Each week we introduce you to another of the ten recipients of the 2012 Ruderman Prize in Disability. This week we are especially pleased and proud to tell you about a wonderful program in our home community of Greater Boston.
Founded to help the sons of immigrants in 1919, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS) of Greater Boston is the oldest mentoring organization in New England. In their Friend 2 Friend program, for the last twenty years JBBBS has been matching children and adults with disabilities– including cognitive disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and affective disorders– with trained community volunteers. These one-on-one friendships prevent isolation and promote self-esteem, social skills, access to community resources, and inclusion in every aspect of Jewish communal life. JBBBS also produces Yom Sport, an all-day athletic competition for adults with disabilities, in collaboration with other Boston Jewish communal agencies.
The Ruderman Prize recognizes Friend 2 Friend and its MAGIC (Monthly Activity Groups in the Community) program which organizes outings to theaters, dances, karaoke events, movies and hikes for these friendship pairs– as well as Passover Seders and Chanukah parties so they may celebrate their Jewish identities together.
The Prize judges pointed out that for adults with disabilities, meaningful friendships are often challenging to develop and maintain; many adults with disabilities identify loneliness as a major problem in their lives. Jewish Big Brother Big Sisters’ Friend 2 Friend and MAGIC programs reduce this isolation and provide meaningful opportunities for participation in the Jewish community with a special friend.
From all of us here at the Ruderman Family Foundation, congratulations to Jewish Big Brother Big Sister of Greater Boston for your valuable work addressing the social isolation experienced by those who need our community and who have so much to contribute to others.
— Jay Ruderman