S is making a difference,
getting people employed.
prepares for her class.
Special to the Jewish News
inda Ruby still remembers the morning
in May when two JVS staffers showed up
at her classroom in Walled Lake.
"We got a grant from the career pro-
gram in Walled Lake, which was allocated to teach
careers," said Ruby. She is a counselor and teaches
career and family life classes at Walled Lake
Community High School, an alternative program
attended by 180 students who have not succeeded
in regular high school.
Deborah Silver, an.educational vocational coun-
selor based at JVS in Southfield and Diane
Schwartz, a JVS Career Development Employment
Services counselor, came into Ruby's class for an
hour every morning for eight days. "They brought
in all the supplies. They even supplied the bus for
the field trip. It was wonderful," said Ruby.
"JVS provides a variety of employer services to
Walled Lake Schools," said Tracey Zambeck, JVS
director of employment.services. "For instance, the
ESP program teaches employability skills, prepara-
tion and training. It is a unique hands-on program
designed especially for high school students, and it
targets a multi-faceted group."
Because Walled Lake Community High School is
not graded, the students in Ruby's class range from
age 15 to 19. Silver and Schwartz brought in True
Colors, a program to find out what interests, skills
and abilities the students have. The assessment is
done via surveys, usually involving 15-20 students.
The program at Walled Lake was "hands-on" and
covered team building, problem solving, communi-
cating, and even how to dress. It culminated with a
trip to the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve
Bank. "The students talked to workers, saw how
people work, and learned about the education you
need to work there," said Ruby.
As JVS (formerly Jewish Vocational Service) cele-
brates its 60th year, its focus has expanded far
beyond Oakland County. It is the largest non-prof-
it vocational service agency in Michigan.
"We served more than 24,500 people last year.
Of this total, we served almost 19,000 in the city
of Detroit. We are making a significant impact in
Detroit — as well as in Oakland County and the
Jewish community. We are all one community,"
said Barbara Nurenberg, president and CEO of
To underscore the key role JVS plays in Detroit,
Nurenberg cited a recent speech by Detroit Mayor
Kwame Kilpatrick, who singled out JVS as an
example of the Jewish community's continued
commitment to Detroit.
New JVS programs include the Detroit-based
Career Initiative Center. Since opening in May
2001, CIC has served 320 homeless men. The pro-
gram receives funding from the federal Department
of Housing and Urban Development and the city.
JVS has been successful in Detroit, said Dennis
S. Bernard, immediate past chairperson of the JVS
board. However, the agency has had to face cut-
backs in services in Oakland County. "With the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit direct-
ing the lion's share of its funding to Israel and the
Jewish Community Center, we're vulnerable," said
Tough times "call for savvy business solutions,"
said Nurenberg. "In the midst of decreased funding
and increased demand for services, JVS remains
committed to developing the local workforce.
The number of individuals in need of JVS'
employment services has skyrocketed due to layoffs
created by the economic downturn. At the same
time, the current economy has impacted the fund-
raising climate, resulting in flat and/or modest allo-
cations from organizations such as Federation and
the United Way who support JVS' workforce devel-
"These allocations do not cover market increas-
es in postage and utilities, let alone the costs asso-
ciated with serving more people," added