By: Loren London, Founder and Director of RAISE & Rachel Slavkin, Director of Employment and Education
Our RAISE (Recognizing Abilities and Inclusion of Special Employees) mission is to build confidence, promote independence, and teach employability skills to adults with special needs and provide guidance and support to their families. Once in the RAISE family, always in the RAISE family is at the heart of everything we do. Discouraged and unsuccessful in entering the workforce, RAISE is proud to help our ‘family members’ become recognized and valued members of our community.
By March 2020, we were well aware of our need to pivot and provide virtual support and learning opportunities for the largest number of RAISE applicants since our inception in 2012. Teaching online has allowed us to expand our impact and offer RAISE Your Skills, pre-employment training to prepare participants to enter the workforce. Participants are matched with volunteer job coaches to practice and reinforce the learned skills. We have seen the importance of these personal connections and how they have helped build the self confidence of our participants.
Recognizing the more challenging role of our job coaches, we have also created a virtual educational opportunity providing advanced training for best practices led by professionals in the field. In addition, aware of the high risk for depression and increased anxieties felt by our families, we started an emotional support group, RAISE Your Voice. Our team saw this need and jumped at the opportunity to provide an online forum that connects families with professionals for much needed support and guidance.
There is no better way to share the impact of RAISE than in just one of the many testimonials we have received in the past from grateful family members.
A loving brother tells Alex’s story best:
“Alex had been in and out of jobs for years with no success. After 6 months of getting nowhere with dozens of agencies and community programs, I found RAISE. In the interview, I could tell the team knew all the resources in Orlando and amazingly, helped move the dial before the program began. Instantaneously, we were adopted into the RAISE family. Suddenly, we had a plan, a support network, and a Rolodex of caring people. Doors began to open; we started to see the light. The quality of his job coaches was beyond anything I could have expected. This free program and coaching would have cost thousands elsewhere. He even received a weekly paycheck! Alex learned how to interact with bosses, handle stress, and provide good customer service. As we leave, we still feel a part of the RAISE family. I have never seen a more caring organization.”
As RAISE continues to foster a culture of inclusion, we are proud of the meaningful impact we are having on personal dignity as our participants strive to reach their potential. A nationwide pause in hiring opened the door for RAISE to provide valuable pre-employment training to adults with special needs. When we can safely meet in person, we look forward to resuming our original RAISE format, offering social skills classes and paid, job coach supported employment training at 7 locations. During these challenging times of divide, more than ever before, inclusion of adults with special needs, empowering families, and celebrating diversity in our workplace will help us continue to build a united community guided by our values of making the world a better place.
RAISE, the Jewish Federation’s work and social skills training program for adults with special needs, is proud to announce the launch of two “brand” new logos!
Collaboration with Jewish agencies and businesses in our community has been a priority for RAISE since its inception in 2012. Our Community Alliance with Paula Breeden, founder and president of ASD Adult Achievement Center, began several years ago when she volunteered as a RAISE Job Coach. Soon thereafter, Paula opened ASD Achievement Center. In partnership with Bright Feats Directory, the program empowers young adults on the autism spectrum by offering participants an opportunity to learn new vocational skills including graphic design and technology.
The RAISE relationship with ASD Adult Achievement and its team of talented Graphic Art designers led to the creation and their donation of the beautiful new RAISE logo above! Thank you Paula, Luigi, Julia and Nolan!
RAISE on the Road
At the request of other Jewish communities around the country to replicate our program, RAISE has been developing a program, called RAISE on the Road, to facilitate teaching in a seminar format. And of course, RAISE on the Road needed a logo of its own.
This past year, RAISE was fortunate to have had Dean as an employee. Dean came to RAISE with a background in graphic arts and was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to design a logo for RAISE on the Road.
In addition to his working at Jewish Family Services and the Jewish Academy of Orlando, Dean also spent many hours creating and then refining the new logo with Federation staff. Thank you, Dean!
Jessica has been an appreciatedand valuable Employee of both the Jewish Family Services Food Pantry and the Roth Family JCC Fitness Center since October 2018.
At JFS, Jessica has the important role of helping to unload boxes of food and preparing bags of food for clients.
At the Fitness Center, Jessica washes, dries and folds the laundry and keeps the exercise rooms sanitized for all the clients.
Jessica has worked hard to learn her routine tasks at both positions and is receptive to feedback from her job coaches. Her job coaches are in awe of how much Jessica has progressed during her time in RAISE.
Being in RAISE has pushed Jessica out of her comfort zone, which will be a benefit when Jessica transitions to community employment.
Jessica’s polite manners make her enjoyable to be around and her smile can light up any room.
We are fortunate to have Jessica on the RAISE team!
RAISE is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to film a Promotional Video thanks to the generosity of Robin Hoffman and Alexis Latimore.
Robin Hofmann of Hoffy’s Heart is the producer of Bake With Me, a YouTube video series that gives a voice to individuals with disabilities… while baking gluten free recipes! Thank you, Robin and camerawoman extraordinaire Alexis, for making this possible for RAISE.
Isabelle has been an Employee of the JCC Fitness Center since October 2018 and recently, an appreciated member of the JCC office staff.
At the fitness center, Isabelle works to keep the gym equipment sparkling clean and sanitized and the towels washed, dried, folded and restocked for clients. She has a special bond with Tara Harris, the Sports, Fitness, and Aquatics Director.
In the JCC office, Isabelle has started scanning boxes of documents so that previous files can now be stored electronically. This eliminates the need to keep years of paper records.
When Isabelle began working with RAISE, she was a shy and quiet young lady. It has been a pleasure to watch her become a hard working, competent, and self assured RAISE Employee. Isabelle is willing to do any task asked of her without hesitation.
Isabelle is an active participant at Lunch and Learn. She asks insightful questions, participates in conversations, and is always part of our group activities.
We are fortunate to have Isabelle on the RAISE team!