At our 19th Annual Strictly Business event on November 9, 2017–which gathered more than 650 regional business and community leaders–JEVS Human Services honored four remarkable young adults who have faced great obstacles and found the strength to achieve their dreams. In addition, thanks to the support of our event sponsor Odell Studner, as well as our award sponsors, attendees and donors, Strictly Business 2017 was able to surpass its fundraising goal of $250,000!

>> View the Strictly Business 2017 photo gallery

>> Attended the event and stopped by the red carpet? Check out the photos

Inspiration Award Honorees

Learn more about each of our Inspiration Award winners through their stories or watch their captivating videos here.

Steven Morales is a graduate of the New Leash on Life–USA. 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. Steven socialized, trained and rehabilitated a rescue dog for eventual adoption. At the same time, Steven worked on his own job readiness skills, improved his time management skills, and set goals for himself—for what he says was the first time in his life. Upon release, 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. Steven has been working at his dream job for five years, with a stable income and the purpose he was seeking.

Mariah Vargas is a graduate of JEVS Project WOW. 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. After completing 8th grade, she stopped attending school altogether.  Mariah’s mother’s chronic health problems compelled Mariah to assume added caregiving responsibilities for her siblings including supporting them financially.  Mariah’s world began to change during the summer of 2015 when she enrolled in Project WOW, a program for high school dropouts that prepares students with the job skills, life skills and the GED or diploma they need for life success. Mariah blossomed, graduating with her GED and a job—and career—in the insurance industry. She works full-time at Kramer Insurance Center in Langhorne and hopes to pass her licensure exam. She is also a full-time student at Community College of Philadelphia.

Rodney Boyd is a JEVS Supports Coordination participant. Rodney was born with cerebral palsy and despite his physical limitations, lives a busy, fulfilling life on his own with his two young children. Rodney holds a job in the electronics department at Walmart. He loves working with customers but, more importantly, takes pride in providing for his family. His career goals have led him to pursue online IT certificates that he hopes to parlay into his own technology business. With help from JEVS, Rodney had modifications made to his home, including a stair glide and an automatic door opener; these modifications, coupled with assistance with daily living activities and transportation, support Rodney’s independence—and aspirations. Rodney credits JEVS with helping him become the man and father he always hoped he would be.

Cory Mandel is a former participant of JEVS’ Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship and JEVS Career Strategies. As a 25-year-old with autism, Cory refuses to just let life happen. As the first Ash Internship student with his diagnosis, Cory sought an opportunity to help others. Between interning at JCHAI (the Judith Creed Horizons for Achieving Independence) and mentoring a JEVS’ Lasko College Prep Program student also on the autism spectrum, Cory quickly became an inspiration. Cory graduated magna cum laude from West Chester University in 2014. He took advantage of post-graduation career services at JEVS Career Strategies to sharpen his social and communication skills and to set clear personal and career goals. Cory now works at Special People in the Northeast (SPIN) in their Autism Center of Excellence, a clinic for individuals on the autism spectrum and related disorders. He is also pursuing his master’s degree. The challenges that might have 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.

In the News

  • Award winner Steven was featured in a story in Billy Penn about his journey in jail training at-risk shelter dogs, and his new career in the animal care field.
  • El Sol featured award winners Steven and Mariah and how they were able to overcome difficult challenges to find their paths to success.

Fundraising Goal

Proceeds from the $250,000 raised at our Strictly Business event fund scholarships to JEVS’ vocational assessment, job readiness, skills training and career services for individuals most in need. Thank you so much to our generous sponsors:

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