficiary.

Selfhelp's Housing with Services model is internationally recognized. CEO Stuart C. Kaplan addresses the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging's International Conference in Australia.

2016 Selfhelp marks its 80th year of service by opening its tenth affordable housing residence, hosting two professional conferences, and forming a Chinese Advisory Council to raise awareness of our programs serving Chinese elders. As the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America, we remain true to our mission of serving as "the last surviving relative to our historic constituency." Our broad spectrum of programs now serves 20,000 older adults throughout New York City and Nassau County.

2017 A year-long project, to collect clients' stories of living in World War II's Shanghai Ghetto, culminates in a remarkable evening where Holocaust survivors and Chinese clients come together. We complete a research study demonstrating that clients in affordable housing spend less time in the hospital than people of similar ages in the same zip codes. Armed with this and other evidence, we begin exploring relationships with health care partners, and obtain state funding to develop a new technology infrastructure that can demonstrate the impact of our services on client health.

2018 Selfhelp's broad spectrum of programs now serves more than 20,000 older adults throughout New York City and Nassau County. Our eleventh affordable housing residence opens in Brooklyn. Five more new construction projects are in the pipeline, including two in collaboration with noted architect Daniel Liebeskind. The award-winning filmmaker Oren Rudavsky is completing a year-long documentary of Witness Theater. We receive state funding for a major expansion of our training program for home health aides.

Board of Directors



Raymond V.J. Schrag


Ernest L. Bial

Vice Presidents

Matthew A. Cantor
Peter H. Jakes
Ronald F. Ries


Peter L. Simmons


Dennis Baum

Staci Barber
Edward B. Cohen
Scott Drassinower
Ira N. Gottlieb
Jeffrey S. Jacob
Barry Konig
Scott Krawitz
Carol Levin
Michael S. Lubin
Brian Marcus
Ralph P. Marash
Alfred E. Netter
Anna Schneur
Sheryl Silverstein, DMD
Gideon Taylor
Tai Wang

Selfhelp Community Services Foundation Board



Dennis Baum

Vice Chair

Debrah Lee Charatan


Richard Scharf

Executive Director

Lois Deutsch

Michael A. Bamberger
Bert E. Brodsky
Matthew A. Cantor
Jeffrey S. Jacob
Stuart C. Kaplan
Patti Askwith Kenner
Paul Levinsohn
Ilse Melamid
Joshua Mermelstein
Stanley J. Reifer
Thomas H. Roche
Robert H. Scheibe
Raymond V.J. Schrag
Brian R. Steinwurtzel
Victor A. Wyler
Jeffrey Zorek

Advisory Board
Shelley Einhorn
Michael F. Price

Selfhelp NextGen

Selfhelp NextGen was created by a group of young professionals in the New York area in 2010 to bring the mission and work of Selfhelp to the next generation of supporters. Through outreach, education, volunteerism and fundraising, Selfhelp NextGen members advance our mission of maintaining the independence and dignity of seniors and at-risk populations, with a particular focus on serving as the "last surviving relative" to victims of Nazi persecution.

We invite you to learn more about our programs and join us in supporting our clients. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. To learn more, please email development@selfhelp.net.

Michele Pollack, Co-chair
Kate Marks, Co-chair
Joel Abraham
Helene Altman
Lindsay Ashwal
Ophir Barone
Kevin Baum
Carina Bergal
Greg Borofsky
Josh Bouaziz
Felice Cohen
Emily Cowan
Ilana Derman
Scott Drassinower
Jaime Marks Fredman
Laura Ginsberg
Lee Jason Goldberg
Warren Haskel
Alison Heffer
Lisa Horten
Danielle Krugman
Alex Kuritzky
Chani & Meir Lax
Jackie Leitzes
Katie Lesser
Jessica Levine
Claire Moskowitz
Laura Phillips
Sam Pollack
Emily Reagan
Betty Reider
Joanna Roberts
Ayelet & Aaron Rosen
Alissa Rozen
Lauren Schneider
Benjamin P.D. Schrag
Jordan Searles
Lawrence Singer
Jonathan Spiegel
Jeremy Weinrib
Paul Wharshavsky
Alex Zeldin

Kimmel Housing Development Foundation Board



Victor A. Wyler

Vice President

Ronald Kisner


Stuart C. Kaplan


Evelyn J. Wolff

Michelle DiBenedetto
Lawrence Kimmel
Sheryl Silverstein, DMD
Steven G. Tepper
Michael Zarin

Chinese Advisory Council

Selfhelp's Chinese Advisory Council was created in 2015 to better address the unique needs of Chinese elders living in New York City, many of whom are in of need vital assistance. The Council is comprised of prominent members of the Chinese-American community and plays an important role in identifying resources as well as facilitating access to services for this vulnerable population.

Selfhelp provides services to approximately 5,000 Asian immigrants each year. The majority are low-income senior citizens who have emigrated from China. Over 700 live in Selfhelp's affordable housing developments where they receive services such as subsidized home care, housekeeping and case management to enable them to live independently, with dignity. Many receive home delivered meals, assistance with accessing entitlements, referrals to other services they may require and an overall helping hand that is always available. More than 4,200 Chinese seniors attend one of Selfhelp's five state-of-the-art senior centers where they participate in activities such as computer training, health and wellness activities, English as a Second Language, Citizenship classes, exercise and recreation, and Chinese cultural activities.

Tai Wang, Chair
Angela Guangyang An
Amy Mak Chan
Teresa Chan
Jerry Lo
Chloe Bona Sun

Executive Staff
Stuart C. Kaplan
Stuart C. Kaplan
Chief Executive Officer
Russell Lusak
Russell Lusak
Chief Operating Officer
Tova Klein, LCSW
Tova Klein, LCSW
Vice President, Senior Communities
Sandy Myers
Sandy Myers
Vice President, External Relations and Communications
Mark Parauda
Mark Parauda
Vice President, Human Resources and Labor Relations
Hanan Simhon, LMSW
Hanan Simhon, LMSW
Vice President, Holocaust Survivor Programs
Amy Thomas
Amy Thomas
Vice President, Home Care Services
Steven G. Tepper
Steven G. Tepper
General Counsel
Elizabeth Lynn
Elizabeth Lynn
Assistant Vice President, Grants and Research
Paula Yamakaitis
Paula Yamakaitis
Chief Financial Officer
Lois Deutsch
Lois Deutsch
Executive Director, Selfhelp Community Services Foundation
Evelyn J. Wolff
Evelyn J. Wolff
Executive Director, Selfhelp Realty Group