Responding to Changing Community Needs

By Rebecca Wanatick, Manager of Community Inclusion, Greater MetroWest ABLE

Greater MetroWest ABLE has found shifts in our focus over the years. The roots of ABLE began more than 30 years ago with the grassroots efforts of families in our community seeking residential services for their children with developmental disabilities. Supports and services continued to expand with new agencies emerging, congregations providing increased educational supports for students, and Jewish camps creating inclusive environments for campers, all in direct response to community needs. Now in our tenth year, Greater MetroWest ABLE continues to evolve and meet the changing needs of our Greater MetroWest community.  

One new area of focus for ABLE is raising awareness of and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health challenges. As a vigilant advocate for our Jewish community, ABLE stands on the front lines advocating for a day when no individual or family will have to struggle alone. In direct response to needs identified by families and professionals in the community, ABLE has implemented several new efforts this past year. Funding for these new initiatives is thanks, in part, to a generous donation from The Eric Eliezer Levenson Foundation for Hope. We want to share with you some of the great strides being made in furthering awareness on matters of mental health and addiction within our Jewish community.

To date, Greater MetroWest ABLE has brought to the community:

  • The Mental Health & Addiction Resource Guide for the Jewish Community.
  • A Mental Health Awareness Committee that aims to eliminate the stigma of mental health challenges within the Jewish community.
  • Workshops on mental health awareness for clergy and educators.
  • Performances of Freedom Song (a product of Beit T’ Shuvah, which unpacks the pain and suffering that addiction unleashes on the family and addict) twice in the community this past fall.
  • A speakers’ bureau, highlighting individuals and organizations that aim to shed light and bring hope to families who are affected by these disabilities.
  • Ongoing collaboration with the Jewish Link to develop a monthly column that highlights stories and resources about mental health and addiction.

And we are working on the following upcoming programs:

  • Anybody Have a Map? A discussion on March 15 led by Sara Mendez-Emma of JFS MetroWest, aimed at educating parents on navigating their teen’s mental health.
  • Rabbi Mark Borovitz, spiritual director at Beit T’ Shuvah, is expected to return to New Jersey at the end of February for a book tour and speaking engagements.
  • Workshop on mental health awareness for teen leaders in our community. 
  • Mental Health First Aid training and certificate course offered to clergy and professionals within our community. Let us know if you are interested in participating. 

Please share these opportunities with others in our community who you think might benefit from them. If you have any questions or are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact Rebecca Wanatick, Manager of Community Inclusion at (973) 929-3129 or