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Maccabi Victoria All Abilities welcomes Shari Cohen and bids farewell to Lauren Mandel

Posted: 01-May-2015 by All Abilities

Shari Cohen, the new Inclusion Coordinator 

Maccabi Victoria is thrilled to announce that Shari Cohen will be commencing her role as the second All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator on 25th May 2015. Shari comes to Maccabi Victoria with considerable experience in the disability and sporting field, having worked at the City of Monash running and coordinating exercise programs for people with disabilities and the wider community. Shari also has over six years of experience in coordinating programs for MTA Entertainment and Events as well as Out of School Hours Care.

Shari has also generously donated her time to supporting the Jewish community, through her involvement with the JYM Theatre Company since 2006. Her extensive academic qualifications also made her the perfect candidate for this role, having completed a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Creative Arts, Accredited Certificate in Nutrition and Certificate III and IV in Fitness.  

Her employment follows on from the year and a half position held by Lauren Mandel, the inaugural Inclusion Coordinator for Maccabi Victoria. Lauren and Shari will work together over a two-week period to ensure a smooth handover and successful transition for Shari to take over this role. She will continue on the processes and procedures set up by Lauren and will build on the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities programs that were established or developed further in 2014.

We wish Shari the best of luck in her new role and are confident that she will continue to support the All Abilities program to grow stronger and stronger, making a huge difference in the lives of our members and the wider community.

Lauren Mandel (left), handing over to the new Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator, Shari Cohen (right)

An interview with Lauren Mandel

Can you describe a week in the life of the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator?

One of the things I love most about this job is that every day of every week is different. It is a very dynamic role that has continued to grow and change, since I first commenced the position in January 2015.

Most of my time is spent in the office, in an administrative role. This involves setting up and assessing our programs, working on promotional and marketing material, completing grant applications as well as developing and disseminating useful resources. I also have various governance reporting requirements to ensure I am keeping on track and meeting the expectations of our committee, Maccabi Victoria Board and working in line with the Strategic Plan.  

The other part of my time is spent outside of the office by building relationships with our new and ongoing members, their families and key stakeholders including Maccabi Clubs, other Jewish Disability Services and other inclusive sporting organisations. I also make regular drop in visits on our programs and assess their development. 

What was the biggest highlight of your time as the Maccabi Victoria Inclusion Coordinator?

I have two things that stand out for me when reflecting back on my time at Maccabi. Firstly, meeting the incredibly inspiring Richard Bernstein at the All Abilities Project Launch in March 2014, at Mossgreen. This was a very special event and something I was so honoured to be a part of. It is so exciting for me to look back and compare our current program to what it was like back then. We've had so much growth and success!

The Melbourne Junior Carnival was also another big highlight for me in this role. I worked together with the Junior Carnival committee and spent over a year planning and coordinating the program. I had no idea how it would turn out because it was something new for both the committee and me. It was such a tremendous success, being able to offer over 20 of our members the chance to get involved in such a large mainstream program, as volunteers and participants, is something I will remember forever. The feedback I got from the carnival participants was only positive. I was so thrilled we could reach out and impact on the broader community in such a way.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in this role?

In the first few months in the job, it was difficult for me to manage the workload, competing deadlines and prioritising all of the required tasks. However, with the support of my mentor (Nikki Burger), the steering committee (Sharon Hamilton and Russell Jaffe), the office staff and the All Abilities committee, I was able to develop strategies and ways to stay focused and time-manage. It was such a privilege to work alongside such dedicated and passionate individuals, who all generously gave up their time to support me in this position.

What are your plans after you finish your role with Maccabi Victoria?

I have been working at Maccabi Victoria in a part time capacity, whilst completing my Masters of Social Work (Qualifying) degree part time, on the side. I am in the final phase of this degree and am now required to complete a full-time placement for three months at Jesuit Social Services in Collingwood. This project and case work placement will involve me supporting  young people aged 15 – 28 who may experience marginalisation due to a range of risk factors. These may include substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, and involvement with youth justice, unemployment and any other risk factors that the young person identifies as causing disadvantage or social exclusion.

Following the three month placement, I hope to gain full-time employment in the disability sector and continue to work towards improving the lives of people with disabilities. I will also continue to maintain my position on the board of Access Inc and as a member of the Social Inclusion Leadership committee.

Lauren with Richard Bernstein, at the All Abilities Project Launch in March 2014.
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