I Volunteer program

The Friendship Circle, JRS, Repair the World, Chabad Young Professionals, and Chabad on Campus are partners in the I Vounteer program; an inclusive volunteer program that happens about four times a year for adults 18-45 years old. The program’s goal is to bring together young adults in the Pittsburgh community to volunteer in an inclusive way. 

The program connects young adults from various partner organizations to socialize while giving back to their community. When we give back together, we build community. I Volunteer also helps the community by supporting local businesses and organizations and uplifting community members. 

Below are the tentative dates for upcoming I Volunteer programs: 
-September 12th 6pm-7:30pm
-December 12th 6pm-7:30pm
-April 4th 5pm-7:30pm
-June 22nd 6pm-7:30pm


For information on how to get involved with I Volunteer, contact Paige Eddy, Adult & Partnerships Coordinator at The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh at 412-224-4440 ext. 111 or paige@fcpgh.org


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Inclusive Volunteering Toolkit

Society has become increasingly interested in volunteerism. Studies have shown that there are a lack of volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities . Our community must strive to have inclusive volunteer programs, as there are many benefits to all.

Benefits to all volunteers included pride, skill development, empowerment, and increases communication. Having an inclusive volunteer program helps people without disabilities have a positive attitude change and increased social interaction toward people with disabilities leading to a greater understanding of what it is like to live with a disability. Simply said, volunteering brings people from all walks of life together, as long as there are not barriers for certain populations to participate.

Do you want to learn more about how to make your volunteer program more inclusive?

Click here to view ARC’s Inclusive Volunteering Tool Kit


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Learn More About the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse

The Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse is a warm and welcoming community, supporting adults whose lives have been disrupted by mental health problems.  The Clubhouse is a program of Jewish Residential Services (JRS) and follows the Standards of the Clubhouse International mental health recovery model. The Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse invites its members to become equal partners in all aspects of daily operation.  Members make important contributions to their Clubhouse community while forming meaningful relationships in a safe and encouraging environment that nurtures strengths and fosters whole person wellness.  Members thrive by being needed, wanted, and appreciated.

The Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse welcomes people of all races, religions, colors, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, national origins, and veteran status. 

Click here to see a video about what a day is the Clubhouse is like, learn how someone can be referred to the Clubhouse, and hear member experiences. 

Click here to visit the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse Website.

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Webinar: The Impact of COVID on Teen Mental Health

COVID has forever changed our lives and the effect of COVID on the mental health of teens and young adults has been particularly acute. Join us virtually on Tuesday, May 31st from 5:00-6:00 PM for a candid conversation with Erin Barr, Clinical Coordinator for UpStreet, JFCS Pittsburgh’s innovative mental wellness program for teenagers and young adults. Learn the difference between “normal” teenage behavior and behavior that requires intervention, the unique challenges in teen mental health, and where to turn for help.

Closed captioning will be provided. Click here to register.

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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.

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Champion of inclusion: Jillian Zacks

Nominated by Achieva and Jewish Family and Community Services for her dedication to working for and with individuals with disabilities, Jillian Zacks will receive the Shore-Whitehill Award. This award is given annually by Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Jewish Residential Services, an organization that supports individuals with psychiatric, developmental or intellectual disabilities, helping them to live, learn, work and socialize as valued members of the community.

The Shore-Whitehill Award, created in 1996 and named for Robert Whitehill and the late Barbara Shore who co-chaired a task force on special needs in the community, celebrates volunteers who promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the fabric of Jewish life through advocacy or direct service to individuals and families.

Awardees are selected for the value of their contributions as champions of inclusion and the commitment of their nominating organization or group to publicly honoring them so they may serve as a springboard for change and inspire further action by others.

Jillian has served as the board chair for JFCS and The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh and as a board member for Achieva, Friendship Circle, and 21 and Able. In her job as an attorney, she specializes in Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Guardianship, Estate Administration, and Orphans’ Court Matters. She has dedicated much of her career to assisting families in planning for the future of their loved ones with disabilities. In addition to her professional and volunteer roles, Jillian is a passionate advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities who has met with state and federal legislators to promote legislation that removes barriers to individuals with disabilities working and living in the community. 

As a mother to two adult children on the autism spectrum, Jillian has made it her life’s work to help and advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. “Jillian has long been an advocate for individuals with disabilities, and this passion was more important than ever in the last two years during this pandemic,” explained JFCS President and CEO Dr. Jordan Golin. “She was instrumental in helping us to ensure that no one in the community was left behind during the transition to remote service delivery and that those with unique needs received unique interventions.”

Achieva Senior Vice President and The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh President Nancy Murray also recognized Jillian’s dedication to her work. “Jillian is a passionate, dedicated advocate and attorney who is devoting her legal work to educating, supporting and representing people with disabilities and their families,” Nancy expressed. “She knows firsthand how difficult it is for people with disabilities and families to obtain information, navigate through systems and get the services they need. That is exactly why Jillian devotes herself to advocating for and helping other families!”

Jillian will be presented the award by Robert Whitehill on February 16, 2022 at a luncheon event that will be followed by a virtual panel for parents of children with disabilities to discuss resources for transitioning into adulthood. More details to follow soon.

Click here to watch an interview with Jillian to learn more about her work in the community, and legal and financial special needs planning.


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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.

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