She can, you can, we all can

Lake to be honored

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  • | 11:53 a.m. March 2, 2011
Photo by: Kristy Vickery - Harriett Lake's CANCAN will embody the Jewish tradition of "tikkun olam", which means repairing the world. It will raise money for the food pantry at Jewish Family Services.
Photo by: Kristy Vickery - Harriett Lake's CANCAN will embody the Jewish tradition of "tikkun olam", which means repairing the world. It will raise money for the food pantry at Jewish Family Services.
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At 89 years old, Harriett Lake doesn’t have any trouble being in the spotlight.

“It’s kind of routine for me — someone has to be honored,” the always-fashionable Lake said.

But for Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando, Lake isn’t just another person being honored. She’s someone near and dear to their hearts, which is why they’ve decided to have a charity event dedicated to her.

“Harriett is truly a force in the community and a force throughout the community that to me is extremely giving and very wanting to make a difference in the world,” said Barry Kudlowitz, executive director of JFS. “And it’s rare to have a donor this wonderful and this supportive.”

Lake is a Longwood resident and philanthropist who’s been involved in everything from the arts — she sponsors Park Avenue Fashion Week — to breast cancer and AIDS research. She’s spent years of giving not her wallet to charities, but her support and heart, because giving to people in need is something she strongly believes in.

“I believe in Jewish Family Services … and I believe in feeding people,” Lake said. “I don’t care who they are, you can’t let people go hungry.”

On Sunday, March 13, JFS will honor Lake with a charity event. Harriett’s CANCAN will be held at Maison & Jardin from 5-7 p.m. to honor Lake’s “can-do” attitude. It will include festive decor, hors d’oeuvres, wine, a silent auction and themed entertainment. It will embody the Jewish tradition of “tikkun olam” — repairing the world — which is exactly what Lake encapsulates to JFS.

“She (Lake) is very rooted in the community and is very giving,” said Deborah Knispel, marketing coordinator at JFS. “And she has been a big sponsor in the Jewish community and with Jewish Family Services.”

Knispel said Lake’s passion centers on JFS’ food pantry program, which ensures that hungry families have food on their tables.

The event’s goal is to raise necessary dollars for JFS pantries, thereby helping to alleviate hunger in the community. Last year, JFS distributed 107,000 meals, which represented an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

“We get about 120 calls a day for financial assistance … on a typical day, we’ll see maybe 18 to 20 families,” Kudlowitz said. “There are a lot of people in need.”

Jewish Family Services also provides emergency assistance for families in need, whether it’s help paying a bill or counseling.

“One misconception is that JFS helps only the Jewish community,” Knispel said. “Really only about 10 percent of people that we’re providing services to are Jewish.”

JFS is a non-profit human service agency for people of all ages, regardless of race or religion, that extends a helping hand or listening ear to more than 10,000 people on an annual basis.

“We’re not confined to Jewish families in trouble. We help anybody, no matter what domination, persuasion or whatever they are … we don’t turn away anyone,” Lake said.

This willingness to help and lend a hand to those in need is the very reason why JFS chose to honor Lake.

“If you got to lead, you got to follow or get the heck out of the way, that’s the way I feel about everything,” Lake said.

Lake said she gives to more than 100 charities, and will continue to give “until the last check bounces.”

Learn more

Harriett Lake’s CANCAN will be held on Sunday, March 13, at Maison & Jardin in Altamonte Springs from 5-7 p.m. For sponsors and VIP ticket holders, a special private champagne reception with Lake will be held. To learn more about sponsorships, purchasing tickets or serving on the committee, please call Es Cohen at 407-644-7593 ext 241, or to learn more about JFS visit


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