By: Dale King Contributing Writer
2019 has already been a busy year at Boca Helping Hands, the community’s nonprofit that provides food for those in need, offers job training and job mentoring, distributes medical and dental vouchers and provides limited financial assistance to Boca Raton residents in crisis.
Early this year, BHH opened the Justin D. Webb Training Center to accommodate its job readiness and other training classes. This building, located across the street from Boca Helping Hands’ headquarters in the Remillard Family Resource Center at 1500 NW 1st Court, was made possible through a grant from the Ruth and Hal Launders Charitable Trust.
Boca Helping Hands also launched its new Gluten-Free Pantry Bag program at its 1st Court quarters. This new platform, which provides bags filled with gluten-free foods to people in need, is a partnership with South Florida Celiac Support Group.
Officials said this is the first Gluten-Free Pantry Bag Program in Palm Beach County. BHH kicked off the effort Feb. 5. Phyllis Kessler, president and CEO of the South Florida Celiac Support Group, the organization funding this program, was onsite for a tour during the kickoff.
Regarding the training facility, “it will provide hundreds of people with job training, enabling them to become self-sufficient,” said Jack Webb, Justin Webb’s father. “Justin was always helping his friends get jobs, so it’s particularly appropriate that this center be named for him.”
The facility houses the Leah and Samuel Hochman Health and Wellness Classroom, a second classroom established in memory of Henry Weitz, an administrative office dedicated to Dr. Herbert L. Watchtel along with a smaller interview room for professional development sessions.
The new center means Boca Helping Hands can conduct classes in a dedicated area designed for that purpose and will eventually be able to offer afternoon, evening and weekend classes.
Free job training programs available through Boca Helping Hands include hospitality, commercial driver’s licenses, customer service representative, home health aide and IT help desk technicians.
Other no-cost classes at the training center include English as a Second Language (ESOL) and The Reading Project (an adult literacy program). Boca Helping Hands partners with Boca Regional Hospital on Living Well, a program that provides talks on health and wellness, early detection of illness and healthy eating.
There are also learning lab classes where students can practice computer skills. Wells Fargo provides financial literacy classes.
Recently, social worker Ariella Block joined the staff of Boca Helping Hands to help students be successful during their training and subsequent job hunt.
As to the Gluten-Free Pantry program, BHH requires participants to have both a financial need as well as a doctor’s note confirming the medical need for a gluten-free diet. Participants will be able to pick up their Gluten-Free Pantry Bags at the main facility in Boca Raton only.
For more information on the program or to schedule an appointment to enroll, call 561-417-0913.
Boca Helping Hands also announced that it has purchased the neighboring Warehouse Pub property. The City’s Planning and Zoning Board has approved plans to convert the property into much needed parking for staff and volunteers.
“We have greatly expanded the scope of Boca Helping Hands’ services to better enable our clients to become self-sufficient,” said Gary Peters, board president. “The goal is to get students trained, certified and assist with employment so they don’t need Boca Helping Hands’ services in the future.”