Kimberly K. Harris joins JFS Orlando Board
March 26, 2021
JFS Orlando welcomes their newest board member, Kimberly K. Harris.
Originally from Richmond, Va., Harris grew up in a large blended family. “I really grew up accustomed to the idea of ‘family’ being what you make it,” she explained. When her father and stepmother moved to the Tampa area, she decided to stay in Richmond for college, attending the VCU-MCV School of Allied Health and later working for Virginia’s state public health laboratory in the Immunology & Virology department. But both her personal and professional lives have been something of a winding road, as she has also worked in retail, construction customer service, and small business office management/bookkeeping.
“When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, I knew I wanted to take some time to stay home with our baby,” she said. She didn’t want to go back to a traditional 9 to 5 work format, so instead dedicated her time to volunteering locally, including the JCC preschool’s Parent Advisory Committee, the planning committee for the JAO’s Annual Gala fundraiser, and a local pet rescue and community education organization called The Pixel Fund. Additionally, Harris is a vendor at a local vintage/antique decor market, Wirewood Market in Altamonte Springs, where she gets to channel her personal hobby of antiques shopping and her creativity into a small business.
Harris first learned about JFS when she moved into the neighborhood directly behind it. Not only did driving past it several times per day encourage her to want to help out, but so did her own personal struggles.
“When my son was a newborn he was always hungry and it felt so overwhelming. As I would feed my baby for what felt like the millionth time in a day, I would think of how awful it would feel to have a hungry child and not enough money to feed them.”
So Harris began picking up extra food at the grocery to donate and hosting food drives for her son’s birthdays. She also learned about the agency’s other programs. “JFS offers such knowledgeable and really hands-on assistance to people who are economically and socially drowning, and that has got to be truly the heart of tikkun olam. Repairing the world, one person or one family at a time.”
During her time in the Bornstein Leadership Development Program, Harris learned how to meld her previous years of professional experience and her recent years of “mom” experience into something relevant to add to the Jewish community’s nonprofit organizations. After graduating from the program, she asked to join the JFS Board of Directors. “I think JFS is an organization doing deeply meaningful work for our community and I am really inspired by that,” she explained. “Every time I have been in the building over the last several years, I have seen and heard and felt how committed the staff is to helping people; and not just helping, but helping compassionately. The clients that come to JFS for assistance retain their dignity, and that is really special. I just want to get involved and see if I can contribute even a little to that cause.”
Established in 1978 as a non-profit human service agency, 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 providing mental health counseling. For more information on JFS and its programs, please visit http://www.JFSorlando.org or follow them on social media @JFSorlando.