Philadelphia, PA (November 9, 2017) – JEVS Human Services, one of the largest social service agencies in the region, announced the honorees for its 19th Annual Strictly Business Awards, taking place at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel on Thursday, November 9 from 11 am to 1:30 pm.  This year, JEVS expects 700 business and civic leaders —and at least one four-legged friend—to be on hand at the awards luncheon to celebrate inspiring individuals from the Greater Philadelphia area who, despite facing extraordinary adversity, held onto their dreams, worked hard, found the support they needed and now continue on paths to promising futures. Although the honorees represent a diversity of backgrounds and life challenges, the honorees exemplify resiliency and the powerful lessons to be learned from having the courage to ask for help.

“All of us have challenges and find ourselves frustrated in life, but these individuals have overcome circumstances many of us can’t even imagine… incarceration, disability and poverty,” said Jay Spector, President and CEO, JEVS Human Services. “They looked these adversities in the eye and, despite the odds, pursued a path to a full and successful life. They have achieved personally and professionally. Our 2017 Inspiration Award honorees are true role models for all of us!”

The 19th Annual Strictly Business Award winners:

Inspiration Award: Rodney Boyd                                                                                                                                

Rodney was born with Cerebral Palsy and despite his physical limitations, lives a busy, fulfilling life with help from JEVS Supports Coordination. Rodney lives on his own, cares for his two young children and holds a part-time job at Walmart in the electronics department. He really enjoys working with customers but, more importantly, he takes pride in providing for his family. His career aspirations have led him to pursue on-line IT certificates that he hopes to parlay into his own technology business.  With the help of JEVS, Rodney had modifications made to his home, including a stair glide and an automatic door opener; coupled with assistance in daily living activities, Rodney’s ambitions and desire for independence are supported.  He credits JEVS with helping him become the man and father he always hoped he would be.

Inspiration Award: Cory Mandel

As a 25-year-old on the Autism spectrum, Cory refuses to just let life happen. The first JEVS’ Ash Internship student with his diagnosis, Cory explained that he wanted an opportunity to help people. Between interning at JCHAI and mentoring a Lasko College Prep Program student also on the Autism spectrum, Cory quickly became an inspiration — and found his calling. Cory graduated Magna Cum Laude from West Chester University and was hired at JCHAI. He took advantage of post-graduation career services at JEVS Career Strategies to sharpen his communication skills and create clear goals. Cory was hired at Special People in the Northeast (SPIN), working in their Autism Center of Excellence, a clinic for people on the Autism spectrum and related disorders. He is also pursuing a Master’s Degree. The significant social and communication challenges that might have once stood in his way became a launching pad for a promising career in disability services. The phrase “limited expectations” is no longer in Cory’s vocabulary, nor in anyone else’s who meets him.

Inspiration Award: Steven Morales

Selling drugs was a distraction from a life without focus that Steven knew was a dead end — literally.  While serving time, Steven enrolled in New Leash on Life – USA, a training program run in partnership with JEVS Human Services behind the walls of the county jail in Philadelphia. Steven socialized, trained and rehabilitated a rescue dog named Pavlov for eventual adoption. At the same time, Steven worked on his own job readiness skills, improved time management skills, conflict resolution, and set goals for himself – for what he says was the first time in his life. When released, JEVS placed him in an internship at Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT), where he was quickly hired into a full-time paid position. Steven’s new calling and new skills made him an excellent candidate for a promotion to Animal Control Officer, and with weekly JEVS career coaching sessions, Steven landed the promotion. Steven has been working at his dream job for five years and has the purpose he was seeking.

Inspiration Award: Mariah Vargas

It’s hard to imagine managing the chaos of life with a parent in the grips of addiction, let alone the challenges of poverty and chronic illness, but this was young Mariah’s story. She recalls attending more than a dozen different schools, as her education was frequently disrupted by this turmoil.  She left school after completing 8th grade, never enrolling in high school. As an added challenge, Mariah’s mother’s chronic health problems put Mariah in a position where she needed to assume added care-giving responsibilities for her siblings, supporting them financially and helping her mother manage health issues. Mariah’s world changed during the summer of 2015 when she enrolled in JEVS Project WOW (World of Work) – a program for high school dropouts that prepares students with the job skills, life skills and the GED or diploma they need to build a path to career success. Mariah blossomed, graduating with her GED and help finding a job – and career path – in the insurance industry. She works full-time at Kramer Insurance Center in Langhorne and hopes to pass her licensure exam soon. She is also a full-time student at Community College of Philadelphia, studying psychology. Mariah is well on her way to the stable, happy life she longed for as a child.

For more information about the event and to purchase tickets visit

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