Although Orlando brings to mind Disney stories, smiling children and summer vacations, the 2008 recession hit the city hard. The collapse of a hyper-inflated real estate market and a sharp downturn in tourism took their toll, with many residents of central Florida losing tourism related jobs. As the country and the state of Florida have rebounded since 2010, Orlando’s unemployment rate has dropped, but at least 350,000 Central Floridians remain mired in poverty, in large part because available jobs pay very low wages.
According to 2016 data, in Orlando:
- 23% of children under 18 lived below the poverty level
- Just under 28% of families have total annual incomes of less than $25,000.
The working poor number is even bigger. A United Way study showed that 43% of households in Orlando’s Orange County report being unable to afford bare necessities, despite being employed. The median hourly wage in Florida is one of the country’s lowest.
Family-to-Family’s liaison in Orlando is the Jesus Loves You Outreach Ministry, led by its president and founder Pauline Jackson. Pauline opened her doors in 2002. A wife, grandmother and mother of four, she says of her service to others, “I had a rough life. But God came into my life. He saved me. This is my way to give back.” Pauline’s devotion helps hundreds of families in the greater Orlando area. The ministry opens its doors on Wednesdays to offer food, household items, baby supplies and clothing, currently serving anywhere from 70 to 110 families a week. She also runs school backpack and supply drives for low income children every summer as well as personal care item drives for the homeless. And with help from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, the Ministry also offers a children’s summer food program. On Thursday afternoons kids receive backpacks full of non-perishable foods to take home so they’ll have something to eat over the weekend.
Pauline identifies families in need for Family-to-Family’s sponsorship program and The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida provide groceries for our sponsored families.
Jesus Loves You Outreach Ministries
6111 Lost Tree Ct.
Orlando, Florida 32808
To learn more:
- For central Florida, poverty reaches new heights
- The Poverty on Disney’s Doorstep
- Almost half of Florida’s families qualify as working poor, study finds
Data Sources: 2013-2017 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau; United Way