The Winter of Storms

 

Snowstorm 2018

Snowstorm 2018

This was a winter for the record books! Back to back snowstorms were a huge challenge with bad weather and hazardous traveling conditions. But, Opengate staff members rose to the challenge with positive attitudes and provided extra care and comfort for our residents.

One of the risks with snow and wind from these storms is power outages. When we lost power in several of our ICF homes, we needed to relocate 32 residents to our Day Habilitation facility in Hawthorne. Staff members not only transported the residents to Hawthorne, but also made sure that each resident had everything they would need for an extended stay.

Our emergency plan was implemented with precision, assuring that food and other needed supplies were available for each individual. Behind the scenes, phone calls were made to families, laundry was done and meals were prepared. When an emergency situation occurs, it’s amazing how our staff moves forward with confidence through each step.

Residents at Hawthorne House

Residents tucked in safely in Hawthorne 

 

We are proud to acknowledge everyone who worked extra hours, many staying for several days, to attend to all possible details to ensure the safety of our residents, from Direct Support Professionals to Managers, Nurses and Administrator.  It was a team effort that really showed the level of commitment to the individuals Opengate serves.

We can’t forget our wonderful Maintenance staff who did an outstanding job making sure generators were fueled, and our roadways and walkways were cleared of snow. THANK YOU!

When the storms subsided, power was restored and the individuals were returned to their homes, we realized that positive attitudes, flexibility and encouragement went a long way. Many thanks to all for the dedication, hard work, and commitment to our individuals.


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Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month

The puzzle piece logo representing the many facets of autism is recognized worldwide as the symbol for this puzzling condition colored by its mystery and complexity.

Like an integral piece of the puzzle, those with autism search for their place to fit in and integrate within a society where they may often feel isolated. As complex as the disorder can be, the needs for those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can be just as complex, from specialized therapies to ongoing care.

According to the Federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) who monitors the prevalence of ASD, it has risen from one in 150 in 2000, to one in 68 in 2010, and although there is no known cure, there are successful treatments, therapies and approaches that benefit those diagnosed with ASD.

Although autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, the puzzle logo also designates hope through it’s bright primary colors. Each color reveals an enhancement of the nature of the condition, as well as the possibilities for a life well lived through proper understanding and awareness.

As those with ASD transition into adulthood there are more pieces to fit into the puzzle such as employment, housing, and independence. Opengate assists these individuals to make informed choices that will ease the transitions and offer them opportunities that may not otherwise be available.

Included in the Opengate mission statement: “Opengate realizes the rights of developmentally disabled individuals to become part of the mainstream to the maximum extent of their capabilities. “

Those with autism present vast levels of capability and each individual deserves to be met where they are, learning to best use their talents and skills. Opengate fosters an environment of consideration and care through programs and services designed to support the individual based on their ability.

In observance of Autism Awareness Month each April, we ponder over each piece of the jigsaw puzzle logo and observe how to best educate the public and contribute to the enrichment of those living with autism as well as their families and caregivers.

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Employee of the Month, February 2018

Employee of the Month (2)

Congratulations to Kimberly Wilkinson for being voted the Employee of the Month for February, 2018!

 

Kimberly Wilkinson

Kimberly Wilkinson, Employee of the Month

 

Kim has been with Opengate since August 2017 and has a dual role in the Agency.  During the day she works as an Administrative Assistant and in the evening she is a Direct Support Professional.  She has developed a passion for direct support and is currently a part of the Frankel IRA in Somers.

She is known by all to be patient and kind. Kim always seems to be smiling and friendly towards everyone.

Kim makes it a point to know the individuals she works with, even their food likes and dislikes! She is always available to help out and has frequently come in early to help with mornings at the Lehr house.  She is truly an asset to our agency!

Congratulations, Kimberly Wilkinson!

 

 


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Adaptive Clothing: Fashion’s New Frontier

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Photo from Runway of Dreams Facebook

 

Promoting inclusion for persons with disabilities has broken through a barrier, the fashion industry. An individual’s sense of style can be as varied as one’s abilities, and in the past there were few resources for consumers to construct a personal fashion statement.

Most adaptive clothing, footwear, and accessories are geared toward the elderly, usually in drab colors, fabrics, and old fashioned designs. While many of the same issues are presented for both elderly and people with disabilities, such as closures and comfort by design, there hasn’t been much improvement in fashion sense until recent years.

The fashion needs of the disabled community being addressed are featured by several internet bloggers as well as mainstream media. One example is an article written about a disability advocate with cerebral palsy who comes to terms with the availability of fashionable shoes other than standard durable sneakers. Hunting down a more stylish professional looking Mary Jane shoe was quite a task.

Another blogger, Karin Hitselberger, says on Bustle, We may think of fashion as a very surface-level thing, but it gets to the core of how you present yourself to the world,” Hitselberger later tells me. “Just because I’m physically disabled doesn’t mean I don’t have my own style, and fashion can’t be something that I care about.

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Designer Tommy Hilfiger, partnering with Runway of Dreams, and one of the first designers to enter the adaptive fashion market, is now offering a successful line of adaptive clothing for children and adults with disabilities. Tommy Adaptive highlights stylish Hilfiger clothes with modified closures and adjustable features.

“Inclusivity and the democratization of fashion have always been at the core of my brand’s DNA,” Tommy Hilfiger said in a statement. “These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves for fashion.”

Retailers Target, Kohls, Belk and WalMart have entered the market which allows people to have an opportunity to shop the styles, feel the fabrics, and try on the garments.

The pioneers of adaptive fashion use their skills to create solutions to the unique needs of dressing without hassle. Maura Horton, who developed a line of shirts with magnets (MagnaReady) in response to her husband’s Parkinson’s disease is quoted in New Mobility, “The system not only helped him feel independent and accomplished, but it also helped him save time and energy for other battles he might fight in the day.”

Stylist Stephanie Thomas of Cur8able has researched clothing trends for people with disabilities for over 26 years and believes that this sector of the clothing market is catching the eye of retailers over the world.

NBZ® Apparel created a line of pants for men and boys (which women and girls can also wear) to address the difficulty of zipping and buttoning. NBZ=No Button/Zipperless pants which allow the person to enhance their independence by easily dressing themselves.

“NBZ® Apparel doesn’t sell clothes. We provide dignity, confidence, and independence. We empower and we heal.” – Karen Bowersox, Founder.

Along with fashionable clothing comes interesting accessories and one of the leaders is The Girl with the Purple Cane, Liz Jackson, who campaigns for mainstream retailers to carry her colorful canes as a fashion accessory. She also spearheads Inclusive Fashion Design Collective (IFDC) to increase the impact of beautiful, functional products in our everyday lives and in the global economy. Within the organization is The Disabled List which are people who collaborate on projects, ideas and products to change the perceptions of those with disabilities.

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Liz Jackson, The Girl with the Purple Cane

 

One of the largest untapped markets is poised to explode into the mainstream. Individuals with disabilities of all varieties are showing up on runways and print ads, as well as in the television and film industries. Progress is being made for fashion inclusion, especially in the ability of people with disabilities to present themselves to the world with confidence and pride.

 


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Spotlight on DaQueen Monroe and The Autism Project – FLOS

ME AND SHAQUAN IN OUR COMPANY LOGO [1457]

Inspired by the experience of raising a son with autism, DaQueen Monroe founded The Autism Project – FLOS (For Love of Shaquan) as an outreach to other teenagers and young adults with developmental disabilities and to provide support and education to parents, guardians, and caretakers.

Through her vision of inclusion, and opportunities for new experiences, DaQueen and The Autism Project-FLOS not only support the needs of the individual, but also the family through special events focused on education, resource information, and stress relief.

For the 6th year, The Autism Project-FLOS will host the Special Needs Fair in Yonkers, NY on April 14, 2018 from 1pm-4pm. The event is open to the public as a place to bring the community together for fun, education, resources, and inclusive activities for all levels.  For details, please refer to their website:  https://www.theautismproject-flos.org/

DaQueen’s mission is to bring necessary services to the underserved population of individuals with developmental disabilities, including single parents, and urban areas where resources are not as readily available. The Autism Project-FLOS believes there should be more to offer individuals with developmental disabilities through recreation and social experiences that “typical” children and adults may take for granted. It’s especially gratifying to see the positive interactions between them.

The Autism Project-FLOS has had a positive impact for many urban families that otherwise were not plugged into the system of resources, and may not know what is available. DaQueen is fulfilling her mission to support all families through workshops, education which is accessible and affordable, and a community working towards the same goals. She is frequently a representative in Albany to ensure that needs are met and voices are heard concerning rights and changes for all individuals with developmental disabilities.

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Shaquan Monroe

DaQueen Monroe is the mother of 26-year-old Opengate resident, Shaquan Monroe, who has been at Opengate since he transitioned into adulthood. Shaquan came to Opengate from another agency where he was placed at age 12. Although Shaquan is nonverbal, he’s described as a deep thinker who craves independence and productive experiences. 

 

Opengate staff and residents would like to invite everyone to support this special mother’s mission and vision of a world where all children are treated equally and given the opportunities to succeed and partake in interactive social experiences within the communities where they live.


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To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

 

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April is Autism Awareness Month
Autism Awareness Month
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