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OMYF Community Spotlight: Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando

By Josh Cohen
July 7, 2011

ORLANDO -- Sometimes all it takes is a little assistance to boost a family’s inspiration to succeed and overcome privation.

Especially during difficult economic times, it’s imperative for there to be services that people can turn to when they may be on the verge of poverty and homelessness.

Thanks to Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando and its Family Stabilization Program (FSP), fewer families dealing with financial hardships in Central Florida are on that grievous edge.

Designed to improve fiscal skills, mental health functioning, employability skills and housing situations, the FSP currently assists more than 60 families and about 300 individuals.

“The intent of this program is to bring as many resources together to raise families up,” said Karen Broussard, director of program development. “We want to move them to self-sufficiency.”

And with help from the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, this organization is more armored with support than ever before. Earlier this year, the Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando received a $50,000 grant from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF) to help shore up this program.

“Those dollars we get from the Magic not only supports the operations of the program but also allows us to help mitigate immediate needs,” Broussard said. “We started the parade, but we can’t do this without help.”

Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando is one of 19 Central Florida organizations that were presented grants by the OMYF-MFF as a part of the Magic’s community outreach initiative. Over the last 21 years, the OMYF has distributed more than $16 million to local non-profit community organizations. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament with matching funds at $0.50 on the dollar provided by the McCormick Foundation.

“During these tough economic times the Family Stabilization Program is especially important to helping families get back on their feet,” said Orlando Magic President Alex Martins. “The Magic is proud to assist Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando with these programs and recognizes them for the work they do in our community.”

When determining who is eligible to join the program and receive all of the exceptional aids that are available, FSP reviews some important criteria before deciding. Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando seeks people who are currently working, but are unable to comfortably meet their monthly obligations.

After acceptance, participants earn all sorts of benefits, including professional counseling and frequent education classes. Experts from various backgrounds teach members all kinds of curriculum to enhance their knowledge and employment opportunities.

The tutoring also helps people learn how to manage money better – which sometimes is key to propel people away from destitution.

There is also a very comprehensive child services program called Kids Connect, which addresses the needs of children who are experiencing disruption from divorce, parental abandonment, incarceration or single parenting.

JFS partners with an assortment of other organizations, including the Christian Services Center, Second Harvest Food Bank and Heart of Florida United Way.

To learn more or make a difference with a donation, visit