by Richard Ilgenfritz, Main Line Times
Although activity is slowly coming back after the COVID-19 lockdown, at least one organization that works with young adults with disabilities has had to double their efforts over the past few months to help those in need.
JEVS Independence Network, Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN) of Narberth helps its members achieve a more independent lifestyle, such as getting and taking care of their own apartment, help in getting jobs, socialization and other activities.
But with the recent lockdown, JEVS have had to ramp up that mission.
Bala Cynwyd resident Susan Denman’s son, Jacob, has been a member of JEVS for about the past five years, after graduating from Eastern University.
Jacob is on the autism spectrum. Over the years, they have helped him get an apartment and then land a data entry job in Philadelphia. Denman said without JEVS, Jacob, 30, would still be living at home.
But when the pandemic and lockdowns struck, everything changed. Work and other social activities were canceled.
“They (JEVS) quickly sprang into action with virtual activities, and it’s become richer and richer as needed,” Denman said in a recent interview. “We did a lot of walking and outdoor activities with individual members so they could keep with the social distancing but also remain in close touch with all the members.”
Like lots of other jobs, the shutdown caused many of the JEVS members to have to leave their employment.
Jacob was able to do a little work of his data entry work virtually, but with the shutdown, there just wasn’t very much data to enter, she said.
Denman said a few members who work in places like grocery stores were able to keep working, and a few others could work from home, but she didn’t think there were that many members still working.
That’s when the staff at JEVS increased its outreach to parents to make sure everyone was still doing fine, she said.
“You can imagine the psychological trauma this has brought on with these kids,” Denman said. “These young adults with disabilities could be freaking out because of the change. But that’s not what happened.”
Marc Tannenbaum, director JEVS Independence Network in Narberth, said with many of their members not working through the lockdowns and with their schedules being much more open, they are finding members are discussing some of the same issues and concerns.
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