JOANN Stores Donates 700 Yards of Fabric to LSF’s Stitching for Service Project

Tampa, Fla. – 4/27/2020 Lutheran Services Florida, a statewide nonprofit, dedicated to helping families in crisis has found a solution to the barriers of attaining masks for front line staff by creating Stitching for Service: A Project to Address the Mask Shortage.

Our organization has nearly 1,200 essential workers and getting masks has been a struggle. We put together a Mask Force and created a project pulling together 25 sewers within LSF who are committed to sewing masks. JOANN Stores partnered with us by donating 700 yards of fabric to get our group started.

“JOANN was instrumental in realizing our vision to be self-sufficient in providing masks to our people,” Jim Clark, Director of Community Relations said. “We had the idea and plan, but without JOANN supplying the fabric we wouldn’t be able to provide protection for our people so quickly during this time.”

LSF is also partnering with The Villages in Orlando and Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa who provided us with over 2,000 masks. We want to ensure we are ready to supply another wave of masks to our people as we begin reopening our offices across the state when it is safe to do so. We are anticipating masks will still need to be worn long after Florida reopens for business.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of cloth face coverings, along with social distancing, to slow the spread of the coronavirus as people who have the virus but don’t know it can transmit it to others.

LSF is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to helping the most vulnerable Floridians. We do this by reducing the suicide and drug addiction rate, giving families in crisis the support they need to persevere, and making sure those in poverty get the education they need to close the achievement gap.

To partner with us contact Jim Clark, Director of Community Relations at or 813-415-7231. Visit for the latest information on LSF’s response to the pandemic.


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Media Contact:

Terri Durdaller, LSF Vice President of Communications


Connecting in a Time of Isolation

“Socially distancing doesn’t mean we are emotionally distancing.”

Many, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have raised concern about the long-term effects of isolation across all ages. Specifically, concerns have been raised about the potential for increased suicides. Suicide prevention experts say it’s reasonable to think the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to increased suicide risk for certain populations. CEO of LSF Health Systems and clinical psychologist, Dr. Christine Cauffield shares how important it is to find balance as a community in protecting the spread of the virus but also having an enhanced focus on mental health.

Dr. Cauffield explains that increased isolation can be a trigger for those already struggling with mental health problems, but she says there is hope in connection. And to remember that just because we are socially distancing doesn’t mean we are emotionally distancing.

While facing COVID-19, she reminds us that it’s important to get creative with how we communicate and show support to one another. Connection is key to combating isolation, and thankfully, we live in a day and age where there are more ways to connect than ever before. Dr. Cauffield believes people who receive support – even virtual support – from caring friends and family, and those who have access to mental health services are much less likely to act on their suicidal impulses.

The easiest way to check in on someone who you think may be struggling is to pick up the phone – whether it’s a traditional call or a video chat. Try setting up regular calls with your loved ones so that they have a time to look forward to connecting with you every day. This is also a key time to gauge their mindset and behavior and potentially ask some of those more difficult questions.

Another way to connect, is sending a meal to someone’s doorstep. While you may not be able to go out to a restaurant together, a surprise meal delivery may brighten someone’s day and it also expresses love and concern. The CDC says it does not believe the virus can spread through food but ensure the driver and your loved one take appropriate precautions and employ contactless delivery if possible.

Dr. Cauffield shares warning signs that a loved one may be thinking about suicide and adds that during this challenging time, it’s important to be in tune with any concerning behavioral changes.

Signs a loved one may be thinking about suicide:

  • Extreme or unusual agitation or calm
  • Withdrawal
  • Excessive drinking or drug use
  • Talking about wanting to end their lives
  • Saying goodbye to others
  • Giving away belongings

If you feel a loved one is suicidal, Dr. Cauffield says to start a conversation expressing concern and asking questions. It’s important to remember that talking about suicide does not cause someone to take their life. You can be sensitive, but also direct by asking:

  • How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?
  • Do you ever feel like just giving up?
  • Are you thinking about dying?
  • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Do you have access to weapons or things that can be used as weapons to harm yourself?

If you find yourself struggling with suicidal thoughts, give yourself some distance between thoughts and actions.

  • Make a promise to yourself, “I will wait 24 hours, or one week, and I won’t do anything drastic during that time.”
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Suicidal thoughts can become even stronger when you take drugs or drink.
  • Make your home safe. Remove things you can use to hurt yourself such as pills, knives and firearms.
  • Share your feelings with someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. Don’t let fear or shame prevent you from seeking help. You can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.







LSF Follows School Districts Lead and Shuts Down Head Start Centers

Tampa, Fla. – 3/19/2020 We recognize the role LSF plays as a statewide nonprofit in helping families through the coronavirus pandemic. We serve more than 5,400 children and families each year in Duval, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties through our Head Start and Early Head Start programs by working to close the achievement gap and serve the family as a whole.

Each of our classrooms are closed to in alignment with the school systems to children and families through at least April 15th due to coronavirus. However, our staff is still working. Our teachers and staff may not be in the classrooms, but they are still connecting with parents and serving as a resource. Our educational leaders are designing remote learning plans and strategizing around the challenges that brings for families without computers, the internet and food while they are out of the classrooms.

Most of the families we serve in Head Start are below the federal poverty line. As the situation around coronavirus evolves and the level of uncertainty continues to rise, we are looking for partners to help serve them as they face increased financial pressures and the challenge of educating their children while the Head Start program is closed through at least mid-April. While our program grant will allow us to continue paying our teachers, assistance for families must be donor funded.

“Our Head Start staff have reached out to parents to assess the challenges they are facing as a result of COVID-19. Many are out of work due to business closures, shortage of hours or lack of childcare. This is an unprecedented challenge that requires communities to come together for solutions,” Bob Bialas, LSF EVP of Children and Head Start Services said.

The Head Start/ Early Head program works with low-income children between the ages of 6 weeks to 3-years-old to provide early learning. Through the program, children can enhance their development skills to be prepared for school and life. The program also provides health and mental support by monitoring behavior and providing daily health checks. In addition, the program benefits families by promoting family engagement; some activities include leadership, training, and goal setting.

To partner with us contact Jim Clark, Director of Community Relations at or 813-415-7231. Visit for the latest information on LSF’s response to the pandemic.

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Media Contact:

Terri Durdaller, LSF Vice President of Communications


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