Posted by Jon Federman
The CHAI Celebration on November 7 raised funds for JF&CS programs for people with disabilities and mental illness. The evening was also an opportunity to share the positive effect JF&CS has on individuals who receive our services.
After completing a post-graduation program at Randolph High School at the age of 22, Marie, who has Down's syndrome, came to JF&CS. She joined the CHAI Works program and immediately started volunteering for various community efforts. Soon, through a collaboration between CHAI Works and Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, a nonprofit agency that provides Jewish education to children with special needs, Marie became a paid Gateways staff member, working as an administrative aide during the week and as a teacher's aide on Sundays.
In 2010, at the age of 24, Marie took a very big step towards independence by moving out of her parents' house into the JF&CS Yellow House in Norwood. As one of four daughters and the only one still living at home, Marie missed her siblings and the busy weekends and evenings the girls had shared. No one had planned for Marie to move out so soon and Marie's parents were initially nervous about Marie living outside of their home. But Marie was already familiar with many JF&CS staff members and was ready to thrive.
On the same day that Marie moved into the Yellow House, a young man named Robbie moved in as well. Robbie, a lifelong Norwood resident who has developmental disabilities, works full-time at Norwood Hospital as a transport attendant. Moving to the Yellow House was a perfect choice for Robbie, who needed staff support to live independently, and the location in Norwood was convenient for his job.
Almost immediately, Robbie and Marie became the best of friends. They spend nearly every evening together, watching TV, listening to music, and laughing. Over time, they have grown to love each other – and the love they share brings out the best in each of them. "Seeing these two individuals together, it is readily apparent that this is not only a match made by JF&CS, but also a match made in heaven," says Marie's mother, Sandy. "They share a bright future together at the Yellow House."
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.