Helping Each Other Grow and Learn
Parents of children and young adults with special needs are invited to attend an hour long panel discussion on the topic of Best Practices in the World of Special Needs. Hosted and organized by the Torah Learning Center and Keshet based in Northbrook, the event will be moderated by Abbie Weisberg, Keshet CEO, and Ali Rosenthal of TLC who have gathered more than 25 experts. Topics will include financial, vocational, legal, educational, and social opportunities. The event is followed by a comprehensive resource fair.
Keshet is the Jewish provider of educational, recreational, vocational and social programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Last year, TLC organized its first Helping Each Other Grow and Learn program that proved so popular that Keshet offered to partner in 2015. The organizers, Ali and Abbie, have extended themselves to contacting any and every Illinois specialist who deals with special needs and to providing them with a platform at the event which will begin at 1:00 pm and will continue until every question is answered.
Says Abbie, CEO of Keshet and one of the moderators, “There have been so many positive changes in both policy and opportunities, we think it’s important to bring people together. To let everyone know what’s available for kids and families of special needs. The information that may be right for one may not be right for another, and, therefore, we have included a spectrum of information at this venue.”
- How to access state funding
- How to work out finances for when your child becomes an adult or the laws change
- How to find employment opportunities for your growing child.
Asserts Abbie, “Too many people give up hope. Their child falls through the crack. They think they’ll never be helped. Actually, you’ll be surprised. Not all is doom and gloom.”
Five panelists of key agencies will spend three-five minutes introducing themselves and their resources. Vocational experts will provide you with community alternatives. They will point you to available options and advise you how to access state funding and when. Experts include Sheri Schneider of Family Benefit Solution, and Brian and Benjy Rubin of the Rubin Law Group. The panel will also be followed by a resource fair where you can meet more than fifty representatives of different agencies to discuss your particular concerns.
Says Abbie: “There is an absolute need. Parents are turning to us all the time asking what to do. Our team has routed out experts who know about funding opportunities; lawyers who are up-to-date on state planning; people who know of available funding; and anyone who is up-to-date with the policies of the P.U.N.S list.”
Abbie added that whilst fifty people turned up the first year, this time more than 200 people have signed in to attend – and the number is growing
Think of Walmart but only for special needs. This is a one-stop shop where every expert is under one roof. In other words, instead of your having to laboriously route out one person after another who may be able to help your child, ‘Helping Each Other Grow and Learn’ has placed all experts under one roof. Visitors will be able to talk to specialists about cutting-edge opportunities in educational, recreational, social and vocational areas.
Concludes Abbie, “We hope people take advantage of this event.”
Leo (not his real name) is one of the many teenagers who was helped by Keshet’s enormous network. In 2014, Leo’s mom called Abbie in tears. Illinois provides for free and appropriate education until a certain age – this includes employment opportunities – but what most parents don’t know is that these opportunities are drastically reduced once the child reaches 22. In fact, nine out of ten children lose their state-funded jobs.
Wept Leo’s mom, “My son will get fired from the movie theater he works in.”
Abbie wondered what to do. Opportunities had improved but funding was decreasing. Increasingly more young adults were losing their jobs depressing families and themselves. On the other hand, how could Keshet get the money? There were hundreds, if not thousands, of families who had this problem.
Said Abbie: “We’ll get him a job.”
And she did. As she told me, “Keshet has a sense of loyalty and family. We don’t leave you when you’re 22. We care for you regardless of your age.”
Abbie and her team called their stakeholders and five years later, Leo and two other graduates of Keshet are gainfully employed by Pharmore Drugs, a pharmaceutical company in Skokie.
“Our program,” said Abbie, “wraps its arms around children and young adults who have challenges. We make sure that they are pointed towards programs and guided to resources that will help them. This is what Helping Each Other Grow and Learn is about. We want every child to be a success.”
Call Abbie Weiseberg at 847-205-1234 or Ali Rosenthal at 773-612-7004 for more information.
Story by Leah Zitter, Columnist, dbfchicago.com