JFCS quietly surpasses original campaign goals, eyes new target  


By Jewish Family & Community Services


Three years ago capital campaign feasibility experts studied the area’s philanthropic landscape and told Jewish Family & Community Services that an ambitious goal for its planned fundraising initiative would be around $4 million. Campaign leaders heeded that advice when they quietly launched their efforts last June with the goal of raising $4.5 million for a much needed new headquarters building. Having nearly hit their original target in just the first six months of the campaign’s quiet phase, organizers met in late November to announce a revised ‘stretch’ goal.


“Due to the incredible success in this initial phase, we are delighted to announce that we have established a new campaign goal of $5.5 million,” said JFCS Board Chair Jodie Leach. Reaching the revised campaign goal will allow JFCS to add The Frisch Family Holocaust Memorial Gallery at its new headquarters building on Baycenter Road. It will also mean that the agency can avoid carrying a long term mortgage on the new building, that, in turn, will allow JFCS to serve more community members in need.


“Although the Jewish community is only one percent of the total population of Northeast Florida, we continue to make a large impact for all those who find themselves in need, regardless of religious affiliation,” Leach said. “This would not be possible without the generosity of many of you, your families and friends.”


The incredible success the campaign experienced during its quiet phase was due in large part to Michael and Laurie DuBow and a lead gift from the DuBow Family Foundation. Leach also recognized a team of leaders who have been invaluable in managing the purchase and renovations of the new 30,000-square-foot Alan J. Taffet Building that is expected to open next year as JFCS celebrates its 100th year of serving Northeast Florida.


The project’s so called ‘Dream Team’ includes Marc Angelo who is providing construction advice and management, Lanny Felder who advised on real estate and facility issues, Sid Ansbacher who donated legal services and Dick Browdy who has provided advice and guidance on financial issues. As JFCS moves into its new building, the successful campaign will also allow the agency to convert its existing building into the new Allison Stein Robbin Building which will serve as a home to the new Max Block Food Pantry with greatly enhanced capabilities and capacity.


Community support for the fundraising campaign has surprised even the most optimistic JFCS board members. The case for its necessity has been obvious for those who have seen how JFCS rapidly grew from the 51-member staff that moved into its current building in 2001 to its current staff of 187. During that same time period JFCS went from serving about 1,000 meals per year, to last year serving more than 80,000.


The new headquarters will provide space for the agency’s staff activities as well as a range of social services to be provided onsite. Among those services to be provided at the center will be mental counseling, financial advice and assistance, children’s services and adoption services. There will also be a children’s garden, a library/resource center and a Jewish services center. The Holocaust Memorial Gallery at the new JFCS building will be the only such exhibit between Atlanta and Miami. It’s being dedicated in honor of the family of community leader Harry Frisch who came to America at a young age after losing his father in the Holocaust. JFCS board membersand campaign leaders are optimistic about completing the fundraising campaign in 2017.

“We’ve been very intentional and have followed the example of our founders,” Leach explained. “No one ever walks through our doors with just one challenge, and due to our unique structure we are able to meet their needs and assist them in getting to a place of independence in an efficient and respectful manner,” she added. “Efficiency and respect were the two words in the forefront of our minds as we designed both our new building and the renovation of our existing building.”


If you, or someone you know, might be interested in creating a lasting positive impact in the community, please contact Kathy Wohlhuter at 904-394-5727 or kwohlhuter@jfcsjax.org