Arlene Fels was born with a disability that could have prevented her from obtaining meaningful work. Her perseverance and positive attitude towards life led her to JVS, where she was employed for 19 years. Arlene has since retired, and she is now involved with creating and funding a program at Ometz called “The Arlene Fels Work Experience”, which helps individuals living with disabilities find jobs. Through her donation, Arlene has enabled us to provide work subsidies in order to incentivize employers to hire someone with a disability.
We interviewed Arlene about her time at Ometz (formerly Jewish Vocational Services) and why she decided to give back to Ometz in such an impactful way.
“I started working as a volunteer at Jewish Vocational Services in 1980, where I helped with filing and sometimes helping the receptionist find the files of JVS clients. I liked it a lot and was very happy, so JVS hired me. I worked at JVS from 1980-1999.
My parents were so proud of me for having that job. When I retired, I felt a little bit sad to leave but also happy because of what I had accomplished. Now, my family is gone and I’m the only one left, so having the connection to Ometz is very important to me.
I feel personally that Ometz is important because it gives people the opportunity to find jobs, like they helped me find a job. The most important thing was that I loved the people that worked with me, and I hope others can get that opportunity as well.”