Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Jewish Family Services Orlando has a new look


Christine DeSouza

A new ADA-compliant handicap ramp leads from the parking lot to the Pearlman Pantry door.

JFS Orlando, also known as the George Wolly Center, has had some major renovations, thanks to the generous grants the agency has received over the past several months, and E2 Homes, the general contractor for the renovation project.

The look is fresh, open and inviting for everyone who comes to the facility, beginning with the ADA-compliant handicap ramp that leads from the parking lot to the easily accessed Pearlman Pantry.

Visitors now enter the reception room through a new automatic sliding door, which was installed several feet to the left of the original entrance.

The redesigned reception area has a laminated wood floor and walls painted in calming shades of sage green and lavender, adorned with posters that explain the various services JFS offers. The receptionist's desk area is now to the right and has a larger window, making it easier for visitors to speak with the receptionist.

Throughout the building, hallways are painted a clean green and posters are displayed with testimonies and appreciation from clients the agency has helped through one of their many programs, including grief counseling, the family stability program and the RIDE program.

In addition to the new appearance, JFS also has a new computer lab with eight new laptops and a flat-screen television that has programs to help explain computer basics. The computers are an invaluable source for people who need to apply for food stamps, unemployment benefits, and look for a job.

Mary Lee Walker, development director for JFS, explained that most people who come to JFS don't have a computer, which is essential when job searching nowadays. Public libraries have computers for personal use, but usage is limited to one hour. How can anyone properly apply for jobs in just one hour? Walker surmised. At JFS there is no time limit for computer use.

Plans also are in the works to offer classes for basic computer skills, which will help job applicants. Walker stated that there is a need for volunteers who would like to help those who don't have these skills.

The renovations are not complete, and Walker was excited to say that recently the Orange County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded JFS Orlando with a $75,804 grant to transform one hallway of the building into a mental health counseling center; create an ADA-compliant handicap ramp at the rear of the building (that faces Lee Road) for a new counseling center entrance, which will give clients privacy upon entering the building; replace the exterior building doors to increase ADA compliance; and replace the carpeting in the agency offices.

This CDBG award is for 2017 in addition to the grant awarded in 2016 for the renovation to the parking lot side of the building.


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