Posted by Sandy Slavet

Join us in acknowledging this special month designated to honor our Jewish friends and family members who have disabilities or special needs. The Greater Boston Jewish community continues to provide programs, services, and financial support to ensure that ALL Jews are welcomed and valued.

If someone asked you about the programs that JF&CS Services for People with Disabilities runs, how many could you describe? You could probably think of CHAI (Community Housing for Adult Independence), our residential program, and, if you've been to the Waltham headquarters, you probably know CHAI Works (our day support program). If I told you there were seven more programs, would you be surprised?

Reading about these programs doesn't capture how they enhance the quality of life for the individuals and families who participate. Take Harris* for example. Harris is a gentleman in his early sixties. He has mild cognitive limitations and some mental health concerns that make daily life challenging for him. Harris receives support from JF&CS staff so he can live in his own apartment as independently as possible. But that is only a small part of his story. Harris participates in several of our social groups and studies in our Adult Beyond B'nai Mitzvah class. Without significant supports in his life, Harris would be socially isolated and lonely. But with the support, Harris lives a full and rich life; he takes pride in his accomplishments and most of all, he has many friends. And Harris is only one of many whose lives are enriched by the services provided by JF&CS.

We are continually exploring ways to expand our services to provide an even greater variety of programming for the community. Please join us as we celebrate National Jewish Disability Awareness month. Together we can make inclusion a reality.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Sandy Slavet is the director of the Disabilities Resource Network and serves as the Jewish Life coordinator for CHAI and CHAI Works. She also co-leads two social programs for adults with disabilities. Before coming to JF&CS in 2001, Sandy was an ASL Interpreter in private practice. Sandy is active in many community organizations supporting individuals with disabilities and is an active member of her synagogue. Most importantly, she and her husband, Joe, have four wonderful daughters; her youngest daughter, Marie, is a beautiful 25-year-old who happens to have Down Syndrome.