Have you seen that LITTLE GREEN BUS driving around LA? Have you ever WONDERED what is WAS? If so, look no further.
In a turn of kismet, I decided to move and participate in a body movement class in Culver City. My coach and mentor is helping me break me out of my pandemic shell through artistic body movement (ballet, free dance, pilates, deep breathing,yoga, and stretching). I just so happened to arrive early to class, and decided to check out the businesses in the neighborhood.
As I walked down Washington towards Melvil, I had what Andy Kaufman would dub as a HAPPENING.
The deliberately closed off street with faux grass green floors and tents, I walk towards a LITTLE GREEN BUS that becomes my immediate focal point. I am drawn to it and as I walk down the short side walk, I pop my head around the corner into an open wide white garage door office space.
ENTER SCENE, LEE + NECHAMA CHERNOTSKY.
‘Hey there! How are you?,’ she gleams with awe and pride as I peeped my little head into their open Jobs-esque office space.
‘Oh wow, hey there! I was just checking out what was back here, apologies for interrupting!’ I boasted.
‘No, no worries, we are so glad you are here,’ Nechama said.
We soon started up a conversation and clicked.
Born with ADHD and dyscalculia, Nechama and her husband of 13 years, Lee Chernotsky, were no stranger to adversity.
Similarly it seems like many of us, Lee + Nechama’s network has had job challenges, which are even more challenges for those with disabilities.
Like a Phoenix coming out of the ashes, their prestigios non-profit company THE ROSIES FOUNDATION bridges those impaired and delivers them to freedom with work and a new life.
‘We saw the disconnect globally,’ Lee says. ‘There is a surplus of people that think differently, and because of that disconnected, cannot find a seat at the job table, and I was one of them.’
THE ROSIES FOUNDATION‘s mission is to generate opportunities for people with diverse abilities to engage and work.
Injured in a major work accident himself and left on disability without thorough support, Lee knew the system needed a change.
‘I needed a helping hand. I wasn’t getting out of bed after my major work accident. I was depressed, displaced, and all alone. The isolation was too much for me,’ Lee states.
Giving is receiving as his experience as a camp counselor got him back in touch with his roots.
‘Literally an old camper and former student of mine found out about my troubles and simply texted me to go get ice cream. There’s when I had an epiphany,’ he introspectively notes.
He was so inspired by this small gesture that he was ready to spark his non-profit MBA into action by buying an ice cream truck.
Lee goes on to say that he wanted to flip out a bus into an ice cream truck and spread the love to help him re imagine what is possible for anyone and everyone. He wanted others to have the opportunity to be more independent and navigate a very broken system through employment.
He was working for 20 years, he was injured off of a client, now he works with people. Someone gave Lee the ability to source the raw materials. I was always trying to help people with an entrepreneurial spirit. I needed the resources in place.
Evan from the Doodle Bug Social Club donated his logo services converting it from a rigid R to a more fluid R that he customized with his custom creative penmanship.
With the missions to generate opportunities all summed up into a bright light POP! sign lay amidst a tented conference area for events. As I turned what seemed to be a garage I poked my head into a bright, white open brick space with white boards all around (shout out to Ronny at Pacific Glassworks).
This ‘Apple, Steve Jobs-esque’ vibed garage like white walled wilderness unites people with creative minds that need help getting placed into the ‘right seats.’
‘Things get different and you can choose different angles. Vertical and horizontal opportunities that are across industries are appearing as the vision continues,’ he boasts.
One step forward two steps back, but always moving in the right direction.
‘We’re going to empower workers, there was evolution into where we needed to get it,’ Lee says.
The non-profit foundation bridges companies with creative, capable human capital to help them grow.
‘Our first mission statement was empowerment. The fuel is initiative through giving.’
If you are a person with a disability looking for work, check out their HIRED program here. Tiranae Chambers was tjeor first subject and success story.
‘Hey I have Asbergers, can I work here?,’ she said. ‘I can’t get in one application, and I’ve asked everyone. Can you help me?’, she exclaimed.
Lee quickly used his know how to help. Her end goal was film school but she needed a fresh start.
The little green ice cream and popsicle POP! truck was the start of something really beautiful.
Tiramae and team drove the bus to the Rams game and worked CookieCon. When the Orange County fair was there, the popsicle truck arrived.
Lee states, ‘This was the first American Disability Act accessible food truck in the country. Vegan and gluten free ice pops have reimagined how people see themselves through the lens of how we interact.
The little green bus helped her save for film school
She got her dream, UC Santa Barbara gave her a full scholarship to film school as we so wanted!
THE BOARD + SUPPORT
Jeffrey + Leann Sobrato’s Charitable Fund is responsible for the financial support, more about their global mission of giving back here. Alan Springer from Yahoo! created Springtime Media for Sports Illustrated, covered the Olympics is also a part of the founding board. Matan Koch is an LA director. He joined the board at Rosie’s Harvard and Yale educated lawyer that is on the board of Rosie’s and continues to open doors for them. Another board member that made it possible was Jacob Harris owns Known.is.
There are more and more supporters in the LA // Culver City location, more to come there!
‘We knew we needed to take that first step to connection,’ said Nehama.
As the CEO, or Chief Encouragement Officer, it is Lee’s job to bring their mission to life.
‘It turns out that we learn the most from our students, and you have to try to look at adversity by walking in someone else’s shoes. You need to determine and ask yourself, it a 30% idea or a 90% idea? We need to be able to get honest feedback from the people and then manage them accordingly,’ he said.
He continued, ‘We pick a top 3 for everything we do. This is actually a concept which is a fillable form on a website trying to figure that our. Give a person a fish, fishing for a lifetime.’
Lee didn’t take a paycheck for 18 months because “ I was really broken and I was in a place where I couldn’t give as much as I needed to get (or take) that was the first time of my life .’ ADHD and discalcula unless you have the right tools. This thing awas born out of we have to do this differently. Now what, his friends said? I got really badly injured and was literally just stuck.” DR LOVA started it with caddle prods autism. Behavior Centers of excellence, ABA centers.
‘Joey got me unstuck and I very happy for that,’ said Lee.
That inspiration, drive, and recognition can encourage someone to empower themselves and that is what they’re here for.
Lee has an MBA in non-profit management and his late grandma helped him create visual cues to remember things with ADHD to ultimately help him:
- Remove Obstacles
- Support Initiative
- Employ Solutions or Solutionaries
The Rosie Foundation pillars came to be as follows:
1) Lets get there together.
2) You are the person who needs to have courage to start.
3) Take speaking engagements. His first speaking press engagement all started when he was invited to the One Conference in NYC. Lee was broke in LA and needed to board a plane to NY. He recalled his best friend in the whole wide world’s bI needed to catch a private plane ride to NY for a speaking engagement through that best friend, Matt Spooner. He did and flew into Teterboro airport, then took off to Brooklyn to sleep on a friends couch. Erik Bisman let him crash on his couch for a couple of nights. He spoke with other panel members like, Audience Development on Sesame Street and Jacob from Known.is.
THE TOPIC OF THE CONVERSATION WAS, what hashtag should we use for mental health?
If someone comes to work but if someone brain has the flu, we may not know it. Lee encouraged them to use the more PC hashtag, #justcheckingin.
Sara Romanoff helped him get on the panel and was the official PANEL MODERATOR. Allison Rashkin was there and wanted to help reframe opportunity versus our common challenges. Marty was covering the story for AdWeek, and that article was published with the emotional scrapnel needed to get it done.
The end all be all, is that disability is not a bad word. Everyone is going to experience it. Some of us have lived with the disability.
Lee flips Rosied into a rose shop in Valentines Day too, which is a huge fundraiser that gets people together. The gathering is good for Cody, who lives in a wheelchair but capable of anything, even impressively editing videos with his toe.
His grandfather passed away this year, and Lee notes that he and Nehama being united as husband and wife is a miracle. ‘It’s been a blessed journey. Nehama is his guardian angel and executive cheerleader right now and will get recognized.’
Her silly nickname is the red badger. Like the honey badger is one who brings in the honey, simply because someone has to do it.
Lee advises, ‘Take the risks. I am not perfect. I made every mistake I possibly can. My job is to connect the right person to the right seat on the bus. It’s not just the capital, it’s the social capital. I see A and Z together but nothing in between. If it goes beyond us we’ll need to make it the way.’
The movement is community.
We are driving a training program to focus on how we make the creative sector accessible. Accessibility workshops can greatly help grow companies. Rosies wants to engage and work with people to bridge accessibility to the office.
‘Many are just surviving in families with disabilities. Anyone can thrive if they figure out a way to do it. ‘
Contact us at ByRosies.org today to learn more and donate jobs, funds, popsicle bus treats, podcasts and events.
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