Freiwald leads group providing homes, purpose for adults in need


For Nancy Freiwald, wealth is not measured in riches. It is measured in purpose, and Freiwald describes her life as enriched by her years of work helping others.

Freiwald just celebrated 25 years at JARC Florida, a Boca Raton-based organization providing group homes, apartments and vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities.

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JARC is gaining in prominence: Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots football team, recently announced a $100,000 challenge grant. According to the grant’s terms, every new or increased gift donation made will be matched by Kraft, up to $100,000.

As JARC becomes more well-known, it also increasingly is needed. During her more than two decades with this group, Freiwald has seen it evolve from an organization serving 22 clients to one now serving 300.

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When JARC started out, it helped adults with development disabilities. But now Freiwald sees an increasing number of adults with autism who also seek the group’s services.

She’s noticed that parents are using the services of JARC when their children still are young adults, an important step toward helping them acquire skills such as independence and job training.

In her various roles at JARC, Freiwald, now director of program services, has been instrumental in the creation of the JARC Extraordinary Games (JARC’s version of the Olympics), the Creative Expression Drama program and Community Works.

The Community Works Program, one of the organization’s most successful programs, allows JARC clients to work at a partner business as trainees. The clients are paid minimum wage by JARC Florida, through a state grant, which essentially gives the partner business free labor. In exchange, the businesses are expected to train, guide and provide a healthy and productive working environment for their respective JARC employees.

JARC thrives on volunteerism, and it has a close relationship with Olympic Heights High School, Freiwald said.

Although not explicitly in its mission statement, JARC helps provide the spark of service that creates the next generation of helpers.

Name: Nancy Freiwald

Age: 58

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Education: BA in Psychology; University of Central Florida (before it was cool!)

Family: Two grown children, a daughter who is an ESE teacher and a son who is in the Air Force

About your organization: JARC Florida, a non-sectarian organization based in Boca Raton, provides group homes, apartments and vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities. JARC is located on the campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. JARC’s mission is to promote independence, dignity, and self-respect in order to create more fulfilling lives.

JARC operates 10 group homes in the Boca Raton and Delray Beach area for adults with developmental disabilities. JARC offers apartment living for those who do not require 24-hour supervision as well as vocational training in the Mel & Elaine Stein Living and Learning Center.

First paying job and what you learned from it: Babysitting. I learned to speak up to get more babysitting jobs.

First break in the business: When I graduated, I also moved. I applied to a blind ad not knowing what the job was. It was working for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (DCF at that time). While I wasn’t qualified for the position I had applied for, they liked me and called me back when another position became available.

How your business has changed? With the growing numbers of young adults with autism, we are creating new programs to meet their needs.

Best business book: All of the “For Dummies” books.

Best piece of business advice you received: Great ideas don’t have titles.

What you tell young people about your business: You will not get rich, but you will be enriched.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County, non-profits, JARC? Continued growth, and creating innovative programs that can be a pilot for other agencies.

Power lunch spot: Café 95. Café 95 is the culinary part of the Clayman Training and Resource Center at JARC and serves as a training facility for JARC clients where they can learn to cook, prepare food, and more. It is also a top-notch kosher café and catering facility which draws many people for lunch every weekday, as well as filling numerous catering jobs each week.

Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office? Sawgrass Mills or Disney World.

Favorite smartphone app: Starbucks, for mobile ordering.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? I like to ask applicants to tell me a success story. This shows me how they think quickly and how they measure success.



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