Disabilities agency’s new brand goes beyond ‘group homes’

A MOST program participant restocks a vending machine before the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was sponsored by the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes/
Photo by David Stuck

The 40-year-old Jewish Foundation for Group Homes announced a rebrand that leaders say better encapsulates the agency’s current mission to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Beginning with a new name, Makom (Hebrew for “place”), the rebrand is “an expression of and re-commitment to both our Jewish roots and core values,” said CEO David Ervin in a release.

“The name change positions the organization to help individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) find their place and feel at home… wherever they are,” the release stated.

The name isn’t the only thing changing, however. The rebrand includes a “new mission, new vision, new values and new services,” said Lewis Fontek, chief development officer.


New, yes, as well as an update to the way the agency has developed since it was founded in 1982, Ervin said.

“Our mission is to support and empower people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to achieve the quality of life to which they aspire,” he said, adding,

“And, our revised vision is a world where people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities share the same options and opportunities for a well-lived life as all other members of the community.”

The chief value is self-determination, “so people with IDD can make their own choices,” Ervin said.

The agency will still maintain group homes, he said. As Makom, it plans to add career development, healthcare coordination, and solutions for aging issues, according to Ervin.

“We’re building on what we already have in place. Everything is still based upon our founding principles which is providing support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and meeting them where they are,” Fontek said.

Makom is a popular name in the Jewish institutional world. In Washington, Adas Israel Congregation’s MakomDC is a learning and immersion center. In Maryland, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation has a mindfulness program called Makom. And in Georgetown, Makom is the name of the campus Jewish ministry at Georgetown University.

Fontek said it’s unlikely people will confuse the organizations. “We looked into the other programs that used Makom and our focus is different.”





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