The Order’s motto Pro Fide, Pro Utilitate Hominum means “For Faith, For Service to Humanity” serves as a member’s moral compass and is upheld by all OSJ members while they strive to serve Christ’s sick, poor and the need worldwide to the best of their ability.
The Order of St. John Commandery of Florida has contributed $800,000 to local charities since 2011, including the following:
Boca Helping Hands, Inc.
A recent grant to Boca Helping Hands, Inc. (BHH) was to help build a medical center for the indigent and working poor who do not have access to medical or dental care. BHH’s mission is to provide compassionate service through food and assistance programs to individuals, families, and children during times of need, emergency or crisis. These services are done with compassion and dignity by staff and volunteers. With the continuing economic crisis, the need for food continues to increase for the homeless, the elderly, children, the working poor and single parents. Hot lunches are served six days a week, family night dinners are served every Thursday night, and the Food Pantry program is a grocery staples supplier that provides food essentials to the needy. Homeless kits are available six days a week. Low-income children receive food in the “Blessings in a Backpack” program each weekend and they have food at school during the week. BHH and OSJ-Florida are turning food waste into an act of grace, with food recovery to feed the poor, needy and homeless men, women and children. BHH served over 53,000 hot meals, distributed nearly 67,000 bags of groceries, served 9 elementary schools with their backpack meal program, helped 55 families remain in their apartments through financial assistance, assisted 207 families with their utility bill payments, increased their Esperanza Catering job training program, launched BHH Home Health Care (another job training program) and distributed 1,500 Thanksgiving turkeys, during 2014. www.bocahelpinghands.org.
Family Promise of South Palm Beach County, Inc.
Family Promise of South Palm Beach County’s mission is to provide temporary shelter, meals, and support services to homeless families and to restore those families into sustained independence. Family Promise of South Palm Beach County’s (FPSPC) greatest need is for child care for the families of Family Promise and the development of permanent, low-cost housing for its homeless families. The OSJ Commandery of Florida has adopted the need of child care as a worthwhile charity. FPSPBC is the local affiliate of a national, interfaith organization founded in 1988 that believes that every child deserves a home. It exists to provide temporary shelter for the homeless families in South Palm Beach County. It works to help families to achieve lasting independence. The non-profit organization has more than 158 affiliates in 41 states. In South Palm Beach County, it runs a 24/7 program with very little money because 24 churches and synagogues are active with Family Promise. Twelve are “support” churches that provide food, clothing and volunteers, and the other twelve serve as “host” churches to provide temporary, safe and appropriate housing, and meals for the homeless children and families. There is a great need for permanent housing and child care for the families of Family Promise. The FPSPBC Day Center in Delray Beach is the home base for all homeless families during the day and the children depart for school from the day care center. Family Promise has more than an 80% success rate in moving homeless families from total dependency to situations of independence. www.familypromise.org.
Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, Inc.
The grant to Gulfstream Goodwill is to assist the sick and poor associated with Gulfstream Goodwill Industries’ work with the homeless in Palm Beach County. Gulfstream Goodwill Industries is a leading non-profit that provides services and programs for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Its Senator Philip D. Lewis Center partners with The Homeless Coalition, Adopt-A-Family and The Lord’s Place to end homelessness in Palm Beach County. Permanent housing particularly for homeless veterans is a key component of the organization’s 90-day transition programs. Two highly successful programs, “Project Success” and “Project Succeed”, which produce self-sufficient working men and women for the community, will be funded by OSJFL and help this large entity accomplish its goals. www.gulfstreamgoodwill.org.
The mission of HomeSafe is to support residential group care programs which serve abused, abandoned and neglected children from Palm Beach County and the State of Florida. A $100,000 gift in 2011 by the Commandery’s Patroness, Dame Henrietta, Countess de Hoernle, GCSI, CMSJ, MMSJ funded the OSJ Commandery of Florida’s Hospitaller (philanthropic) support of HomeSafe’s Boca Raton campus and two residential cottages were named in honor of the Countess and the Commandery. With five locations and 130 employees in Palm Beach County, HomeSafe serves more than 15,000 infants, children and families each year. It’s Bernstein Family Foundation Campus in Boca Raton is home to one of its three residential group care facilities in Palm Beach County and provides 16 beds and comprehensive therapy to boys, aged eight to seventeen, who have been physically or sexually abused and abandoned. OSJFL will add substantially to HomeSafe’s program funding, allowing greater care to be delivered to this underserved population by supporting its “Safety Net” and “Life Skills” initiatives. These programs offer immediate intervention and prevention services to victims of domestic violence and their children and teach life management skills to its clients. www.hjomesafefokids.org.
Spirit of Giving/ Back to School Bash
The grant to Spirit of Giving supported its community wide back-to-school drive and distribution to ensure 5,000 students receive school supplies. The Spirit of Giving Network is unique because it serves as the “umbrella organization” for 60-75 non-profits that serve at-risk children in Palm Beach County. This forward-thinking, action-oriented collaborative was founded to maximize an individual’s non-profit resources and effectively spread them more equitably across the entire community. The Spirit of Giving Network solves a critical community problem: lack of financial and operational resources for non-profits attempting to solve large-scale social problems usually managed by government or other agencies. A tangible example of this organization’s administrative, fundraising, and volunteer coordination success is its yearly “Back-To-School Bash” that provides thousands of school age children with school supplies each year. OSJFL will sponsor its free medical screenings program and allow even more backpacks, school supplies, healthy foods, uniforms, and even shoes to be supplied free of charge to over 3,000 children whose families lack the resources to provide these basic essentials for learning. www.spiritofgivingnetwork.com.
American Association of Caregiving Youth
The grant to the American Association of Caregiving Youth supports the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) which successfully serves middle and high school students who sacrifice their education, health, well-being and childhood to provide care for family members who are ill, injured, elderly or disabled. The CYP supports students who have the highest Levels of responsibility (based on time spent each week and types of caregiving activities performed). The diverse group of over 550 students currently served are from financially insecure and/or single parent/grandparent households. The CYP is now positioned to expand its services north and to the western portion of Palm Beach County and requires resources to do so. www.aacy.org.
Place of Hope
A grant to the Place of Hope is in support of its overall mission. Place of Hope is a unique faith-based, state-licensed children’s organization providing family-style foster care (emergency and long-term); family outreach and intervention; maternity care; safety for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking; transitional housing and support services; foster care recruitment and support; hope and healing opportunities for children and families who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect throughout our region. Place of Hope is dedicated to providing a stable and loving family environment for children who are hurting and their families. We are committed to meeting desperate needs in our community by sharing God’s love and placing hope in their lives – one child and family at a time. www.placeofhope.com
Gateway Community Outreach
An OSJ grant was made to the Gateway Community Outreach in support of its program to assist the hungry and homeless. Carol Ray (CEO and President) founded Gateway Community Outreach (GCO) in April 1995, and continues to forge ahead in addressing the needs of the hungry and homeless in the community. GCO is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation. GCO’s mission is to safeguard and protect our most vulnerable community members by providing food, housing assistance, referrals and intensive case management to those in need of emergency aid. Its goal is to feed the hungry, prevent homelessness and help clients reach self-sufficiency. GCO offers compassion and hope during times of personal crisis treating those in need with dignity and respect. GCO assists over 30,854 clients each year with a staff of 4 and nearly 300 volunteers. Its success is contributed to the utilization of its case management system, consisting of a 90-day plan to connect clients with services and referrals (i.e.) food, bus passes, baby needs, gift cards for clothing, rent/mortgage and water bill assistance. www.gcoflorida.org
An OSH grant was made in support of the Women’s Circle, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that empowers women to be “all they can be,” while promoting an acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity. Women’s Circle offers a comprehensive, three-part program to address concerns among ethnically and culturally diverse lower-income women of Palm Beach County. Its Free programs include Job Development, Education, and Personal Development in our Monthly Discussion Groups.
In 1999, Sister Lorraine Ryan did a survey of the greatest needs of low-income women in Boynton Beach. Many could not speak English and were unemployed. The survey indicated a need for skills that would improve the women’s employability. Sister Lorraine and Sister Joan Carusillo founded the Women’s Circle to give these women the skills they lacked. In 2000 the Women’s Circle moved into a 650 square foot rented space. Programs were developed in English, Creole literacy, computer skills, job preparation and sewing.
The Women’s Circle soon outgrew the space. In 2010 the Women’s Circle received an interest free loan from the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and was able to purchase and move to a new 1250 square foot space. Demand for classes has continued to grow and a project is now underway to extend this space with a 4581 square foot addition. Women’s Circle is supported by grants and private donations. www.womenscircle.org
FoundCare Free Dental Clinic
OSJ Florida supports the dental program FoundCare, which charges uninsured patients using a sliding fee scale based on family size and household income. Comprehensive dentistry includes exams, x-rays and treatment planning, preventive dentistry includes cleanings, fluoride and sealants. Restorative dentistry includes fillings and crowns. Emergency dental treatment includes toothaches, oral sores, and broken teeth. www.foundcare.org.