Highlights of 2014: Many and Varied

The strategic alliance of JVS Chicago and Jewish Child & Family Services was the big news of 2013–but this agency is no one-hit wonder! All areas of the agency had important news to report in 2014.

72 JSWT743Career Moves launched an innovative program of Job Search Work Teams, with Laurie Rosen and Arlene Wanetick running the show under the watchful eye of Career Moves Director Linda Wolfe. The innovative JSWT approach enlists job seekers into teams that combine members’ talents and connections to create a symbiotic method of finding work. Early results have been encouraging.

A Career Moves triumph came during one of the worst polar vortices of a dismal winter– “Getting Older, Getting Hired” was a call to action for businesswomen more than 50 years old. Four volunteer 50+ job seekers were given counseling on everything from appearance to interviewing to writing a resume. The results were dramatic – one of the four got a new job before GOGH happened, the re-imaging results were so effective. More than 200 women braved 10 below zero wind chill on a Thursday night to participate in GOGH at the Doubletree by Hilton in Skokie. Their rewards included gifts from more than 25 local sponsors, food, refreshments, and the combined wisdom of Career Moves, Dress for Success International, AARP and The Image Studios.

NEXJEN is not a tech company on NASDAQ; it’s an exciting new program from Career Moves designed to help recent Jewish college graduates enter the job market in an appropriate way. During the Great Recession, unemployment of recent college grads hit an all-time high. Career Moves has responded by creating NEXJEN to accelerate networking by connecting Jewish 20-somethings with Jewish professionals and business owners. It’s a strategy that has worked since 1990, when JVS Chicago, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Board of Rabbis formed the Jewish Employment Network. JEN alumni are expected to be of particular assistance to the young NEXJEN members.
Two exciting developments at Career Moves were a new partnership with the activist Skokie Chamber of Commerce and Industry and an expansion of the program’s emphasis on social media (LinkedIn being a primary focus app). On January 20, Wolfe will moderate a panel discussion, “Social Media: Best Friend or Worst Enemy?” at the Washington library. The panel includes Paul Cameron of DriveStaff, Inc., K. David Umlauf of U.S. Bank’s Commercial Real Estate Group, Julie Wernau, Energy & Green Technology Reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Tiffany Tuckett, Lyric Opera’s Talent Manager and Nikita McClinton of Walmart.

72DeafAwarenessDay14 1 (2)Working hard for people with disabilities
Our programs serving people with disabilities were as busy and productive as Career Moves. For example, the Youth Services program expanded to include Lake County youth 16–22 who are medically challenged, and there was an increase in contracts to serve individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Maximum assessments: JVS Chicago’s three-year compliance awarded by CARF International, the foremost independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services, “was the highest amount that we could have achieved,” according to Nanette Cohen, Director of Employment Development.

Similarly, 2014 saw the Community Based Contract Services program led by Art Adelberg, Director of Community Based Services, achieve the highest-level Gold rating by the the US AbilityOne Commission, which enables all people who are blind or have other significant disabilities to achieve their maximum employment potential. Art’s janitors maintain some of the federal and state governments’ most important facilities and other CBS employees help to distribute the bereavement flags given to the families of military personnel who have died serving their country.

Outreach continued to be a high priority, including hiring events with Monterrey Security and Mariano’s, Deaf Awareness Day at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago and Disability Awareness Day at Harper College in Palatine.

72Belloff1 (2)Enhancing Entrepreneurship
The Illinois Small Business Development Center/Duman Entrepreneurship Center added new manager Kathleen Robbins to its roster and did another bang-up job administering the City Treasurer of Chicago’s Business Plan Contest (with winners announced by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and then-Treasurer Stephanie Neely).

Credit building expert Sharon Belloff of the Duman Center was asked to present a workshop at the SBDC’s national convention in Texas; when she returned from it, she was named the JVS Chicago Employee of the Year.

72Bitsas 008 (3)Broad-spectrum changes
Two of the biggest events of the year impacted agency-wide. Constantine Bitsas became Vice President of Career and Employment Services and began to steer the agency in exciting new directions, often partnering with other agencies. He oversaw collaboration between JVS Chicago, the Jewish Child & Family Services Encompass program (formerly the Supported Community Living Initiative), Keshet and other agencies to form a Customized Employment Training program. He also oversaw a partnership with Hillel to prepare Jewish college juniors and seniors for their transition into the job market and another with The Ark in Rogers Park for awarding training stipends to motivated job seekers.

72JVS Chicago Access 002 (3)The other agency-wide winner was the introduction of Access. Those wanting assistance from JVS Chicago can call 855.INFO.JVS and talk with a highly trained Access intake worker familiar with all aspects of the agency’s programs (or they can email info@jvs.org). Kudos for the Access team have come from all quarters.

 

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