On the evening of November 16, 2017, AHRC New York City staff welcomed guests representing several organizations that have partnered with our Adult Day Services, (ADS,) department during past years, as we highlighted the opportunities these partnerships have provided to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families. Catered by Anchor Foods, Toscanini Restaurant, and Big Kyle’s Little Truffles, the event featured ADS staff testimonials celebrating our honored guests, to strengthen community connections and to lay the foundation for new collaborative opportunities to come.
“On behalf of the agency I’d like to extend our thanks for the difference that you’re making in the lives of the people we support,” said Mike Decker, Chief Operating Officer, AHRC NYC, as he welcomed guests of the event. “When I start to think about all of the organizations that are represented here tonight, the thing that really resonates with me is the opportunities you have provided to the people we care about, to have fuller lives, and also for them to be able to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Lucas Hanson, Director of AHRC NYC’s SEMP program thanked the Jewish Museum for “They take a person-centered approach to setting up workshops with us,” said Lucas. “Museum educators have met with the people we support and our staff to shape the curriculum for the people we work with, keeping their interests and needs in mind.”
In addition to the meaningful learning opportunities offered at The Jewish Museum has also established a paid internship opportunity, available to people with disabilities.
Mike Kaplan, Director of AHRC NYC’s Joseph T. Weingold Day Center spoke about a partnership with Recycle-a-Bicycle, which provides bicycle mechanic training sessions to people supported by AHRC NYC. Participants work with professional mechanic, Eric Robinson in a bicycle repair shop to learn how to fix and build bicycles. Not only could these practical skills potentially lead to competitive employment, but the people who are learning to fix the bikes can earn their own bike after they have put in enough hours of work.
Mike relayed the positive impressions that this opportunity has made on the people who have participated in the repair program, adding, “We look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with Recycle-a-Bicycle, in creating meaningful opportunities for people to develop a unique set of skills.”
Improving Quality of Life for People with Disabilities
Ana Sostre, Director of AHRC NYC’s Bronx TBI and Dorothy and Michael Styler Day Center presented sincere thanks to Walei Sabry, Arthur Jacobs, and Jonathan Novick of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, for their work to ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities can lead happy, healthy, and productive lives, and for its work in planning the annual NYC Disability Pride Parade.
There are implicit rewards to volunteering and helping others. Fabian Bolling, Xavier Crespo, Taniya Hawes, Maria Olan, Rosa Olan, and Kassandra Trinidad are young volunteers, but they are already learning to take responsibility as open-minded, principled citizens of their communities. These volunteers have brought their creativity to exhibits held at CoOp City and the Kelly Street Garden, sharing experiences with people supported through AHRC NYC along the way. While performing community service, they have seen first-hand just how much their work can mean to their neighbors.
“I have no idea what AHRC stands for but I’d like to put forward an idea,” said Jason Grant Shela of The British Soccer Academy, which provides opportunities for preschoolers at Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center to enjoy inclusive sports activities each Wednesday. “I would say that AHRC should stand for Angels Heralding Righteousness from every Corner. That’s the way I feel about this organization. What Beth Rosenthal and her dedicated staff are able to do with these kids, I feel it’s a school of miracles.”
Jason spoke of a preschooler who lives with a number of physical challenges that caused his grandmother to worry that he might not be able to participate in the soccer program. Jason explained that although the boy does not have the use of his legs, Jason and the boy worked together to make the most of his abilities. When playing, the boy does not sit in his wheelchair. Instead, he is placed on the ground where he can make the best use of his arms and hands. He is now a valued goalie on his soccer team.