Many adults take for granted knowing how to follow step-by-step directions and understanding the supervisor-employee relationship. For adults living with disabilities, skills like these aren’t always intuitive. The Jewish Federation supports vocational training programs like Jewish Family and Children’s Service’s (JFCS) Baking a Difference to help people with disabilities build workplace proficiencies.

Every other Wednesday with the help of JFCS staff and volunteers, Baking a Difference clients bake challah, which helps them develop skills such as following a recipe and appropriate behaviors and conversations. On that Friday, they sell the challah at the Jewish Community Services Building, which enables them to practice taking initiative, interacting with others and making change for challah purchases. Proceeds from the challah sales are donated to address food insecurity.

Or Ben Ari, a JFCS case manager who runs the program, noted that “there is a serious gap in services between when our clients finish school and when they start their next step in life. Baking a Difference addresses this need.” Past participants have secured jobs at places like CHOP and Sesame Place thanks to the skills they developed with Baking a Difference.

Ira and Josh are participants in Baking a Difference’s current cohort. “I feel less shy now,” said Ira. “I’m getting better at things. And it feels good to be helping others.” Added Josh, “Here, people are giving me opportunities I hadn’t gotten before. I have a better sense of how money works. I would like more people to have this opportunity.”