$2.4 Million Gift Promises to Transform Newly Named Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services; New Focus on Families & Children in South Palm Beach County

Shani McManus, Staff Writer


Jan 15, 2014

Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) announced at their annual Gala on December 12, 2013 that the Rales family, a highly successful and philanthropic family with ties to South Florida, has made a generous $2.4 million gift to the newly named Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS). Norman Rales, the patriarch of the family who passed away in March of 2012 following years of financial and personal support for the agency, was recognized for his commitment and passion for helping others. Beyond the donation and creation of the ‘Center for Families and Children,’ the Rales’ sons (Steven, Mitchell and Joshua), who are now trustees of the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation, also had the agency renamed in his honor.

“Our parents came from humble roots,” said Steven, Mitchell and Joshua Rales. “Neither of them could afford to attend college and our father was raised in an orphanage in New York City during the depression. As a couple, Norman and Ruth Rales’ ambition was not solely to achieve the American dream for themselves and their children but to assist others less fortunate than them in achieving that same dream. The work of the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation, and in particular its partnership with the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service, illustrates their commitment to helping others. The new Center for Families and Children at the to-be renamed Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services is our effort to continue to build upon the foundation of our parents’ good works. We consider this truly to be an honor and a privilege.”

“With this new gift from the Rales family, the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services agency’s budget will increase by 20%,” said Danielle Hartman, President and CEO of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services. “This donation allows us to create the new ‘Center for Families & Children,’ which will reach an underserved demographic in our community. Further, we will launch four new programs under the Center’s umbrella. Thanks to the generosity of the Rales family, we are now prepared to support and nurture the growing needs of our South Florida community.”

The programs that will be created as part of the Center for Families & Children and made possible by the Rales family include:

  1. Vocational and Employment Services: Due to a challenged South Florida community and job growth within Florida falling below 1% this past year, this needed vocational and employment service will provide Palm Beach County individuals with training, workforce development, skills workshops, as well as a variety of support services designed to ensure success.
  2. Domestic Abuse Education & Action Program: While Jewish Family Services currently provides limited financial assistance as well as counseling, informational and referral services to victims of domestic abuse, this new program will allow the agency to create a formal, centralized program. The Domestic Abuse Education & Action program will provide education to teens and adults, outreach, case management, crisis intervention, legal/medical referrals, as well as a crisis hotline, in order to address the issue of domestic violence in the South Palm Beach County community.
  3. Financial Assistance Program: The 2010 Census Bureau report revealed that 20% of children in Palm Beach County ages 5 to 17 currently live in poverty. This data places Palm Beach in the nation's top 20% of counties experiencing the steepest jump in child poverty. Today, JFS provides financial assistance to families and individuals in South Palm Beach County for basic necessities. However, the agency is currently not able to meet the increasing demand for day camp and Jewish overnight camp scholarships nor academic support (e.g. tutoring and college preparatory assistance). The Center for Families & Children Financial Assistance Program will accomplish this and more.
  4. Counseling & Community Outreach: With the launch of the aforementioned new services in addition to existing Jewish Family Services programs, it has become clear to the agency that a point of access for local synagogues, schools and the community is critical. Feedback shows that many are either unaware of the services offered by the agency and/or don’t know how to utilize them. The Counseling & Community Outreach initiative will fill the gap by allowing JFS to provide educational resources, workshops, counseling, support groups and outreach in a community setting.

Each program is expected to take six months for full implementation on a phased-in schedule. The Vocational and Employment Services, Domestic Abuse Education & Action Program and Counseling & Community Outreach, will be rolled out beginning in December 2013, with all four programs expected to be fully operational by September 2014.

“This gift is truly transformational for our agency and the individuals we support,” said Hartman. “The Rales brothers believe in the services we provide to the community. We are thankful for their trust in our agency as well as their continued support exemplified by this investment.”

Since its inception in 1979 as the first agency of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, JFS has been a trusted and critical resource for the South Florida community – serving more than 15,000 people annually; providing bi-monthly food deliveries to upwards of 600 individuals needing help with basic supplies; and helping nearly 700 seniors with their personal care management, home visits, and homecare. Now, thanks to this new $2.4 million gift from the Rales Foundation, the newly named Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services is preparing to expand its reach and assistance to thousands more in South Florida.

About Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (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.

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