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JFCS Food Pantry Receives Dare to Care Award

On March 24, Dare to Care Food Bank recognized its network of over 300 partner agencies, including food pantries, shelters, emergency kitchens and other organizations, at its annual Partner Appreciation Dinner.

At the event, it was announced that Jewish Family & Career Services’ Food Pantry received the Bobby Ellis Award for Closed Pantry of the Year.

In their application for the award, JFCS Volunteer Coordinator Kim Toebbe wrote: Jewish Family & Career Services is an exemplary partner to Dare to Care, devoted to the mutual vision of a hunger-free Kentuckiana. The agency is dedicated to helping the whole person in whatever way is needed. Thousands of pounds of food from the JFCS food pantry have helped approximately 150 clients per month keep hunger at bay as they struggle with myriad personal and social problems.

As a small human services agency, JFCS is able to provide more than 9,000 services to clients with only 37 full-time staff. More than 400 volunteers (40 of whom comprise the very active Food Pantry Committee) are essential to delivering high quality services with dignity and compassion. The following client story is one of the most difficult situations the agency has seen. For more than a year, a young woman with three young children from the Democratic Republic of Congo has received entrepreneurial assistance from The Navigate Enterprise Center at JFCS. She hopes to realize her dream of owning and operating a small business, which may one day enable her to be self-sufficient.

The client had never asked about food or mentioned anything about how hungry she and her family were until late 2014. Consequently, JFCS added her and her family as food pantry clients. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a very dangerous place, especially for women. Her parents and brothers were murdered when she was 15, and she and her younger sisters were repeatedly sexually and physically abused by numerous brutal rebel soldiers. The client, who lived until recently in a refugee camp, miraculously escaped and survived a perilous journey to safety in the United States. Upon her arrival, she started right away to work hard and to do as well as she could to be successful in her studies. She is a law-abiding person and now an entrepreneur on her way to independence and citizenship.

Thanks to Dare to Care, along with the Janet & Sonny Meyer Family Food Pantry Fund and the JFCS Food Pantry, this client and hundreds more JFCS clients are closer to reaching a state of human flourishing; the antithesis of human misery. JFCS volunteers, the agency and I are extremely proud of Dare to Care and the work it does, providing food, staff and volunteers who give their love and their time to make this world a better place.

Now in its fifth year, this award was named after Bobby Ellis, the 9-year-old Louisville child who died of malnutrition on Thanksgiving eve in 1969. He weighed just 20 pounds when he was found dead on a bed in his home. His parents said they couldn’t afford to feed him and his five sisters and were charged with neglect. Community outrage over his death and the fact that no one did anything to prevent it led to the creation of Dare to Care.

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