By Tom Waring
JEVS Human Services last week honored two individuals with its annual Strictly Business Award.
A small crowd gathered at Orleans Technical College, while a large number of people watched the ceremony virtually.
The honorees at the 23rd annual ceremony were Ashton Frohner and Melissa Elcheck. Each received the Inspiration Award.
JEVS employment manager Angela Lucas introduced Frohner, who was dressed sharply in a suit. Born with Down syndrome, he has worked with Kim Callahan for more than four years, beginning when he was a student in a school-to-work program at Atlantic County Specialized Services School. The two continued to work together through JEVS’ hireAbility program, with Callahan serving as a career navigator, offering job-readiness training and coaching support.
Frohner, 25, has worked at the Wawa in Marmora, New Jersey since October 2018, stocking the cooler, maintaining the coffee bar and taking out trash. He’s popular with customers and coworkers and has exceeded customer service standards, earning raises.
Callahan nominated Frohner for the award.
Outside of work, Frohner has won countless ribbons in Special Olympics.
Elcheck, 47, is a Rhawnhurst native who attended Northeast High School. She worked in restaurants and construction for many years before enrolling at Orleans in 2017. She recalls when Orleans Technical Institute was at 1330 Rhawn St., not far from her childhood home.
Elcheck enrolled in and completed a six-month air conditioning, refrigeration and heating course at Orleans Technical College, now at 2770 Red Lion Road.
“It was a six-month program, and I dove in. The instructors were amazing. I’m thankful,” she said.
With the assistance of the Orleans career services department, she found work upon graduation with Southampton-based Christian Heating and Air Conditioning. If she had still been working in restaurants, she would probably have been out of a job during the pandemic. HVAC is a pandemic-proof industry.
Now living in Glenside and the mother of four girls, Elcheck continues to grow in her career.
“I love this field. It’s never-ending learning,” she said. “I really want more people interested in this field.”
Jay Spector, JEVS Human Services’ president and CEO, helped create the awards more than two decades ago. He’s retiring in June after 42 years with the agency (26 years as CEO), and this was his last Strictly Business event as head of JEVS.
Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski congratulated Spector in a video message. The outgoing CEO was presented with an Eagles No. 42 jersey, which he said he could use since he disposed of his Carson Wentz shirt.
Spector wanted the focus, though, to be on Frohner and Elcheck.
“The importance of the day is the can-do stories, making a life for themselves, with some support from organizations like JEVS,” he said.
Spector cited the labor shortage as another reason for people to consider enrolling in JEVS programs.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to make inroads with employers,” he said.
Longtime Orleans Tech director of admissions Debbie Bello was the emcee, and encouraged people to enroll.
“JEVS is open for business,” she said,
JEVS’ Strictly Business event has raised more than $3.75 million to support scholarships to the agency’s job readiness, skills training, education and career management services for individuals in need.