On September, 28, 2017, Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and Jewish Residential Services presented the 2017 Shore-Whitehill Award to Carol L. Tabas, nominated by the United Way of Southwestern PA for her outstanding voluntary work. The Shore-Whitehill Award, created in 1996, is named for Robert Whitehill and the late Barbara Shore and celebrates volunteers who promote inclusion of people with disabilities in the fabric of Jewish life through advocacy or direct service to individuals and families. The award is given annually by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Jewish Residential Services. The Shore-Whitehill Award event was held at the Pittsburgh Golf Club in Squirrel Hill; many of Carol’s friends and family were in attendance. The evening was emceed by Judy Cohen-Greenwald, Board Chair of Jewish Residential Services and featured speakers including: Al Condeluci, CEO of Community Living and Support Services, Nancy Thaler, Deputy Secretary, PA Office of Developmental Programs and Robert Nelkin, President of the United Way of Southwestern PA.
Want to learn more about Carol? Here is part of her nomination for the 2017 Shore-Whitehill Award submitted by the United Way of Southwestern PA:
Carol Tabas is passionate about ensuring that people with disabilities—especially those with complex disabilities—have full, meaningful lives. Asking the community, especially the Jewish community, to include people with disabilities in the community has been a life’s mission for Carol. Her son Chet was born with cerebral palsy. Throughout his childhood, and now as 33-year-old man, Carol has made sure that Chet’s life is full of activities–the same as her other three children who do not have disabilities. Carol has been, and continues to be, a vocal advocate for inclusion by educating places like Jewish Hebrew Schools, amenities that make life fun (like Kennywood, Sandcastle, stores and restaurants), and housing providers to be more physically accessible and more socially inviting to individuals with disabilities. She ensures that Chet participates in Jewish traditions, like having a traditional Bar Mitzvah at age 13. Chet and Carol have been involved with Friendship Circle since it began. Her work with inclusion has helped shape the work that organizations such as Jewish Residential Services (JRS) and the Jewish Community Center have been undertaking. She works tirelessly to ensure that her son with very significant challenges is a part of community life. She supported the launch of family support groups at Jewish Family and Children’s Service, the Jewish Community Center and The Children’s Institute. Carol shares, “There is so much great coordination and community inclusion that has come out of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, and I have been fortunate to support that work.”
Today, Carol is the Chair of United Way’s 21 and Able initiative, an effort that originated in the Jewish community. She generously gives her time to lead this work to ensure that Chet and young adults like him have a place in the community. She is proud of 21 and Able’s nationally recognized efforts to increase employment opportunities for young people with disabilities, as well as to tackle other serious challenges. “There is a shortage of housing and community programs for people with disabilities,” Carol says. “21 and Able is working to create more inclusive housing opportunities, and to give people with disabilities more options for being a part of the community. That’s our next challenge.” Carol is the driving force behind United Way’s housing work. She explores every avenue to create more housing options in the community for individuals living with physical, intellectual and behavioral disabilities. She has engaged the Mayor, City and County Council Members, local non-profit housing developers and a large group of self-advocates, parents and providers in this work. She also works closely with 21 and Able’s Complex Needs Committee, providing testimony to state decision makers about public policies that affect Chet and others with the most complex disabilities. She kindly invites others (parents, advocates, and more) to become engaged and makes them feel welcome where systems and emotions can be difficult to navigate. Carol’s work to support inclusion has been both behind the scenes and in the spotlight as she and Chet have proudly been “the face” of United Way’s 21 and Able initiative in many public campaigns. Carol is caring, thoughtful, and generous as a leader in inclusion and deserves to be recognized for her many contributions over the last 33 years to helping more individuals with disabilities have the opportunity for meaningful community participation.
“If you fix the system for people with the greatest challenges, you will inevitably fix the system for most everyone else.” – Carol Tabas
For more information on the Shore-Whitehill Award, please contact Alison Karabin at Jewish Residential Services (412)325-0039 or firstname.lastname@example.org