As reported in the January issue of Shalom New Haven, the JCC has initiated a partnership with Chapel Haven Schleifer Center. Chapel Haven is a nationally accredited school and transition program for adults with disabilities in New Haven. “This partnership fits very closely with our mission” said Emily Kurz, Program Group Manager at the JCC of Greater New Haven “Our mandate as a Jewish Community Center is to serve our community at large. We can only do that if we are inclusive and able to serve people of all abilities” she said.
A group of adults from Chapel Haven already visits the JCC on a regular basis to participate in a variety of supervised recreational activities. In addition a committee of laypeople was established to explore more ways for collaboration. The committee will be informed by converstations with participants and family members to help determine the needs of people with disabilities in our community.
As a result of preliminary conversations with Chapel Haven parents, the JCC will become a job training site for Chapel Haven students. Chapel Haven has a robust vocational program aimed at helping students build relevant skills and prepare for gainful employment. This spring, a group from Chapel Haven will begin working at the JCC with job coaches. They will be filling different positions, including reading with children in the Beverly Levy Early Learning Center, writing for and helping to edit Shalom New Haven, working with the maintenance team on preventative maintenance, and assisting our physical education department.
The JCC was selected as a jobsite because it offers a wide variety of opportunities that cater to a extansive range of interests and aspirations students have. To prepare for the students, JCC staff took a daylong training at Chapel Haven. “We want to be the best hosts we can be,” said Scott Cohen, JCC Executive Director. “Becoming a jobsite was a natural progression from the close relationship that we developed with Chapel Haven parents, as we learned about their potential interests and needs” says Emily Kurz.
“The partnership benefits our community by opening up more opportunities for our members and non-members alike to see that people with developmental delays also can be productive members of society.” says Kurz. “It teaches empathy and patience to all that spend time working with these adults, and it helps us where we may need an extra employee or intern!” she concluded.
Photo caption: Nate Sapan, a student of Chapel Haven, as he reads to children at Beverly Levy Early Learning Center as part of his Career Exploration internship at the JCC.