Gil Cataloni is a thirty-seven-year-old Special Olympic swimmer and worker at the Cellcom company.
“I have been working at Cellcom in Netanya for seven years in the mail department. I stamp outgoing mail with an automatic stamp machine. The staff likes me and I take my job seriously.
With the help of “A Different Way to an Occupation” and AKIM I succeeded in finding this job and overcame many other problems as well. Although I have to travel many hours to and from work, I love being there. I am glad to be treated like everyone else. It proves that I’m just like you.”
Leonid Rosenberg, 48, has lived in the AKIM Herzliya “Hashar” hostel since 2005. In the past three years Leonid has gone through a long and meaningful process of changing his conception of his capacities regarding self-fulfillment.
Imagine the following situation: a Russian new immigrant resident, who speaks very little Hebrew, with an intellectual disability. I remember, that in the beginning I had a conversation with him with the help of a translator.
One of my questions was “How do you feeI in the hostel?” after a long moment of reflection, Leonid answered: “imprisoned.” How is this possible? I remember asking myself. Well, this is the thought that, as far as I am concerned, has marked the beginning of a long way of a personal program of a person who has simply said: “I would like to be independent and free.”
Leonid has worked in the sheltered working place in Hertzliya and wanted to be independent. He was looking for a change. He wanted to work on the free market. This was not easy at all. During the three years there were numerous conversations with him regarding his desire to be independent. His parents were worried but they gave him their blessings. We understood that Leonid had the capacity to be integrated in supported employment and a job was found for him in the Dan Accadia Hotel in Hertzliya. He was trained during a period of a few weeks so that he would know how to get to the hotel independently.
Today all this seems natural. During the past 6 months, since he started his work at the hotel Leonid gets up at 6 am, gets dressed, gets organized and pops on the bus, then takes another bus and gets to work. He comes home happy, smiling, satisfied and very proud of himself.
One has to remember that this is a long process with fears of the “unknown”. However, the process has been successful and he has been able to express his desires and to find creative ways to fulfill them. When asked in the beginning of the process what he thinks of it, he answered candidly that he did not know. Today, three years later, his parents are happy to see him get up in the morning and leave by himself to work thus fulfilling his independence.
D., a resident in the AKIM Hashar Hostel in Hertzliya had asked for a long period of time to change his employment. He was refused, due to the Ministry of Social Affairs’ regulations. When this was explained to D. he decided not to give up. He started writing letters, every week to the local authority, to the “supervision” department, asking to change his employement. After a very long time he was asked to present himself to the “supervision,” where he explained his desire of change asking to be transferred from the Day Center to the sheltered working place in Hertzliya.
After years of insisting, of not giving up, of knowing what he wanted and being persistent with it, he got what he wished for. Finally, he was listened to, the regulations were bent, and today he is a very happy man.
“A Different Way to an Occupation”
AKIM believes that every person should be given an opportunity to join the work force in accordance with his or her abilities. “A Different Way to an Occupation” is a vocational training program operated by the Social Security department in cooperation with AKIM. The program places young adults (over the age of 21) who have an intellectual disability in jobs.
The purpose of this program is to develop the work potential of young people who have an intellectual disability and assist them in finding jobs that fit their skills and abilities. Having these jobs enables people to live as independently as possible within a community to which they contribute and in which they feel like equals.