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A Brief History of LSF – Celebrating 40 Years

May 17, 2022

LSF Mission

Bringing God’s healing, hope and help to people in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

LSF History

Whether it’s helping refugees find safe housing, providing mental health counseling to teens in crisis, or ensuring quality education for children who are often left behind, Lutheran Services Florida exists to connect the most vulnerable people to the life-changing support that they need.

LSF’s work began in 1980 as we mobilized in response to the Cuban refugee crisis. Forty years later, we are still answering the call of those in need, having expanded beyond refugee missions into childcare, education, and mental health support. We have seen the impact of taking a holistic approach to community advocacy, and we have developed dozens of programs to provide mercy to those facing serious hardship.

Today, we have more than 1,400 employees serving across more than 40 counties, helping more than one million clients each year. Five years ago, we became determined to be the best place for those we serve, those we employ, and those we partner with. This came after a period of significant growth – from LSF providing nearly $30 million in services in 2009 to providing over $250 million in 2021. Since then, we have improved our systems and processes so we can be as effective as possible in our fight against poverty, mental health stigma, homelessness, abuse, and illiteracy.

This year is special, as we are celebrating 40 years of service. During the past few decades, we have partnered with everyone from large corporations to small volunteer church groups—all in the name of working together to providing funding and resources to those in need. It speaks to the collective responsibility to answer the call to care for our neighbors. These partnerships have resulted in our increased ability to serve teens struggling with family relationships, children living in poverty preparing for Kindergarten, children living in abusive and dangerous situations, and those who are battling substance abuse and mental health issues. The impacts of COVID have dramatically increased the need and demand for our love and mercy. In the past four years specifically, we have:

  • Opened group homes to house and care for the hardest to serve youth
  • Opened a shelter to support children seeking to reunite with family members
  • Expanded our work with abused and neglected children
  • Restarted our development efforts and begun to reengage with Lutheran churches across Florida

As we continue to grow, we remain dedicated to staying grounded in our mission of helping others. Commitment to that mission has resulted in us helping 1 in every 50 people across the state of Florida. With this kind of impact, there are hundreds of stories of men, women, and children whose lives we’ve changed. Consider two recent stories of those who were in great need:

Then there’s the story of two refugee teenaged brothers from the Congo who came to America in search of a better life. Chris and Jacob were looking for a way to provide for their family, but they didn’t have jobs. They spent their days studying and attending school but their academic progress – while necessary to the promise of a bright future—wasn’t doing much to put food on the table. After working with LSF team members, they were connected with an employment opportunity. They celebrated this achievement, but still didn’t have a way to get to work. LSF team members came through again and secured bikes for the boys to get to and from their new job. After a few weeks, they were able to make the money they needed to provide food and clothing for their parents and five siblings.

Every day, we do work that directly honors our mission: Safe Children, Strong Families, Vibrant Communities.  It’s something that we can’t do alone, but with the continued funding, support of community partners and stakeholders we are able to change lives across the state (and beyond!) each day.

This year we celebrate four decades of upholding this mission, and we hope for four more as we work to make people happier, safer, healthier, and better equipped to live full lives surrounded by a community that cares.

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This post was written by Elevate, Inc.

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