Nysha Recent News

Reaching for Ever-new Heights, Day Hab Group Working to Make Workplaces Work

July 13, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Hamaspik of Rockland County Community Initiative Creating Jobs, Building Lives

Since its development in November of 2015, a new Hamaspik of Rockland County Day Hab life-skills program has lived up to its mission.

Geared for the community’s highest-functioning young women, the life-skills initiative has helped—and continues to help—students reach new heights in life.

But this is no ordinary program.

Under Director Mrs. Esty Schonfeld and a capable team of instructors and staff, students learn not reading and writing, or even math and science, but computing, personal finance and the like.

That’s because the program’s mission is to put its students right in the heart of the community—in workplaces, schools, places of worship, stores and the like, explains Hamaspik of Rockland County Director of Day Services Shloime Kornbluh.

And there’s no better way to feel like you’re part of the community than if you’re equipped with the same life skills and experiences enjoyed by the bulk of the community, he notes.

Hence the program’s participants are hardly found in its base facility.  Instead, they’re out most of the day, bulking up on real-life experiences—the best of all instructors—that acclimate them to the mainstream.

Among those daily vocational learning experiences are hands-on internships of sorts at a number of area business and non-profit establishments, including the Bardonia-based MedWiz commercial pharmacy—which continues to further a years-long, remarkable and ongoing commitment to helping Hamaspik’s beneficiaries ease into the workforce.

Other venues include the Yeshiva of Spring Valley, a community axis whose girls’ school has opened its doors and hearts to the young women—granting them the precious gift of meaningful contribution by serving as teachers’ aides in its preschool and nursery classes.

Currently, the young women enrolled in the program find themselves at work, or learning how to work, at additional venues such as a local gluten-free specialty bakery, neighborhood children’s playgroups, a hosiery store, and even stuffing payroll envelopes at a large community non-profit.

“Sure they are!” says Mrs. Schonfeld, asked if they’re gaining real-life job skills.  “They’re learning independence”—to which Kornbluh adds: “They’re learning things they can use in the workforce.”

One regular, having learned how to create and produce custom-decorated photo albums, even wants to eventually start her own business making and selling them for others.

The ongoing developments complement the suite of additional New York disability employment programs effectively offered and/or partnered with by Hamaspik of Rockland County. 

These include Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), both successful programs run by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) disability employment programs provided by Hamaspik include Supported Employment (SEMP) and Pathway to Employment.

For its part, while the unofficial slogan of the community initiative is “Get higher in life,” a better slogan for the program—given its concrete record—might be: “Get hired in life.”