407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

By: Loren London, Director & Founder and Rachel Slavkin, Director of Employment & Education


When our community locked down one year ago, RAISE did not patiently wait for the new normal and wonder what that would look and feel like. Although rolling out vaccinations has allowed so many of us to begin to see a light, our young adults with disabilities have needed so much more than that…they needed Soul Care.

And RAISE provided it.

RAISE started 2020 with heartwarming recognition when our program was selected as a Community Champion by WESH/Channel 2 News. Little did we know what lurked ahead.

When businesses shuttered and doors closed, RAISE kept on working safely, from a distance. Within two weeks, RAISE jumped on board to provide virtual opportunities to our employees, families, and alumni. Working remotely, our volunteer Leadership Team has been able to meet regularly and deftly pivot to accommodate the ever-changing data. And, as we have done for the past 8 years, RAISE has been able to deliver social skills training for adults with special needs and an added support group for their families. Our dedicated job coach volunteers, paired up with RAISE participants, and are able to stay connected on a weekly basis and provide practice and reinforcement of learned skills.  

RAISE is proud to share that our program has been recognized as one of the first 2021Top Rated recipients by GreatNonprofits. The heartfelt words of our employees, alumni, their families, and our donors that have been touched by our program speak volumes. We hope you will take a moment to read a few Praise for RAISE quotes below.

RAISE is guided by the traditional Jewish value of Tikkun Olam and takes into account the overall well-being of adults with special needs and their families as we strive to make our community a better, more inclusive place for everyone. As a program, we have always deeply cared about the intellectual and emotional impact we are having on each participant, his/her family, and our community. 

Soul Care month reminds us that although we need to take time to nurture ourselves, we also need to help one another, especially during this pandemic. This too shall pass and with a little bit of kindness and optimism, we can all make a difference as we wait for the new normal and the exciting changes it will bring. 

Looking for a meaningful and rewarding experience? We hope you will consider volunteering as a job coach. Just click on our webpage to find out more about RAISE and how to participate. Working with RAISE participants is nourishing for your heart and soul.


See some Praise for RAISE:



Client Served 02/12/2021

As an employee of the RAISE Program, I feel honored. It was a wonderful experience. It gave me building blocks for self-esteem, self advocacy, and self-determination. I learned social expectations in a workplace, the importance of following directions at a workplace, phone etiquette, and peer-relationships. Through their help and encouragement and all that I have learned in the RAISE program, I was able to obtain employment. It is a blessing that I have been in the RAISE Program and continue to be in the RAISE family.


Toni S.3 

Client Served 02/24/2021

My son is 22 yrs old and graduated from high school in May 2020. He began attending the “virtual” RAISE Your Skills program during the Covid quarantine shutdown. I have been so impressed by the leadership and guidance of the staff as they teach important social skills for future work environments, the creativity and positive learning style is to be commended. My son looks forward to attending weekly and is gaining confidence practicing the new skills into his daily interactions with family and friends. The RAISE program provides a valuable service to individuals, the community, and their families by preparing these young adults for future work environments.



Volunteer 02/25/2021

As a Job Coach with the RAISE program, I have been privileged to work with and learn from

the leaders and professionals of the RAISE Team. I have learned from my students and their families, and from the staff at the agencies, we are affiliated with.

What have I learned and experienced? A greater respect for everyone’s amazing potential, the value of patience, and the value of persistence.

I have been awed by the growth of my employees. They are like buds that blossom. I have shared in the amazement of their families as they watch their growth. And I have felt satisfied that by participating in RAISE I have been part of a worthwhile and meaningful effort.



Advisor 02/12/2021

As a supervisor to RAISE employees for over two years. I can say that watching these employees progress and add community to our organization benefits us a great deal. The level of support from RAISE, as well as the great work-ethic from employees is simply amazing. This program is important for the Orlando community and the interaction gained really brought light into our community center. I highly recommend RAISE to community partners.



Donor 02/27/2021    

As a donor, we are so happy to support RAISE each year since we continue to see the impact it has had on our entire community. Before the pandemic closed the doors of the Dick and Dottie’s Place, a cafe in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center in Maitland, we were particularly touched to see RAISE employees working in the cafe and helping customers. RAISE is the first program for adults with special needs in our Jewish community that pays their participants to work at partnering agencies! The fact that RAISE continues to prepare adults with special needs for competitive employment makes it even more valuable now as we make our way to the other side of this pandemic.