More than twenty years ago, JF&CS Community Housing for Adult Independence (CHAI) held its inaugural dinner at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. Since that time, the program has continued to offer vital services to help individuals with disabilities and their families live their lives with dignity and independence.
This year’s CHAI Celebration, held in November at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, brought together more than 200 supporters, friends, and family members in recognition of the tremendous difference this program has made in the lives of those in the Greater Boston community.
“There were so many wonderful people collaborating on this event,” said event co-chair Nancy Belsky. “The room is filled with those who have used the services themselves, friends and volunteers, and care providers. It’s an energy that feels very personal.”
Among those who have been nurtured over the years are CHAI residents Marie Strazzulla and Robbie Smith, who spoke at the celebration. Marie and Robbie, who moved into the JF&CS Yellow House in Norwood on the same day in 2010, became best friends and soon fell in love. Despite their disabilities, both Marie and Robbie are now working and living independently with support from JF&CS and the CHAI program.
In her speech that evening, Marie said, “I love the Yellow House. I love my housemates. I love that I am learning new skills all the time to be even more independent.” She added, “Robbie and I are happy. We spend a lot of time dreaming about our future together in the Yellow House.”
Robbie echoed Marie’s feelings that night. He said, “The best part of the Yellow House is I met my best friend and girlfriend, Marie, there. After a long day at work I look forward to coming home and spending time with Marie and having dinner together every night.”
That evening, JF&CS presented the CHAI Community Leadership Award to Jackie Weinstein for her passionate and unparalleled dedication to JF&CS and its programs for people with disabilities and mental illness. We also thanked event co-chairs Nancy and Mark Belsky and Ruth and Bill Weinstein for their leadership and commitment to the program.
Nancy, who has been involved with CHAI for almost 30 years, led a compelling appeal during the event for funds to purchase a new wheelchair van and to support Jewish life activities such as Shabbat dinners. “One of the biggest challenges to our program’s participants is transportation. The van appeal invites attendees to effect change directly and create something as a community,” said Nancy.
“This is a vulnerable population that would not feel part of the community without our support. These are also the most courageous people,” said Nancy. “Together, we provide the confidence to succeed. I’m very proud to be part of this program.”
We are happy to report that thanks to the generosity of event attendees, we were able to purchase the new wheelchair van.
The CHAI Celebration is held every other year, but there are opportunities year round to get involved with JF&CS. For more information, please contact Susie Allen, Development Specialist.
Help us celebrate 150 years of service. Mark your calendars today for these upcoming events.
- Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - Journey to Safety Fundraiser
- Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - North Shore Community Heroes
- Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 150th Anniversary Kickoff Benefit
- Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - Women's Breakfast, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Visiting Moms