In recognition of Jewish Disability Awareness Month, we introduce you to David M., a founding member of JEVS Philadelphia Independence Network.
David is living independently and experiencing the freedom he always wanted with help from JEVS Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN). PIN is a supported independent living community for young adults with disabilities in Narberth, Pa., that offers a variety of activities and opportunities for members to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
David has been living in Narberth for six-and-a-half years now and has his own condo. He said he loves being on his own and having the freedom to do what he wants to do.
“It feels relaxing knowing what to do and how to do it,” he said.
Before making the move to Narberth, David was living in White Plains, New York, where he was one of the first members of POINT, the program that inspired the creation of PIN.
“It was different, a different atmosphere and culture,” David said.
David currently works two jobs: Villanova Dining Services during the school year and Wawa on the weekends and during the summer. He has been working at Villanova for almost three years now and helps with taking out the trash, washing dishes and wiping down tables.
Outside of work, David is very involved with the Special Olympics. In 2014, he won two silver medals and was joined by Police Commissioner Ramsey carrying the Olympic torch down the Philadelphia Art Museum steps.
“Right now, I’m doing track and field,” David explained. “We practice indoors until it gets warm outside.”
The next big event is the Summer Games normally held at Penn State in June. David has a great support system at Philadelphia Independence Network, and fellow members have attended the Special Olympics to cheer him on.
David described how PIN has helped him to become more social and active in the community.
“One time, we went to New York City for the day and that was a lot of fun. We have also gone ice skating in Philly by City Hall,” he said.
David has made many new friends at PIN and also met his girlfriend through the program. They have been together for two years now.
“When I hang out with my friends, we talk and play Cards Against Humanity,” he said.
The program also supports David’s independence by helping him with life skills such as cooking, budgeting and travel training. In the future, he would like to learn how to drive.
When asked what advice he would give to a new PIN member, David said, “It’s a really good opportunity to do new things and try new things.”