Lisa and Steven, two JARC FL Community Works clients, prepare the silverware and napkins for diners at the Cheesecake Factory.
“Guess where I’m going this week?”
When Nancy Freiwald, Director of Program Services at JARC FL, hears this from one of the agency’s clients, she smiles. That is because JARC FL clients – adults who have developmental and intellectual disabilities – are slowly returning to work.
One hundred percent of JARC FL staff and clients have received COVID-19 vaccinations. And as the vaccination roll-out mitigates the spread of the virus, JARC clients in the Community Works program are returning to their cherished routines.
“We just started back with Cheesecake Factory. Our guys love going to Cheesecake. Last week, we started back with Sinai Residences, where our clients work as wheelchair valets for the restaurant,” Freiwald said. “Just like with a car valet, our clients will give restaurant patrons who have a wheelchair or a walker a voucher for their assistive equipment, when they arrive, and then store the equipment while they dine. When guests are ready to go, they hand our clients their voucher to have their equipment delivered directly to their table. It’s a really cool service.”
The Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County puts your gifts to work, supporting its long-standing partner agency, JARC FL, as it helps clients transition to a post-pandemic world.
Sign of the times – getting back to work
Semi, a JARC FL Community Works client, labels fabric swatches at Valley Forge Fabrics.
Five years in existence, JARC’s Community Works program provides vocational training and employment opportunities to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Participants choose from culinary, fulfillment, and maintenance skill training and get first-hand experience working at local businesses.
During the pandemic many of JARC’s partner businesses had to close and/or reduce their staff, but businesses are now welcoming JARC back. Agency clients have been working at Burlington Coat Factory, Valley Forge Fabrics and Stealth Supply for many months now and have recently started returning to other local businesses. JARC clients will be returning to Woodfield Country Club in September, and have dates set to return with many of their other partners. Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Addison Reserve Country Club, Polo Club, Mizner Country Club and Grand Lux Café employed JARC clients prior to the pandemic, and Freiwald is working to engage with them again.
The program is especially essential now for those navigating a slightly different workforce environment, where social distancing, safety protocols and vaccinations are factors. Since the program, more than 100 individuals have received community-based employment training, and 28 have been hired by the partner businesses.
Linda, a JARC FL Community Works client, works as an assistive equipment valet at Sinai Residences. Clients store the equipment for guests of Sinai’s restaurant, while they dine, and return the equipment to the table when guests are done.
Need trained, enthusiastic employees or trainees? Contact JARC FL
Nicholas, a JARC FL Community Works client, hangs clothes at Burlington.
Currently, JARC FL is seeking new business partners who need trained employees who are skilled in fulfillment (packaging, labeling, sorting and mailing) and culinary services. Clients prepare and cook the meals provided through Café 95’s catering program (https://jarcfl.org/cafe-95/catering/).
“We all identify ourselves by what we do,” Freiwald said. “It’s the same for people with special needs. To be able to say, ‘Hi, my name is Rocky, and I work at Woodfield,’ gives our client a deep sense of pride. They want to feel like everyone else.”