Welcome to Humans of JF&CS! Periodically, we will be featuring two different staff members to highlight the amazing work they do.
Behind our 40+ programs are compassionate, committed, and dedicated staff who care deeply about our mission and our agency. With this broad range of programs comes a team of staff members with diverse interests, passions, and skills, who all share a deep commitment to improve people’s lives. We hope these staff spotlights give you a taste of the incredible individuals behind our services and a sense of the deep compassion and dedication they bring every day.
I am the Director of Employment Programs and I oversee Pathways to Employment and JF&CS Employment Services. Pathways is a community-based day program where the participants develop their work-related soft skills through volunteering in the community and interactive classroom sessions, discussing social skills related to employment, and learning what their skills sets are and how those skills match to certain jobs. JF&CS Employment Services helps to support individuals with disabilities in finding and maintaining employment. These programs are a part of our continuum of day and employment services for people with disabilities here at JF&CS. CHAI Works day program, which is more holistic and varied, is where we start and really get to know people, Pathways is where we challenge them a little more and fine tune skills, and JF&CS Employment Services says, ‘Okay, you’ve gotten there, let’s go get that job now.’
Every part of my work excites me. The biggest and most important thing is educating the outside world about people with disabilities, their capabilities, and ability to contribute to society. Any time we are able to increase individuals’ ability to be as independent as possible in their lives and to be contributing, integrated members in society, that’s really our goal and it’s very exciting to see. Just like the goal of JF&CS, helping them find their purpose.
Recently we’ve been doing a lot more community outreach and connecting with different businesses. Babson College, for instance, hired one of our participants a couple of years ago, and started working with me around growing their inclusion of people with disabilities within their workforce. They actually just funded four new positions which I have been directly involved in developing. We have been able to place a participant of JF&CS Employment Services in one of those positions and, hopefully, we will be working with participants who are good fits for the others. Even if we don’t, it will be people with disabilities working these jobs, so that’s really exciting.
What’s most meaningful for me is knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of my clients. We are able to make sure clients who were at risk before are safe now so they can continue living their lives with the most support possible.
I would say my success story is the first case I took on from the beginning. The client was living in a condo that was in foreclosure. Her grandson struggled with opioid addiction and had taken all of her money, so she was going to be evicted. She also wasn’t taking her medications or going to medical appointments. Protective services could not do anything else to help her, so we were appointed guardian. We ended up finding a room for her at a very nice rest home and coordinated her move. She now socializes with people at the rest home, participates in activities, and receives oversight for her medical care. When I visit her, she says “This is such a great place” and “I’m so lucky to be here.” That’s a great feeling. Even though she can be challenging in other ways, it is nice to have a client express gratitude for the work we do. Especially when you are moving someone out of their home, which is a really hard thing for clients. To move someone and have them really flourish in their new setting is a nice feeling.
Marissa Levenson is a Case Manager in the Guardianship Program.