Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, New York, USA | Eilat Community Centers, Israel | “Mazal Tov” JCC, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
About the Project
Expanding our Beautiful Jewish Community is a global Amitim project initiated by three JCC communities and by key mentors in both London and New York. The overarching vision is to enrich the capacity and the attitudes of Jewish communities worldwide to welcome and engage people with special needs and their families. Our specific goal is to improve attitudes of our partnering JCCs and communities toward our responsibility of Jews to people of all ages and abilities, including those with physical and developmental disabilities.
The project aims to develop a model of best practice in the management of volunteers working with people with special needs and their families, focusing in particular on the areas of recruitment, retention, engagement, supervision, and training that can be shared across the JCC global network. Participants in this project are the staff in each of our communities who work with people with special needs and their families. As we work to expand to local Jewish volunteer corps, we can already see that our initial efforts, including our seminar in London, have triggered an international Jewish staff support network for those working with people with special needs. This network will share knowledge, understanding, and experience as each community develops and expands its own work with volunteers. It is our vision that this international cooperation around staff expansion and volunteer engagement in our special needs programs has the potential, over time, to grow and involve more Jewish communities across the globe.
$75,000 for 3 years, plus in-kind
- Learned about each community and its programs in the field of special needs.
- Planned and executed the Amitim Special Needs Project Seminar in London May 31-June 3, 2015.
- Focused project attention on the improved engagement of volunteers in our local programs serving people with special needs.
- Initiated a Global JCC special needs staff network.
- Developed a completely new method of working with and training volunteers in the field of special needs. Built a process, including the planning and implementation, together with partner organizations in the community and families. (Eilat)
- Worked on the project with our partner communities has enabled an exchange of ideas and an awareness of new work models and challenges and ways of coping with them. (Eilat)
- Integrated a group of 25 adults with special needs who underwent a six-month training in the Madrichim Leadership School followed by a three- week seminar. They improved their skills and self-esteem and showed themselves as equal leaders in front of the more than 300 participants in the seminar. (Zaporizhzhia)
- Organized the volunteer group “Do Good, Ukraine!” comprising of approximately 100 community members, with and without special needs, who meet every month to work on humanitarian needs and on cultural and training programs. (Zaporizhzhia)
- Thanks to Iris Cohen ( Executive Director of the Eilat Community Centers), special needs programs were successfully developed throughout the community centers of Eilat.
“JCC Global enables the engagement worldwide of Jews of all different denominations, difference approaches, gathered together, to be able to have shared conversations and a shared relationship so that we can better know each other and move forward working together towards a shared goal.” [Sue Fox, Executive Director, Shorefront YM-YMHA of Brighton Beach, New York, USA]
“The JCC ‘Mazal Tov,’ as a part of the Amitim team, is a project laboratory that is open to every person and every idea that can have an impact on the community. Thanks to our international partnership, we have become stronger and more capable and have gained new insight into what constitutes equality for people with special needs. Our project ‘Equal Opportunities’ for adults with special needs has become one of the best examples of how to support growth and sustainability rather than thinking of limited needs.”
“Participating in the JCC Global Amitim program I had the feeling that I’m not alone. That I’m part of a big Jewish people. In our special situation in Ukraine life is not easy. I take from all of you the experiences that we shared and I’m going to bring it back to my community. You all gave me an opportunity to learn useful things that will help the future of my community. The future is in our hands. We will make things happen.” [Inessa Nosenko, Executive Director, Mazal Tov JCC, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine]
“By realizing and implementing of our vision of ‘equal service for all,’ this important statement comes to life.”
“The main impact of JCC Global’s Amitim project was the development of the special needs programs in Eilat. The project provided an opportunity to meet colleagues from all over the world. People in Eilat had their lives improved thanks to this project.” [Iris Cohen, Executive Director, Eilat Community Centers, Israel]