A psychology major with background as both a personal trainer, athletic instructor and support counselor for disabled adults, Jared Ciner channeled these passions into the Spirit Club Foundation (www.spirit-club.com) with an eye towards creating opening up meaningful health and fitness opportunities for people with disabilities. Founded in April 2013, the Spirit Club offers group and 1:1 exercise and socially inclusive programming that teach its participants to adopt healthy and active lifestyles.
Max Levitt, founder of another DC area non-profit, Leveling the Playing Field, which collects sports equipment and gets it to kids who would not otherwise experience the many benefits of sports activities, introduced the Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org) to Ciner and his work. The Good People Fund (GPF) is an organization rooted in the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and offers financial support and mentorship to small, effective initiatives in Israel and the U.S. Spirit-Club recently received an opening grant of $5,000 to support their growing efforts.
Ciner grew up in Denver, Colorado where he attended a local Jewish day school, was actively involved with the Denver JCC and spent a year studying and volunteering in Israel. He credits his parents’ deep connection to Judaism and their encouragement of Jewish practice and values, as having had a huge impact on his life today. The summer after college, Jared spent one month in Ethiopia volunteering at a school for children from severely impoverished backgrounds. While there, he organized sports and exercise activities for them. That experience inspired Jared to pursue a profession that would include organized fitness and exercise programs for underserved populations. After receiving a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland and certification as a personal trainer, he began working as a support counselor for people with developmental disabilities, and within one year created the Spirit Club. He now lives in Bethesda, Maryland.
“When we asked Max Levitt, another young visionary and grantee of the Good People Fund, if he knew of others of his generation who were involved in the non-profit world, he shared Jared’s work with Spirit Club. After speaking to Jared we knew that his unique focus on this type of service for people with disabilities was something we wanted to be part of.” says Naomi Eisenberger, Founder and Executive Director of The Good People Fund. Eisenberger will be visiting with Ciner and his Spirit Club members this October during a visit with GPF grantees in the Washington, DC area. “We support Jared and Spirit-Club’s successful efforts to bring access to fitness and overall well-being to this often overlooked community.“
Participants in Spirit Club attend hour-long classes each week instructed by at least two certified personal trainers. The classes open with fun and interactive themed exercises that give each member a chance to introduce themselves. The activities incorporate different types of fitness equipment such as medicine balls, resistance bands, stability balls, and agility ladders. All members are provided with portfolios to track their progress throughout the week. The classes conclude with a review of at-home health assignments, healthy snacks and time to socialize and consult with the personal trainers. Jared is joined by Spirit Club co-founder Sam Smith, a proud man with autism who is also a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Smith’s goal is to motivate others with his passion and enthusiasm for health and fitness.
Jared shares that “We are excited to now be part of the Good People Fund’s circle of grantees. The demand for our services continues to increase and this assistance will enable us to offer fitness and health programming to people with disabilities throughout Maryland.”
This ‘good person’- led non-profit joins nearly 80 other non-profits financially supported and professionally guided by The Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org) in the U.S. and Israel. Founded in 2008, The Good People Fund, inspired by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world), responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. The GPF provides financial support and management guidance for small to medium grassroots efforts whose grant recipients are leading their non-profits with annual budgets under $500,000 and no professional development staff, but are driven and determined to make a difference in their communities. With its guiding philosophy that small actions can have huge impacts and its emphasis on the personal connection, the GPF has raised and granted more than $7 million dollars. Further information can be found at www.goodpeoplefund.org
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