Category Archive: Whats Happening

Volunteer Spotlight: Tom Lucas

From bag boy to owner, Tom Lucas has worked in grocery stores for over 58 years. He owned one of the top independent supermarkets in the country back home in Pittsburgh. That’s why it only felt natural when he started volunteering for the food pantry at his church. When Tom decided to retire to Orlando, he wanted to continue fighting hunger in the community. He found out about JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry and right away knew it was right up his alley. “I started volunteering at JFS about two years ago. I do it because you should always give back to the community. I’ve done so well in my life, now I want to help others.”

One moment that has really stood out to Tom from his time at JFS was when an older lady was having trouble getting her food to her car. Tom went out to help her and he remembers how she was just so grateful. “She prayed for me, and that was just the best feeling.” He felt good knowing that this small act of kindness had really made an impact on someone.

Working in the pantry, Tom has seen all kinds of families and individuals come in for food. From families living paycheck to paycheck who need the food pantry as a meal solution to hold them over, to homeless individuals currently living on the streets who don’t even have a stove and need a special set of food that they can eat without heating up. “You should volunteer with JFS to simply help people who need help. If there’s anything we can do to help we should do it.” Thank you, Tom, for volunteering with JFS and helping feed the needy in our community!

Looking for a way to fight hunger and give back to your community? Become a JFS volunteer! Several types of opportunities are available, including in the pantry and office assistance. To sign up, contact Cherryl Faye, Volunteer Coordinator, at 407-644-7593 ext. 239 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.

A Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends of JFS Orlando,

I am reaching out to you today to announce that Eric Geboff has formally resigned from his role as Executive Director of JFS Orlando.  Eric came to JFS approximately seven years ago.  During this time, he diligently led JFS through many positive changes.  Eric’s incredible work ethic, talent, and his caring heart for those in need will be missed.  Although I speak these words of gratitude on my behalf, I am certain that I can also speak the same on the behalf of the Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, donors, and clients.

My name is Mike McKee.  I have been a JFS Board member for the last decade, half of which I’ve served as the Board President.  Because of my love for JFS and hope for a smooth transition with Eric’s departure, I have agreed to resign from the Board to take on the role of Interim Executive Director, pro bono.

Eric’s legacy is intact. His efforts have helped guide JFS to where we are today.  As a result, I am happy to tell you that we are ready to “spread our wings” like never before.  The future of JFS is shining bright!  I cannot wait to see what 2019 will bring.  One thing is for certain, however.  JFS will continue its mission to provide a handup to families and individuals in crisis.  The Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry, the Counseling, Growth and Development Program, the Family Stabilization Program (FSP), the Emergency Services program, Reliable Independent Drivers for the Elderly (RIDE), Chaplaincy, and all of our other programs will continue to be there to enhance the lives of thousands of Central Floridians in need.

I encourage you to get involved if you are not already.  We need you.  We need Board members, Committee members, volunteers, and donors.  Together we must share our time and treasure.  Both are essential elements for the important work that needs to be done.  There is always a place for you in the JFS family.

Please join me in thanking Eric for his time and dedication to JFS as we certainly wish him the best.  Go JFS!

Sincerely,

Mike McKee
Interim Executive Director
Mike.McKee@JFSorlando.org
407-644-7593 ext. 238

Winter Park Holiday Parade 2018

On Saturday, December 8, 2018, JFS Orlando participated for the first time in the 66th Annual Winter Park Holiday Parade, the oldest continuous holiday parade in Central Florida. JFS was one of more than 80 organizations that participated. 34th in line, the JFS Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry van rolled down the parade along with shopping carts filled with food to represent the vital role the pantry plays in feeding the hungry in the Winter Park community. 29 volunteers, staff, and Board members accompanied the van waving and handing out cards describing the mission of JFS and encouraging onlookers to visit and volunteer.

“It’s a great opportunity to get the word out there about JFS and the good work that we do,” said Interim Executive Director, Mike McKee. “Although we’ve been a part of the community for over 40 years, many people still don’t know about JFS. We’re still ‘the best kept secret’ in the neighborhood. We hope participating in the parade will introduce us to some new folks and remind others that we’re still here, whether you need our help or are looking to help.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Pittsburgh

Dear Friends –

The horrific events at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27, 2018 cut deeply at the soul of all peace loving people. We are greatly saddened at the events that took the lives of 11 innocent people and injured many others. We share the grief with those who have lost loved ones or have been injured. Further, we express our deepest appreciation to the first responders who placed their lives on the line for others and our solidarity with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh.

JFS Orlando condemns acts of violence in any form and stands strongly for an open and inclusive society.

The safety and security of visitors and clients to JFS Orlando remains our priority. We have been in contact with our local law enforcement and have confirmed there is no active threat against our facility or users. We have ongoing security measures in place to assure the safety of all who walk through our doors and continue to provide a safe and sound environment for all of our clients and guests.

We invite you to join us as the community comes together in solidarity on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 7:00 PM for “Stop The Hate: Remembering the Victims in Pittsburgh,” an interfaith and multicultural memorial service, coordinated by Central Florida Jewish organizations and the Greater Orlando Board of Rabbis. The service will be held at Congregation of Reform Judaism, 928 Malone Drive, Orlando, FL 32810.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 407-644-7593 ext 238.

May the souls of those lost at Tree of Life Synagogue be bound in the bond of eternal life.

Eric Geboff, MSW
Executive Director

New JFS Building Sign

We just installed a brand new building sign! Displaying our updated purple and green agency colors, we hope it will help JFS standout to let people know we’re here and ready to help our Greater Orlando community. Keep an eye out for it the next time you drive down Lee Road!

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 www.jfsorlando.org/give/ 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 www.jfsorlando.org 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.