Michael’s Story

Throughout our 50th year anniversary year, we will be celebrating some highlights and memories of individuals, staff, and families of Opengate. We hope you enjoy reading them!

In 1960, Michael was born as a child with “special needs.” Little was known about how to best raise children with disabilities at that time, with very few resources or support groups available to the children and their families. In Michael’s case, and most others, a public education was denied.

As a young child, Michael was accepted into a nursery program which, as a start, was somewhat helpful. He then spent a short time in a private school, but it was not a good experience for him. He later attended the Manhattan School, which was founded by a group of prominent parents who had “special needs children,” and he appeared to perform much better there. However, he aged out of that school at 17 and went on to a sheltered workshop, where he was bullied and very unhappy.


But, that’s where going between some positive and some very negative experiences ended. Michael’s mother says, For our family a wonderful thing happened, Michael was fortunate enough to be accepted and admitted to Opengate. He came to Opengate as a young man who was tense and nervous with very little confidence in himself.

Over the years at Opengate, and by actively participating in their programs, Michael developed and matured a great deal. He gained his self-confidence and learned skills such as shopping, helping with chores, and being comfortable in social situations. He now finds it a pleasure to be involved in his residence at Bernstein House as well as in the community.

“Michael considers Opengate his home and is comfortable visiting me and then returning to Bernstein House. My thanks to Opengate and it’s wonderful staff headed by Brian Hulten.” – Michael’s mother

Along with programs offered at Opengate, Michael also attends the Life Plan Program at Keon where he enjoys being out in the community and doing volunteer work.

We have come a long way in the development and acceptance of people with disabilities since Michael was young. Inclusion in communities, employment and volunteer opportunities, and the expansion of their unique skills has created a whole new world that in years past individuals never had the chance to experience. Thanks to top agencies like Opengate, the door is open to improve the quality of life for all.

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