I’ve always had a knack for wanting to help people. Growing up in Chicago’s Jewish community, there was always one organization that seemed to be brought up in conversation. That organization was Keshet. Keshet and I have somehow always found our way to each other. It’s not too often at such a young age, people find their passion but thanks to Keshet, I found mine very early.
My first memory of Keshet is when I attended day camp at JCC Apachi Skokie. I was too young to truly understand the impact they made on the lives of those involved in the program and those near and dear to the organization. Though without even realizing it, I did learn about inclusion. Even if I didn’t know what the word was, I knew the feeling. To this day, since those first few summers, I have always tried to promote inclusion in every aspect of my life, whether I am interacting with individuals with disabilities, or typical abilities.
I attended Solomon Schechter Day School for K-8th grade. In seventh grade, I decided to take an elective instead of band. Without hesitation, I eagerly chose to volunteer with the school’s Keshet education program. I will always remember that after my first class volunteering with Keshet, it was game over. I knew that I had figured out what sort of career path I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
After graduating from SSDS, I attended Niles North High School. Keshet isn’t involved within the school, but I wanted to remain involved with Keshet. During my freshman year of high school, I volunteered to be a buddy with Keshet’s Buddy Baseball program. It was the most fun I have ever had as I was able to combine my two biggest passions: baseball and helping individuals who need assistance.
The summer between high school and college, I went back JCC Apachi Skokie but as a Sports Camp counselor. This time, I was old enough to understand and appreciate the impact the Keshet was making in the lives of families with disabilities. Keshet helps them feel like every other parents, instead of worrying, they are excited for their kids to go to camp.
During my senior year of high school, I applied to numerous colleges but only one stood out to me. The University of Missouri had a beautiful campus but more importantly, a Special Education program, which I was accepted into.
My first experience with disabilities at University of Missouri was in their Disability Center. Sophomore year of college, I was hired there as an Office Assistant for an advisor named Matt Buckley. Matt had a physical disability himself and was confined to a wheelchair. Being able to witness first-hand the impact that Matt made in the lives of individuals with some form of disability, whether it be a learning disability, developmental disability or physical disability, had the largest impact on me and my career choice. After I no longer worked for Matt, we stayed close, visiting and catching up regularly throughout the semesters.
Matt is and always will be my biggest influence. He was the person I was most excited to about my graduation experience and he was the person I wanted to call first to tell him about the jobs and my life I after college. Sadly, Matt passed away shortly before I graduated and I was never able to tell him. I know that he is looking down on me and watching me continue down the path that he helped me create.
After graduating in May 2017, I returned home to Skokie and immediately contacted Abbie Weisberg, Keshet CEO and Executive Director, about job openings with Keshet. I wanted to get back in with the organization that first impacted me to become the individual and professional that I am today. There wasn’t anything open at the time, so I accepted a job with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago as I patiently waited for a role to open up. I am excited to say that I have been a full-time staff member at Keshet as of May 2018!
I am proud to call myself, David Schoenberg – Communications and Marketing Manager for Keshet: Special Needs. Extraordinary Opportunities.