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September 15, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 15, 2017
 

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 By Lenore Roland Loren London, second from left, talks with Sam Friedman, (in blue glasses) assistant director of Central Florida Hillel, during the recent RAISE Meet & Greet. Wednesday, Sept. 20th & Thursday, Sept. 21st Make a reservation to dine with us or call ahead and we will have your order ready. Ask about our express pick-up options. fo, DELt" BAKERY ~ RESTAURANT toojays.com [ 0 0 0 Seated at a wide, long table in a room at Jewish Family Services in Central Florida are seven young adults (over the age of 18) with special needs, each accompanied by one parent who has agreed to participate as required, for this experience is a fam- ily matter. Most of the young people live at home with their parents and are not employed. It is 12:30 p.m on the last Monday of the month, and the Lunch and Learn hour-long session organized by Recog- nizingAbilities and Inclusion of Special Employees has begun. A program supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, RAISE charges participants no fee and is open to all who want to apply. At the front of the room a professional speaks about a topic related to preparing or searching for a job: e.g filling out a job application, rehearsing for an interview, signing up for the computer program Linked In, which they can use to review job postings. When the speaker has finished, they practice the specific procedure just taught or write answers to questions about that day's subject with the help of their parent. Rachel Slavkin, M.Ed RAISE director of Employ- ment and Education, and Loren London, founder and program director, conduct this meeting with efficiency and humor. Participants are referred to as "employees," a term that lifts their self esteem. It is well deserved. These young adults work 3-hour shifts, two days a week at an assigned local Jewish organization. Every During the Meet & Greet employees, family members, agency representatives and RAISE volunteers get to know each other in the "meeting circle." aspect of this learn and work program is intended to increase confidence and develop enthusiasm for this unique experience. In a smaller venue, Slavkin also leads weekly Lunch and Learn meetings for employ- ees only. They review job skills, interact with each other and learn about local volunteer opportunities, which offer them a chance to give back to the community for the training they receive at no charge. Though RAISE is not an employment agency, it works closely with many job place- ment centers such as Two 6 Resources. The centers' consultants arrange meet- ingswith RAISE employees to determine their interests and goals, which they consider in their search for the best job match. To expand the choices, RAISE contacts local businesses to communicate the employment needs of these adults with disabilities. Like a finely wrought sculpture, each piece of the RAISE program is con- nected to another, creating a perfect balance. There are no cracks in its structure. It was createdwith intelligence, care, understanding and compassion. For six to 12 months, the employees learn and practice their newfound skills in a safe environment. Everyone--staff, parents, employees, agencies--is well informed via email not only about progress reports but also ongoing programs, future events, and holiday celebrations. Employees learn to follow a schedule, arrive on time, dress appropriately and com- municate clearly. At each work site, a highly trained RAISE volunteer serves as a job coach, answering ques- tions and guiding employees one-on-one. The coaches measure progress by the employees' increasing inde- pendence while completing their tasks. At the end of each week, employees submit time sheets and receive paychecks, which also cover time spent at Lunch and Learn meetings. It pays to be responsible RAISE employees. If employees dem- RAISE on page 21A is a g a,d om ity ol dcbncyHon, .