While 2017 was a year of growth and change, AHRC Nassau responded with more nimble capabilities and programs to meet the evolving needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The entire field is experiencing a transformation requiring a more considered, inclusive and strategic approach,” said Stanfort Perry, executive director, AHRC Nassau.
“This past year, through ongoing engagement across all stakeholders, AHRC is better positioned and strengthened to meet the challenges that are on the horizon,” said Perry. “From strategic planning to #bfair2directcare, it’s been a year of advancement and continued success because of the strength of our community.”
Strategic Planning Creates New Milestones
Family led and family focused, the AHRC Nassau community is built on the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Over the past year, board members, association leaders and community partners have met on an ongoing basis to discuss the strategic direction of the organization, as part of a three-year process called strategic planning.
Part of the process was to update AHRC’s existing mission statement, vision and values.
“We have a rich history,” said Perry. “The core of our organizational priorities remains the same, but we must continue to move our organization forward and create new opportunities that are person-centered, practical and empowering.”
Events Continue Our Tradition of Excellence
The importance of increased inclusion and connection among AHRC Nassau families and friends was reflected at the 68th annual Membership Luncheon and Fashion Show.
At this event, AHRC Nassau honored its members, advocated for greater progress, and created an opportunity to re-connect as a community. The event has grown since it first started in 1949 as a way for AHRC members to come together and rally for more opportunities and greater inclusion for people with disabilities.
In attendance were more than 600 AHRC Nassau members, who pledged support “to empower people to live fulfilling lives.”
“We must stay focused and vigilant, so that we don’t lose what the last generation fought for,” said Paul Giordano, president of the AHRC Nassau Board of Directors, in his welcoming remarks. Giordano presented a proclamation on behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo and highlighted how the community’s collective emails, telephone calls and letters advanced important initiatives.
“Our voices will be heard,” Giordano said.
District Attorney Madeline Singas, Mayor Daniel Serota and Assemblyman Michael Montesano expressed their support for the organization and its members.
“I believe in all of you. I see myself as a voice. . . for people who don’t and you are the same,” said Singas. “(This organization) is so important to the fabric of society that all of us have to support.”
While the community focused on gains and challenges of the present moment, the event maintained the traditions that have served as an AHRC touchstone and thank you for families over decades.
Enjoying lunch on the mansion’s patio and grounds, members sat where families have come together for nearly 70 years to watch the annual fashion show featuring the latest designs from Birch Boutique and Peter Duffy Furs, hosted by Darlene Camille.
Another time-honored event that took place, this past year, was the annual Dansant, where board members were installed and senior leadership recognized. New opportunities for inclusion and growth remain a part of AHRC Nassau’s call to action.
New Programs, Capabilities in 2017
AHRC Nassau, alongside its sister agencies, shone the spotlight on direct support professionals in September as part of both national DSP Week and our year-long #DSPsRock campaign.
Recognition throughout the agency ranged from barbeques to thank you gifts and profiles of DSP #superheroes shared throughout the agency. “DSP work often happens behind the scenes. It’s a way to offer our sincere thanks for the important work DSPs do, every day,” said Perry. “We look forward to continuing to highlight these important team members throughout the year.”
This spring, AHRC Nassau partnered with the Long Island Council of Churches to develop a food pantry at Hanse Avenue in Freeport and serve neighbors in need.
Also, in 2017, the doors to AHRC Nassau’s ballrooms opened for private events. One of the first was board member Harriett Traversa’s 50th anniversary party.
For Harriett, “the event was everything we wanted at the beautiful mansion. It was groomed to perfection. The flowers were outrageous. Our special day was so very memorable for our family and friends and very special because we celebrated at AHRC Nassau.”
Late summer, AHRC’s Café 230 culinary service received its license to cater events throughout Nassau County, in addition to its ongoing preparation for daily Meals on Wheels deliveries to seniors.
“I love helping cater,” said Regina King, a longtime Café 230 team member. “Serving the food and watching people come back for seconds is (the best).”
Café 230 has already catered executive events and is ready for business.
Internally, the organization launched the Diversity Committee, this year, and hosted the first Diversity Thanksgiving.
New Opportunities in 2018
2018 is set to be a year of continued growth. We have a variety of exciting programs and opportunities that are currently in development. Two that we can share with you now are Wheatley Farms and Arts Center and The One Stop Gift Shop.
For Wheatley Farms and Arts Center, AHRC Nassau is proposing a progressive concept – a center for adults with I/DD that offers therapeutic horseback riding, organic farming, culinary arts, dance, yoga and other engaging activities.
Also, AHRC is preparing to open a store in early 2018 – the One Stop Gift Shop. This venue will offer the opportunity for volunteers to participate in the running of a retail store in Hicksville. The store will help develop job skills and greater engagement in the local community.