Posts Tagged ‘michigan’

How Hebrew Free Loan is helping Jewish Families after Flooding in the Metro Detroit Area: Estie Gomez’s story

September 19th, 2014


On Aug. 11, 2014, many southeast Michigan residents were victims of a flood caused by torrential rainstorms.  Many people had to deal with waterlogged basements and destroyed personal, sentimental possessions. The water was so deep in some of these basements that even items carefully placed in plastic bins with lids were ruined.


This was the case of Estie Gomez.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

Estie Gomez and her family




Estie was coming home from work as her husband was going out to see a client.  As they crossed paths, Estie’s husband told her to call a roofing company since there was a leak in the kitchen ceiling.  The roofer, referred to her by her sister-in-law, was going to come out to take a look at the roof in the next couple of days.  Later on, Estie’s sister-in-law texted her again to say that her basement was flooding.  Estie was so concerned with the roof that she never thought to look in the basement.


Estie told her husband to take a look at the basement.  She heard him say, “Our basement is flooding!”  In disbelief, Estie said, “Don’t joke.”


Her husband responded, “I’m not joking.”  At this point, the water had already reached the top of the bottom step, about six inches.  They both rushed down to the basement to turn off the air conditioner and fuse box.  They were in shock at what they saw.


The baby gear, toys and books were floating in the water.  The mobile Estie used with both of her young children was swirling around in the rising water.


As she was trying to process the horrific scene, a plastic bin filled with her deceased mother’s cookbooks and hand-written recipes tipped over into the water.  Estie was heartbroken to see the irreplaceable family heirlooms drifting in the water.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

Damage from the flood




The water eventually receded and even though Estie contacted restoration companies, she never heard back.


Their furnace, which was making strange noises, needed to be serviced and they had no hot water.  They tried to relight the pilot light, but could not do it.  A service man came out to relight it and saw the soggy mess in the basement.  He knew someone who could help them clear out their basement and by Friday, they hired the man to help them bring everything up and out of their basement.


By Sunday, Estie and her husband started to sanitize their basement.  They worked with two hoses to rinse away the sewage and proceeded to bleach everything they could such as their silver, cups and glasses.  Boxes of photos and the beloved family recipes were set out to dry.  Unfortunately, many things could not be salvaged such as sweaters, baby clothes and school projects.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

This was part of the garbage. More bags were added.




Estie was completely overwhelmed with cleaning and sanitizing the basement when the roofer shared his upsetting news: Estie would need to replace the entire roof on their home.


The money they saved for their summer vacation (which was supposed to be that same week) was not enough to cover the roof.  The kids were disappointed about vacation plans being altered and Estie and her husband were frustrated that the time they set aside for vacation and to celebrate their ninth anniversary was going to be spent repairing the house.


Broken and devastated, Estie reached out to Hebrew Free Loan.





The process for the interest-free loan was carried out quickly.  By the end of the week, Estie and her husband had a meeting and were approved for a loan.  The meeting was not just a quick run of numbers; Estie said her family appreciated the warm and compassionate treatment they received. They were treated like people, not just a number, she said.


Hebrew Free Loan was able to lift the weight off of Estie’s shoulders.  With Hebrew Free Loan’s help, they were able to put a new roof on their house.


As of the second week of September, Hebrew Free Loan has approved 36 interest-free loans, which added up to a total of $265,000, for flood victims.  As always, the agency is standing by to assist Jewish families in this time of need and loss.




For more information on how to get help, please visit our website  or call us at 248-723-8184.  We can also be reached via email at


To learn more about our mission, upcoming activities, or other ways we help the Jewish community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.




The Metro Detroit August Flood: It Hit Home at Hebrew Free Loan

September 2nd, 2014


Homes damaged. Families hopelessly watching as water rose in their basements, damaging furniture, walls and priceless memories and belongings. It was dubbed “floodmageddon.”

On August 11, 2014, thousands of southeast Michigan residents experienced a intense rainstorm that dropped up to 6.3 inches of water over the course of a few hours. Roads flooded — stranding motorists — and neighborhood storm and sewage systems were overwhelmed, creating a surge of contaminated water in low-lying living spaces.


HFL flood blog pic 3

Hundreds of members of our Jewish community (like me, Hebrew Free Loan’s Executive Director David Contorer) who live in the Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley and Oak Park areas – and other communities in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties — were inundated with flood water around our cars and in our basements. As a result, there is an unprecedented amount of property damage to autos and homes and a public health nightmare could be waiting for those families who do not properly and thoroughly clean up the water and sewage left behind.

But for many Jewish families, help is available.


HFL flood blog pic 1

Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) is a key part of our Jewish community’s response to this disaster. In close partnership with the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service, HFL has already expedited our loan review process to efficiently help those who have had property damage. HFL’s Executive Committee unanimously agreed to put this emergency plan into action to show our organization’s sense of urgency to help those in these dire conditions. Our Jewish Federation will back some of the riskier loans (that would not be approved during HFL’s regular loan vetting process), because our community is focused on helping those in need now without bureaucracy or excuses.


The process goes like this for Jewish community flood victims who need assistance paying for basement cleaning (tear-outs, restoration, anti-microbial spray), repair or replacement of damaged furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers and other urgent costs. If you or someone you love in the Jewish community has been affected, please contact the Jewish Assistance Network (JAN) at (248) 592-2650, where helpful responders (from Jewish Family Service) will refer those in need to immediate assistance at either Hebrew Free Loan or to Jewish Family Service (for those families who may not be in the position to take out a loan).

At HFL, our team of caring and dedicated staff and volunteer leaders will take client information and (within a week) have a response with next steps towards securing an interest-free loan that will pay for the clean-up and repair for borrowers.

I could not be more proud of HFL’s board members who have come to the agency to spend hours on intake phone calls from flood victims (side by side with our HFL professional team).


HFL’s mission is to “provide loans and promise dignity” and you can hear the sighs of relief as we execute this mission from the dozens of flood victims who say things like, “Thank G-d you are here! I am so thankful for what you are doing to help us!”

The flood waters have receded and I know I’m not the only one with a ruined skeleton of a basement, haunted by wood studs and concrete floors. Hundreds of members of our Jewish community have basements that look like mine. Three or four cycles of once-beautiful furnishings and collectibles have been picked up at the curb, making our neighborhoods appear to be war zones. The cost of clean-up and repair will be enormous and no family in our community planned to spend these thousands of dollars (that most people do not have as liquid cash-flow in the best of circumstances).

Yet, thanks to Hebrew Free Loan, Jewish Family Service and our Jewish Federation’s coordinated efforts, we are going to help each family to get things cleaned up and get back to normal as soon as possible.


For more information on how to get help, please visit our Web site or call us at 248-723-8184. We can also be reached via email at

To learn more about our mission, upcoming activities or other ways we help the Jewish community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Expanding HFL’s Camp Loans and for The Teen Mission

September 4th, 2013

Blog authored by: Sherri Ketai

A Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) interest-free loan can help families (that have financial need or may just not have the necessary cash-flow) to pay for summer camp experiences and for Israel travel.  This comes in VERY handy when a lump-sum deposit or final amount is due in the spring, and many families do not have the ability to make that deadline.  An HFL loan for a qualifying family (subject to a customized loan pay-off timeline) will allow them to pay back HFL over 12 months—without interest, of course.

As a newer Board member at HFL, I asked if the general Jewish community is aware of these loans and whether or not camps (besides Tamarack) are promoting this to their families.

We think that many overnight and day camps where Jewish kids regularly attend (in Michigan and throughout our region) are NOT AWARE and have never promoted this opportunity to their Michigan-based Jewish families.

This blog is the first step HFL will be taking to expand awareness to the following overnight camps: Tavor, Tamakwa, Tanuga, Interlochen, Ramah, GUCI, Walden, and Wooden Acres.  This is not an exhaustive list, but it is where we will be starting.

Summer day camps at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and at many synagogues also serve families who may have difficulties in paying a lump-sum camp deposit.  HFL will reach out to remind all of these groups that their families also may be eligible for HFL summer camp loans.

Another amazing program in our community is the Israel Teen Mission of The Jewish Federation and many partnering synagogues.  This is an expensive but life-changing Israel experience for our Jewish teens, but again—many families may have a tough time meeting the cost to send their kids (even with scholarships that are available).  HFL can provide interest-free loan assistance that makes the Teen Mission a reality, as well.

HFL is expanding our horizons, so spread the word!

Expanding Directions – Camp, College and other Loan Programs

July 23rd, 2013

Blog Authored by Michael Berke and David Contorer

Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) is growing our loan programs and expanding awareness across the Jewish communities of Michigan.  We believe there are so many more people who could benefit from our interest-free loans for home repair, a used car, starting/ expanding a small business, paying for in-vitro fertilization and to cover hundreds of other living expenses.  HFL will always focus on safety-net service needs, where interest-free loans can provide these critical sources of support.  Beyond the safety net, HFL wants the community to know that the agency is here to help in so many other situations, as well.

In 2013 and beyond, there are some key areas where HFL will be growing our loan pool and publicizing to the community about our ability to help our Jewish community members to enhance their lives.

Summer camp experiences take many forms.  Jewish families in Michigan send their children to dozens of camps—some are day camps at the Jewish Community Center or at synagogues; some are Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Israeli Jewish movement camps with a variety of programming; other camps are athletic or music-themed.  In all cases, these camps require significant fees to enroll your kids.  An HFL, interest-free, summer camp loan in the spring can allow a family to cover that cost (and pay back HFL over the course of the next 12 months).  This is a life-enhancing, cash-flow benefit that HFL intends to publicize and share with many more camps and families across our region.  Let us help your family send the kids to camp!

Interest-free loans for college and graduate school are so desperately needed across the U.S., and HFL will be stepping up to address those needs in Michigan’s Jewish community.  HFL will aggressively be expanding this loan program with more loan dollars and a robust marketing / outreach campaign and new technology to let hundreds more families know that we are here to help their students.

And speaking of ‘outreach,’ HFL’s Road Show is coming to a synagogue and Jewish organization near you!  We are not only sharing blogs and social media about our loans, but real, live HFL people are getting the word out to anyone who will listen that HFL is here to help you with our loans!  We will be at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in the fall (and at many other places to share the message).

HFL is growing our capacity and the awareness across Michigan’s Jewish community landscape that our agency is here to help, just like we’ve been doing for 118 years.

Michigan is Big Business

August 30th, 2012

Michigan is having a comeback.

And at Hebrew Free Loan, we’re proud to play a small role in this epic movement. That’s because Detroit has seen incredible growth in these past few years, and thanks to organizations like Bizdom, and Detroit Venture Partners, we can see our community’s future moving in the right direction.

So, what’s our part in this? Well, let’s start with the grant we recieved this last year from the Danto family. $1,000,000 was bequeathed to us for the purpose of Interest Free Loans to catapult new business in Michigan.  And with their help, we’re able to offer the funds to Jewish community members in Michigan, ones who are eager to start new business, and develop the economy of our great state.

In even better news, Detroit has recently been featured in countless national news organizations, as well as Fast Company, where they named Detroit the “Next Sillicone Valley”. We’ve got a lot of hype, but with the hype, we’ve got a lot of new talent. As a community, people are eager to help each other succeed, people like us at Hebrew Free Loan, who make it easy to pay back your business loans.

So if you’ve got a small business idea, take the time to do your research and find the best organization to back you up. There are tons of different agencies in the area that are looking for people like you to come up with the next big thing. And that’s the great thing about Detroit, we’re all in this together, and there’s a place for you no matter who you are.

If you want additional information about the Marvin I Danto Small Business Loan program, contact us directly at For updates, news, stories, and events, check us out on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @HFLDetroit.

Help for All – Project Chessed

August 13th, 2012

117 years ago, Hebrew Free Loan started providing interest free loans to members of the Jewish community. And while we’ve continued in this great tradition, we realize that there are people outside of our circle that need help too. That’s why we’ve established working relationships with other great organizations around the area, ones that can offer assistance to enhance our support.

So each week we are going to put the Spotlight on other amazing non profit agencies in Michigan. Typically, these are the agencies that we work in synergy, mainly referring those individuals who contact us who need direct services beyond what HFL provides. This week, we put the spotlight on Project Chessed, a program of Jewish Family Service, designed to provide medical assistance to members of our Jewish Community who are in need, as defined below:

Project Chessed: Connects the uninsured to physicians, to needed treatment, to institutions and prescription medications, to those who may otherwise go without care and needed medicines. They are a a nationally recognized award winning, access-to-care network for medically uninsured adults.

And while the number of uninsured adults and families keeps increasing as people lose their jobs and benefits, Project Chessed addresses this issue by connecting the uninsured to needed health care.  We believe that everyone should have access to health care regardless of financial status.

Project Chessed Care Coordinators work closely with each participant to all needed care including:

  • Physician office visits
  • Scheduling of appointments
  • Access to prescriptions at local pharmacies and by mail through pharmaceutical company assistance programs
  • Prescription eyewear


Project Chessed is available to adults who are:

  • Medically uninsured
  • 19 – 64 years of age
  • Member of a Jewish household
  • Meet financial eligibility criteria

If you or someone you know is medically uninsured and in need or access to care, call Jewish Family Service’s Project Chessed at 248.592.2313 or complete their Contact Us form.

Have you worked with or benefitted from Project Chessed? Or do you know other great programs in our area? Let us know with your comments below.