VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired honored AHRC New York City with its Diversity and Inclusion Award at a networking breakfast on Friday, March 22. Over the past few months, two AHRC NYC programs, Rockaway Parkway Day Services and AHRC NYC Fisher Day Services welcomed in three interns supported by VISIONS to resounding success.

“Everyone Deserves a Chance”

Dr. Raymond Franzem [AHRC NYC’s Director of Internships] would contact me to let me know that he has an intern who is visually impaired and whether he may refer the intern to Rockaway Parkway,” said Maguy Cassagnol, Facility Director at Rockaway Parkway. “How could I turn down such an opportunity? Everyone deserves a chance.

Maguy welcomed Gitel Blau and Ligea Tellechea to Brooklyn, while Jeanelle Hector, Facility Director at Harlem’s AHRC NYC Fisher Day Services, had Rahad Miah join her location.

Rahad is an accounting major at Baruch College where he is currently in his third year,” Jeanelle said. “Rahad was looking to gain experience in accounting at Fisher and so we offered him an internship opportunity working on administrative duties at the program. Rahad effortlessly blended into Fisher and we were able to observe a multitasker and the efficiency and dependability in his work.

Gitel and Ligea took on exciting initiatives while working at Rockaway Parkway. “Each of the interns had something to offer to the program and the people we support,” Maguy said. “For example, Gitel led a weekly self-advocacy group. Ligea would walk in the door ready to engage a group in current events and communication skills.

“Fulfilling and Enlightening Us”

Dr. Franzem has matched countless interns with AHRC NYC programs over the years, including many interns with visual impairments. He gave all credit to program directors such as Jeanelle and Maguy for consistently welcoming the interns while highlighting some of the successes in the programs.

Three years back, we had a person [named David] who was completely blind and he came to us as a social work intern,” Dr. Franzem said. He explained that David worked closely with someone who had some difficult behaviors, yet the pair was able to develop a fruitful working relationship. “David, through the gift of his personality, was able to help this fellow by saying, ‘If you’re such a gentleman with me, why can’t you be this way with everybody else?’ This enabled this gentleman to change his behavior.” Dr. Franzem also mentioned another visually impaired intern in one of AHRC NYC’s schools who took initiative by putting storybooks on to PowerPoint displays to assist children who have autism.

Maguy and Jeanelle both said they intend to continue working with interns that have vision impairments. Maguy said that the interns bring a sense of diversity and inclusivity with them. Jeanelle added “Rahad has shown us patience and to strive for our best no matter the circumstance. He has shown people that nothing should hold anyone back from fulling their dreams and he is fulfilling it every day and enlightening us by his presence, demeanor, and work ethic.