Join us for our Breaking Down the Walls event!

An inclusive dance party to heighten awareness of the stigma faced by people with mental illness.

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Profile: Sam Skobel

Meet Sam Skobel, an online tutor and dance teacher working towards a masters in education. Sam talks about her experiences having epilepsy and how it has impacted her career path. She also offers advice to people with disabilities and to employers. Watch her interview here.

To learn more about the inclusion of people of all abilities in the workplace, click here to sign up for a free webinar being held on Monday, February 28th at 5:30pm.

Click here to see virtual events taking place during Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month.


<-- Click here to return to the ConnectAbility Homepage

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Profile: David Dickman

Squirrel Hill residents might recognize David Dickman from the Murray Avenue Giant Eagle, where he has been employed as a bagger for 23 years. David is a member of Poale Zedeck, a resident of Krause Commons on Murray Avenue, a participant in Life’sWork classes, and a participant in Jewish Residential Services’ supportive living program. To say he is a staple in the Squirrel Hill community is not an overstatement. 

David explains, “I know a lot of the people from Squirrel Hill, and they know me. Squirrel Hill is my home base.”

What some people who recognize David might not know is that he lives with a mental health diagnosis that has been persistent and severe for much of his life. The activities and programs in which David participates are necessary for him to live a full life and receive the support he needs. David’s job at Giant Eagle is essential to providing structure in David’s life.

His job gives him a sense of dignity, accomplishment, and responsibility.  “I get depressed some days. If I didn’t have work, I wouldn’t know what to do. It is important for me to work. I don’t want to only take, but I want to give. Helping other people helps me,” said David.

David’s appreciation for his job is not surprising, considering national organizations like NAMI report people with a mental health diagnosis who are employed for a meaningful length of time report improved self-esteem and symptom management. Part of David’s success finding and keeping employment comes from a job coach who assists him with goals, challenges, and planning.

Although nearly 60 percent of the seven million people receiving public mental health services nationwide want to work, less than two percent receive supported employment opportunities such as job coaching and community-based services. Finding work can be overwhelming for anyone; however, people with psychiatric disabilities face additional challenges due to their symptoms. Without supported employment opportunities, a person with a mental health diagnosis is less likely to find, keep, and be successful at a job.

It is David’s hope that employers throughout the city and beyond recognize that there are people with disabilities who want to work, and who are valuable to the workplace. “People with disabilities have challenges just like anyone else. They are trying to overcome their disabilities to concentrate on the job,” said David.

As for what he thinks people with disabilities need to know about finding employment, “I think people with disabilities need someone to work with them to realize what they can do. It has helped me. A job can be a springboard to other opportunities.”

To learn more about the inclusion of people of all abilities in the workplace, click here to sign up for a free webinar being held on Monday, February 28th at 5:30pm.

Click here to see virtual events taking place during Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month.


<-- Click here to return to the ConnectAbility Homepage

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Profile: Mike Hogan

During Jewish Disability Awareness,
Acceptance, and Inclusion Month
, we will be featuring stories of people with disabilities and their experience in the workforce. Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse member and previous JRS board member, Mike “Wendell” Hogan, explains his experience with transitional employment and how it helped him. Click here to watch.

Click here to see virtual events taking place during Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month.


<-- Click here to return to the ConnectAbility Homepage

Employment of people with disabilities: what you need to know

Inclusion of people with disabilities in the community is a Jewish value. So is the inclusion of people with disabilities in the work force – and it’s good for business. People with disabilities, their families, and employers all have a stake in expanding the work force. Join us in February during Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month for a discussion focused on employment of people with disabilities. The conversation will take place on Zoom at 5:30pm on Monday, February 28th and will feature Jeremy Shapira, Chief Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Officer at Giant Eagle, Inc. and Lee Chernotsky, Chief Encouragement Officer of ROSIES, an organization that creates opportunities for people with diverse abilities to engage and work. Becky Johnson, director of the Career Development Center at JFCS, will moderate the discussion, as we explore the benefits of a diverse workforce. Our speakers will discuss how employers can successfully include people with disabilities in the work force and make job opportunities more accessible, while recognizing the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in the job market.

This event is being co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Jewish Residential Services. Registration will be available starting in January. Please contact Caitlin Lasky at clasky@thebranchpgh.org with questions.


<-- Click Here to Return to the ConnectAbility Homepage

Stay Up To Date

Subscribe to ConnectAbility, our quarterly disability inclusion resource.

Skip to content