New Van, Courtesy of Valley National Bank, Helps Expand JVS’ Skill-Building Through Service Initiative

One of the ways Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest program participants build their job skills is through JVS’ Skill-building Through Service initiative—a partnership with local non-profits that enables individuals with disabilities to gain valuable “on-the-job” experience while helping community-based organizations build their capacity to better meet the needs of those they serve. However, one of the greatest challenges to expanding this initiative was the lack of affordable public transportation available to get JVS program participants to and from their volunteer assignments.

Enter Valley National Bank who, after learning about both the initiative and the transportation challenge, agreed to provide $25,000 in matching funds that enabled JVS to acquire a 12-passenger van that is now used to fill that void. Thanks to Valley National Bank’s match, an additional $27,615 was raised at JVS’ annual Taste & Toast gala on June 20 to support the acquisition and operation of the van.

“We are extremely grateful to Valley National Bank for so generously helping to make this van possible,” stated Michael Andreas, executive director of Jewish Vocational Service. “By providing transportation for our program participants, we are opening doors to experiences that will enable them to hone their job-related skills, receive real-time feedback from trained JVS job coaches, and enhance their employability over the short- and long-term.”

Sophiana Leto, development associate at the Montclair Art Museum, added, “We’re really grateful for our partnership with JVS. By coming to our museum and working in our offices and in our programs, JVS  program participants get experience in a ‘real world,’ hands on work environment. They have been a huge help in our education department and development department and have interacted with staff, volunteers, members, and the local community as a whole. They also have been able to build upon both life skills and professional skills, which has been an important goal for them. The JVS Skill-building Through Service initiative seems like a perfect fit, and I’m excited to continue learning from one another.”