AHRC New York City

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One-for-One Volunteer Program Begins

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A new volunteer program has gotten underway at AHRC New York City! Our One-for-One program pairs volunteers from both within the agency and in the community with a person with developmental disabilities. It is run by the Residential Services Department and funded by the AHRC New York City Foundation. On Wednesday, January 21, volunteers met up with people living at the Rupert Towers IRA on the Upper East Side at Uno’s Pizzeria on East 86th Street.

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The program was a suggestion form Sharyn VanReepinghen [AHRC New York City’s First Vice President],Craig Becker, Associate Director of Residential Services, said. “It is something we wanted to do for a long time, getting adults we serve matched up with people in the community.” Craig put together a proposal for the board of directors and for the AHRC New York City Foundation that took cues from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a well-known organization pairing volunteers with at-risk youth. In May of 2014, the Foundation approved a grant for the program, which was used to bring on Stefanie Nelson, the One-for-One Volunteer Coordinator. While One-for-One was initially intended to focus on people living in AHRC New York City residences who were fairly independent already, (and potentially looking to move into the community), “we have broadened the idea to include people who aren’t as independent but would still like to build long-term relationships,” Craig said.

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At Uno’s, five pairs were matched up for the first time. Joseph Morocco, who works in real estate and is part of the Foundation’s Young Leadership Committee, was matched with Peter VanReepinghen (Sharyn’s son). “I found out about [One-for-One] through a mutual friend involved, and I always like to make new friends,” Joseph said. Peter works at the Disney store and said he enjoys video games and sports. “My favorite character is Mickey!” he exclaimed, and Joseph wholeheartedly agreed.

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Shanna Salmon, HR Cooridinator, volunteered for One-to-One for a very simple reason. “I just wanted to meet someone new and get involved in the community,” she said. “This program seemed like a great match.” Shanna said that while she briefly worked with people with developmental disabilities at a summer camp while in high school, she had not had much more experience with the population. She was paired with Diana Oquendo, a Rupert Towers resident who “wanted someone to talk to and everything.” Diana works at Metropolitan Hospital and enjoys cooking Spanish food, and much like Shanna, going shopping. They also both like films, and agreed to meet later in February to have dinner and see The Wedding Ringer.

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Stefanie has used many outlets to find volunteers, including sites such as VolunteerMatch and programs like the aforementioned Young Leadership Committee. There are currently 14 participants in One-for-One (seven pairs), with five more volunteers waiting for orientation. “Currently Rupert Towers and Fineson IRA in Manhattan are part of it, and I am now interviewing people in Queens and Staten Island,” Stefanie said. “It has reached out quicker than we thought it would. People from out of the blue have been calling.

Craig and Stefanie’s vision for One-for-One is to have 25 volunteers by the end of the year.

Next year they would like to expand to people who don’t live in AHRC New York City residences. They also expressed a desire for AHRC staff to join One-for-One. “Me and many of my colleagues have had long-term relationships with people we serve, but we are still viewed as employees of the agency,” Craig said. “We would love people who aren’t necessarily working directly with people we serve to get involved.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the One-for-One program, contact Stefanie Nelson at Stefanie.Nelson@ahrcnyc.org.

A Day on the Job with Richard Ward

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Working in the cold, surrounded by mounds of dirty snow and wet asphalt, isn’t for everybody, but it doesn’t bother Richard Ward. With a smile yet intense focus, Richard goes to his job three times a week at Fairway in Douglaston, where he helps reorganize shopping carts and baskets for the customers. Wearing the classic green Fairway smock and a beanie, Richard moves quickly through the parking lot with purpose–maybe the cold does bother him a little.

The people here are very nice, the customers too,” Richard says. “I have a lot of friends here. My boss is very nice to me.

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Richard has been working at this Fairway for almost four years. He receives services at Far Rockaway Adult Day Center, and commutes to the supermarket either through Access-A-Ride or, like today, via a program vehicle accompanied by his support staff. Cassandra Sanchez, Community Support Professional, says that she is part of a rotating group of Far Rockaway staff who come with Richard.

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I really only need to remind Richard of the time so he can eat lunch and when to go home,” says Cassandra. “Otherwise he’ll just keep working! He’s very independent here. He knows exactly what he has to do and doesn’t want somebody following him around the store.

Richard’s colleagues at Fairway see and appreciate the work he does every day he is there. “Richard is an awesome worker,” Chad, a cashier, says. “I know he has a disability but he does the best he can and he’s great to work with.

Richard Ward

When asked why he chose to work at Fairway, Richard has a simple answer. “It’s a job! I like to save my money in my bank account.” He is always looking forward to his next day of work, even if it’s cold.

Join Us for the Celebration of People with Disabilities in Film Marathon at Pace!

AHRC New York City is excited to announce its participation in the 2015 Disability Film Festival Marathon at Pace University! The festival will feature short films respecting autonomy and empowerment of people with disabilities. It is free and open to the public. Screenings will happen on the following dates:

Tuesday, March 17, 10:00 AM4:00 PM

Monday, March 23, 10:00 AM2:00 PM

Tuesday, March 24, 10:00 AM2:00 PM

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A “best of the best” marathon of screenings will occur on Wednesday, March 25, 6:00-8:00 p.m. along with a distinguished panel of expert practitioners on the advocacy of disability rights in society, who will be discussing the challenges and the opportunities highlighted in each of the films, with the panelists inviting engagement from guests. AHRC New York City is partnering Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems and the Reel Abilities Film Festival in New York City.

We are pleased to announce that Distinguished Panelist, Victor Calise will join us for the 6 pm to 8 pm screening.

For information on seating arrangements and on more about the festival, please contact Dr. James Lawler at at lawlerj@aol.com or at 212-346-1013.

The Disability Film Festival Marathon 2015 will be held in the Bianco Room, B Level, 3 Spruce Street (William Street), of Pace University, in Lower Manhattan, New York City. We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

“It Works”: AHRC NYC’s EBS Holds Employment Education Event at Brooklyn Borough Hall

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AHRC New York City’s Employment and Business Services, (EBS,) hosted an event at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday, January 22, 2015. Taking place in the beautiful courtroom area of the building, the event was an opportunity for EBS leadership and staff to explain the mission of EBS and how they can help prospective partners achieve their goals. Also featured were current partners of AHRC NYC, who provided testimonials about the successes they have had with employees who are supported through our services.

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We create awareness in the community and educate employers on the benefits of hiring people with developmental disabilities,” Shauna Lozada, Director of Marketing, said. Shauna outlined a number of ways AHRC New York City can help businesses, including tax credits. “Our guys can do any job that any of us can do, just with reasonable accommodation,” she added.

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Shauna Lozada and Steve Towler

Shauna Lozada and Steve Towler

The event began with a welcome to Borough Hall from Lori Lewis, Head of External Affairs and Marketing, who thanked AHRC New York City for their continued partnership and provided a brief history of the building. She then gave the floor to Steve Towler, Associate Executive Director, who explained how he helped to create Employment and Business Services in 1986 and how he still sees the first person whom he found a job for.  He also responded to a question on the importance of integration in the workforce. “Integration is one of the real keys to long term success, and we work to make that possible whenever we can,” Steve said. “The majority of people we support are fully integrated into their workplace…

Steve also expounded on AHRC New York City’s work with Specialisterne USA, a company founded in Denmark that helps find jobs for people with disabilities who typically require low levels of support, and who can work in the all-important technology sector.

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“These workers have great attention to detail, high tolerance for repetitive work, the kinds of things in the modern economy we need a lot of,” Konstantin Zborovskiy, Program Director, said.

Salvatore Moran, Associate Director, EBS, highlighted many of the programs that AHRC NYC makes available to serve the needs of businesses that hire people with disabilities, including Hudson River Services, (which provides janitorial services to a myriad of locations, including the Staten Island Ferry and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court,) SHREDability, and Specialisterne USA.

Sal explained how SHREDability, an AHRC NYC-operated business in the Bronx, provides secure document destruction for a wide variety of businesses in the region, while employing people with disabilities. He also explained that the company has a strong interest in opening a SHREDability location in Brooklyn, and as gift to Borough Hall, he announced that SHREDability would provide shredding services free for one year.

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From a business perspective we’re meeting you’re needs,” Sal said. “From a social perspective we’re putting people with disabilities, at-risk youth, and community members to work. From a sustainability perspective, SHREDability helped save over 26,000 tress last year. Many individuals go above and beyond once given the opportunity [to work],” Sal added. “And we are looking for opportunities to grow in Brooklyn. It’s a great place to do business and it’s wonderful to see it growing.”

Greg Costa

In a testimonial to the great partnership EBS has had with so many employers, Greg Costa, Associate Director for Food and Beverage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, summed up the arena’s experience with AHRC New York City’s supported employees.  “Here’s two words for you:,” he said.  “It works. – And if it works for us in our ever-changing environment, there’s no situation where it doesn’t work.

Munson Dinner is a Huge Success for AHRC New York City Foundation

The 35th Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner was held on Tuesday, February 3rd, at the Grand Hyatt New York, benefiting the AHRC New York City Foundation. The honorees this year included New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances; New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford; and Olympic gold-medal-winning ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Joel S. Isaacson, President of Joel Isaacson and Co., received the Business & Philanthropic Leadership Award. New York Mets star reliever John Franco accepted the Munson Award on behalf of Mets hero Mookie Wilson, while former Yankee third baseman Charlie Hayes accepted the Legend Award for Bernie Williams. For the 35th consecutive year, Diana Munson attended the event and gave thoughtful and heartwarming remarks.

I feel truly honored to receive this award from an organization that has been dear to my family for three generations,” Mr. Isaacson said. “From a young age, AHRC taught me about the importance of community, a value that has penetrated every aspect of my life and one that I hope to inspire in clients, colleagues and family. I look forward to continue supporting its remarkable work to bring dignity and purpose to the lives of those it touches.

The 2015 Thurman Munson Awards Dinner

The Munson Awards are presented to professional and Olympic athletes in recognition of their athletic accomplishments and contributions to the community. The awards honor the memory of Thurman Munson, a Yankee legend who captained the team to two World Series championships in 1977 and 1978. This year’s event raised approximately $700,000 for the AHRC New York City Foundation, and since the event’s founding it has raised over $13 million.