Category Archive: Whats Happening

A Special Goodbye

A special goodbye to our Office Manager, Bonnie Haas. Bonnie joined the JFS Orlando team 21 years ago, making her the longest serving JFS employee in the history of the organization! Responsible for managing the day to day building operations including technology, security, supervising the front office, tenant management and all building-related issues, she has been an integral part of the JFS family. We will all miss Bonnie and wish her the best of luck in her next chapter. Thank you for everything you have done for JFS and the community we serve!

Bonnie Haas

Hurricane Irma

hurricane-irma-satellite-noaa-ht-jc-170905_12x5_992Hurricane Irma Update: Irma has left many Central Floridians without the most basic of needs: food, water and shelter. JFS Orlando has addressed those exact needs for nearly 40 years and we continue to open our doors and outstretch our hands to lift up those in need. After a natural disaster, it is amazing to see a community band together and help neighbors in need. Now that we have begun to pick up the pieces, many of you are asking how you can help. We have listed our most urgent Agency needs below and appreciate your support!

1. DONATE NON-PERISHABLE FOOD. Our Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry is expecting numbers to continue to rise as power is restored and citizens are able to replenish their food that spoiled. Donations can be dropped off at our building located at The George Wolly Center 2100 Lee Rd., Winter Park, FL 32789.
2. MONETARY DONATIONS. Much of the food we give out through the pantry is purchased from a local food bank. Every dollar donated turns into $6 worth of purchasing power to supplement what we do not get donated from the community. Donations can be made online at or by calling Amanda Benedit at 407-644-7593 ext. 227
3. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. Our food pantry is staffed by a wonderful core group of volunteers, however, with increased numbers of clients we will likely extend our pantry hours and need your help to distribute food to those in need. You can apply to become a volunteer by calling Amanda Benedit 407-644-7593 ext. 227.

For additional information on how you can help with Hurricane Irma Relief, please visit or call 407-644-7593.

JFS Orlando receives $50,000 for FSP!

Check presentationJFS Orlando recently received a $50,000 grant from the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The grant will support JFS Orlando’s Family Stabilization Program.

The Family Stabilization Program is designed to help family’s improve overall stability and self-sufficiency. This program assists clients with budgeting, individual financial counseling, mental health counseling and providing case management to help improve their educational and/or employment status. 

“We are more than grateful for the generous support that the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund has provided JFS Orlando over the past 15 years,” says JFS Orlando Executive Director Eric Geboff. “The Family Stabilization Program continues to grow every year, and the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund has helped expand our services to assist more families in need.”

In 2016, JFS Orlando assisted 101 families through the Family Stabilization Program and had a 96% success rate. The success rate is determined by the completion of the 6-month program and improvement to their overall stability and self-sufficiency.

$585,000 was distributed to 13 nonprofit organizations in Central Florida through the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund in this grant cycle.

JFS Orlando welcomes new Clinical Supervisor

Douglass-Barnes, AshlynJFS Orlando welcomes Ashlyn Douglas-Barnes, a licensed clinical social worker and qualified clinical supervisor, to the Counseling, Growth and Development Program as a clinical therapist supervisor. Douglas-Barnes has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.

Douglas-Barnes specializes in adults and couples, with a range of concerns from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma, chronic illness, and relationship issues with a focus on improving communication, self-esteem, and self-confidence. She is certified by Postpartum International for specialized care of perinatal mood disorders (postpartum depression). Douglas-Barnes is also certified to complete pre-surgical mental health clearance for bariatric surgery, as well as counseling before and after bariatric surgery for individuals and couples.

Read more about Ashlyn and the Counseling, Growth and Development Program in our article featured in THE HERITAGE.

Niki Wilkerson, Summit Church Community Engagement Coordinator

Niki Wilkerson, Community Engagement Coordinator with Summit Church, talks about why she refers clients to JFS Orlando. Niki’s team at Summit strives to care for those in need and build relationships with organizations worldwide that share a vision for ending injustices brought about by poverty. JFS Orlando is proud to be one of those partners.


New Computer Lab helps neighbors in need

IMG_1888Angelique, a Family Stabilization Program client, is an ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constricted Employed person). Since losing her job last year, she has been working day labor jobs as a temporary worker. In some ways this has been great, she has been able to spend time with her children and have flexibility in her schedule, on the other hand she still has many bills to pay. The day labor company pays using a local shopping store’s money card system. Her paycheck goes into an account which she draws funds from similar to a bank’s debit card system. When she recently went to use the card, she noticed her balance was lower than what she recalled. Further investigation led to the discovery that someone had used her card number for fraudulent charges. After contacting the card company and the police, she was directed to file a claim on line. Angelique does not have access to a computer at home, but knew she could come to JFS Orlando’s new computer lab for assistance because she had previously utilized the computer lab during her search for employment. Angelique immediately contacted her FSP case manager who was there to assist Angelique in filing the claim with the help of JFS Orlando’s new technology.

Family Stabilization Program’s Lasting Impact

As found in the January, 2017 edition of The Park Press.























Click here to see the online version.

Family Stabilization Program’s Lasting Impact

The premise of the Family Stabilization Program is based on the adage “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day—teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”

The Family Stabilization Program (FSP) is an intensive six-month case management program that uses a holistic approach to help low-income individuals and families achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency. This goal is accomplished byproviding participants with supportive services to mitigate immediate crises; and teaching them critical skills and tools to build a stable future.

Throughout their participation in the program, FSP clients receive a unique combination of services tailored to meet their individual needs, all of which are provided at no cost to participants: case management, financial education, individual financial counseling, financial assistance for basic needs (such as rent or utilities), employability skills training, mental health counseling, and food assistance.

The target population for the Family Stabilization Program is low-income individuals and families in Orange and Seminole Counties who are financially insecure and/or at risk of homelessness. In the most recently completed program year, concluded on September 30, 2015, FSP served 33 households, composed of 109 individuals, 58 of whom were children. Approximately 48% of these households were headed by single mothers. These 33 households experienced the following results:

  • 85% successfully completed the six-month program and improved their overall stability and self-sufficiency
  • 100% of clients who participated in the financial components of the program improved money management skills
  • 94% of clients maintained or improved employment status
  • 94% of clients maintained or improved housing

The Family Stabilization Program (FSP) clients receive services such as food assistance, financial counseling and employability skills training.

  • 9 clients participated in mental health counseling to improve functioning
  • 19 clients received food assistance to alleviate hunger
  • 23 clients received financial assistance to support basic needs

Since its inception in 2005, the Family Stabilization Program has served more than 550 at risk families, positively impacting more than 1,600 individuals in Central Florida. To date, outcomes have shown significant improvements in participants’ overall income, financial management skills, employability skills, housing stability, food security, emotional well-being and day-to-day functioning.

FSP is an outreach of the Jewish Family Services of Orlando. JFS Orlando provides social services and emergency assistance to struggling individuals and families throughout Central Florida. People

interested in learning more about the program can call 407-644-7593 or go to the JFS Orlando website –

JFS Orlando Open House

Mary Lee and David

Check out Christine DeSouza’s wonderful article highlighting JFS Orlando’s NEW LOOK in the Heritage!

JFS accepts new insurance!

TreeBehavioral health insurance is vitally important to those with occasional mental health or emotional needs and for those with more chronic mental health concerns. People most often need assistance with adjusting to life transitions such as job stressors, family concerns, grieving a loss, or managing changing relationships. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are often triggered due to these transitions. Having behavioral health insurance can assist with getting the help that is needed to learn coping skills and relieve symptoms associated with negative feelings. Unfortunately, some have behavioral health insurance that is underutilized because they do not know or understand that is included in their insurance plan.

Another important plan that is underutilized is Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAP can effectively reduce the adverse effects of depression, workplace stress and other mental health issues, but research has shown that most EAP-based mental health services are underutilized by employees.

Many people are not aware that their employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that often provides 3 to 8 counseling sessions at no charge to them. We often encourage potential clients to inquire with their employer or insurance company to verify if EAP is offered to them.

JFS Orlando’s Counseling, Growth and Development Program is excited to share the new insurance panels we are able to accept. The list below states the various companies JFS Orlando accepts:

  • Cigna
  • Aetna
  • Humana
  • Tricare
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
    • Magellan
    • Cenpatico
      • Sunshine Health
    • Wellcare
      • Staywell
    • Beacon Health (Psychcare and Prestige)

In an effort to provide mental health services to the entire community, JFS Orlando also has a sliding scale fee for the uninsured or underinsured in need of counseling services. Please contact our Clinical Therapist Supervisor, Teresa Brown, LCSW  for additional information regarding our counseling services and insurance questions at 407-644-7593 x247.

NOW & LATER: Supporting JFS – sweet as candy!

Do you remember the candy called “NOW and LATER”? It was a combination of Laffy Taffy and Starburst and their slogan was “Eat some NOW and save some for LATER.” This is a great concept for candy, but you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando?

We all think about the future of the Jewish community. When speaking with JFS supporters and community members I reflect often on what JFS needs today – and what it will need three, five, and ten years from now. I always try to look at the big picture. While the Annual Campaign is what supports us today and will provide JFS with our operating funds in 2017, bequests and legacy gifts are what will sustain JFS in the future.LIFE-LEGACY-LOGO

I recently spoke with a member of our community regarding our Life & Legacy Program. She wanted to know the best way to leave a gift to sustain JFS into the future. We discussed the simplest method which is a notation in her will designating funds, life insurance, an IRA or some other asset to JFS upon her passing. We also discussed a Charitable Gift Annuity, which would provide her income now, with the remainder of her donation being left to JFS upon her death. To accomplish this, all she has to do is consult with me and her attorney and fill out a declaration of intent form advising us that she has left a legacy gift.  

Please consider speaking with your estate attorney, financial planner or me about the many ways you can leave a legacy to Jewish Family Services. We would love to add your name to those of our other Life & Legacy donors, and know that your legacy gift can be at any amount that is meaningful to you…there is no amount that is too small or too large when it comes to sustaining JFS. Speaking from experience, participating in the Life & Legacy Program is a positive and uplifting thing to do, for you, your family and JFS. It’s as sweet as candy to support JFS, NOW and LATER.

-Eric Geboff, MSW, Executive Director

For more information on the JFS Orlando Life & Legacy Program, please contact Eric Geboff, Executive Director, 2100 Lee Rd. Winter Park, FL 32789 or or 407-644-7593 x 238.