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Posted on 06/28/2011 @ 01:16 PM

Impact: Boston

Day 1 at Impact

I’ve never worked with people with developmental disabilities, so I had no idea what to expect for our first day on site. I figured we would hear about the program, meet some of the individuals at the site and maybe even work with them a bit. We did all of that, and we learned a great deal watching the creative ways employees at the site were engaging with the individuals based on their specific needs. But I was surprised at how much the experience affected my perspective and the outlook of the participants. I left the site today feeling more patient and accepting of everyone around me, and I found myself more appreciative of my abilities and resources. During a processing session afterwards, participants expressed frustration at society for not doing more to integrate these individuals and provide for their needs.

We are all still struggling with the big questions. Who are we responsible for? Is it our family, people we know, or anyone in society that is in need? Are we obligated to help others, or is it just something we should want to do? How do you feel compassion and responsibility for someone you don’t know? What is Judaism’s vision of an ideal society?

I will leave you with a few quotes that I overheard from participants today. They contain contradicting ideas, and I feel a lot of those same tensions inside me as I prepare for another day of growth and learning.

“It takes a special person to work with this population all day every day.”

“How can you work with these people every day and not be inspired?”

“I feel like interacting with them was easier than interacting with people at school.”

“I was sad to see people who were both blind and deaf, because their most basic methods for communication are gone.”

“We are not responsible for other people but what we do to other people.”

“Judaism demands that we help anyone who needs help.”

-Aaron Potek, IMPACT Site Educator, WCI Site

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