Ed Asner is known for such roles as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler-Moore Show” and Carl Fredrickson in the Pixar film “Up.” Lately, however, he’s been working to use his name and legacy to offer support for the families of differently abled individuals and help them develop their own self-confidence to survive in the world.
“The great haunting thing to think about for somebody with autism, or any disability, is what happens when we’re gone?” Asner asked. “What happens when there’s nobody to take care of them? That’s something we have to be aware of.”
Asner was speaking at the Gesher Disability Resources luncheon on the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus. The luncheon was to celebrate Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month. Along with Asner were his son, Matt, and his daughter-in-law, Navah Paskowitz-Asner. They each spoke about their personal relationship to autism, supporting families of those with special needs and the future of the new nonprofit Ed Asner Family Center. The center opened last year.
Matt and Navah described the center as a one-stop shop for those with special needs and their families who are seeking wholeness in all attitudes of life.
The center offers different arts and performance classes such as acting, fine arts and writing. There also are career advancement courses focusing on interview skills and resume building.
All three Asners have worked with different organizations such as Autism Speaks and the Friendship Circle. However, they felt that most organizations could be doing more.
“One of the things that we felt was missing was a place where the entire family could be supported,” said Navah, who is also the COO of the Ed Asner Family Center. “We didn’t always feel comfortable in a normal social setting, or even at temples.”
The center offers multiple support groups for family members, as well as workshops focused on the effects of stress on caregivers.
Their hope is that the Ed Asner Family Center will expand across the nation and increase its various activities.
“I think in about three to five years we’ll see one or two more centers outside of California and then we’ll try to expand it even further each year,” Matt said.
Both Matt and Navah were quick to say that they weren’t looking to franchise the centers. Their plan is to make the centers specific to each community and work with local specialists who can achieve the center’s mission. JN
To learn more about Gesher Disability Resources visit their website https://gesherdr.org/
To learn more about The Ed Asner Family Center visit their website https://edasnerfamilycenter.org/