February marks Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). It’s an effort inspired by the Jewish Special Education International Consortium and championed locally by the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project, the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, CJP and other communal agencies with a commitment to serving people with disabilities and their families (like, say, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters).
But wait! There’s more. Throughout the month, Jewish organizations worldwide join forces in pursuit of these important goals:
- To raise awareness of how people with disabilities have been regarded by Jewish and secular society;
- To underscore the importance of choosing one’s own Jewish journey;
- To urge Jews to welcome people with disabilities into their communities and personal lives;
- To include people with disabilities in all aspects of communal life;
- To advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
JBBBS is on board – and we have a special interest in that third bullet! Did you know that over 30 percent of our Little Brothers and Sisters have diagnosed disabilities? And did you know that, in the early 90s, we launched our Friend 2 Friend track for youth aging out of our Children’s Programs (and adults with disabilities of all ages) to forge new connections. True. Plus, our volunteers encounter people with disabilities in personal and meaningful ways, many for the very first time, in our programs. For both our participants and our volunteers, our programs bring them together; friendship keeps them together.
On Friend 2 Friend Friday, we bring you topical stories of special interest to the disabilities community, disability advocates and allies. And we profile clients anticipating a match in Friend 2 Friend.
Right now, there are over 50 adults with disabilities on our wait list. Right now, we have room – and a real need – for over 50 new volunteers who are:
- Receptive to meeting someone new;
- Prepared to catch up once or twice each month to enjoy mutual hobbies or interests (or just to chat);
- Ready to have some fun (or lots); and
- Excited by the possibility that that someone might well become a genuinely good friend!
Waiting participants include:
- Marla – a Jewish, 60-something from the South Shore who has a part-time job that she loves. Also loves: Live music, singing, window-shopping, preparing (and eating) healthy food. She experienced a traumatic brain injury. Her ideal match is someone with afternoon/evening availability, who shares some of her same interests. Empty-nesters and seniors welcome.
- James – a 20-year-old from Franklin, who’s teaching himself to play the guitar. He’s attending school part-time and learning game design. He has diagnosed learning disabilities. His ideal match is young, fun and musical.
- Sammy – a 20-something from Avon. She’s Christian, describes herself as “a girlie girl,” who loves socializing and the mall. She has a mild developmental delay. She was matched once before in Friend 2 Friend but, owing to her geography, has been waiting some time to be re-matched. Her ideal match: Someone a little older, a good listener, a mentor.
- Nancy – a 25-year-old from Danvers. She’s Jewish (but her Friend need not share the same religious tradition). She’s fun and chatty, loves wearing silly hats and exploring Greater Boston. Nancy has Williams syndrome. Her ideal match: Someone young (under 30), active, fun, good-humored and willing to try new things.
Ready to meet someone fabulous this JDAIM? Click here to learn more about Friend 2 Friend, and apply to volunteer.