As long as Donna Yanowitz can remember, her family was always involved in organizations that worked to better the lives of those in need.
Throughout her adult life, Donna has continued living by these family values, devoting herself to philanthropy and mentoring others in the Cleveland Jewish community.
Upon discovering her personal connection to autism, Donna knew she wanted to become a part of the Milestones mission.
“When I became aware of and familiar with autism, I realized that at least half a dozen members of my family are on the autism spectrum,” Donna said. “Because of the work the founders of Milestones have done and continue to do, I knew it was something in which I would like to become involved.”
In 2016, Donna found a particularly meaningful way to do just that. She began funding the Milestones Internship Program, a program wherein individuals on the spectrum can gain valuable work experience with the Milestones staff.
As an internship that can be completely customized to meet the goals and abilities of each individual, the program has since served as a great social and educational experience for multiple high school students in the past few years.
Past intern Lucas Estafanous credits the program for preparing him for college.
“I wouldn’t have been able to handle college as well as I have if I hadn’t done my internship with Milestones,” Lucas said. “I feel more confident at college and looking ahead to my career, knowing I’ve already had professional work experience and have learned skills to help me succeed, like organization and time management.”
“The Milestones Internship Program has brought extraordinary results,” Donna said. “It requires tremendous planning and training of all those involved, including employers who join in.”
Like Milestones, Donna understands the importance of local business owners considering the ways in which they can employ individuals on the spectrum and strive to create more inclusive work environments.
“I would encourage businesses and organizations to investigate the possibility of participating in an internship program like this. Those that do so are to be lauded for giving interns the opportunity to become contributing members of the community.”
If your organization wishes to learn more about how it can create job or internship opportunities for individuals on the spectrum, please email email@example.com or call 216-464-7600.