Friday, June 22, 2018

Food, Health, Jobs, and Family Crisis Assistance Resources in Central Florida

Dear friends,

Several years ago, I compiled a list of several organizations and government programs which offer assistance for food, health care, housing, jobs, family crises, and other needs in the Orlando area.  

This is not a complete list. If you know of other organizations, would you please leave a comment?

If you live in another area, I encourage you to compile your own list to share with folks you know.  Put it on a blog, link it to Facebook, send it to everyone in your e-mail address book, whatever it takes to get the word out in these tough economic times!

My purposes?  One, to connect families who need help with available resources. Two, to connect families who can donate or volunteer with opportunities to serve. Most of these organizations would make a great place for a high school student to volunteer for Bright Futures scholarship qualification hours.

First of all, let me give a big shout out to Heart of Florida United Way's 211 crisis phone line. If you have a need, they will give connect you with programs in your area which offer the specific kind of assistance you require. I start work there next week, and I'm so excited! Just dial 211!

Charitable organizations offering food, clothing, housing,  and other assistance:

  • Second Harvest Food Bank:   Collects and distributes donated food to more than 500 nonprofit partner agencies in six Central Florida counties
  • Harvest Time International: Offers long-term self-sufficiency program, assistance with groceries, household items, cleaning supplies, diapers, in exchange for low contributions.  Help with applying for government programs.   
  • Up Orlando: "To inspire and empower people living in poverty to lift themselves and their families to economic self-sufficiency." 150 W Michigan Street, Orlando, FL 32806 (407) 650-0774
  • Family Promise Orlando: "We strive to help our families regain their financial independence within 90 days. Our faith based organizations provide shelter, meals, and comprehensive support services to homeless families."
  • Christian Service Center of Central Florida:  Provides food, clothing, financial assistance, shelter, counsel and prayer in Orlando, Ocoee and Winter Park or (407)425-2523
  • Christian Sharing Center: Open to visitors Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 12 noon, except holidays at locations in Longwood (407-260-9155) and Sanford (407-323-2513).
  • Orlando Union Rescue Mission:  "The Orlando Union Rescue Mission is one of Central Florida's oldest and largest homeless service providers.  The Mission provides for immediate physical needs -- including food, clothing and shelter -- however, our programs are designed to lead the homeless to permanent independence built upon a personal relationship with Christ.
  • Haven of Hope Ministries: Provides food, clothing, and support groups to individuals that are HIV/AIDS infected, as well as food bags for those who are living with a terminal illness and in poverty.
  • Rescue Outreach Mission of Sanford: Provides emergency shelter, food, clothing, and spiritual guidance to disadvantaged, needy, homeless and abused individuals and families.  407-321-8224
  • Jewish Family Services: Offers food assistance to anyone in need. Financial assistance is offered to those who qualify

Organizations which match volunteers to projects:

  • Hands On Orlando: "Hands On Orlando helps you help others. We plan, manage and lead volunteer projects that you and your friends can join." They also have projects suitable for corporate team building. 
  • Volunteer Match: "VolunteerMatch matches inspired people with inspiring causes. It’s how volunteers and nonprofits connect to achieve remarkable outcomes."

Seminole County government food resources

  • WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Supplemental Food Program: provides food assistance for families with pregnant mothers and/or children ages 0 to 5 years.
  • Department of Food Service: apply for free and reduced lunch for Seminole County public school students (based on demographics, some schools also offer free breakfast to all students, without regard to family income). Many schools offer free breakfast and lunch for children during the summer at Summer Breakspots.

Jobs assistance: 
  • Christian HELP: assists the unemployed to find jobs, plus help for food and other resources as needed
  • Jobs Partnership:  Innovative approach to workforce development that provides a lasting solution to the challenges of insecurity, low self-esteem, and inconsistent work ethic in today’s workplace. In partnership with area businesses and churches. Twelve week Life and Work class at area churches, includes placement assistance.
  • Dress for Success of Greater Orlando: assists women with interview appropriate clothing as a tool to develop self-sufficient lives

Health care assistance:
  • Shepherd's Hope Clinic: "Caring People Caring for People", Christian ministry provides free health care to the uninsured at clinics around Central Florida
  • Seminole County Health Department: free immunizations for all county children (no income requirements) and free dental care for Medicaid recipients
  • Florida KidCare: Subsidized health care insurance for children throughout Florida.  Premiums are based on income.  If have low income for your family size, you may be automatically approved for Medicaid instead.  888-540-5437
Crisis pregnancy assistance:

  • Life Choices Medical Clinic: Free pregnancy tests and practical assistance 441 Maitland Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701, phone: 321-422-4168, after hours, 800-712-HELP

Domestic violence crisis assistance:
  • SafeHouse of Seminole: A confidential shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, includes counseling, practical support, legal help, etc.
  • Harbor House (Orange County): Shelter for victims of domestic violence, includes counseling, practical support, legal help, etc.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • Kids House of Seminole Children's Advocacy Center: Help for families dealing with child abuse; friendly, non-threatening atmosphere, includes counseling, support, information on resources, referrals for substance abuse treatment, etc.

    Thanks for reading this!  

    Virginia Knowles

    Friday, June 1, 2018

    Simple Woman's Daybook - June 2018

    Hello friends!

    I'm back with another Simple Woman's Daybook! (Check out my first one from April.

    simple-woman-daybook-large.jpgI'll link this up to the TSW Daybook blog hop later this month. Maybe you'd like to give it a try too? It's SIMPLE! I'm just following the prompts! I must confess, though, that I have rearranged the sections due to what I'm writing about and how each part connects with the others this time around.

    For Today...

    Looking out my window...

    Our backyard has a beautiful old magnolia tree in the corner, but sad to say, I very rarely go back there and I rarely even open the living room curtains to see it. I've known it's been in bloom for several weeks, but when I finally went out today I only saw two flowers. I don't know if that is because it is late in the season or because the tree is old and not blossoming as much. Next year, I'll get out there sooner to enjoy it! 

    My late mother, a wonderful stained glass artist, created a magnolia piece for me many years ago.

    I am thinking...

    The summer can slip by so easily... School has been out for  a week now, and the three school age kids are just chilling. Two of them will also be doing high school credits online through Florida Virtual School, and one of them has a job, but that still leaves some time to spare. My two oldest sons, who are 18 and 20, still live at home, too, so I'm sure they'll take younger siblings on some adventures.

    I'll bet we'll go to Rock Springs at Kelly Park, and other local nature spots. I did a photo post a Rock Springs a while back: Hidden Treasures from the Dark Places.

    Maybe I'll also get us a membership at the Central Florida YMCA, because join fees are 75% off right now.

    One of my favorite things...

    One of my favorite things is actually a collection of pretty, sentimental knick knacks on a bookcase in my bedroom. I love looking at it every single day. 

    I've read about the Swedish Death Cleaning method of decluttering a home. (Here's one article: What is 'Swedish death cleaning' and should you be doing it?) Simply said, "You get rid of all the stuff you’ve accumulated that you don’t need anymore — so that no one else has to do it for you after you pass." 

    Well folks, this is the stuff I'm keeping. Let my kids do what they want with it when I'm gone. Fun thing to know: a lot of it I inherited from my mother after she passed away and I'm glad she kept it. There is more in my china cabinet, and some in my closet that I'll pass down to my kids if they want it.

    ~ one of my mom's porcelain sculptures ~
    ~ she particularly liked hummingbirds ~

    The cottage village is one of my own collections. I love cottages and want to own one someday when my kids have all flown the nest. You can read about that here: My Cottage Dreams (Why Not Now?)

    ~~ cottage bought at a tea shop with friends ~~
    ~ stained glass candle shield made by my mother ~

    ~ plate I made at a pottery painting place
    with some of my favorite words for life ~

    I am wearing...

    I'm wearing an ultra soft heather gray t-shirt I bought at the Vintage Market Days festival out in Geneva, Florida last October. On the t-shirt, the worstrong forms part of the coastline, since we'd just survived Hurricane Irma a few weeks earlier. (I'm guessing most of Florida has recovered, but Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is another story.)

    I love vintage stores and festivals, and I'll try to go to the next local VMD event this September in Kissimmee. I think I'll go by myself this time since I like meandering at my own pace.

    ~ my VMD stash from last October ~

    Oh, speaking of Irma, it's hurricane season again, as of today! Are you ready?

    I am thankful...

    I am thankful that I was accepted for admission to Asbury Theological Seminary (Orlando Dunnam campus) starting this September, and that they have offered me two generous scholarships. I didn't make it into the counseling program, but that's OK. I can still take counseling classes as electives, and I love the theology classes I get to take! The Master of Arts in Ministry program is shorter than the Pastoral Counseling degree, though I may bump it up to a longer ministry degree later on. I start classes just a few days before I turn 55 - a little late in life, but better late than never, right? I still need to find a summer job to earn money for tuition. This is all a huge transition for me, since I've been mostly home with my 10 kids for the past 31 years.

    Here I am after the Asbury graduation last month. My friend Patricia (left) graduated with her Master of Divinity and received the Basin & Towel award, and my friend Robyn (right) earned her Doctorate of Ministry. Lord willing, I'll be walking that stage to get my diploma in a few years!

    I am reading... 

    I am reading theology books. Seriously. One of my three courses - Inductive Bible Study, Gospel of Matthew - has over 300 pages of reading due by the second week. I'm getting a jump on it over the summer, along with books for the other two classes, which are Church History and Christian Ethics. My favorite local used bookstore, Brightlight Books, has thousands of theology books in stock. I traded in home school books (the end of an era after 26 years) and used my store credit for several of my theology text books. I still have a bunch more to buy.

    I ordered the Kindle version of the main Inductive Bible Study text book to get it faster and because it's so much easier on my eyes than reading a print version because I can adjust the font size. 

    I am creating...

    I've been working on a new blog, a multi-faceted devotional Bible study on the book of James. For each Scripture passage, Wisdom from James features:

    • Read+Reflect+Respond: study questions, applications, a hymn, a prayer
    • My Reflections: expanded paraphrase, an essay (often on how the verses have been miscontrued), my poems
    • Study Helps: alternate versions, related Bible verses, commentaries

    Someone asked how I decided to start this blog, and why the book of James? My answer to the second question was simply, "It comes after Hebrews." That's not mystical. It just happened that I had been reading and studying the book of Hebrews for my own devotional time, and then decided to keep going on with the very next book. At the time, I was reading the passages on my phone, copying them in to the Day One journal app, and then tapping in my comments and paraphrases. One day I decided to share a paraphrased passage on Facebook, and friends who like it encouraged me to write a devotional. I considered compiling an e-book to sell online, but after talking to an old friend who has published e-books, I decided on a different plan. This material seems more suited to a blog with links from one place to another. People can click on what they want to see, whether it is a different facet of the same passage, or links to articles on other websites or on my other blogs. So instead of a project with monetary profit, it's more a labor of love. Plus, it's helping me prepare for seminary.

    Take a peek at: Wisdom from James.

    I am listening...

    I finally went to watch The Greatest Showman in the dollar theater since I'm too cheap to pay full price. I loved the movie! I downloaded my five favorite songs on iTunes, and I listen to them as I exercise in my mini-gym, as well as just for plain enjoyment. The songs I liked best are:

    I also really enjoyed watching The Black Panther movie at the dollar theater. The cinematography was stunning, and I loved the portrayal of empowered women, as well as the contrast between traditional and technological.

    I am hoping...

    I'm hoping to improve my daily routine. Little bit by little bit! I found a web site, Develop Good Habits, that teaches how to build habit stacks. I'm working to be more consistent with a morning habit stack and an evening habit stack for hygiene, medications, water, exercise, reading, prayer, etc. 

    I am learning...

    I am learning that even though I don't always have extended time to create visual art, I can appreciate and honor the art of others.

    My 12 year old daughter created these with inspiration from online videos.

    I've been wanting to go to the Faith Arts Village Orlando (FAVO) 1st Friday art show for over a year. It's a collection of 32 small art studios in the re-purposed rooms of what used to be a motel. This artist, Jeryl Kain, paints rocks with the image of Jesus on them to be scattered around the city. Each has a Facebook page handle to learn more about the Good News.

    To my surprise, our family friend Kevin, who grew up with my son-in-law, also exhibits his photography at FAVO. We had a lovely chat. Kevin donates his profits to charity.

    On the way home, I drove by Park Lake and snapped a few nature photos of my own.

    In my kitchen...

    I've been pretty good about cooking at home for my family rather than hitting the fast food joints this month. But I still don't cook every night. 

    I have three kids who work at Publix supermarkets, though not at the same stores. My 17 year old daughter started this week. She let me know that chicken tender subs were on sale, so when I dropped her off, I ordered a sub for three of my kids to split. I also noticed that their maple bourbon rotisserie chicken was on sale, so I got one of those too. Yum. Of course I went through the checkout line where she was bagging!


    One way I keep my kitchen in order -- other than by NOT cooking -- is with various containers. I have a two tier metal bread rack next to my toaster, and I keep a basket for miscellaneous stuff (rather than a junk drawer) and another basket for clean up cloths. Yes, I still use paper towels, and I definitely use canisters of pre-moistened cleaning wipes. But sometimes a good sturdy absorbent cloth is what's needed for scrubbing a counter or wiping up a big spill. I always like to keep them handy!

    Post script...

    This is the part of the daybook where we're encouraged to pass along a favorite link. I choose Country Living Magazine, because they've got a bunch of creative articles for home, garden, cooking, crafts and the country lifestyle. I don't subscribe, but I love to read it in waiting rooms!

    Shared quote...

    The inspiring quotes on these cards sum up the encouragement and motivation that I need as I make big bold brave transitions in my life.

    A moment from my day

    My son informed me that I had forgotten to buy trash bags, which he needed because he was cleaning his room. Glory be! That's a miracle around here. 

    I dutifully trotted off to our 24 hour Super Walmart late at night to buy those trash bags. While I was there, I bought a frame for my daughter's water color, and a small candle to place inside my mother's stained glass candle shield.

    Of course I couldn't find my van in the parking lot after I got out of the store at 11 pm. It's a good thing I have automatic keys that flash the headlights and taillights, or I might still be wandering around.

    Closing Notes

    Morning will be here all too soon, so I'm going to say good night now!

    I hope that whenever you read this, you'll have a lovely and awesome day!

    Grace and peace,

    Virginia Knowles

    Friday, April 13, 2018

    Simple Woman's Daybook - April 2018

    Hello friends!

    Since I'm in an eclectic mood at the moment, I've decided to use the Simple Woman's Daybook format to get back into the swing of things here at this blog! I'll link this up up to the TSW Daybook blog hop next month. Maybe you'd like to give it a try too? It's SIMPLE! I'm just following the prompts!

    For Today...


    Looking out my window...

    This isn't out my window, but I love the way the light hit the net curtains and the sill.

    This next one isn't exactly my window, but it's one I want to share!

    This is a skylight window surrounded by stained glass panels at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida. Admission is free on Friday evenings this month, so I took the two younger kids for an hour or so tonight. We've all been there many times! They have the most  comprehensive collection of stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as a lot of American folk art. My late mother was a stained glass artist, and I inherited her tools and glass. Someday, I'll give it a whirl.

    I am thinking...

    I've been thinking a lot about the future, and what I'm doing to move forward. I've had a lot of transitions in recent years, with old chapters ending and new ones beginning.  I'm thinking BIG GOALS (I've applied to seminary and now I'm in wait mode!) and I'm thinking about smaller daily stuff, like keeping up with dishes, laundry, groceries, budgeting... Oh, and driving kids everywhere. I am perpetually tweaking my systems, trying to think of ways to make things run smoother. And I'm pondering my direction. I want to know that I'm doing what I'm essentially meant to do in this life, and that I'll leave a legacy for the future.

    Oddly, this future thinking also takes me to the past. I've picked up researching genealogy again, though only through the family tree of my maternal grandfather this time. As I click back through the centuries and continents on, it fascinates me to think about back then and over there. What were the hopes and dreams of my foremothers Mary, Sancha, Delia, Appolonie, Hawise, Maud, Metje, Maria Magdalena, Agnes, Giovanni, Thankful, Deliverance, Comfort, and the hundreds of others on my list? What were their big goals in life? What life lessons did they teach their children? This week I discovered that some of my ancestors were banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony along with Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams. And funny thing is, a friend who subs at a public school brought over a few books they were discarding. This was the top one....

    I am thankful...

    I'm thankful for my family. We had all 10 kids and most of the grandchildren over for Easter dinner. I forgot to take pictures until after some of them had left, but I did get this one later on with several of the middle kids.

    And here are my dear friends Molly and Patricia on Easter morning at church. I am so thankful for these ladies and their warm welcome! Patricia is graduating from Asbury Seminary soon and she has been a wonderful mentor for me.

    One of my favorite things...

    A year ago, I made a large blue writing table using the existing base of a small tilting table. It's well worn by now, but I still love it. You will see little bits of it in this post. The bottom edge of the desk is wood burned with the words: "Fill your soul with all good things and let the beauty pour forth." That's my motto for life.

    I am creating...

    Though I dabble in many forms of art, right now I am mainly focusing on photography and blogging. You can see both in these posts on my Watch the Shepherd blog:

    I'm also trying to learn calligraphy.  I have a bunch of calligraphy markers. It took several tries to get this right. It's not super recent (from late last year) but it's my favorite piece.

    I am wearing...

    I love stained glass, especially rose windows. The one on this shirt is from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I wore this tonight when we were visiting the Morse Museum. The photo at the top of this post is a rose window in the chapel at the Morse. I can't always travel to Europe to see castles and cathedrals, but I can appreciate the beauty around me!

    I'm not much of a clothes person, but last week I spent a whole day shopping for business professional clothes, mainly for my seminary counseling department group interview. I settled on a mid length black skirt and jacket, with a short sleeve blue sweater that I already had. Whatever I end up doing - going to grad school or going back to work - I'm going to need some decent non-mommyish clothes.

    I am reading... 

    I decided when I applied to seminary that whether I go or not, I am still going to apply myself to studying theology by reading real books (especially old ones) and not just blog posts and other online resources. 

    Church history is a deep love of mine (or a dark hobby if you consider how much I research dysfunction in religious movements), so I just finished up biographies of John Wesley (British founder of the Methodist church) and his contemporary Hannah More (British poet, educator, abolitionist, reformer). Then I polished off Booked, the literary memoir by Karen Swallow Prior, who also wrote the More bio. 

    Now I'm finishing up In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher, who took his family on a pilgrimage to Europe to learn about the people and places of our Christian heritage. Today I read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor executed for his part in the Resistance movement during World War II; I need to find a full length biography of him, too. 

    And along with all of this, because I love vintage theology so much, I've been reading through a daily devotional that's over a century old.

    And lastly, I just ordered these books by Vinita Hampton Wright, and have already started dipping into them...

    In the Bible, I'm currently working through the book of Hebrews. 

    I am listening...

    A short playlist of beauty, joy, and authenticity...

    I am hoping...

    ... that I figure out what I'm doing soon! Being in the limbo of waiting can be uncomfortable. But I've learned to keep moving forward and to work toward a variety of possibilities in the meantime. I've blown already through Plan A, Plan B, Plan C... Or should I say Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3? It's all good. No matter what, I know that God is always with me, and he's not done working in my life yet! This quote is from that devotional book.

    I am learning...

    ...slowly, to find that sweet spot between rest and work. Even within the realm of work, I have to discern when to do brain work (study and writing) and when to do manual work (taking care of my home and my health). I want to be productive rather than lazy, but I don't want to be driven to busy-ness by unrealistic expectations, comparisons with others, or shame at not being enough. There is a time to sit and think, and a time to get up and do. You'd think at age 54, I would have figured all of this out by now. But life changes, doesn't it? 

    I do know I need to exercise more. This mini-gym makes it much easier for me. Nothing complicated. Hand weights and resistance bands, step, foam roller, balance board, and a small pedal machine.

    In my kitchen...

    One of my recent goals has been to start cooking more real meals for my family instead of relying so much on convenience foods and fast food. Yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Day, so that was easy enough. Tonight I set out a southern feast of leftover chili, warm cornbread with butter, hash browns, fried ham, and fresh pineapple. Ben said, "BET!" That's slang: he likes it. I still have to clean up the remains...

    I often make protein smoothies for myself. I was getting tired of our blender jar always being dirty when I needed it, so I bought myself an immersion mixer which is really easy to rinse off right after I used it. I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before!

    Post script...

    This is the part of the daybook where we're encouraged to pass along a favorite link. I want to feature the blog of my brave friend Susan Moore, who is a survivor, an artist, and an encourager. She recently did a similar daybook post with a slightly different format. You can find it here: Currently. I started using the Day One journal app after reading about it on her blog.

    Shared quote...

    Quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German martyr...

    “There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”

    “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?"

    “The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.”

    “The awareness of a spiritual tradition that reaches through the centuries gives one a certain feeling of security in the face of all transitory difficulties.”

    "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

    A moment from my day

    Here we are to share a photo of the daily-ness of our lives.

    A few weeks ago I decided I needed to consolidate most of my files into one cabinet. Having all of my papers handy and organized makes a lot of sense in my every day  life. The bottom drawer is logistical stuff like bills, warranties, schedules, health records, van repair receipts, and budgets. I labeled it "la vie quotidienne avec ma famille" which means "daily life with my family." The other drawer is "belle renaissance du coeur" which means "beautiful rebirth of heart" - and it has more spiritually oriented papers on spiritual growth, church, theology, ministry, social justice, writing, and speaking. This two drawer system is kind of like a picture of my life. I have both things to think about and work on. Eek. How do I integrate all of it without compromising any of it? 

    0h, and truth be told, I do not even speak much French. It just seemed more elegant. :-) That's where Google Translate comes in handy, oui? 

    Closing Notes
    Wow! This has been a long post! Thanks for reading these snippets of my life. Can you please pray for me and for my family, that we will walk our journey well, with faith and hope and joy?

    Grace and peace,
    Virginia Knowles

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