Friday, May 29, 2009

Tune In NYC!

Up early Sunday morning? You can see Siobhan, the little girl representing this year's Central Park Challenge, interviewed live on WNBC (Channel 4) at 6:50 a.m. Siobhan will be joined by her dad, as well as Fred, an adult with a disability who is living his life to the fullest, and Matt Aubry, a longtime YAI staff member who now oversees the Central Park Challenge. (See a preview of Siobhan here.)

Then, switch off your TV and turn your radio to WFAN (660 A.M.) from 7-8 a.m. to hear Dr. Charles Cartwright, Director of the YAI Autism Center, and Tom Dern, Associate Executive Director of the YAI/NIPD Network interviewed live!



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Why We're Walking

Today's guest post comes courtesy of all the staff and program participants of YAI/NIPD's Astoria Day Habilitation

This year, our Central Park Challenge team is walking in honor of Boris and Marty, two participants at the Astoria Day Habilitation program who passed away this winter.

Boris (right) was an incredible man. He was a devoted son who
always talked about his mom; he was a loving uncle who enjoyed time with his nieces and nephews. Boris had a sunny personality and could always be counted on to make everyone around him smile.

Marty (left) was also a special guy. He loved to tell jokes and hang out with his friends. He loved to go to Atlantic City with his parents, and spend time with his family.

Both Marty and Boris spent many hours volunteering at job sites; they helped seniors at a local senior center, and worked hard with a variety of local community organizations. They both contributed to the Astoria Day Habilitation, to the local community and to the world around them and are both greatly missed by everyone who knew them. They touched our hearts, and we will always remember them.

Support Team Astoria Has Heart by printing out the coupon and taking it to Uncle Nick's Restaurant on June 6 for a post-CPC dinner! Or click here to support their efforts directly.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update Your Facebook Page!

With only nine days until this year's Central Park Challenge, it's more important than ever to let everyone know about your fundraising goal and how their generous donations support the YAI/NIPD Network.


Some of us here at YAI have gotten a great response by updating our Facebook statuses. Just today, a member of our team updated her status and received two donation totaling $150 within a few hours! Here are some messages that you might want to try out:
  • I am making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. See how I’m doing by clicking the thermometer on my profile page.
  • Help me raise $ (insert amount) more to support the YAI/NIPD Network and people with disabilities. Click the thermometer on my profile page.
  • Only nine days to go and I need your help! On June 6, support my efforts in the YAI Central Park Challenge and help people with disabilities in our community. Click the thermometer on my profile page.
  • June 6 is this year's YAI Central Park Challenge and I still hope to raise another $ (insert amount)! Help me reach my goal by clicking the thermometer on my profile page.
Thank you again for all of your efforts in this year's Central Park Challenge. Because of your support and hard work, we're 84 percent of the way there! Take advantage of these next nine days to reach your goal and continue supporting the YAI/NIPD Network.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sharing the Love on June 6


After you've worked at the YAI/NIPD Network for a few months, you start to realize that the staff here tend to be a bit out of the ordinary. It dawns on you that every day, you come to work with people who are extraordinarily dedicated to people with disabilities, their programs and their colleagues--people who constantly surprise you by their willingness to go above and beyond.

Two such staff members work for YAI programs on Long Island. Mike Wallace has been with the organization for several years and now works for Long Island Project ASSIST, which provides in-home skills training to people with disabilities. Justine Caiaccia is an Applied Behavior Science Specialist at YAI's Centereach and Holbrook residences, where she has worked since September. They are both dedicated to their programs and the people they serve.

They are also dedicated to each other. Mike and Justine will be getting married on June 6.

That's right, June 6. The day of the Central Park Challenge.

When Mike and Justine realized that their big day coincided with YAI's big day, they decided to find a way to combine the two events. So on June 6, instead of handing out wedding favors, Mike and Justine will give their guests a thank-you card, explaining that they are donating $100 to each of their three programs.

"Usually at weddings, you get a tiny little favor that most people probably don't keep. Because Mike and I believe so strongly in the message and mission of YAI, we wanted to share it with our close friends and family so that they know where we're coming from," said Justine. "It's near and dear to our hearts."

Did Mike and Justine just warm your heart? Want to provide more support for their programs? Support Team Holbrook here; Team Centereach here; and Long Island Project ASSIST here.

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Whatever You Do, Watch This Video

Exciting times here at YAI! With only ten days left until the Central Park Challenge, we have amazing, late breaking news about Siobhan, the little girl who is featured on billboards and advertisements all over New York City. If you haven't been introduced to her already, definitely be sure to watch this video first. We promise, it will make the new video all the more exciting. After you watch, be sure to leave a message of encouragement for Siobhan in the comments section. She (with a little help from mom and dad) will be looking for your messages in the days leading up to the CPC!





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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Great Personal Page

By now we all know it: Raising funds through the Central Park Challenge Web site is the fastest and easiest way to go. We love seeing the creative ways that people use to personalize their pages. Recently, Mike's page caught our attention. Mike attends a YAI Day program and will be attending the Central Park Challenge as part of Team WillPower, previous featured in this blog. Mike's enthusiasm is definitely what sets his page apart:

I don't like YAI, I LOVE IT! Yes! At my day program, I get to ride the bus or the subway to go to lots of different nice places to volunteer my time. This makes me super happy! I am super happy about the staff I work with also. They help me to be more independent.

We really couldn't say it any better. When you support the Central Park Challenge, you are helping people like Mike learn to ride public transportation, volunteer in their communities and become more independent. Support Mike's fundraising efforts now!


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Friday, May 15, 2009

An Intrepid Volunteer

Today's guest post is by Rebecca Malinsky, Assistant Manager, Corporate Volunteer Programs, in YAI/NIPD's Employment Initiatives Department.


Carlos (second from right), a man with a disability, attends a YAI employment training program and works closely with Monique Wolkoff (left), an employment training specialist. One day, Carlos brought Monique a volunteer brochure from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and explained that this kind of work was truly his dream. Monique wasn’t going to let the rough economy get in the way of Carlos’ passion. She called the Intrepid -- and kept calling -- until Carlos was granted an interview, in which he excelled.

“I was impressed with his drive and passion for the Intrepid,” said William Suarez (second from left), Manager of the Intrepid Volunteer Program.

Today, Carlos says that he is “on cloud nine.” He is a volunteer usher at the Intrepid’s theater, greeting visitors and answering questions. Carlos credits Monique for providing “pep talks” and reminding him to stay positive. He remains optimistic about finding a job. “I didn’t feel I ever could work in a place like this,” Carlos says. “Monique showed me I was wrong.”

But the story doesn't end there.

On April 29, Carlos, Monique and I attended the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum's Volunteer Banquet. During the dinner cruise along the Hudson, Carlos was presented with an award for his outstanding volunteerism. According to William, "Carlos is an inspiration to his fellow volunteers." This came as no surprise to me, because I have come to know Carlos as a very dedicated, caring, talented and motivated individual.

However, what was most striking to me were the energetic hoots and hollers that came from the audience as Carlos was presented with his award. Additionally, following the presentation, several of Carlos' fellow volunteers came up to congratulate him, even asking to take photos with him. As a member of our Employment Initiatives Department, it is, of course, always important to me that we find employment opportunities for our participants, where our guys have the chance to work in the community, earn a pay check and contribute to society; but what really personally motivates me in my job is to see one of our consumers completely accepted, integrated and respected by his or her co-workers. Monique and I are extremely grateful that Carlos is volunteering somewhere where his co-workers eat lunch with him, ask him about his weekend, pat him on the back for encouragement and really make him feel like part of the team.

When you support the Central Park Challenge, you are helping people like Carlos achieve their dreams. Inspired by Carlos' story? Support his program's fundraising efforts.


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Profile in Partnership: Team 187th Street

Thanks to a partnership among staff, residents and family members, YAI/NIPD’s 187th Street Residence has achieved remarkable success for the Central Park Challenge. Team 187th Street have already surpassed their original goal of $10,000 and are well on their way to $13,000!

What's the secret? The members of Team 187th Street are driven by a commitment to Eliza, Mark, Jody and all the other residents. “Our motivation in fundraising this year was to maintain the level of excellence in our services, which are recognized throughout the state,” said Team Captain Vanessa Felix, a direct service professional at the residence.

“I do not mind asking for money if the cause is something I truly believe in and YAI is something we all believe in. E-mailing from our Central Park Challenge participant center has made the whole process of asking for money so much easier!” said Rosalie Hughes, a parent whose daughter Eliza lives in the residence.

Rosalie explained that, even though asking for donations may not be her first inclination, she is motivated to do so because of the role that YAI plays in her family's life. As a child, Eliza attended YAI/NIPD's inclusive summer camp program. Then, when when she turned 21, Eliza began attending YAI/NIPD's Manhattan Day Services. "We were beginning to think about her moving out of our house at some point and we hoped that we would be able to find her placement in a YAI group residence," which turned out to be in an apartment on 187th Street.

And YAI is a family affair for the Hughes family. Eliza's sister Maisie is a member of the Brighter Futures Society, a group of young professionals who support the mission of the YAI/NIPD Network.

Team 187th Street has done a lot of hard work preparing for the Central Park Challenge and they are looking forward to enjoying themselves on the day of the event.

"Each year, our residents anxiously await the Central Park Challenge," said Vanessa. "I love to see the enjoyment on their faces as they walk through the park, waving to friends, family, staff and onlookers. It is a testament of unity. Together, families and staff work together to make a difference in the lives of our residents."

"I love seeing all of Eliza’s YAI family and friends and her biological family and friends gathering to support YAI and to honor Eliza and all the other beloved Elizas of this world," Rosalie said.

Congratulations to Team 187th Street for their tremendous success. Inspired by their story? Support their team!




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We Are Out There!

It's that time of year and YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge is everywhere we look! We love that Siobhan's face is smiling down from billboards, taxi cabs, telephone kiosks and subway ads, raising awareness for people with disabilities--and making NYC just a little bit cuter. Special thanks to our friends for sending us these pics!











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Friday, May 8, 2009

What Are You Doing on June 7?


At this point, we are all gearing up for Saturday, June 6 and an amazing day in Central Park. But have you made plans for Sunday, June 7 yet? If you are in need of a post-Central Park Challenge adventure, get ready.

YAI/NIPD's Brooklyn Heights Day Habilitation is organizing a trip to Atlantic City as a Central Park Challenge fundraiser. Don't worry--funds will still count toward this year's event. The day will include stops at outlet malls and Hilton Casino. Interested? Contact Jozette Prescott at 718-855-6240 Ext. 435.

Monday, May 4, 2009

YAI on CBS

We'd like to share with you a wonderful piece on the YAI/NIPD Network and our Gramercy School helping children with autism that aired on the CBS Early Show Saturday morning. We believe that it represents the Network incredibly well as a place of hope and opportunity.


Watch CBS Videos Online


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