407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

Earlier this year, our local congressional delegation led a successful effort to include Orlando on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s list of urban areas eligible for special federal grant funding. Thanks to their leadership, Orlando’s inclusion on the list provided the opportunity for local nonprofit organizations to apply for special federal grants designed to help defray the cost of security.

The process for applying was arduous and highly competitive. We received only one week’s notice of our eligibility, and applications required approval by the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The reason I’m sharing this level of detail is that I want you to know how much we care about this issue. Your Jewish Federation has always considered safety and security on our Maitland Jewish Community Campus to be an important and worthwhile investment. Our community is acutely aware of the cost of security, as Jewish organizations frequently bear this burden above and beyond that of our non-Jewish neighbors.

We worked countless hours in the one-week application window to put together a strong case for our community, and I am excited to tell you that we were successful in securing a $129,000 grant! Not only was our application approved, but JFGO was the only nonprofit organization in the Greater Orlando area to be selected for a grant under this program.

We could not have done this without the help of our local congressional delegation, including Reps. Stephanie Murphy (our congresswoman here in Maitland), Val Demings and Darren Soto, each of whom personally spoke out on our behalf to support our application. It is highly likely that without this crucial political capital, we would not have been successful.  

I want to take this opportunity to thank our members of Congress for going to bat for our community during this process. Their efforts exceeded our expectations, and their commitment serves as a testament to the value of a vibrant (and safe!) Jewish community.   

I also want to thank each of you. This grant was designed for culturally significant institutions. The reason our campus in Maitland was recognized for its importance is the impact that each of you has here. Because of your continued support of the Federation and our campus partners, our Jewish community is strong, and our elected leaders recognize that.

Keep up the good work!