IN THE NEWS: Summer camp scholarships available

Randall P. Lieberman, Staff Writer

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May 21, 2014

With the cost of summer camps getting more and more expensive these days, the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) is providing a new Summer Camp Scholarship program for families who reside within South Palm Beach County (Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Highland Beach).

Local families are entitled to receive up to $1,000 per child toward the cost of any type of summer camp — day or overnight; Jewish or secular. The scholarship payment goes directly from JFS to the camp.

The scholarship program was made possible thanks to a donation of $2.4 million to the agency by the sons of Ruth and Norman Rales, who continue to do philanthropic works in this area in the name of their late parents. The gift was announced at the JFS Gala in December of 2013.

Said Danielle Hartman, JFS president and CEO: "JFS is excited to be able to offer scholarships for summer camps this year. The funding to enable us to provide these scholarships comes from the Center for Families & Children, which was created in January with a gift from the Rales Foundation."

According to Beth Levine, JFS senior vice president and chief operating officer, there are currently 46 children receiving scholarships from JFS this summer (as of Thursday, May 15), with funding available for up to a total of 150 children.

Levine pointed out that the scholarships are not full scholarships, but partial scholarships available based on financial need.

Levine said: "Simply put, without these scholarships many campers would not be able to attend camp this summer."

One grateful mother in that situation is Pam Meline of Boca Raton, a single mother of three children who receives no child support from the father of her kids — son Maxwell, 8, and twin girls, Ava and Chloe, 6.

Meline will be receiving $600 per child from JFS to send her kids to the 2014 Summer Day Camp at the Peter Blum Family YMCA of Boca Raton.

"The Jewish Family Service has always been there for me and my family with open arms," Meline said. "My children benefit from camp programs such as the YMCA, which teach them leadership and social skills pertinent to life. My children would not be able to benefit from this program if it was not for the aid of JFS. My son said recently that despite the fact that things get hard, 'we always find a way.'"

Meline said her children's participation in the YMCA camp this summer will really help them grow.

"My son will be exposed to sports and activities he would not be exposed to if he stayed at home, Meline said, "He will also receive the benefit of male counselors who act as mentors for him. My daughter also has blossomed under the supervision and guidance she has received from the YMCA's after-school program. She continually asks the counselors what activity is next despite the fact that they are closing for the day."

Hartman said that while summer camp for many is a luxury, for many others it fills a critical need for child care for low-income working parents while school is out.

Hartman said: "Fortunately, the funding this year is for both day camp and overnight camp and there is an application process to determine eligibility. Never in the history of our community have we had funding of this magnitude to really make a difference to local families with this particular need."

In order to be considered for this JFS Summer Camp Scholarship, families need to fill out an application and provide all necessary documents to be considered for assistance.

To find out more information, and/or receive a Summer Camp Scholarship Application, contact Shari Waknin, vice president of programs, at 561-852-3171 or shariw@ralesjfs.org.

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, career & employment services, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS call 561-852-3333. Learn more at www.ralesjfs.org.

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