Volunteer Spotlight: Judith Hara

Judith prepares to hand out a shopping cart full of donated groceries to a client of JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

“It’s only a drop of what they need, but it helps.” Longtime volunteer Judith Hara can’t remember exactly how long she’s volunteered in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry—“Over five years,” she estimates—but she knows she loves doing it. “People have to eat and we’re helping in the little way we can. It’s the right thing to do. It’s just such a good feeling to be able to help.”

Born in New York, Judith moved to Orlando as a young girl in the second grade. She later became a registered nurse and mental health counselor, then a wife and mother. “Until last year, we [my husband and I] were caregivers for our parents. And that was a full-time job. Now I’m entering a new phase of life. My husband and I travel to New York a lot to see our grandkids. I’m very involved as a grandma, as a bubbe. Our two granddaughters live up there. They’re 5 and 8. It’s a great age! And I volunteer. I’m going to be working at the Holocaust Center—I’m a second generation of survivors—and I volunteer here [at JFS Orlando].”

Judith and her husband have supported JFS Orlando for several years. “The whole family is pretty involved with JFS. It’s a marvelous organization that helps a lot of people.” By volunteering, Judith gets to see the direct impact on the community right before her eyes. “You give $1 and you give $6 worth of buying,” she explains. “The food goes directly to the people that need it. That’s really cool! When they have food drives and people donate—you actually see it on the shelf and then in the basket going to somebody. It’s not like there’s middle men. It goes straight to them!”

Due to her travelling, Judith has a flexible volunteer schedule with the Pantry. She picks and chooses when she comes in depending on her schedule and when she’s needed. “It depends on their need. Whenever they need me and I’m available. That’s why Matthew [my volunteer partner for today] never knows when he’s going to see me again!”

Judith hands fellow volunteer, Matthew, a set of food.

Giving back to the community is one of her favorite things about volunteering, but Judith admits that meeting the other volunteers is also a perk. “One of the coolest things is that you meet wonderful people. People that volunteer are a special kind of people. Actually, years ago I met one and we’re the best of friends now! You meet nice people. They’re really terrific.”

We think you’re terrific, Judith! Thank you so much for your many years of volunteering and helping the Pantry continue to aid the Greater Orlando community. Your kindness and positive attitude are contagious and greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Join a good cause and meet wonderful, fellow volunteers! Several roles are currently available on our volunteer team. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

5 Tips for Creating Healthy Habits

Studies show that about 50% of people’s daily activities are habit-driven. (Source: Helping You Engineer Your Future) That’s half our day! It’s so easy to get stuck in our day-to-day habits. We try a routine, find what works, and stick to it—be it a specific route to work, a time to get up, or a go-to snack from the fridge. Whether you’re looking to break a bad habit or just want to shake up your daily routine for the better, below are five tips for creating healthy habits.

1. Begin with small goals

Aim to start with short exercises such as parking further from the store entrance, taking the stairs, or planning brief, short walks. Keeping the goal small at first increases the likelihood that you will repeat the action.

2. Schedule the time

Make sure to plan a time each day for your new healthy habits. If your health goals include walking every day, ensure that it is planned and made into a priority. Ideally, this should occur at the same time every day to help build a habit out of it.

3. Connect the action to an existing habit

You can plan your walks following dinner or immediately before brushing your teeth. Make the connection between the current daily activity and the new activity you want to add to the day.

4. Find a friend to come along with you

Keeping an activity going and turning it into a habit can become a lot easier if you have a friend come along with you. Going for a walk can seem like less of a chore and become more enjoyable if you have a friend come with you to share the experience with. It can turn a dreaded activity into a social event that you like doing.

5. Find the consequence of not repeating the activity

If you suffer a direct and obvious consequence from not engaging in a healthy activity, it can help force you into repeating the healthy activity. Far off penalties don’t always motivate us in the same way as more immediate penalties. These consequences can be the disappointment of a friend or being charged for an exercise class you missed. Anything you place a value on that you may lose can become a cost of not doing the activity.

Interested in more wellness counseling? Call 407-644-7671 to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


Author: Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn 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.

The Kehillah Exhibit is Now Online!

Explore Orlando Jewish history, and that of JFS Orlando, by visiting the new online Kehillah exhibit! Thank you to our friends on the Kehillah task force for your amazing efforts in putting together this resource that not only records but commemorates the impact the Jewish community has had on Central Florida. Mazel Tov!

JFS Orlando Staff Receives Suicide Prevention Training

The JFS Orlando Counseling, Growth and Development Team

On average, one person dies by suicide every three hours in the state of Florida. In fact, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the state. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2017) That is why this summer JFS Orlando’s mental health counselors and front-line staff participated in the Florida Implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (FINS) Project.

FINS is a collaborative partnership between the University of Central Florida, Advent Health, the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention, and the University of South Florida to build upon Florida’s comprehensive suicide prevention plan. The FINS Project was designed to enhance services to reach at-risk populations and ensure that adults, ages 25 and up, receive timely and appropriate services. 

Staff from the FINS Project worked with JFS to develop a strategy for suicide prevention and intervention, which will be implemented immediately agency-wide. The project, which consisted of four trainings, taught non-clinical staff gatekeeper skills to detect if someone might be suicidal; and clinical therapists how to conduct suicide risk assessments, safety plans, care coordination services, and, for select therapists, even clinical training to treat suicidal clients.

Many times patients in emergency rooms do not have access to therapists who are properly trained in suicide prevention. The FINS Project is aiming to build a system-wide approach where agencies partner together to ensure that care transitions are taking place between agencies. FINS Care Coordinators at Advent Health will be connecting with the clinical therapist team at JFS Orlando to help ensure continuity of care for clients/patients.

JFS is proud to have participated in the FINS Project and is grateful for this vital training that was provided at no cost to the agency thanks to the project’s collaborators and supporters. For more information regarding the JFS Orlando Counseling program, please contact Clinical Director, Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW at Ashlyn.Douglass-Barnes@JFSorlando.org or 407-644-7593 ext. 301.

How to Relate to Your Child During Back to School Time

When the school year begins, children can experience excitement for their new grade, fears of peers and fitting in, or the dread of homework and tests. This is not too dissimilar to an adult starting a new job or moving to a new city. This is an opportunity for parents to find ways to relate to their children’s emotions and challenges by correlating it to their own similar experiences as an adult.

We all share the human experience, no matter the age. When we can link our own feelings and challenges of today to our children’s, we find a wonderful opportunity to parent intuitively in a way your children will greatly appreciate; through understanding and vulnerability.

It’s not about the homework.

Children work hard all day, sit still, and try not to talk in class. When they get home, the struggle becomes when to do the homework and how to muster the desire. Some parent’s strategy is to have it tackled right away in order to be able to relax the remainder of their day. Some have children wait until after dinner. There is no right or wrong answer, but the solution is stronger when it involves the individual child’s personality and when it gives them a sense of control by selecting the solution.

If adults attend an all-day conference, where do they go at 5pm when it is done? You will likely find them in a place where they can relax and take a break. If they have work to do before the next conference day, they will have to find the self-discipline and self-negotiating skills to do it. They may do it before dinner, during dinner or later before bed. They may change this by day depending on how they feel.

This ability to negotiate with self to do what is needed, and sometimes not fun, is a very important life skill.

Focusing on homework as an opportunity for your child to develop this skill and support them with empathy creates a different paradigm from ‘Get your homework done!’. Putting yourself in a situation that is comparable, like the all-day conference, will give you a mindset of support that is much different than frustrations and power struggles. This also may mean that sometimes your child won’t do their homework and will have to deal with the consequences. After all, adults don’t do everything perfectly either and we weigh the cost of the consequence with the short-term desire. Learning which consequences are too painful is a part of learning this life skill. If we take away this opportunity out of fear of their failure, we take the lesson away also.

There are many news articles stating that parent’s fears are getting in the way of children developing life skills and we need to refocus towards their internal world versus their external performance. When a child learns the self-discipline and self-negotiation needed for homework, it can apply to chores and future tasks. It is a lifelong muscle to value and exercise and, if applied, will yield rewards.

Remember, children are people too. They have reactions to events in life just as adults and they are much more like you than you may realize. Be with your child in support as you would wish if it were you.

Interested in more parenting or family wellness advice? Call 407-644-7671 or email Sonja.Pollard@JFSorlando.org to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


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Author: Brenda Chappell, LMHC

Brenda Chappell, LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Brenda holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

Brenda Chappell specializes working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as child defiance, depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse, and grief. Brenda utilizes Adlerian Child Guidance Principals to enable parents to be more effective and to build stronger relationships with their children. Brenda’s strengths lie in her ability to connect parents and children or adolescents through building a shared understanding and partnership.

Volunteer Spotlight: Pamela Wittenstein

Pamela volunteers in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Pamela is one of JFS Orlando’s newest volunteers. Originally from Indianapolis, she moved to Florida in 2015 and later to Orlando in 2017 to be closer to her husband’s family. Before retiring, she was a paralegal for 10 years and an insurance adjuster for 30 years. Nowadays she enjoys playing Mahjong, exercising, and volunteering with a few organizations around town—including JFS Orlando!

Looking for a place to volunteer, Pamela reached out to her friends for ideas. “I heard it from Dolores Indek, actually!” she recalls. “I was sitting next to Dolores at a Hadassah meeting and I was telling her that I wanted to find some place to volunteer and she recommended JFS.” Pamela started volunteering at the beginning of 2019, at first helping the Reliable Independent Drivers for the Elderly (RIDE) program with data entry and later in the spring helping in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. She is ready and willing to help however she can, filling in for any empty shifts that might arise. “I try to get here at least once a week. Just depending on what day they need somebody. This week [for example] I’m working three shifts.”

So far, Pamela has enjoyed giving back to the community and people in need through JFS. One of her favorite things about helping out this summer was seeing the little kids. “You hear them when they walk away,” she explains. “They go, ‘They’re so nice!’ Because sometimes when you have a loose cookie or something, or it’s a hot day and there’s a popsicle, you can give it to a little kid and it just makes their day. It’s just nice!” Having the opportunity to directly help people in need is what makes volunteering at JFS so rewarding for Pamela.

Thank you for your kindness, flexibility, and motivation in all of your volunteering work with JFS Orlando, Pamela! We so appreciate you stepping in for those empty shifts and even helping with that behind-the-scenes office work. Directly or indirectly, your hard work is truly helping the people who come to JFS in need. Thank you!

When you volunteer at JFS Orlando, you’re helping to better your community. Want to be a part of our volunteer team? Several types of opportunities are available. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.

Four Summer Fun Ideas for Your Family

One more month before kids go back to school. It comes before you know it. Sometimes in our busy schedules we forget about the importance of summer for children (and ourselves). What were some of your favorite childhood summers and why? For adults, unless you are a teacher, summers are business as usual. We easily get caught up in our to-do lists and forgo time for summer fun. But we shouldn’t let our summers pass us by.

Use the summer as an opportunity to nourish your relationship with your children. Not only is it fun, but you’ll benefit by investing quality time with them that has nothing to do with chores and grades. It also is a way to tap into your own inner child who might not get enough recess!

Below are ideas about how to create summer fun for your family:

1. Movie and popcorn night: take turns picking the movie and watch it together once a week; and be sure to add a nutritious snack or popcorn with butter; whichever you like. Simulate the theater as much as possible by turning off phones and turning down the lights.

2. Beach day: we have an amazing playground in our backyard – the ocean! Take the kids to the beach and have them help create a picnic basket for when you arrive. Planning and creating a nice day for the family is not only rewarding, it also models to your children how to do self-care.

3. Home hands-on projects: it is very therapeutic for an activity to be hands-on and physically creative because we need this to balance out all the electronic time spent on phones, videos and games – parents included. This could be scrapbooking, gardening, or painting. Ask your children what they would like to do – they don’t often get the power of choice, so give them an affordable amount to work with. This enhances their feelings of empowerment and allows them to be the one to decide.

4. Summer brainstorm: when school is near, get together to strategize on the year ahead. This is a good time to come up with a verbal contract of agreement on how the next school year will be; ideas such as setting their own homework and/or chore schedule. Collaborating helps build trust and teamwork and encourages parents to be proactive instead of reactive. Don’t forget to ask your child what you can change to help with the process.

It may feel overwhelming if your days are already busy, but this makes it even more important. To slow down and have quality time away from stress for everyone in the family is modeling good mental health. Your children will get the message that having fun together as a family is important, and that learning the self-discipline to make the time for self-care is healthy.

Interested in more parenting or family wellness advice? Call 407-644-7671 or email Sonja.Pollard@JFSorlando.org to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


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Author: Brenda Chappell, LMHC

Brenda Chappell, LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Brenda has worked with children at home and at schools, domestic violence shelter, and with adults in office outpatient therapy. Brenda holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

Brenda Chappell specializes working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as child defiance, depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse, and grief. Brenda utilizes Adlerian Child Guidance Principals to enable parents to be more effective, Play Therapy to children to explore their feelings and problems, and specific treatment approaches appropriate to the child or adolescent’s reported issue. Brenda has special training in Domestic Violence Advocacy.

Brenda’s therapeutic orientation is client-centered, family systems, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral. Brenda utilizes Adlerian Child Guidance Principals to enable parents to be more effective and to build stronger relationships with their children. Brenda’s strengths lie in her ability to connect parents and children or adolescents through building a shared understanding and partnership.

Volunteer Spotlight: Leslie Plotkin and Debbie Shelton

Leslie (left) and Debbie (right)—working in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry

Meet lifelong friends, Leslie and Debbie—JFS Orlando’s newest volunteer power duo. Both locals to the area, Leslie and Debbie became friends way back when in 11th grade at Winter Park High School. “Our 50th high school reunion is next March 2020!” Although they’ve remained in the same area, both agreed it’s been hard to find time to see each other. “Life gets in the way…”

Debbie, a mother and grandmother, recently retired from working for 30 years at a law firm. Now she enjoys a host of pastimes, including watercolors, calligraphy, growing her own vegetables, and spending time with Leslie.  Leslie, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, has been a supporter of the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry and fighting hunger in Central Florida for years. “I’ve always supported JFS”, says Leslie. “I have wanted to volunteer for a long time and I finally, at the beginning of the year said, ‘I’m going to make this a priority.’ And I came in and I loved it! And now I’ve got Debbie to come do it too!”

“I think we’re a good team,” says Debbie. One day, Leslie happened to mention to her that she had started volunteering at JFS. “I asked her and she said, ‘Yeah, come with me,’” Debbie recalls. “She’s teaching me and it’s such a quick study. I only started a couple weeks ago and we’ve gone 0 to 60!”

Leslie shared that she likes working in the Pantry because of the food it gives out and how welcoming it is. “It amazes me the quality of the food that we get. This is good stuff! And it’s open to everybody. It’s not faith based only. It is anyone in need. Anyone and everyone.” There is, however, one thing that both Leslie and Debbie like more about the Pantry: the people they are helping. “The people are so appreciative,” says Leslie. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been blessed and it’s a very fulfilling experience. I’ve really enjoyed it.” “People at the door are grateful. Appreciative,” says Debbie. She explains how she always tries to make them feel comfortable, not ashamed or judged in any way. “I try to just be bright and happy!”

Thank you, Leslie and Debbie, for those bright, happy smiles and all of the hard work you both put in every week at the Pantry. We’re so appreciative of you and we know our clients are too!

Want to be a part of the JFS volunteer team? Join us in fighting hunger and giving back to your community by becoming a JFS volunteer! Several types of opportunities are available, including in the Pantry and the Babysitting Team. To sign up, contact Cherryl Faye, Volunteer Coordinator, at 407-644-7593 ext. 239 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.

Four Tips for Getting through June: A Month of Transition

 

June 1st was “National Say Something Nice” Day: a good way to start an article for our June Newsletter.

Later in the month, I am reminded by the calendar to celebrate “Old Maids”, “Call Your Doctor” and “Insurance Awareness” Days, all of which make me feel old. Likewise, “Strawberry Rhubarb Pie”, “Cream Soda” and “Black Cow” Days make me think of my late father, who loved all of those old-fashioned foods. Yet, I am happy to recognize “Make Life Beautiful” and “Daylight Appreciation” Days, along with “Best Friend” and “SummersGiving” Days.  And I could go on, with National “Waffle Iron”, “Pen Pal”, “Drive-In Movie”, and “Chocolate Ice Cream” Days…all of which bring me warm feelings, reminders of my youth.

The odd variety of celebration days this month triggers for me a set of mixed feelings. I remember summers as a little kid in the mid-west. My mom would make strawberry rhubarb pie and my dad would smile from ear to ear with delight. On the way home from the beach, my family would stop for a black cow drink at the drive-in. On Saturday evenings, we would look forward to popcorn and chocolate ice cream at the drive-in movie theater while watching a double feature. And then, on Sunday mornings, our family tradition was to enjoy crisp waffles with lots of syrup. How did the June National Day designators know our family so well?

June feels like a month of nostalgia, and, therefore, a month of transition. As I muse about days long-gone, I am made aware that the days are getting longer—hence, “Day Light Appreciation Day”. Noting the transition to health, June includes “Cancer Survivor Day”, and in a funny challenge to transition, June 3rd is designated as “National Repeat Day”—acknowledging that sometimes transitions can be rough and we sometimes must repeat a step or a phase as we move from one place to the next.

With the goal of moving forward and making a successful transition, let me offer a few tips, as I “Say Something Nice” about transition. Given the thoughts above about aging, I will use the transition of “getting older”, or more concretely, retirement, as the basis of my tips. However, most of the tips are applicable to many types of transitions, whether they be related to a job, a relationship or moving.

1. Explore what this TRANSITION means to you.

This exploration will likely include what society “says” about the transition. For instance, as you think about retirement, what does it mean to you to not work? Do you feel like you are not contributing, that you have no purpose? Do you feel that there is a stigma related to your new role in life? How you, and society, feel about this new role will have a huge bearing on how well you transition to this new place.

2. Discover the OPPORTUNITIES.

This is particularly important if you find yourself with some pretty strong, negative feelings or facing a powerful stigma. With every transition, there are opportunities; it may take a while to uncover them, however. You may have the opportunity to learn, meet new people, or restructure your life to achieve some forgotten goals. With your eye on the opportunities, the negative feelings can melt into the background.

3. Articulate your LOSSES.

The flip side of opportunity is the perception of loss. Without acknowledging your losses, you will too easily fall prey to paralysis or self-sabotage. Will you miss old friends, lose status, or potentially struggle with the lack of structure? With every transition, even those that we excitedly embrace, we lose something.  While those loses might be insignificant, it is always a positive step to acknowledge what they are.

4. Assess your RESOURCES.

Once you start on the path and know where you want to go, see the light ahead in terms of opportunities, and are ready to let go of your losses, you still need tools to move forward. What resources do you need and which do you already own. For instance, do you have a support system of people that you can check-in with along the way? Do you possess stress management skills to help you through those rough spots that are filled with uncertainty? What other skills might you need: assessment, flexibility? What relevant experience do you have?

During this month of “SummersGiving”, we can give ourselves the gift of support. Whether this is the month that you decide to retire, move into a senior living community, leave a bad marriage, or make a commitment to make some new friends, you will likely need some help in making this transition. Counseling services at JFS Orlando can be just the assistance you need to move through to the other side. You will gain skills as well as enjoy the support.

It’s easy to “Say Something Nice” about JFS’s Counseling Services. You, too, will have something nice to say as you take advantage of the benefits offered to you. We will be your partner as you transition—not just this month, but each and every month of the year.

Call 407-644-7671 or email Sonja.Pollard@JFSorlando.org to schedule an appointment today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


Author: Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D.

Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist. Eloise received her Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology from Purdue University. While her professional identity has always been as a psychologist, she has spent many years in higher education as a counselor, administrator and faculty. After she retired as Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students from a major university, she returned to her roots as a practicing psychologist.

Her passion is helping people through challenging transitions, whether it includes a crisis like a divorce, death, move or career shift, or a personal evolution centered around sexuality, spirituality or disability. She works with seniors, helping them through their difficult times, young adults creating their sense of self, as well as all those in between struggling with the many life challenges that we all face. Her specialties include women’s issues, depression and anxiety, substance abuse and addictions, sexuality, grief and relationship concerns.

Eloise believes that the therapy relationship is a powerful healing tool, empowering people to make the desired changes in their lives. Her eclectic therapy style integrates cognitive-behavior, Neuro-linguistic programming, and solution-oriented interventions with a relational-developmental, client-centered perspective. More importantly, she connects with her clients through intensive and caring listening, truly open-hearted support and a delightful sense of humor.

Volunteer Spotlight: Eileen Meyer Schwartz (In Memoriam)

Eileen (left) and fellow volunteer, Dolores (right), working in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry

Dedicated volunteer and friend of JFS Orlando, Eileen Meyer Schwartz passed away on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Eileen dedicated her life to helping others through her work in the legal field. She was a legal assistant for over 50 years, first in New York and later in Orlando after she moved in the 80’s. In August 2017, she married Jerome M. Schwartz.

Eileen loved to support her community by volunteering. In January 2017, she became a Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry volunteer. “Eileen was always smiling,” said Cherryl Faye, JFS Volunteer Coordinator. “She brought such a ray of sunshine to the Pantry; to her fellow volunteers and the clients she helped serve. She just spread happiness to everyone she touched.”

JFS is greatly saddened at the loss of such a beautiful and caring friend. Please join us in sending heartfelt condolences and prayers for Eileen and her family and friends.