When J-Vibe Online Magazine looks at the Mensch that we want to highlight, we look for men that don’t just care deeply for others, but also men that advocate for others just as fiercely. Some people were born advocates. They have a passion for inclusion in all walks of life and live that life of inclusion every single day. This is why our #MenschthatMentors is Carl Josehart.
When we met with Carl Josehart, we had no preconceived ideas about who we were going to meet. As the the CEO of TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network, we met Carl in his office, which is located within the main building of TIRR Memorial Hermann. He is a handsome man, yet humble and soft spoken. He didn’t hesitate to jump right in and talk about TIRR and all the wondrous things that the hospital does. It is clear that he is very avid about his job. But, as we spoke further and dug deeper, it became even clearer that this job isn’t just a job, but a calling for Josehart and he feels and lives that calling every single day.
Carl grew up in Chicago and is a Social Worker by trade. He moved to Houston and “fell” into the physical rehabilitation industry and realized it was a perfect fit.
Rehabilitation felt like coming home. It’s about everything and focuses on possibility.
And, Carl believes in possibilities. He is in touch with his Judaism and is very active at Congregation Emanu El. He has a passion for civil rights and inclusion and under-served populations, and that’s just what he focuses on when he isn’t working on advocating for those with physical disabilities.
It was about 4 years ago when Carl Josehart was approached about ReelAbilities. ReelAbilities was started in 2007 New York City as a film festival to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities. When Carl heard about the film festival, he immediately knew that TIRR Memorial Hermann would be one of the founding sponsors for the City of Houston. Since that first year, ReelAbilities has grown within the city. ReelAbilities, which is hosted by the JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion along with collaboration from Houston’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities makes an impact that lasts far beyond the week of the festival.
ReelAbilities includes partnering with schools for educational purposes to teach inclusion in the schools and show the kids that people with disabilities are just people. This partnership includes a showing of a film with a conversation taking place after the film that is led by an educator and usually the star of the film, to discuss how their experience in the film can relate to everyone.
A visual art aspect has also been added to the film festival. Nicole Longnecker Gallery shows works on paper and canvas that are painted and drawn by artists with physical disabilities. Some are painted using their mouths and others their feet, but all make beautiful art. This added a new dimension to the film festival and shows that people with disabilities have ReelAbilities.
The film festival also goes into workplaces and shows businesses how they can create an inclusive work environment. This has raised the employment rate for people with physical disabilities and helped place people who have physical disabilities into jobs.
ReelAbilities, which shows about 17 films in 14 venues in 5 days, takes place in February and Carl is already busy planning for 2016.
Mensch That Mentors and Advocates
Carl Josehart personifies someone who cares. He is upbeat and determined and his mission is clear. He doesn’t see disabilities, but ReelAbilities. He feels he has the greatest job on earth because he gets to see hope everyday and he also gets to see people make it the best that they can be. When you are around Carl you feel the hope he radiates on how he wants to make this world a better place than he left it, and he is doing just that with the work he is doing at TIRR and outside of TIRR. What Carl hopes to accomplish is,
I want people to think about whether their venues are open to the entire community because it makes their life richer for everyone if they are.
Carl is knocking down barriers and building bridges and we love him for that. He truly is a #MenschThatMentors.