The JFS Orlando Board of Directors has continued to be a pillar of support to the JFS staff during these unprecedented times. (Left to Right: Stuart Kramer, Rosalie Levy, Dick Appelbaum, Barbara Grossman, Marty Sherman, Lauren Bloom, Lynn Minkow, David Zissman; Not in picture: Sara Stern, Shari Wladis, Sarah Chasez, Maura Weiner)

JFS Orlando is there for individuals and families when they run into a crisis and need a helping hand to get back to stability. But who is there when JFS runs into an unprecedented emergency, like COVID-19? Answer: the JFS Orlando Board of Directors, including President Marty Sherman, Immediate Past President Dick Appelbaum, First Vice President Sara Stern, Second Vice President David Zissman, Treasurer Stuart Kramer, Secretary Shari Wladis, Lauren Bloom, Sarah Chasez, Barbara Grossman, Rosalie Levy, Lynn Minkow, and Maura Weiner. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the JFS Board has continued to support and advise the JFS staff. Although it wasn’t in quite the usual manner.

“We took the CDC guidelines very seriously,” said JFS Board President, Marty Sherman. “We decided not to meet in person and conducted our monthly board meeting via ZOOM conference calls.” Like so many groups and teams around the world, JFS Board meetings went virtual. In addition, Executive Director, Phil Flynn, kept board members up-to-date with daily notices of the agency’s activities, such as food distribution and counseling calls. “We have confidence in the job that Phil is doing,” said JFS Board Member, Lynn Minkow. “His communication with the board let us know that all was going as best as possible.”

A nonprofit board is made up of knowledgeable, caring, and generous individuals who want nothing but the best for the organization and its constituents in their care. Supporting their organization is how they give back and help make a difference in the world. That’s what it’s all about for Marty, who has been on the JFS Board for the past 18 years. “Our mission at JFS is my mission in life…Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept to ‘repair the world’ is the guiding force at JFS as it is in my life,” he said. “I feel it is important to always give back to your community and JFS is the best way to accomplish this in Orlando. We follow the guiding principles of our faith, yet we support the entire community. The majority of which, are not Jewish.”

For Lynn, being a JFS Board member for the last several years has family meaning. “I am proud to carry on the family interest in supporting the mission of JFS, and specifically the Pearlman Pantry. It is a way I can honor and continue my parents’ commitment to easing hunger in the community. I also appreciate the whole person approach that the agency offers as way to improve people’s lives on so many needed levels.” Whatever their reason for joining, all JFS Board members believe in the mission of the agency to help all those who need it, especially during a pandemic.

COVID-19 was certainly unexpected for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations alike. As soon as crisis hit, JFS knew it needed to be ready for the large influx of people in Greater Orlando looking for help. Although the JFS Staff was busy keeping their programs running, it couldn’t have done it without the behind-the-scenes support from the JFS Board. “Our principle role is to support and advise,” said Marty. “The JFS team are consummate professionals and they did not need their board getting in the way of doing their jobs. With our support (and the occasional delivery of gloves and sanitizing wipes), the team was able to execute their mission flawlessly.”

Thank you, Marty, Dick, Sara, David, Stuart, Shari, Lauren, Sarah, Barbara, Rosalie, Lynn, and Maura, for volunteering your time, energy, and expertise to JFS all year-round, especially during the whirlwind of these last few months. We are truly grateful for all you do for the JFS team and the clients we serve every day.

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Roles include helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org. Interested in joining the JFS Board of Directors? Please fill out our Board of Directors Application and email to Philip.Flynn@JFSorlando.org.