Today I’d like to introduce you to a wonderful young man.
At 29, Ben Winnick is one of the six young Jewish adults with disabilities who recently made up the first graduating class of Transitions to Work. Through this program, our Foundation, in partnership with Boston’s Federation – Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) – and the Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), is able to provide the training, support, placements and ongoing coaching needed to move these young people into the workplace and a productive, independent future.
Now, following a two-week training in job skills and customer service and a 10-week internship at NewBridge on the Charles, a retirement community in Dedham, MA, Ben has accepted a job as a utility steward there. It’s a position that comes with quite a bit of responsibility; Ben, who has a nonverbal learning disorder, is rising to the challenge of stocking 18 kitchens on three floors. That often means making sure 73 bananas are delivered each morning, along with 60 oranges and 58 servings of ice cream.
“I love it,” Ben told us last week. “It’s busy and you have to know how to operate the lift and work with each floor’s kitchen coordinator, plus you have to know how to treat people, especially elderly people.” Keeping track of all the orders and making sure they get delivered on time is challenging, Ben said. “But I’ve been trained to use systems to keep myself organized.”
Ben finding a key to his future at NewBridge on the Charles is no coincidence. Its parent organization, Hebrew SeniorLife, is in the lead of Transitions’ Employer Partnership, a group of employers who have asked to be first in line for hiring our graduates. They know this not only provides life-changing opportunities but it also benefits them to have such well qualified, well trained and well supported employees on staff. With its 2,300 workers in such areas as food service, healthcare, administration and environmental services, HSL has now made Transitions an important piece of its hiring policy.
And this graduating class is just the beginning. In the next five years, hundreds of Transitions participants like Ben will be gainfully employed and positioned for success as productive contributors to both the Jewish and larger communities.
— Jay Ruderman