Our Southern New Jersey Jewish community is unique in so many ways and I am humbled that we collectively work to provide inclusive environments in our community for those with disabilities. Here at the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey (JFSNJ) and our family of agencies, we believe individuals with disabilities should have the opportunity to achieve their highest potential and lead independent and fulfilled lives as members of our community. Here are a few examples of the stellar work happening within our system:
There are now 30 adults with disabilities living in the quads at Weinberg Commons, our national award-winning affordable housing community in Cherry Hill. In addition to the standard care and supports of a typical residential program, Weinberg Commons has an activities coordinator on staff and offers transportation to group activities such as swimming or playing basketball right down the street at the Katz JCC. What began as a dream many years ago to support young adults with special needs in our community as they age has become a reality.
Through the Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS), supported employment opportunities are a possibility for individuals in our community. The Supported Employment program offers support and training to help clients meet the challenges of the workplace and achieve their fullest potential. The person-centered approach seeks the best match for each client based on their interests, skills, aptitudes, and ideal work culture. We’re so proud that this JFCS program has placed employees in positions at JFSNJ, the Katz JCC, TJ Maxx, Tomahawk Steakhouse, Cooper University Health Care, and Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia, to name a few. From pre-placement, coaching and long-term follow along, JFCS turns dreams of independence into reality.
The Katz JCC offers two programs, ACHaD and Open Hearts/Open Doors (OH/OD). ACHaD, which was established in 1998, hosts special events, including a Dance Party, Passover Seder, Tess Norton Purim Basketball Classic, Art Gallery Reception, Bowl-A-Thon, and Community Resource Fair, as well as workshops for parents of teens through young adults, and special presentations.
Through the OH/OD special needs inclusion program at Early Childhood Camps at the Katz JCC and JCC Camps at Medford, children with disabilities are provided accommodations to fully participate with age-appropriate peers. The majority of OH/OD campers receive one-on-one assistance, though some share assistance with other campers and a trained shadow (advocate) helps each child fully maximize his/her experience. Incredibly, there is no additional cost for a child to participate in OH/OD program thanks to generous donations and fundraising events throughout the year.
If you’re interested in keeping up with emerging trends and learning about community resources, there’s no better place than the Federation’s Jewish Disability Services “Together, we make an impact” podcast, hosted by Adam Roth, JFSNJ director Special Needs, and Rose Greenblatt. In each episode, listeners will connect with experts in the field, from academia to lived experiences, shedding light on each topic, while exploring meaningful disability resources from local professionals.
You can also stay engaged and informed by our JFSNJ staff and community members alike in our Special Needs Coalition of Southern NJ Facebook group!
We are dedicated to working collaboratively to best serve the members of our community who can benefit from our system. To learn more about services and programs we offer throughout the system, please visit www.jewishsouthjersey.org/specialneeds