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Nonprofit CEO Showcase: Colleen Rodriguez

Executive Director, Jewish Family & Community Services

Mission
The mission of Jewish Family & Community Services is to strengthen the entire community by providing individual and family social services, in the Jewish tradition of helping people help themselves.

Serving Jacksonville
We were established in 1917.

Those served
The majority of our clients served reside in Duval County but we are able to provide some services to outlying counties as well. Our private adoption program is also licensed in New York and Connecticut. We serve more than 10,000 people every year through our food pantry/financial assistance, counseling, adoption, foster care and prevention, Achievers for Life and Jewish Services programs. It’s important that the community know that we serve the entire community.

Biggest challenge
During these difficult economic times, nonprofits see people at their most vulnerable moments and want to be able to meet their needs. At the same time, we also are impacted by the economic downturn and have experienced flat or reduced funding. Our struggle is to be able to help everyone who comes to us needing food, shelter and support.

Biggest satisfaction
When I see the positive impact my staff and programs have on a family. As mentioned above, we often see people at critical crossroads in their lives and seeing them be successful and overcoming obstacles that at first seemed insurmountable is why I come to work every day.

Hometown
I was born in Miami and have lived in Florida all of my life. I moved to Jacksonville in 1994 after receiving my Master of Social Work degree at Florida State University.

First experience with community service
My first formal exposure to community services was in college. As students we were challenged to get involved in our community and to give back. I volunteered at a women and children’s shelter, worked with developmentally delayed children getting them ready to go to kindergarten and took mission trips to Antigua to work with the children there. All of these experiences opened my eyes to some of the challenges people face every day. It gave me a new appreciation for my life and helped me realize that becoming a social worker was the right profession for me.

Your job before JFCS
I’ve been with JFCS for 14 years. Before that, I worked with Communities In Schools based out of Stilwell Middle School.

Upcoming events
During April and May, JFCS announces the Virtual Food Drive, a new endeavor to help ensure that no individual or family in our community will go hungry. The Virtual Food Drive is an online outlet and a fun interactive way to add groceries to JFCS’ food pantry. JFCS strives to alleviate hunger in the Northeast Florida community so that families can move toward improving their situation (or to achieve self-sufficiency). Providing for those who are unable to afford basic life necessities is also the essence of Tzedakah, which asks each of us to help those in need live with more dignity and comfort. Click on Virtual Food Drive at www.jfcsjax.org.

Contact information
www.jfcsjax.org
448-1933

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