John Nicolich: Years of Dedication

Opengate is proud to have John Nicolich, Esq. as its longest serving Board of Directors member. In the early 1980’s he was invited to the position by the then chairman and has been active ever since.

Not everyone that is involved with Opengate has a loved one who is served here, but Mr. Nicolich certainly performs his duties with a compassion for our individuals. The spark of his ongoing interest in our success is his sister who had developmental disabilities. Inspired by her, he made the decision to serve as an Opengate Board member.

Although his sister lived at home and attended Day Programs at another agency, he saw the many benefits of the programs she attended because they were the highlight of her life. After his sister aged out of the system, he and his family recognized the need for resources for adults with distinct disabilities at differing stages and with separate needs.

“One of my fondest memories of past years at Opengate were barbeques at the farm of Patrick Grasso. All the staff and residents were invited for a day of fun, good company, and good food. The time spent at the farm was always enjoyable.”

When Mr. Nicolich came to Opengate there were only 33 residents being served compared to over 100 today, along with 40 to 50 more from the area who take advantage of our Day Programs. Opengate only had one location in the early 80’s in Somers, NY. Through the years the agency has increased its  houses and programs throughout the community, and also added a medically frail unit for those residents who require it.

With his legal background, Mr. Nicolich has been instrumental in addressing some of the issues Opengate faces. Although he is not in the position as our legal counsel, his training has been of great assistance to our Board.

“In my opinion, one of the most critical accomplishments at Opengate has been the expansion into the community with housing and programs allowing individuals to enjoy – and contribute to – their local area.”

Some of the challenges he has witnessed over the years are funding issues, as well as additional and stricter government regulations. Mr. Nicolich believes we must advocate for what’s best for the population we serve, that they deserve quality services provided through government resources. He also supports the ongoing campaign to increase wages for Direct Support Professionals.

All of us at Opengate sincerely thank John Nicolich for his decades of service on its Board of Directors and his numerous contributions to the success of the agency. – Brian Hulten, CEO

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