JFS Orlando stabilizes local families


August 30, 2019

Gerline and her two children, Phillip Jr. and baby Nicolette.

Baby Nicolette and little Phillip Jr. are the shining spots and the motivation for Gerline and her husband, Phillip. "That's what I'm fighting for everyday," Gerline says. "For me and my itty-bittys and my husband. He's not giving up and I'm not either. When I look at them, it's all worth it."

Growing up as the oldest daughter, Gerline was always the responsible one. At the age of 21, she became the head of her household, taking care of her mother and her younger brother and sister. She juggled two jobs, working over 90 hours per week. "It was so much but we kept losing everything," she recalls. "We lost our apartment. There was an eviction. I finally decided to go my separate way and start to live for myself."

That's when Gerline met her husband. They became pregnant with their first child, Phillip, Jr., but they were still struggling financially. Their situation got even more difficult when her husband was in an accident at work and a back injury caused Gerline to go on short-term disability. Suddenly, they were financially stuck. Bills were piling up, they were kicked out of their home, and they had no one to turn to, not even family. "Everybody just turned their backs on us," she recalled.

She looked online for help and found JFS Orlando's Family Stabilization Program. "Keyword: stability," says Gerline. "Enough was enough. I needed a change for my little ones and for me. I decided I was going to go ahead and focus on our stability."

One of the favorite things Gerline learned at JFS was budgeting. "It kind of made me feel a little bit guilty," she admits. "Because when I had to write down my expenses, and realize what I was spending on, oh yeah, I spend! Rarely on myself, but on the babies and daddy." She learned the importance of having a budget and saving and is looking forward to having more control over her debt.

"Right now, me and *Mrs. Clelie [my caseworker] are truly working on getting my debt cleaned and establishing a savings. From there, owning our own home-our first home. [My husband and I] have a deal. Once we buy our new home we can officially have a wedding in the backyard! A ceremony with our kids."

Gerline is still in JFS Orlando's Family Stabilization Program, but is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for her family. "None of this would have been possible if not for Mrs. Clelie and JFS. You guys are the most patient and realistic. To have your mom turn her back on you, and your own sisters and brothers, it's hard to even trust someone who isn't blood. But Mrs. Clelie made me feel like I'd known her forever. It made me feel like I had a mom in her. You can say, she stabilized my home!"

* Clelie Duroseau, BSW is a Family Stablization Program case manager. She has been with JFS Orlando since 2015.

For more information regarding JFS Orlando's Family Stabilization Program, please contact Assistant Director Heather Petrusky, at Heather.Petrusky@JFSorlando.org or 407-644-7593 ext. 287.

Established in 1978 as a non-profit human service agency, Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando (JFS Orlando) provides social programs and services to children and families of all faiths in the Central Florida community. JFS supports efforts to prevent hunger and homelessness, as well as provides mental health counseling to those in need. For more information on JFS and its programs, please visit http://www.JFSorlando.org or follow them on social media @JFSorlando.


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