Employee of the Month, March 2019

Employee of the Month

Congratulations to Emroy McPherson for being selected the Employee of the Month

Emroy McPherson will be celebrating 20 years with Opengate in August, 2019. He currently holds the position of Lead Counselor at our Day Habilitation Program.

Emroy was selected as Employee of the Month by the vote of fellow staff members of Opengate.

Employee of the Month collage

Chief Operating Officer, Deborah Mayo, and Chief Human Resources Officer, Victoria Ribon, present Emroy with his certificate.

Congratulations to Emroy McPherson from the staff of Opengate for being nominated and elected Employee of the Month by your fellow employees.

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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Terrance Harris in the Spotlight

Terrance Harris wasn’t looking for a career path, but he describes lovely stories about  individuals and their daily lives told to him by his mother who was a teacher at Opengate. Through his mother’s stories he found his passion to make a positive impact on the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Terrance began his career at Opengate in the late 1980’s. He started as a Direct Support Professional working with individuals in the workshop areas and in residences where he administered the food service program. This experience led him to job coaching with individuals, enhancing their skills, and securing positions for several at IBM. Subsequently, the position of Assistant Manager at Frankel House became available, he applied and was promoted to that location.

Another inspiration for Terrance was the late Steve Queenan, a long-term and beloved staff member of Opengate. He reports that Steve was the impetus behind pursuing his degree in social work and continuing to advance in his career choice.

Currently, in the position of Director of Residential Services, Terrance says that his essential goals are ensuring policies and procedures are followed and providing a safe environment for all of the individuals so they may live fulfilling lives. He also emphasizes the importance of a well trained staff that are greatly appreciated for the jobs they perform.

After living in New York City for several years, Terrance is now enjoying the quiet pace of the suburbs where he moved in 2015. He takes pleasure relaxing on his deck, walking nature trails, and watching hummingbirds. He’s happy for the change in scenery and the contrast to living the city life on concrete.

Terrance Harris quote to live by: “Work hard – Have fun – Make a difference!”

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

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Vacations and Travel for Adults with Developmental Disabilities



The world is your oyster!

Or, if you don’t eat oysters, perhaps a Sweet Pickle Tour through New England offered by Search Beyond Adventures would be tastier.

Adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers have a menu of options through travel agents and tour companies who serve the needs of this specialized niche market.

Travel is fun and interesting, however, planning and preparing for a trip is often hectic and stressful. A good tour company can relieve the stresses and ease the way into an unforgettable experience.

Whether you and your caregiver choose to be by the ocean, in the mountains, have a therapeutic adventure, or travel abroad, the options are unlimited.

Tips to help prepare for a memorable vacation:

Choose a reputable travel agency or tour company that is distinctively geared towards an experience tailored to your needs. Many have discounts for a traveling companion or caregiver.

Call ahead to airlines, hotels and all providers along the itinerary of your trip to insure that any specific accommodations will be handled.

Be specific about your accommodations. If you need a roll in shower or other significant needs, be sure they are all spelled out ahead of time.

Put medications in your carry on bag, not your checked bags, in the event a bag is lost you will have them with you at all times. It’s also a good idea to pack extra medication if your trip is delayed for any reason.

Purchase a good travel insurance policy, preferably one with a pre-existing condition exclusion as well as a “cancel for any reason” clause if there is an unforeseen reason you can’t make the trip and have prepaid certain funds.

Benefits of travel for adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers

A break from the normal daily routine

Getting outdoors and being physically active

Rest and relaxation

Experience different cultures

Create new memories

The psychological and physical benefits of travel are undeniable and allow all individuals to become immersed in new experiences and re-live the memories for years to come.

Traveling gives you a break from the ordinary stresses of life, renews the spirit and rejuvenates the mind.

So, either rest and relaxation, or serious adventure, will bring years of enhancement to your health and well being.

Grab your gear, make a reservation, and get going!

Below is a list of travel and tour companies that specialize in accommodations to explore.

(Opengate, Inc. has no affiliation with these companies and is not responsible for their quality and services).



Access Tours

Access Tours specializes in tours that are fully accessible.  They are designed with wheelchair users, scooter users, and slow walkers in mind.  Group sizes are small, usually limited to 10 people or fewer, the pace is relaxed, and the company friendly.

Disabled Travelers

Disabled Travelers is dedicated to accessible travel information and provides information on businesses from around the world that specialize in disability travel.

The Guided Tour

The Guided Tour is a very special program that offers opportunities for personal growth, recreation and socialization through travel.  Since 1972, thousands of men and women with developmental and physical challenges from all over the world have achieved greater independence through the travel experiences provided by The Guided Tour, Inc.

Hammer Travel

Hammer Travel offers a variety of travel opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Lucky Mindy Adventures

Lucky Mindy Adventures provides fully staffed (based on client need), wheelchair-accessible (if needed) tours for individuals with disabilities.

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path, Inc. is a Minnesota-based corporation which has been providing economic vacations for developmentally disabled ambulant individuals since 1985.

Search Beyond Adventures

Founded in 1979, Search Beyond Adventures provides all-inclusive escorted vacations for travelers with disabilities and special needs, ages 17 and up.

Ventures Travel

Venture Travels offers unique opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy resident camp, respite care, and supervised travel.

Wilderness Inquiry

Since 1978, Wilderness Inquiry has conducted integrated wilderness trips involving people with disabilities as well as people who do not have disabilities – as equals and peers.

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

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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.

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

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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

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

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