July 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Jewish Vocational Services Provides Assistance for All

Most people think of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) as a place to which they can turn if they find themselves out of work. Make a phone call, go in for a mock interview or help tweaking a resume, take a job search class, or attend a job fair—that is often the extent of people’s knowledge of the services JVS provides. Luckily for the many who regularly use their services in other situations, it is much more than that.

Upon meeting Jane Hecht, JVS Director of Marketing and Special Events, the first impression is of a warm and inviting individual with a tremendous amount on her plate. That impression is solid and does not waver through the many divisions of JVS that Hecht describes and showcases. She is busily planning the JVS Taste and Toast, its version of an annual dinner, to be held on Monday, May 11, at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, yet she takes the time for introductions to much of the JVS staff and a walk through the many events and programs that JVS offers the community.

The goal of JVS has always been helping people achieve independence and self-sufficiency, “providing the skills and knowledge job seekers require to find and maintain employment.” The agency has trained vocational counselors who work with people in a wide variety of situations, as well as other staff trained to work with specific populations. They have ESL classrooms for new immigrants, and computer classrooms to assist those branching out in the workforce. They have mock interview rooms, and career seminar rooms.

JVS also has tremendous services for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) including a specialized vocational evaluation, employment readiness training, career exploration and counseling, individualized job placement assistance, job shadowing, job sampling and field trips, job coaching, and a full career learning center that includes areas for practicing skills needed to work in grocery stores, clothing stores, restaurants, and back offices. One of the highlights of the tour was attending the presentation of the Dr. Harry Diener Achievement Award. This year, the award went to two autistic individuals who became employed through the JVS Career Center. Evan Meyer works at the AMC Essex Green Theater in West Orange, where he busses tables after people eat at this Fork and Screen facility. He is extremely proud of his accomplishments and “enjoy[s his] job very much.” The other awardee, Adam Shang, was not available for comment as he was busy working at the job he obtained with the assistance of JVS.

JVS runs additional programs for adults in the community, including Maturity Works, which provides career counseling and job placement assistance to hundreds of MetroWest middle-income unemployed individuals. Their ESL services expand to more than language instruction—they provide assistance with resettlement and citizenship as well. They also run a Goodwill Career Center for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, working to place these individuals in competitive jobs. They offer Caregiving Companions, which are certified Home Health Aides and trained companions who work in the community to help older adults age in their own homes. They also have a Scholarship Loan Program, with over $2,557,200 in interest-free loans having been awarded to MetroWest college-bound students since the program’s inception.

For those seeking inspiration and assistance during a job search, look no further than Jewish Vocational Services. The agency does provide all the services with which most people associate them. Meryl Kanner is the Supervisor of Career Counseling and Placement, and the goal of her division is to help individuals define a career goal and develop a plan to achieve it. They offer career assessment and planning, self-marketing tools, networking techniques, interview preparation, support groups, job-search coaching, resume and cover-letter critiquing, and community seminars. They assist people in navigating the world of social media, including LinkedIn. They also offer pre-retirement counseling, to assist those preparing to make a final exit from the workforce.

Whatever the professional situation, JVS provides assistance and works toward solutions. “Our goal is to eliminate barriers to employment,” said Hecht. “Whatever the type of barrier, we work to get people beyond it.”

From the look of the bustling JVS building, they are more than succeeding.

By Jill Kirsch

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