Deborah Jaffe has worked with special needs children for many years, and she witnessed the challenges and struggles they face everyday. They touched her heart, and inspired her with their strength, perseverance, and hopeful determination. While working at a private school for special needs children, she saw an opportunity to help the school and its students. The school’s 50th year of service coincided with her 50th birthday. Instead of gifts, she started a fundraising effort. She created a GoFundMe page, and founded two Facebook support groups dedicated to special needs children (“Help Special Children and “Friends of Children with Special Needs.”) As interest grew, she decided to focus on managing one group “Friends of Children with Special Needs” https://www.facebook.com/groups/926622747468511/?ref=share Membership continues to flourish, and it is currently at almost 3,500 members. She also connects with many in the special needs community on LinkedIn, with almost 18,000 connections. She uses her vast network and social media outreach as a platform to help the special needs community, by sharing useful information and resources, offering support, inspiration, and guidance, connecting people for assistance and advice, creating awareness, and promoting inclusion and acceptance. One of the group’s goals is to bring together like-minded people and create a sense of community among its members. It is a very active group, where many members regularly post, share information, and interact with each other.
Deborah consistently seeks out new information and resources to share. She is also a regular guest on a local area special needs radio show called “Everything Special Needs” http://everythingspecialneeds.info/ and was offered her own radio show to further her advocacy goals. She participated in an award-winning movie about the ability in disability, called “One Little Finger,” which has been shown at various international and domestic film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival in France. It has also been in limited release in select theaters. Over 80 children and young adults acted and played major roles in the film, many of whom have disabilities. It is based on actual people and events, with many of those people playing themselves in the movie. Many talented people were involved in the project, including Quincy Jones, Julian Lennon, Dave Mason, and Kechi Okwuchi (from America’s Got Talent). Deborah recently attended the red carpet premieres of the movie in LA and NJ. She has a spoken word track on the CD for the soundtrack, and she also worked to get others involved with the film. She has worked at promoting the movie, and getting it to be shown in local schools and communities as an educational tool, for the purpose of creating awareness about disabilities and anti-bullying.