AHRC New York City’s 70th Annual Meeting brought together dozens of people from all parts of our organization to celebrate the past year of accomplishments, recognize hard-working staff members and exceptional people in AHRC NYC programs, and swear in new members of the AHRC NYC Board of Directors. The event was held on June 3, 2019, at the Bianco Room at Pace University, a longtime community partner of AHRC NYC, and it was hosted by AHRC NYC Board Members, James P. Cusick, Esq., and Simran Kaur Sachdev.
“At AHRC New York City, there are still people who every day accomplish miracles,” said Sharyn Van Reepinghen, President of the Board of Directors. “We are here to recognize and honor them.”
A Year of Highlights
“We are part of a 70-year movement to give people the lives they choose and realize their own potential,” said AHRC NYC Chief Executive Officer, Marco Damiani. “Incredible things are happening every day at AHRC NYC and we want to celebrate that tonight.”
Marco went over a number of critical accomplishments AHRC NYC has seen over the past year:
- AHRC NYC received a four-year Person-Centered Excellence accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership;
- An increased number of individual and corporate volunteer engagements;
- A number of outside media stories, including the addition of a Press section on the AHRC NYC website;
- Transitioning more than 2,500 people supported and 70 staff to Care Design New York and enrolling more than 100 people in Partners Health Plan, both critical steps on the road toward managed care;
- And multiple departments collaborated to move 12 people into supported apartments in the Bronx, including two people that were previously homeless.
AHRC New York City also received a proclamation from AHRC New York City also received a proclamation from Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, announcing June 3, 2019, as “AHRC New York City Appreciation Day.”
Recognized People We Support
Seven people receiving services were recognized for their unflinching drive towards achieving a fulfilling life with the support of AHRC NYC programs.
Vito Libutti has lived at Greenberg residence in the Bronx for 40 years and was honored for his ebullient spirit. “Vito is well known in the community. He made friends with the neighbors long ago by helping people with their yards and cleaning up,” Simran Sachdev said. “As other people have moved out of the house, and Vito was offered that choice, he was very clear that Greenberg was his home. He is one of the most pleasant people you will ever meet.”
Michael Sparacino is a graduate of the AHRC Middle/High School and attends the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program. He was recognized by Camping and Recreation for his enthusiasm in undertaking a wide range of activities with the department, including hotel respite, basketball, and the Katy Isaacson Elaine Gordon Lodge. “I really wasn’t expecting the award!” Michael exclaimed. “I love going to camp. I like being outdoors and seeing all of the beautiful nature!”
Other people supported who received awards included Comfort Madison (Day Services); Ryan Choice (Family and Clinical Services); Gary Meany (Brooklyn Blue Feather Elementary School); Joel Colon (Employment and Business Services-Bronx); and Vernel Black (Home Care Services).
Deserving Staff Members
Staff members receiving awards reflected back on their decades of providing support to people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Beth Rosenthal, Principal at Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center, said that while transitions are inevitable, the larger goal always remains the same. “People come and go, but the feeling of wanting to help others in the world with special needs and make their lives better, that stays constant. And that’s exactly why I’m still working for AHRC. I am very fortunate to be in a job I love and with people I love working with.”
“I love working from the heart. That is what drives me to work and help everyone regardless of the language, regardless if they have a disability,” said Carolin Santos-Niedzwiecki, Social Worker, Family and Clinical Services. “I look at everyone the way they come into my office when they say ‘I need help’ and I am there for them and I make sure that everyone works as a team, whether it’s their care manager or another social worker to make sure that they get the best support that they can have.”
Michael Rose is the Director of Camp Anne. “At the end of my first summer [at camp], I thought it was just the most magical place. Twenty-five years later, things haven’t changed,” he said. “People come through the camp every year and it really is a life-changing experience for both campers and the staff. I feel privileged to be a part of it for the last 25 years.”
Staff members receiving awards also included Tracy McKenzie, Payroll Supervisor, Administration; Janice Smart, Community Support Professional, Stephen B. Siegel Day Services; Flora Nikoghosyan, Borough Director, EBS-Manhattan; Elizabeth Massalee, Residential Habilitation Counselor, Home Care Services; and Latima Mason, Residential Coordinator, Residential Services.