Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Supports JCHAI Work for More Than 3 Decades

Executive Director Stacy Levitan participates in a robotics class with JCHAI members.
Courtesy of JCHAI

Not satisfied with what Greater Philadelphia had to offer their adult children with disabilities, Judy Creed and Honey Saft, along with several other families, founded the Judith Creed Horizons for Achieving Independence center in 1987.

With a mission to empower adults with developmental differences or disabilities, JCHAI has grown into an organization that today serves more than 200 people with housing and social and vocational development throughout the region.

“We believe that our JCHAI members should live life on their own terms,” said Executive Director Stacy Levitan of JCHAI, which is a grantee recipient of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “We know that each individual has unique needs, interests, strengths and goals for their lives, so we personalize what we do for each person, and that leads to their success.”

JCHAI’s Swartz Education Center on the Schwartz Campus, supported by the Jewish Federation’s rent abatement program, hosts classes in life and vocational skills and interest-based programs, such as robotics, pet therapy and social events for its members.
“The Jewish Federation has been there for JCHAI since the very beginning of our organization,” said Levitan, whose brother with Down syndrome was a JCHAI member.

“They have invested in us and helped us grow our program every step of the way.”
The Jewish Federation provides funding to Jewish agencies, such as JCHAI, that serve those with disabilities within the community to help them achieve more independent lives.

“The Jewish Federation has a thorough vetting process when allocating dollars to ensure that it is making the biggest impact,” said Kelly Romirowsky, the chief strategy and impact officer. “Through that process, we’ve also created long-standing and trusted relationships with organizations, like JCHAI, that are moving the needle forward in disability inclusion.”
This fiscal year, the Jewish Federation granted nearly $1 million through the Jewish Community Fund — the Jewish Federation’s main source of unrestricted dollars that go toward areas of greatest need — to local and international organizations focused on disability inclusion and trauma.

“Not only does the Jewish Federation provide essential funding for our program, but over the years they have continued to help us with outcomes measurement and analysis, which helps us meet government requirements,” Levitan said. “Those who contribute to the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign make our work possible.”

Emily shares about the support she receives from JCHAI. Courtesy of JCHAI

Out of the organization’s successes, Levitan shared that 83% of JCHAI’s members actively seeking employment have secured integrated jobs to work in tandem with other employees without disclosed disabilities. In comparison, the national average for individuals with disabilities who hold a standard community job is less than 30%.

Emily, last name omitted for privacy, 31 years old, is just one of the many proud JCHAI members to hold a steady job, employed part-time at a local Wegmans in the bakery section.

When her parents retired to South Carolina last summer, Emily moved into her own apartment with a roommate with continuing support from JCHAI.

“When I learned my parents were moving, I knew that I had to live on my own,” said Emily, who first became involved with JCHAI during the height of the pandemic. “At first, I was very anxious. Now, I’m happy in my own apartment through JCHAI.”

Emily is also an ambassador for the organization, sharing about her JCHAI journey with outside community groups. She designs and leads Jewish affinity Zoom classes for holidays, like Rosh Hashanah.

“I always try to get everyone involved by asking questions and reading answers that come up in the chat,” Emily said.

JCHAI was built for success stories like Emily’s. Founders Creed, Saft and others wanted an organization that saw their adult children as individuals capable of happy, productive lives who actively contribute to the community. Today, that dream has been a reality for so many.


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