PAVE: Who We Are, and Why We're Here

By Max Orsolini
PAVE Intern at the JCC

Hello there, employees, tourists, and long-time members of the Jewish Community Center. If you have been here in the past few weeks then you may be hearing of new names and faces who have been making a real difference within this wonderful community but who are they? Are these people simply just new employees and what’s this of a place called Chapel Haven? Well never fear I have all the answers for you and more today in this behind the scenes first look at who we are and why we’re here. As I said before our presence has likely caused a lot of buzz around the center and many including you are asking questions about us. Questions that I am here to answer, starting with who are we? Where to begin?

Let’s start with an introduction to our program or should I say programs because you see we are connected to not just one but TWO programs. The first program is called Chapel Haven, and it is a program for adults with learning disabilities to learn skills like independence, communication skills and more to hopefully apply in the real world setting when we go to find jobs.  But within that lies another program. One that helps us gain work experience and teaches us what its like to have a job. The name of this secondary program is PAVE. How does PAVE work? Well sit on down and let me explain. Within Pave there are many students, and those students are separated into three groups that go to three jobsites and work.

There is of course the JCC where myself and 5 others come to help out. However, the other two sites are equally as important. First, we have the Yale New Haven Hospital where volunteers have been working their hardest to improve the wellbeing of both the patients and just lending a helping hand to the local community there. These include organizing the cafeteria or assisting with tubing in the specimen lab.  The final worksite is Whalen engineering, where our interns there simply help out there by building tools and assembling vehicle parts.

Now that you understand more about why we are here let’s get a word with each of my colleagues here at the JCC and see what they have to say about working here. You know what? Since I’m right here let me tell you what I think so far first then we can go find the others. This may only be my second day working here at the time of me writing this but I have been really enjoying my job here so far. I have been doing some marketing and deciding what to include in the newsletter and doing so has allowed me to use my passion for writing and show what I can do to you the reader. On top of that the people who work here are super nice and supportive of what I do here and I hope to continue seeing them around in the future. All in all, I am really liking it here so far and hopefully things will only get better from here on out. Ok now that I have shared let’s go ask questions from the others.

In the past few days I have gone around and asked my fellow colleagues about their work experience here at the JCC and how their internships are going so far. Starting with Caty in the human resource’s department, who comes to PAVE hoping to gain work experience to prepare her for finding a real job one day in the future. When asked what her favorite part of working here was she told me it was mainly how “the people here have been so kind and welcoming.” Which I agree with her that people have been open to me as well. Heck I found that many of us have shared a similar answer to that question, including my next interviewee Ilana who works as part of the membership department. Ilana is not only a really good friend of mine already but she also comes from a Jewish background. So, she already knows “quite a lot about Jewish culture.” When asked why she chose to pursue PAVE, Ilana told me “Although I have a bit of job experience already I hope that this program will be an opportunity to gain even more of said experience.”

Other questions I have asked people is how did they first hear of PAVE to begin with? Well most appeared to learn of the program from their advisors including Maia and Kathleen who both find themselves working in the sports and rec department. When I asked them what they were looking for here both gave me very different responses. Maia told me that “it just sounded like fun to work here.” Kathleen on the other hand says “I hope working here will help me eventually find a job that involves working with kids.” Like I said before the one consistent thing I have noticed is that when it comes to interacting with fellow coworkers, everyone appears to have built good relationships with the people around them.

Another thing I have noticed is that everyone is really enjoying working here and have spent their time gaining new work experience and skills along the way. Kathleen for instance mentioned how “Trying new things can get overwhelming.” I can tell though that despite that Kathleen is still willing to apply herself and work even though it may not be easy. Erin faces something similar with her job. Working in the cleaning department requires her to make sure the entire J.C.C. from the office’s, to the bathrooms, to even the lounges are clean to a T. That can’t be easy. Yet what keeps Erin going is that she is “learning to clean and helping others stay clean and organized.” Although this happened after I interviewed her, Ilana told me how her boss wasn’t with her on Friday so she instead had to do work that seemed even harder then what she was normally used to. From what I can tell though Ilana didn’t let that stop her. If anything, it seemed that she continued to work just as hard as ever and maybe even learned a skill or two. Caty meanwhile appears to be learning quite a bit about filing paperwork from Marlin. My boss Derek has taught me a thing or two about editing the newsletter and knowing how to pick out the best and most relevant stories to share with all of you. Admittedly though what does help me out in my job is my experience with writing stuff on my own free time. It’s still not easy to write all this down though and does require a lot of brain power and thinking on my part. It is my hope that all of us can take what we learn here and apply them to actual careers in the future. The reason I bring this up is because one question I asked everyone was what their plans were for after PAVE. While most said they were not sure, they also told me they believed PAVE could help them figure it out. From this I could still tell gaining experience appears to be all of our goals.

To bring everything together, I hope I have told you all you need to know about myself and my colleagues interning here at the JCC. Each of us here are similar in our ways but different in others. The one trait we all share though is our determination to see PAVE through to the end. The other thing that drives us is our goals of learning new skills and gaining work experience to one day take into to the real world. Who knows maybe some of us will like working here so much that we can actually apply for full time jobs here in the future, wouldn’t that be neat? I have complete faith that you will be hearing more good things about us in the next few months as we all continue to work harder and help make the community better for all. Thank you for your time and have a great day!

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