Bisson: Gesher Disability Resources offers Valleywide support

The Feferman family of Scottsdale after Simchat Shabbat, when her son and now daughter-in-law, shared their wedding news with the group. “We were able to have a special blessing for them together as an agency,” said Amy Hummell, executive director of Gesher Disability Resources. (Submitted photo)

I’ve often asked readers for their feedback on what they’d like to see me write about in my From the Publisher column.

Charlene Bisson

A Scottsdale mom clipped out my column and shared it with Amy Hummell, executive director of Gesher Disability Resources, where her son is a member.

Gesher Disability Resources, founded in 1985, is a small disability agency that has been serving children and mainly adults affected by disability through inclusion assistance in the classroom, resources, referral, residential support and social groups.

The nonprofit organization works closely with the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, but one does not have to be Jewish to use Gesher’s services.

“We give direct service to around 150 members, but our community impact is around 3,000,” explained Ms. Hummell. “We serve individuals and their families in the Jewish community so they can lead fuller lives. Today, the Jewish community has so many mixed marriages and we welcome everyone.”

Gesher serves through educational forums, continuing religious studies, two residential Jewish homes for adults with developmental disabilities, a monthly Sabbath morning service and social support.
They work with a dozen schools to offer tutoring and inclusion consultation for schools serving special needs. Gesher also focuses on wellness and the mental health of members.

“We’re the weekend people,” she said. “We want members to have fun with us.”

Gesher’s online calendar is filled with weekend activities to keep participants active. Upcoming January events include the Phoenix Symphony, Detour Company Theatre, Jonathan’s Walk and Simchat Shabbat.

Two bigger events in 2019 include:

  • Gesher Disability Resources Luncheon set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8 at Ina Levine Jewish Community Center, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

Individuals from the Jewish, the disability and the Arizona community are welcome to attend the free lunch. The featured speaker is actor and autism advocate Ed Asner with son Matt Asner, and daughter-in-law Navah Paskowitz-Asner of the Ed Asner Family Center in Los Angeles. The three will share personal stories about being a parent to a child with a disability, which was the inspiration behind the newly opened Ed Asner Family Center in Los Angeles. The luncheon will also celebrate February being Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month.

“As a pediatrician, I take care of children and teens with many different special needs. I have been increasingly involved in advocating for affordable accessible mental healthcare for children, teens and their families. I’m excited to bring the founders of The Ed Asner Family Center in Los Angeles and hear how they are addressing this need in their community. I’m proud to get this discussion started in our own community,” Melissa Redleaf, MD, luncheon chair and member of Gesher Board of Directors and pediatrician at Paradise Pediatrics, stated in a press release.

Registration is required for the free luncheon event. Visit

“For those who can’t make the lunch, but would still like to hear Ed Asner speak, he will be at LimmudAZ on Sunday, Feb. 10. Limmud is a Day of Learning and 2019 will be the sixth time for over 60 speakers to share their stories and educate our community on dozens of topics,” Ms. Hummel noted. The event is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at ASU’s Conference Center at Memorial Union. Email Sandy Adler at for more information.

  • Special Needs Community Dance 7-10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Center, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

This event is open to all. Participants can dance to the tunes presented by deejay Johnny J and create memories with a photo booth. Refreshments will be served. Adults, 18 and older, may attend with a $5 admission fee. Caregivers can attend for free. RSVP to or call 480-629-5343.
Participants can join Gesher Disability Resources for a special Passover Seder. The service is open and accessible for all, with Haggadahs provided by Gateways, the 30-minute Seder. Participants will make their own Seder craft to take home and enjoy a buffet lunch.

RSVP to or call 480-629-5343.

“This gives participants the opportunity to practice before they are with their family,” Ms. Hummell explained.

Gesher is a qualifying charitable organization that is eligible for Arizona’s dollar-for-dollar tax credit program.

“We can always use more volunteers, and we can always use more members,” Ms. Hummell added. “We have great events, and they are more fun the more people you have.”

For more information about Gesher Disability Resources, visit

I hope you enjoy this month’s publication. I wish you a happy and healthy 2019.

Charlene Bisson
Queen Creek Independent


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