Community is much more than the neighborhood where you live. It transcends physical borders, cultures, and race. It’s about being there for each other. It’s about caring. Whether it’s celebrating milestones and achievements together, assisting in times of crisis, or just being a shoulder to cry on during life’s difficult times, Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando (JFS Orlando) actively invests in the well-being of our community through our Family of Services.
JFS Orlando has partnered with Central Florida Hillel to better meet the mental health needs of UCF students. Our therapist Shaina White Williams, MSW meets with students one-on-one in-person or virtually and provides group therapy during monthly Wellness Workshops and other activities to promote student well-being. “The partnership between JFS and Hillel is invaluable for our students. Mental health and wellness are cornerstones of what we do at Hillel and JFS is a key to accomplishing this,” said Hunter Gold, Hillel Executive Director. “As my first year at Hillel comes to a close, this is one of my proudest partnerships.”
Our therapists provided next-day crisis counseling to staff members from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando (JFGO) and the Roth Family Jewish Community Center (Roth JCC) who had experienced an active shooter situation while at a recent conference in South Florida. “Coming home from this traumatic event, it was nice to know we had JFS ready, willing, and able to step in with skilled counselors to help our staff deal with this unfortunate experience,” noted Keith Dvorchik, JFGO Executive Director and Roth Family JCC CEO. “JFS embodies the power of our community—always there to help in any way.”
We’ve joined in community festivities and celebrations around town. Our JFS Pearlman Pantry Van attended Congregation Ohev Shalom’s Community Purim Carnival and Congregation Reform Judaism’s Family Community Event. Event attendees of all ages helped fill the van with generous donations, including diapers, baby formula, and feminine hygiene products.
JFS Orlando also participated in the IAC’s Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) Event where attendees learned more about our services and joined us in celebrating Orlando’s love for Israel.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has caused millions of Ukrainians to be displaced and our community responded. JFS Orlando partnered with the Men’s Club and Sisterhood of Congregation Ohev Shalom in a community-wide event to support thousands of Ukrainian refugees receiving shelter, food, and other essentials at the JCC in Krakow Poland. And for those refugees who made it to Orlando, JFS jumped into action by finding housing, arranging for counselling in Ukrainian, and providing food.
Partnerships and collaboration are an important part of community. The First Unitarian Church of Orlando featured JFS Orlando as the beneficiary of their Share the Plate program. Throughout the month of May, church members learned more about our Family of Services and were encouraged to donate in support and recognition of our longstanding work in the community, and according to Rev. Margalie Belizaire “facilitate cooperation and understanding across our communities.”
JFS Orlando is also partnering with the Jewish affinity group Disney Shalom, a nationwide Disney Business Employee Resource Group, and Disney’s Golden Ears Club, the local Disney retiree club. Through this growing relationship with Disney, we continue to raise awareness and work together for the benefit of those in our community that need help.
Since 1978, our community turns to Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando in times of need. Whether it be partnering with us to achieve our mission or receiving help from the Pearlman Food Pantry, Counseling, Family Stabilization Program, RIDE, or our Rabbi, JFS Orlando is here in the community for you.