IN THE NEWS: Jewish Family Service gets $2.4 million donation

Lois K. Solomon

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Dec 23, 2013

A $2.4 million gift to Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service will allow the social-service agency to create a new family assistance center that will offer crucial programs for the needy, its president said on Thursday.

The donation, from the sons of Ruth and Norman Rales, lets the family service, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, expand its budget by 20 percent for at least the next two years, president Danielle Hartman said. The agency will be renamed the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services.

The agency offers an assortment of support programs, such as Meals on Wheels for seniors, Holocaust survivor support, family counseling, a food pantry, divorce mediators and a senior center in Delray Beach. Its offerings have become increasingly popular, especially as the economy has remained weak over the past few years. Its new food pantry in Delray Beach now serves 613 low-income clients, up from 545 a year ago.

The new family center will offer several programs that focus on young people, such as job training, domestic abuse counseling, academic tutoring and financial assistance for summer camps.

"We are well-known for our services for senior citizens," Hartman said. "This new center will put a face on the other half of the demographic we serve, families and children."

About half the agency's callers who seek financial assistance also ask about job placement, Hartman said. The family service had been referring callers to other agencies, but now will be able to assist job-seekers directly, she said.

Philanthropist Norman Rales, founder of a building-supply company, died in 2012. He helped create Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service in 1979 in honor of his wife, who died in 2004. Their sons decided recently that their father should be recognized, too, Hartman said.

Most of the programs will begin immediately, and all will be fully operational by September, Hartman said. Ten people will be hired, including social workers, a job placement director and a liaison with local businesses.

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) provides help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, vocational training, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS volunteer opportunities and services for seniors, contact 561-852-3333. Learn more at ruthralesjfs.org.

Photo Caption: The Rales family has provided a $2.4 million gift to a social services group to expand programs in South Palm Beach County. The nonprofit, with offices in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, will be renamed the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services and serve people of all backgrounds and beliefs. (handout, Sun Sentinel / December 13, 2013)

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