JFS to Sponsor “Community Conversation” for the LGBTQ Community on June 25th

As a result of a task force JFS has set up to help identify the unmet needs of LGBTQ individuals and their families, JFS is sponsoring a “Community Conversation - Creating an Inclusive and Welcoming Environment for the LGBTQ Community and Their Families” on June 25th. The goal of the “Community Conversation” is for JFS to hear from the community at large to help identify the needs of this segment. The program will take place at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton from 7 PM – 9 PM. Lite refreshments will be served. JFS specifically chose to host this event in June to coincide with LGBT Pride Month.

The format will be a moderated panel with questions to both the panel as well as the general audience. Randi Adler, LCSW and LGBTQ Program Director for Jewish Community Services of South Florida will moderate the program with panelists including: Rabbi Dan Levin from Temple Beth El, Rabbi Marci Bloch from Congregation B’nai Israel, Rabbi Greg Kanter from Temple Sinai, Erin Turner, President Spanish River High School Gay Straight Alliance Club, and Brett Lowenstern, Musician and former Top 24 American Idol Semifinalist.

Several years ago Shirley Gould (z’l) established two endowments - the Edward S. Gould Fund for Outreach for Elderly Lesbians and Gay Men and the Edward S. Gould Fund for the Special Needs of Gay and Lesbian Clients. These funds have helped supplement counseling services to the LGBTQ population for several years. However, additional funds were available for use and the JFS Board challenged the agency to come up with a better action plan to put the funds to work. Judi Donoff, JFS Chair of the Board commented, “It was very important to the Board that when this very generous gift was left to JFS for the purpose of assisting the LGBTQ Community, that we made sure that Shirley Gould's legacy was going to be utilized to its full and complete mission, as we do for every legacy gift.”

Recently, over 30 JFS clinical social workers and other staff attended a seminar on Sensitivity Training for LGBTQ issues led by Randi Adler, LCSW. Components of the 3 hour workshop included information on how to create a safe zone at JFS, enabling the LGBTQ Community to know that JFS is a secure place to openly discuss the issues they face. Ms. Adler presented the unique factors affecting each age segment as LGBTQ youth face a different set of circumstances as older adults; addressed facts vs. myths; how to use correct language; and outlined an action plan that will assist in creating a safe zone and welcoming environment. “This seminar was eye opening,” stated Dianne Matthew, JFS VP of Clinical Services. “JFS does a terrific job in making all clients feel welcome and comfortable. However, Randi was able to point out areas that we can tweak that will make the LGBTQ Community feel even more secure at JFS.”

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