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She Builds Community: Meet Bethany Young G'18

When Bethany Young G’18 did her fieldwork for her health studies degree from Springfield College at the Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC), she had no idea that it would eventually point her career in an unexpected direction.

Upon graduation, the Springfield JCC offered her a job and Bethany became the youth athletics coordinator. During her first year, she learned about the Kehillah department by having a management role at the JCC’s Summer Camp. At the conclusion of the camp season, she was asked if she wanted to switch departments. Although she didn’t really have any experience working with individuals with different abilities, she said she would give it a try. In her words, “Ultimately, I found out what I wanted to do with my life.”

Building Connections

In May 2015, Bethany became the director of Kehillah. Given the nature of her now chosen work, she knew she had to return to school to broaden her knowledge. She looked at a variety of graduate programs, and eventually realized that the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Bay Path would provide the perfect fit.
“Dr. Ainsleigh has built a fantastic program. The quality of the curriculum, the supervision component, and the opportunity to build a network with other professionals in the field—it is second to none.”

Bethany has also developed a connection with the Bay Path Occupational Therapy department. Together, they created a program called SensiPlay. It offers cost-effective sensory motor activities for individuals with special needs, while providing Level I field work experiences for Bay Path students. A win-win for all.

Building Community

Annually, the Kehillah program works with approximately 375 families from throughout the area. Referrals come from schools, word of mouth and agencies that are supported through the Department of Developmental Services. Kehillah, like all programs at the JCC, is open to people of all ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds. Programming in Kehillah serves participants 3 years old and up. The oldest participant is currently 63.
Bethany is so grateful to be doing fulfilling work, but when asked what is one of the things that makes her job so rewarding, she is quick to respond: “One of my favorite programs is our Summer Camp. The program is eight weeks long and is fully inclusive, meaning children of all abilities can attend camp. For each new family, I do an intake with the parent and child. They often point out the things that their child cannot do and their hesitation shows. I encourage them to give camp a try, pointing out all of the supports that we have in place. Initially, some parents are skeptical. But through the camp experience, the child might make friends or learn a new skill. I watch the parents and observe their reactions when they see their children are doing more than what was expected. It becomes very emotional for the parents. It doesn’t get old.”
Bethany is not only building community, but she is strengthening the bonds within families. And that is priceless.

Bethany Young grew up in Upstate New York with two older sisters and an older brother. She earned her undergraduate degree at Springfield College, where she ran on the track and field team.