Judy Katzberg did her first work placement at Reena out of Seneca College’s social work program in 2001 and “fell in love.”  Twenty plus years later, Judy is still passionate about Reena, the individuals she works with and the joy she gets from being a part of it all.  

It didn’t take long for Judy to come back to Reena after graduating in 2002 to apply for a job. She started work at the Toby & Henry Battle Developmental Centre in a variety of positions from part time to full time, in several areas including respite and residential and day programming, growing with Reena over the past 20 years. Her current position as Direct Support Supervisor encompasses many areas including community participation programs. 

Community participation programs, once called Day programs, include multiple program options according to individual abilities, interests, and strengths. Programming ranges from community excursions, the Meals on Wheels program through the Bernard Betel Centre, and many other volunteer opportunities. Reena also provides full-day and half-day programming for participants wanting to access their communities through volunteering and employment opportunities.  The programs focus on inclusion activities that help transition adults from school, home, and other programs. Working to establish partnerships with organizations like JVS, Judy has helped grow the program over the years. 

The success of the program is irrefutable, according to Judy, who is proud to that over 90% of individuals in the programs achieve their goals. “Growing this program has meant so much,” says Katzberg, “…it’s amazing to speak about the stories and the relationships I’ve built with the families.” 

One of the many success stories Judy has to tell involved an individual who came in for intake, who had a lot of social anxiety and had no desire for day programs. “We offered 1:1 support and he came twice a week, then 5 days/week and now lives independently in the Lou Fruitman Reena Residence (LFRR), with a job.” Judy’s work doesn’t just involve finding an individual with diverse abilities a job, it also involves staying with them and building relationships with employers. “I absolutely love it,” says Katzberg, “we are growing rapidly, and we are doing so many amazing things for individuals who reside at Reena and within the community, and anywhere you go you are proud to say I’m part of Reena.” 

Another program Judy has been proud to be a part of is Reena’s Art Mentorship Program. Pre-Covid, The Art Mentorship program brought in visiting artists to work with Reena supported individuals in a variety of mediums culminating in an art show and auction at the end of the year. “The Art mentorship program attracted some donations from the city of Vaughan, the Kazman family, and support from the community,” says Judy, “people like firefighters and police who do trainings and discussions with our individuals about safety, and they would get to see the other side of who the individuals were. We wanted to change the name of it to Artists first, because, as one individual said it best, ‘I love this program because I am an artist before I am my handicap.”   

While Judy says she came to Reena “not knowing much about people with disabilities or the extent of the disabilities that are around us.” Over the past 20+ years, she has succeeded in not only educating herself, but in serving the needs and producing quality programming that caters to the needs of the individuals with diverse abilities who come to Reena looking for support.