By Sam Weiner, Rosh Atzmayim (Tikvah Vocational Program)
Atzmayim is unique in that our camp home is not only at 3390 Ramah Circle, but also in the town of Eagle River. When Atzmayim participants are not eating, sleeping, and having fun in camp, they are in town working at various job sites, gaining valuable work experience, and forming relationships with their supervisors at these businesses. These experiences will ultimately help our participants overcome the 80 percent unemployment rate for people with disabilities when they search for a long-term job. To show our supervisors our appreciation for their mentorship and support, we invited them to join us at camp this week for a celebratory dinner.
We spent most of the afternoon preparing a delicious dinner with the help of tzevet Mitbachon (teaching kitchen staff). Participants helped cut and sauté veggies, make guacamole, and add spices to rice and beans for a taco night. Participants also escorted our guests to Moadon Tikvah where they were made to feel welcome with hand-made signs and notes. It was incredible to host professionals from all around the Northwoods and to see them together in a social setting with our participants.
As the night went on participants took turns sharing why they love coming to work and some of the valuable skills that they have learned from their supervisors. Hearing participants speak about the plethora of tasks they learned at their job sites was astounding and it was even more heartwarming to hear supervisors talk about how much they have appreciated getting to know our participants and learning values like patience in the process. The Atzmayim program sets up our participants for success in the future and fosters meaningful relationships with local businesses.