Compassion in Action Mural in Progress

Compassion in Action Mural in Progress

Compassion in Action Mural in Progress (ABC Action News) Credit: ABC Action News Air date: ABC Action News 5.11.24 at 6:00 pm 2024 is an exciting year for Gulf Coast JFCS as we celebrate our 50th anniversary as an organization and as a community! Since its incorporation in 1974, Gulf Coast JFCS has remained committed to serving the Tampa Bay area and beyond, playing a crucial role as an integral part of the community and assisting nearly 30,000 individuals annually across all stages of life. Alyssa Marie, of Alyssa Marie Gallery and a well-known artist from St. Pete, has designed the mural, the largest paint-by-number project she’s ever...
Compassion in Action Mural in Progress

Compassion in Action Mural in Progress

Compassion in Action Mural in Progress (10 Tampa Bay)   Credit: 10 Tampa Bay   Air date: 10 Tampa Bay 5.11.24 at 6:00 pm 2024 is an exciting year for Gulf Coast JFCS as we celebrate our 50th anniversary as an organization and as a community! Since its incorporation in 1974, Gulf Coast JFCS has remained committed to serving the Tampa Bay area and beyond, playing a crucial role as an integral part of the community and assisting nearly 30,000 individuals annually across all stages of life. Alyssa Marie, of Alyssa Marie Gallery and a well-known artist from St. Pete, has designed the mural, the largest paint-by-number project she’s ever...
Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco, a City of Pinellas Park Non-Profit and Charity Spotlight

Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco, a City of Pinellas Park Non-Profit and Charity Spotlight

Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco, a City of Pinellas Park Non-Profit and Charity Spotlight Credit: City of Pinellas Park Published: May 11, 2024 The Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco connects children in foster care with their forever families through adoption. In addition to featuring children, they recruit and support families interested in adoption. Since the Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco was created in 2006, they have helped find more than 450 adoptive families for waiting...
Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos fills need for Plant City Farmworkers

Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos fills need for Plant City Farmworkers

Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos fills a big need for Plant City Farmworkers Credit: 10 Tampa Bay//An afterschool program in Plant City serves farmworker families. (https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/local/community-connection/good-afternoon-friends-amigos-plant-city-farmworkers/67-9a4fe47d-4896-485b-8988-43234d0a70ce) Author: Kathryn Bursch Published: 5:27 PM EDT April 17, 2024, Updated: 10:45 AM EDT April 18, 2024 Airdate: April 20, 2024 PLANT CITY, Fla. — When the school day ends at Robinson Elementary, about 40 kids walk, run and hopscotch their way to Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos, an after-school program serving primarily the families of farmworkers. “This service is super-duper important for these families,” said Program Director Mary Torres. “If this program wasn’t here, these children would be home alone.” Aiden Bautista is in second grade and each afternoon — has a ball. “So, when I go to Friends and Amigos, I play outside and play soccer,” the 8-year-old said. Each day this bi-lingual program serves up a wide-variety of activities. There’s yoga with breathing and calming techniques, help with homework, sports activities and a meal. Aiden’s mom loves the free program, because it means her son is in a safe place while she works long hours picking local crops. “I work in the fields, picking strawberries, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, you name it,” said Petronila Vargas, who lives in Dover. “We come home tired and late and here in this program, they help him with his homework.” Good Afternoon Friends and Amigos is run by Gulf Coast Jewish and Family Community Services. It also receives funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. There is also a GAFA program at Reddick Elementary School in Wimauma. Torres has been with the program from...
Local program helps assist hundreds of Holocaust survivors in the Tampa Bay area (ABC Action News)

Local program helps assist hundreds of Holocaust survivors in the Tampa Bay area (ABC Action News)

Posted at 3:24 PM, Apr 11, 2024 and last updated 5:34 PM, Apr 11, 2024 By: Lauren St. Germain (ABC Action News – copied Apr 11, 2024 from https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/an… TAMPA, Fla. — The Holocaust Survivor Program through the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) supports nearly 300 Holocaust survivors in the greater Tampa Bay area. According to the Gulf Coast JFCS, more than 30 percent of these survivors live in poverty, so programs like these are crucial. “The war started when I was three months old. What I know, my parents told me,” said Sofia Davidovich, a Holocaust survivor. She spoke about what she remembers about the 1940s in Eastern Europe. “They [my parents] didn’t like to give us bad memories. They didn’t tell us a lot,” said Davidovich. She continued, “We were refugees in Kazan. After the war, we were starving a lot, but year by year a little bit better.” She said she moved from Russia to Florida in 1996. “I start a new life. I didn’t know the language,” said Davidovich. Marlene Wain is the director of the Holocaust Survivor Program with Gulf Coast JFCS. “The program is designed to help survivors of the Holocaust to live out their days in dignity and respect and peace,” said Wain. The program helps with everything from transportation to emergency assistance for bills. “A lot of these situations, if I didn’t have them, I don’t know how I would survive,” said Davidovich. “Today, the event that you are here at is part of what we do. It’s the socialization aspect of our program, and this is probably...
Overdose Prevention is Local

Overdose Prevention is Local

ABC Action News WFTS Airdate 3.21.2024 by Wendy Ryan Several groups in Pinellas County are working to cut down the number of overdose deaths in our region. Our cameras were there this afternoon to capture the free training sessions focusing on fentanyl. Several local organizations, along with the health department hanged out, handed out overdose prevention kits, and shared how to save a life. “Everyone should have these kits,” says Jennifer Webb, Gulf Coast JFCS board member. “Two out of every three families in the United States are impacted by the overdose crisis in our country. The Quick Response Team at Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services offers these Naloxone leave behind kits for free. Learn more at...
A Smile From the Congo

A Smile From the Congo

Posted at 8:03 AM, Apr 05, 2024 and last updated 6:52 PM, Apr 05, 2024 By: Michael Paluska (ABC Action News – copied Apr 8.2024 from https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/re…) TAMPA, Fla. — The politics of immigration can be a polarizing topic in our country. But, there are powerful and positive stories, often overlooked, about refugees paving a path for themselves and others. We sat down with one man who escaped persecution and war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to become one of the most admired and skilled employees at AquaCal Autopilot. “Everybody teaches me what they do, so I like it here,” Mumbere said. “Being hardworking, I learned that everybody around you wants to smile. Everybody around you needs to hear positive things. You don’t have just to work. But you have to be a light. You have to bring the, you know, like the heat. For somebody who is cold, you have to give them a sweater. The sweater is like the smile.” “He’s a beast,” said Gerson Martinez, Production Engineering Manager for AquaCal Autopilot. “I think the biggest thing is that he always has an incredible attitude. He comes in here every day with a smile on his face. He is ready to work, and he just brings others up. I didn’t know the story to begin with, but I learned later on, which makes it even more amazing.” Mumbere’s story in America began in 2019, but how he got here is a tale of fear, survival, pain and loss. “In Congo, it was tough because you don’t know if you will wake up. You don’t know...
Gulf Coast JFCS is a 2024 Top Workplace

Gulf Coast JFCS is a 2024 Top Workplace

Gulf Coast JFCS named Top Workplace by Tampa By Times and Energage Celebrating our tremendous and dedicated workforce, Gulf Coast JFCS has been recognized as a “2024 Top Workplace” by the Tampa Bay Times. While our work has evolved over the years, our core values remain unchanged.  Caring for all people in need regardless of race or religion is as essential today as ever,  and it has been the mission of Gulf Coast JFCS for 50 years! We’re providing compassionate and essential human services by serving people in need, from babies to seniors. Dedicated to creating a stronger, more resilient community, Gulf Coast JFCS is more than just an organization – we’re your community champions.  This recognition is a testament to our workforce as it demonstrates their courage and commitment to transparency, living our mission, uplifting lives, and caring for each other every day.  Being named a Top Workplace is a true honor, especially because the judges were our employees themselves!  This list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage LLC. The confidential survey uniquely measures the employee experience and its component themes, including employees feeling Respected & Supported, Enabled to Grow, and Empowered to Execute, to name a few. “Earning a Top Workplaces award is a badge of honor for companies, especially because it comes authentically from their employees,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “That’s something to be proud of. In today’s market, leaders must ensure they’re allowing employees to have a voice and be heard. That’s paramount. Top Workplaces do this, and it pays dividends.” “Being recognized...
Margie Rothman Green Honored As Lightning Community Hero

Margie Rothman Green Honored As Lightning Community Hero

Margie Rothman Green honored as Lightning Community Hero Margie Rothman Green was honored as Lightning Community Hero on December 21st at the Tampa Bay Lightning game against the Vegas Golden Knights. In recognition of becoming a Lightning Hero, Green was awarded a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation, Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil.  Margie is donating this award to Gulf Coast JFCS for a very special purpose- the establishment of the Children First Innovation Fund, dedicated to reducing the time foster children wait to be adopted into their forever families.  Margie and her family have been champions for improving life for all children for more than three decades through their family foundation, the Maurice A. & Thelma P. Rothman Family Foundation, for which she serves as Executive Director.  “Our mother had a place in her heart for our foster children and our families wanting to adopt.” Over the years, thousands of children have benefitted from this compassionate caring in big and other priceless ways from helping all children live in safer, healthier homes and foster children finding adoptive families to providing school backpacks, and toys or gifts during the holidays.  The Gulf Coast JFCS Children First Innovation Fund is focused on lessening the obstacles to helping children in foster care find their ‘forever family.’  Funds will be used to increase access to ma adoption competent therapy, court-ordered for most foster children, and to reduce burnout and decrease turnover of child welfare case managers which industry wide approaches 70% annual turnover.  Each time a case manager turns over, the assigned child’s progress toward adoption is delayed an average of...
Lifetime Achievement Award – Julie & Scott Klavans

Lifetime Achievement Award – Julie & Scott Klavans

Humble, dedicated, and “all in” describes Julie and Scott Klavans when they have identified a community need to champion. For Julie and Scott, their “why” is simple and rooted in the Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam, helping others in need, and repairing and healing the world. Julie’s passion begins with children. She knows that we can change our future and world for the better, one child at a time. Her love for children led to her service as a Guardian ad litem for the past 12 years, and drew her to serve in committee and Board leadership roles at Shorecrest Preparatory School. When she focused on children’s needs for a safe home and supportive services, Julie joined the Boards of Habitat for Humanity and Gulf Coast JFCS. Julie also put her professional skills as a CPA to good use and she has supported organizations’ financial success and sustainability. Her fingerprint has benefited almost every aspect of Gulf Coast JFCS, from her decade-long service on the Board of Directors where she served numerous leadership roles including Board Chair, the CEO Search Committee, Development and Finance Committees, and founding Board member of Gulf Coast Cares, the endowment organization for Gulf Coast JFCS. Though her business acumen was put to good use, Julie continued her passion for helping children through her involvement with the Heart Gallery adoption program, Teen Parent Engagement program, and Refugee Services. “Julie is an incredible partner for the nonprofit CEO who is blessed to work with her,” says Dr. Sandra Braham, President and CEO. “She’s a strategic thinker who understands the Board is the keeper and...
Susan Traub, Gulf Coast JFCS Volunteer, Honored with Lightning Community Hero Award

Susan Traub, Gulf Coast JFCS Volunteer, Honored with Lightning Community Hero Award

Susan Traub honored as the 538th Lightning Community Hero The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Susan Traub as the 538th Community Hero during the first period of their March 12th game against the Winnipeg Jets.  Traub, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, presented by Jabil, will donate the money to Gulf Coast Jewish & Family Services (JFCS). Traub was born shortly after World War II in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her maternal grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, and her parents were refugees who managed to flee the horrors of Nazi Germany. This family history has had a profound impact on Traub, who has discovered her love of helping people, particularly young children. This led to her volunteering with immigrants and refugees, tutoring English as a Second Language and helping families settle into their new homes. She also played an integral role in helping those who fled Afghanistan in 2021. Her commitment has helped numerous families fleeing their home countries find safety and a new home in Florida.   The grant will be used to support the mission of Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services. Specifically, the funds will go toward their Refugee Services, which welcomes and helps refugees from around the world. Some of the programs offered include Reception and Placement, Intensive Case Management for Refugees with Special Needs, the Match Grant Refugee Employment Program, and the Refugee Micro-Enterprise Development Program, which promotes refugee women’s entrepreneurship and normalizes business ownership.  Full press release: Susan Traub honored as Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Susan Traub, Lightning Community Hero, Surrounded by Gulf Coast JFCS...
Holocaust Survivor Support Extended through Gulf Coast JFCS

Holocaust Survivor Support Extended through Gulf Coast JFCS

Holocaust Survivor Support Extended through Gulf Coast JFCS (CLEARWATER, FL – Friday, January 27, 2023) – In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Gulf Coast JFCS announces the 2023 Kavod-SHEF partnership and $200,000 matching gift opportunity to provide critical daily care to local Tampa Bay Holocaust Survivors. This is the third year for the partnership, initiated in 2021 with the launch of Gulf Coast JFCS’ Holocaust Survivor Urgent Care Fund, a special fund dedicated to meeting unmet personal care needs for Tampa Bay area Holocaust survivor community. Since 2021, Gulf Coast JFCS has partnered with the Kavod – Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund (SHEF) initiative to address the growing needs of aging Holocaust survivors. In 2022 alone, Gulf Coast JFCS assisted some 150 of the nearly 300 survivors with over 10,000 additional hours of home care through this matching fund beyond our routine emergency food assistance, medical, dental, and transportation support. Since its launch, this partnership consisting of local partners Tampa Jewish Federation and the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, and national partners KAVOD-SHEF (Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund) and the Seed the Dream Foundation, has raised more than $500k. This year’s $200k match, when completed, ensures $400k will directly mobilize additional care to bridge the current gap of more than 1,000 unmet home care and other urgent care needs. An estimated 1,000 Holocaust survivors live in the Tampa Bay area. Gulf Coast JFCS currently serves about 250 of them across Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Gulf Coast JFCS provides various types of assistance to 250 or more Holocaust Survivors in the...
NFL Selects Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Program For Social Justice Grant

NFL Selects Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Program For Social Justice Grant

NFL Selects Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Program For Social Justice Grant (CLEARWATER, FL – December 15, 2022)  – The Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL) program, conceived and launched nearly two years ago by Gulf Coast JFCS in partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, has been selected by the National Football League’s (NFL) Inspire Change social justice initiative. The NFL’s Inspire Change initiative showcases how players, owners, and the league work together to create positive change in communities across America. Since 2017, the NFL has provided more than $244 million in national Inspire Change grants to more than 40 national grant partners and hundreds of grassroots organizations across the country in support of programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on their four priority areas of police and community relations, criminal justice reform, education, and economic advancement.  The league’s Social Justice Working Group – comprised of five current and former players and five team owners – chose the local organization from more than 1.8 million registered nonprofits for uplifting the community through social justice. Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Community Navigators and their clinical health team, in partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, are dispatched to non-violent, non-criminal calls to provide a therapeutic, wrap-around response. Begun as a pilot program with the City of St. Petersburg, the program has been renewed for an additional two years and is now becoming a model for agencies nationally and internationally including a feature in the Vera Institute of Justice’s Civilian Crisis Response Toolkit. Researchers with USF St. Petersburg, through Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg funding, are...
Holocaust Survivor Support Extended through Gulf Coast JFCS

Gulf Coast JFCS Announces Record Growth and Appointment of Additional Agency Leaders

Gulf Coast JFCS Announces Record Growth and Appointment of Additional Agency Leaders (CLEARWATER, FL – October 13, 2022) – Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (Gulf Coast JFCS) has significantly increased their service reach in three years from a $35 million budget in 2019 to more than $50 million in 2022 and announces a growing senior leadership team as the social services non-profit extends their capacity to serve Floridians in need.  Dr. Eliza McCall-Horne has been appointed to the newly established role of Senior Vice President. Melanie Brady has been promoted to the newly established role of Vice President for Child and Family Services. Nicole Guincho has been promoted to the newly established role of Vice President for Clinical Services. “Dr. McCall-Horne, Melanie and Nicole will join the outstanding leadership team in place at Gulf Coast JFCS as we work to strengthen our capacity to mentor and coach new, front-line leaders who will be ready to take on greater roles resulting from our dramatic growth” says president and CEO, Dr. Sandra Braham. “I am very excited to welcome these proven leaders to the agency and their new roles.” Dr. Eliza McCall-Horne joins Gulf Coast JFCS with over two decades of social services experience, including more than 16 years in executive leadership. Her past role included managing an $87 million budget as the Executive Director of Eckerd Connects. A child welfare expert, Eliza’s leadership has resulted in successfully establishing community programs, effective relationships, and agency partnerships. She is known for her comprehensive community outreach, leadership, and budget oversight. Prior to joining Eckerd Connects, she served as Executive Director for...
Holocaust Survivor Support Extended through Gulf Coast JFCS

Reparations and Support of Local Holocaust Survivors Expanding

Reparations and Support of Local Holocaust Survivors Expanding (CLEARWATER, FL – August 12, 2022) – Gulf Coast JFCS is now able to provide increased service and support to Holocaust survivors residing in Greater Tampa Bay thanks to an expanded definition of what it means to be a Holocaust survivor and growing philanthropic support. The Greater Tampa Bay area is home to Holocaust survivor community with more survivors coming to us for services each year.  Due to reparations efforts, eligibility for Holocaust survivor services has expanded beyond those who spent time in a concentration camp, forced/slave labor camp, ghetto or who were compelled to flee the Nazis and became refugees.  This, alongside increased needs in this aging population, has prompted many survivors who previously did not seek compensation to now do so.  Currently serving nearly 250 survivors, Gulf Coast JFCS can now provide increased service and support to the region’s survivors through their partnership with the Claims Conference, an international organization established following World War II to advocate for and facilitate reparations. New reparations opportunities include Increased income and asset eligibility levels; supplemental hardship payments; region-specific pensions (not for current Article 2 recipients) for those impacted by the Siege of Leningrad, Axis-occupied Romania, or who spent 3 months hiding in France; payments for the spouse of a deceased Article 2 Holocaust survivor, which the recipient does NOT need to be a survivor. In addition to resources provided by Gulf Coast JFCS through funding by the Claims Conference, other assistance is available through Gulf Coast JFCS for needs such as dental care, medications, home repairs, etc. For local free support including...