The CHAI Celebration is a biennial event supporting JF&CS Services for People with Disabilities. This year's event, held on Wednesday, October 21 at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, celebrated 10 years of the CHAI Works program. Associate Division Director of Day and Employment Services Sue Stellick shared with the crowd of 250 people what "Living the CHAI Life" means:
JF&CS Services for People with Disabilities has always been on the move and growing to meet the community's needs. We provide assistance in many different ways from one phone call to help connect a parent to needed services in their area to facilitating fun group activities for children who have siblings with disabilities to our new Disability Lifespan Solutions service, which provides intense support, walking parents through each step of the way. We also work directly with individuals with disabilities.
It doesn't seem like that long ago that JF&CS added Day Programming and Employment Services to the comprehensive offerings of Services for People with Disabilities. I have been at the agency for nine of the past ten years of CHAI Works and am unbelievably proud to have watched the program develop from a small handful of our residential clients volunteering at JF&CS Headquarters to a continuum of community-based services impacting more than 130 individuals and their families annually.
The three core day and employment programs include:
- Our holistic CHAI Works community-based day program where we help participants lead meaningful, productive, and integrated lives in their communities through volunteering, health and wellness, recreation, and life-long learning.
- The Pathways to Employment training program focuses on developing the social skills and professionalism needed to be successful in the "real world" of work.
- Meaningful Days supported employment services where we work 1:1 with people, helping them find and maintain independent community employment.
So what does living the CHAI life look like? Well, it will look a little different for everyone. Each person we work with has a different version of what they want their life to look like and what success means to them. It may mean expanding communication skills so that they can have more meaningful friendships, learning how to use coping techniques more independently, or learning how to complete a job task all on their own. We strive to meet people where they are and individualize our supports to help them make progress towards achieving their goals, and our families see this growth across all aspects of the participants' lives.