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Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month roundup

Posted February 22, 2019 in Articles

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster inclusion of people with disabilities. Many communities offer various programs for those with disabilities and Northeast Ohio is no exception. Each organization offers something unique and many of them are accepting volunteers. The Cleveland Jewish News sent an email questionnaire to organizations and synagogues that offer services for those with disabilities. Their responses appear below.

Autism Society of Greater Akron

703 S. Main St., Akron

P: 330-940-1441
W: autismakron.org

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

We improve the lives of all affected by autism through our five core areas of focus. We provide a helpline to answer calls seeking local services/resources, support programs and educational workshops to provide information to parents, professionals and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We also build awareness to create an inclusive community and advocate in Akron, Columbus and Washington, D.C., for a better quality of life.

What makes your organization different from others?

The Autism Society of America is a grassroots organization with a strong network of local affiliates, one of which is the Autism Society of Greater Akron. Our organization makes a direct impact in the lives of local families living with autism. We are also not a direct service provider, giving us an autonomy to truly advocate and speak on behalf of families and individuals living with autism.

Do you accept volunteers?

Throughout the year, we rely upon more than 300 volunteers to work more than 1,800 hours to make our programs possible. Volunteer opportunities are posted and updated on our website at bit.ly/2DT4LVW.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

Sign up for our “News and Happenings” or follow us on social media to learn about our programs and services, in addition to community events, by visiting autismakron.org/newsletter.

Bellefaire JCB Monarch Center for Autism

22001 Fairmount Blvd., Shaker Heights
P: 216-320-8502, 800-879-2522
W: monarchcenterforautism.org

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Bellefaire JCB’s Monarch Center for Autism offers specialized services for individuals ages 3 to adulthood with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including a day school, preschool program, transition education and vocational training, therapeutic residential treatment, community education and the agency’s new holistic Family Wellness Center.

What makes your organization different from others?

Monarch’s degreed, certified and experienced staff deliver a range of therapeutic services intended to maximize each individual’s unique strengths and abilities, including the Monarch Model, which combines concept-driven language instruction, visual supports, technology and applied behavior analysis to leverage the strong visual processing abilities of individuals with autism.

Do you accept volunteers?

Bellefaire JCB provides some volunteer opportunities for individuals ages 18 and older. Interested volunteers should contact Jill Sadowsky at 216-932-2800 or

sadowskyj@bellefairejcb.org.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

Monarch Center for Autism seeks compassionate, innovative and highly trained individuals who are committed to improving the lives of children, adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Cleveland Yachad

4429 Baintree Road, University Heights
P: 216-299-1004
W: yachad.org/cleveland

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Cleveland Yachad offers inclusive social/recreational programming to Jewish children, teens and adults with developmental disabilities. Programs span the gamut, from fitness to volunteerism, the creative arts to Shabbat events or holiday-centered activities. Through our national parent organization, we offer a wide range of summer programs, Israel Birthright trips and support for parents.

What makes your organization different from others?

Yachad’s uniqueness is our emphasis on inclusion. Peers from local elementary and high schools, as well as college students and community members, attend programs as equal participants, creating an integrated community of individuals who learn from each other and develop organic relationships.

Do you accept volunteers?

Yes. Contact Sara Ireland-Cooperman at clevelandyachad@ou.org for more information.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

There are many opportunities for participation, from attending events and retreats to serving on leadership boards and assisting with fundraising efforts and other community programs.

Friendship Circle of Cleveland

27900 Gates Mills Blvd., Pepper Pike
P: 216-377-3000
W: friendscleveland.com

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Friendship Circle provides friendships and social-skills learning to children and young adults with special needs through recreational programs and by connecting them with teenage volunteers. Programs are offered throughout the school year with camps during the summer and winter breaks. Holiday programs are open to the community and are geared to families.

What makes your organization different from others?

Friendship Circle is unique in the way it recruits high school volunteers who want to affect a young person’s life as a loyal friend and role model. The bond that is created between the child and the teenager has lasting benefits for both individuals. Family support programs are also provided.

Do you accept volunteers?

Friendship Circle does much more than “accept” volunteers. Involving them is central to our mission, especially because we are so invested in cultivating leadership skills and awareness about disabilities among our teen volunteers. Where we service children of all religious faiths, Friendship Circle requires the teenage volunteers to be Jewish.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

Seventh graders can attend our Mitzvah Volunteer Program, where they’ll learn about children with disabilities and have an opportunity to obtain hands-on experience volunteering. Eighth to 12th graders can join our Volunteer Club and be paired with a special child for one or more programs. Adults can also volunteer at programs and events.

Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland

24075 Commerce Park Road, Beachwood
3659 S. Green Road, Beachwood
P: 216-292-3999
W: jfsa-cleveland.org

NOTE: All JFSA offices are moving in spring 2019 and will be located at 29125 Chagrin Blvd., Pepper Pike

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

JFSA provides comprehensive services to people with disabilities, ranging from housing and residential services, social and wellness, day support, vocational and employment services, family advocacy, volunteer opportunities and many others.

What makes your organization different from others?

Our solutions help people with developmental disabilities achieve their potential through greater independence and inclusion. We place our clients and their family members at the center of care and create custom solutions for each need, whether they are simple or complex. Many of our disability programs have been recognized at the national level for innovation and success.

Do you accept volunteers?

Yes, we love engaging volunteers with our client population as needs arise. Contact Sandy Lusher-Waterhouse, manager of volunteer services, for details at 216-378-3475.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

There are many ways to engage with our clients, whether on an individual basis or with a group. Some people volunteer directly with our Horvitz YouthAbility Ambassadors, helping them perform volunteer services throughout the community. Others work directly with some of our residential clients by providing a friendly visit or social activity. Many area synagogues coordinate with JFSA to arrange an activity with our clients, such as hosting a social night, delivering holiday baskets for the high holidays or hosting a Passover seder.

Lifeworks Adult Autism Services

22001 Fairmount Blvd., Shaker Heights
P: 216-321-6744
W: lifeworksadultautism.org

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Lifeworks provides specialized vocational, educational and supportive living opportunities for adults with an autism diagnosis. Originally developed by Bellefaire JCB and now a separate nonprofit organization, Lifeworks ensures that adults with autism have more independent and enriched lives via opportunities to learn, engage socially and participate in meaningful work.

What makes your organization different from others?

Lifeworks was created to extend the reach and scope of specialized autism services offered by Bellefaire’s JCB’s Monarch Center for Autism, beyond what had previously been reserved for school-aged youths, to an adult population.

Do you accept volunteers?

Interested volunteers should contact Lifeworks by phone at

216-321-6744 or by email at contactus@monarchlifeworks.org.

Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland

26001 S. Woodland Road, Beachwood
P: 216-831-0700
W: mandeljcc.org

What services does your organization provide?

J-Day Camps companion counselor program provides one-on-one assistance so that kids with disabilities can have a typical day camp experience. Camp Wise Camp Chai is a one-week overnight camp for adults with disabilities. Playmakers Youth Theatre and Pilloff Family Performing Arts Camp provide opportunities for youth with disabilities to participate.

What makes your organization different from others?

The J serves as a host site for Cuyahoga East Vocational Educational Consortium. CEVEC provides vocational training to high school aged students with disabilities. JFSA Horvitz YouthAbility clients with physical and developmental disabilities work out at The J weekly in preparation for participating in The J’s Indoor Triathlon and Biathlon. Specialized multiple sclerosis Aquatics Classes are offered three times a week for individuals with MS.

Do you accept volunteers?

While The J has volunteers in a number of programs, there are not currently volunteer opportunities for most of the programs listed.

Milestones Autism Resources

4853 Galaxy Parkway, Suite A, Warrensville Heights
P: 216-464-7600
W: milestones.org

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Milestones Autism Resources provides education to the entire autism community through various core programs, including a free autism helpdesk, individual and family consultations, professional consultations and training, the annual Milestones National Autism Conference, and through a robust website with more than 1,400 autism resources.

What makes your organization different from others?

Milestones is the only organization in Cleveland solely dedicated to autism education, providing individualized guidance at every age, stage and ability. We assist the entire community, from the individuals on the spectrum to the professionals and agencies that support them. In addition, we take pride in being a neutral agency that only promotes evidence-based information.

Do you accept volunteers?

Yes.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

Individuals may attend or volunteer at three annual events: Strike It Big, Milestones National Autism Conference and Milestones Annual Benefit. They can serve on one of Milestones’ committees to support our mission, get involved as an outreach volunteer at local events to promote Milestones or assist with projects as an office volunteer.

National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland

26055 Emery Road, Warrensville Heights

P: 216-378-2204

W: ncjwcleveland.org

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

LiveSpecial.com, a free and comprehensive online resource for all things required to support individuals and families affected by special needs, is one of National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland’s signature projects. The website provides the most current medical, social and rehabilitative services and access to information needed to help support any aged person with special needs, whether long-term or short-term.

What makes your organization different from others?

LiveSpecial.com is a local and free resource. The intention is to reach a wide audience of families and clients who can benefit from services. Learning that your loved one has a disability can be overwhelming. Many challenging questions arise: Where do I go to get my services? What services are available? Who can help me? Finding the answers to these and many other questions can be time-consuming and can often result in frustration.

Do you accept volunteers?

As a thought-leader in the community, LiveSpecial.com and NCJW/Cleveland are at the forefront of activities and events in the community and happy to provide hands-on opportunities for those looking.

In what ways can people get involved in your organization to work with others who have disabilities?

NCJW/Cleveland has a program called Judaic Outreach, where volunteers bring full, homemade meals and holiday cheer to clients with chronic mental illness at the Jewish Family Service Association during the holidays. The program helps patients, especially those with no family nearby, enjoy Jewish traditions they previously were not able to celebrate.

Park Synagogue

East Campus

27500 Shaker Blvd., Pepper Pike

P: 216-371-2244

W: parksynagogue.org

What services does your organization provide to those with disabilities?

Park Synagogue children and teens are ensured a Jewish education that is tailored to their individual needs through our Center for Individualized Learning Program. This includes utilization of human resources, specially designed learning tools and specialized bar/bat mitzvah training.

What makes your organization different from others?

CommunityUnity is a program for Jewish adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. It is open to the entire Jewish Northeast Ohio community and includes participants with or without synagogue affiliation. It is a true adult learning community of Torah study and holiday celebrations with a sprinkling of mitzvot. The members are 20 to 60 years old.

Original Article: https://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/news/local_news/jewish-disabilities-awareness-inclusion-month-roundup/article_1dadb9ca-35ef-11e9-9285-1bf557088a8d.html

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