Lutheran Services Florida serves to bring God’s healing, hope and help to people in need in the name of Jesus Christ.
In 1975 when the Vietnam War ended, thousands of refugees sought safety in the United States arriving with nothing more than the clothes they wore. The needs of the refugees were tremendous and Lutheran churches responded quickly providing them with immediate aid in the form of food, clothing and temporary homes. This assistance was vital; however, it soon became apparent that a larger, ongoing and more organized effort was necessary to help the newcomers adjust to life in a new country.
As a result, Lutheran churches sponsored employment programs to help refugees find jobs so they could truly begin building new lives in America. In 1980, when thousands of Cubans came to the United States during the Mariel Boatlift, Lutheran churches responded once again helping refugees with resettlement needs and employment assistance.
When Lutheran Services Florida (formerly Lutheran Ministries of Florida) was established in 1982, the agency assumed responsibility for the employment programs started by Lutheran churches in Miami and Tampa. Whereas initially the greatest demand for assistance came from Vietnamese and Cuban refugees, soon LSF counselors were helping refugees from Central America, Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean, Bosnia, the Sudan and many other countries. As the number of refugees increased dramatically throughout the years, LSF responded to the growing demand for services by expanding its programs. Today LSF has Refugee and Immigration programs throughout Southeast and Central Florida.
Other programs located throughout the state include Guardianship Services, Youth Shelters, Head Start and Early Head Start, the Child Care Food Program, Counseling Services, Disaster Response, Sexual Abuse Treatment Program, Teen Court, Ryan White Program, Case Management for Child Welfare, Foster Care and Adoptions, Charter Schools, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
Continuing its mission, LSF continues to expand each division of services to meet existing needs and to bring healing, hope, and help to people in need throughout Florida. Today LSF has offices and programs in Belle Glade, Crestview, Fort Myers, Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville, Largo, Lauderdale Lakes, Miami, Milton, New Port Richey, Oakland Park, Orlando, Pensacola, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa.