In 2007, Jewish Family Service answered the decades-long heartfelt entreaties of family members of people with disabilities to provide services and inclusion in our community for their loved ones. An ambitious roadmap was created to create a menu of opportunities for adults with disabilities to create connection with the community, articulate and achieve personal and professional goals and to be given tools to reach these goals. Significant resources, time and energy were devoted to assessing the needs, discovering best practices in service delivery and implementing the plans.
In 2009, a core program was established, Celebration Company, to provide supportive and transitional employment and life skills for adults with disabilities. In its first decade, the program reached many milestones, going from nine people attending three days a week to 29 attending up to five days a week; adding transitions programs for ages 16–21; reaching 90% participation in weekly community based internships and jobs; opening a retail outlet for products, art and photography produced by Celebration Company; creating a permanent home for the program at the JFS site; and adding all of the participants to the JFS payroll as employees, receiving at least minimum wage for their work.
While open to all, Celebration Company was created within a Jewish framework, and, for the first time in our community’s history, a nurturing, Jewish environment was established for productive, empowering, and creative work for adults with disabilities.
JFS acted as the community’s agent to fulfill our obligation to provide resources to sustain and enable people with disabilities to determine what they want to achieve with their abilities. Transportation, employment training, life and social skills development and access to mental well-being and physical self-care were essential program elements developed to help Celebration Company employees experience their best life.
For the Good of Life is the Celebration Company tagline for the products created at the company, and it is now also the theme of JFS’s recently launched multi-million-dollar endowment campaign. The endowment is essential to safeguard the opportunities which have been created for adults with disabilities, so long neglected.
Joan and Stanford Alexander, who founded the JFS Disability Services Division in 2007 and provided the foundational support to establish and develop Celebration Company, generously pledged a matching challenge gift to ensure these vital services and programs will be available in the future. The Alexander’s commitment matched dollar for dollar every dollar raised for the Joan and Stanford Alexander For the Good of Life Fund. JFS turns to those who are able to provide resources to support what our community has created. Collectively, we can make sure that families will never again be forced to choose programs in other faith communities due to lack of resources in our own and continue to wrap our arms around both individuals with disabilities and their families. Not only will this be the foundation for their futures, but also for ours as a caring and inclusive community.
President, Houston Jewish Family Foundation
Ellen and Steve Robinson
Co-Chairs, For the Good of Life Campaign
If you have any questions concerning a gift to Houston Jewish Family Foundation , please contact Rachel Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org), Development Consultant, at (713) 986-7806.