Beginnings

By Howard Charish, JSDD Board Member

When I entered graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in social work, the first paper that I had to write was on beginnings. It was a daunting assignment for new students who were filled with excitement, trepidation, unknown expectations and hopeful prospects. Here we were about to craft our professional future and needed to reflect on a topic that was so open ended and vague. Nevertheless, the characteristics of beginnings have been an underlying reflection for me whenever I embark on something new. It certainly comes into play as I think about Rosh Hashana and JSDD.

September is filled with beginnings, Rosh Hashana being the foremost. It is a time when we as individuals do an accounting of our deeds and misdeeds of the past year. As we pursue this personal inventory, we come face to face with our accomplishments and failings. We are instructed that this is not a time of stasis. It is time when we are charged to develop a plan of action to improve, to grow, to reach out, to change. Rosh Hashana gives us the chance to think kinder, nobler, and then press the reset button and put our resolve into action.

Such is the power of beginnings. It applied to the conditions JSDD was confronting. We had outgrown our headquarters; we had maximized the number of members we could serve; we over-pushed the administrative space. We looked at ourselves and knew that transformation was an imperative. Thus, energy was mustered. New opportunities were envisioned. Excitement filled the air. Grabbing the dream seemed more possible. We at JSDD were enveloped by the spirit of beginnings when we committed to create our new home. What followed were years of planning, testing, discarding, overcoming obstacles, forging allies, revising, fund raising and investing ourselves in renewal.

Paired with the commitment to develop new headquarters were several years of strategic planning to activate in the following four areas: Residential, WAE Center, Governance and Development. Examples of goals include: increasing the number of individuals in residential settings, identifying five new residential projects with a timeline to make them operational, establishing the Heidi Gallery in the WAE Center as an arts center, expanding outreach and engagement efforts to broaden community awareness and participation and promoting endowments and the Heritage Circle to accumulate perennial financial resources to sustain our remarkable enterprise for years into the future.

Today, our dedication has paid off. Not one of us can drive by or enter our new headquarters without smiling–smiling big! The light flooding into the building shines on our members and staff enlightening them with joy and purpose. We courageously channeled the force of beginnings to make the dream a reality. At graduation ceremonies commencement speakers often say that it is not an ending but a beginning. As JSDD commences full operations at the Toby and Leon Cooperman Family Campus, may it perpetuate all the blessings that it has received through this auspicious beginning.

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JSDD is dedicated to supporting a full quality of life in both the residential component and a holistic learning program known as the WAE Center for individuals with developmental disabilities.

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