For the past four years I have worked with Gail Oliver to bring developmentally disabled residents of group homes and their caretakers to Bet Am Shalom Synagogue twice a year for a special, brief Shabbat service and kiddush lunch. Gail is a joy to work with -- caring, responsive and supportive. She makes all the arrangememtns with the group homes, and we always get a great turnout We at BAS are grateful to Gail and WJCS for enabling us to participate in this wonderful and very meaningful program.
Gail Oliver has helped to organize our Temple's (TINW) Share a shabbat program with Opengate Inc,group home for Developmentally Disabled individuals. The program is extremely successful and enjoyed tremendously by both Temple and Group Home residents. Recently the program was published in Jewish Week. Gail also organized a Concert with our temple band ShaMa NNaNa , approximatly 100 people participated in this event.She is an invaluable resource for our Jewish community and the developmentally disabled
Gail from Havurah helped the youth group I lead from Bet Am Shalom synagogue in arranging to visit homes of mentally challenged adults for the Jewish holiday Purim. The supervisors of the homes and the adults that live there were so welcoming and nice, my youth had a wonderful experience of community service!
The holiday celebration experience for the Jewish clients of WARC is priceless. They get to go out, socialize, and meet friends,celebrate holidays and enjoy refreshments and sometimes dinner.They enjoy religious enrichment and feel welcome and loved.
The seder for the developmentally disabled, held at Temple Shaaray Tefillah in Bedford, is an amazing event! The residents look forward to it, year after year. For many of them, it is the highlight of their year. It is also a wonderful experience for the youth volunteers. Gail Oliver done a tremendous job of putting it all together.
WJCS brings developmentally disabled adults to my temple, Westchester Reform Temple, twice a year for different celebrations. Watching these adults enjoy a show, have singing opportunities, a chance to socialize with teenage congregants, and taste and savor appropriate foods warms anyone's heart. It is one of the most endearing activities anyone can be part of. WJCS Havorah program allows these developmentally disabled adults to experience such wonderful and varied programs. I myself volunteer to organize and run one of these celebrations. It is one of the most important things I feel I do. I have even befriended three of these developmentally disabled adults making sure they attend as many of the outings as possible. One of my greatest pleasures is to plan a party for these special lovely adults. I am also the Director of a Day Care Center. Many preteenages come from WJCS to my center to do their Mitzvah project for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Giving these preteenagers a chance to be with young children from low income families and to do a Mitzvah would not be possible without WJCS recommending them to my center. The children at the center LOVE when these youngsters come to play with them, give them attention and talk to them. It is a win-win situation.
I spent some of the best times of my life as a volunteer with this community....Under the guidance of Gail Oliver, everyone shares in enriching,fun joyous experiences..Holiday times are filled with great food, stories and robust singing! I found every person participating with pleasure, laughter and good fun in an environment of caring, compassion and concern. Gail Oliver is a wonder; I was so fortunate to be a small part of this group;my times with this group changed and enriched my life.
The Havorah Program at WJCS, directed by Gail Oliver, is one of those unique programs that benefit both the developmentally disabled adults it is intended for and the volunteers who participate. One of the volunteers showed up at the annual seder at Beth El Synagogue and he suddenly panicked, saying he couldn;t work with "these people." He forced himself, though, and is now one of our most dependable volunteers who is there for us every year. Some of the adults have told me that without this seder, they would just sit and watch TV. For many of them, it is the only Passover celebration they will experience.Other holiday celebrations are planned throughout the year, including a special Shabbat which we have hosted many times. A forgotten population is given the opportunity to celebrate their heritage in a most meaningful way.
WJCS has been an integral part of Temple Shaaray Tefila's life cycle events. Shari Baum is always available to discuss programs, help with congregants going through tough times and makes a difference in the lives of so many. Her participation in our Caring Community has made a great impact on our program. When someone needs help, is in emotional pain or whatever else may be happening in their lives a WJCS has the answer and can tell us where to go for help and usually within their confines of available services. The Jewish community is blessed to have WJCS within our county and we are comfortable knowing they are there for us. Harriett Zeller, Temple Shaaray Tefila. Bedford Corners
The Havorah Program has had a lasting impact on the people that have been involved, either as volunteers or clients. A volunteer for many years at several different events, I have been able to see the great effects that the programs have on the clients, giving them entertainment, education, Jewish involvement, and friendships both with other clients and with the volunteers and staff. The events are always well organized, filled with Jewish zest and spirit, and are truly a remarkable experience to be apart of. Watching the clients joy as they dance and sing to Jewish music at both the Sukkot and Passover events have shown the amazing impact such a program can have on a mentally disabled adult.