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.

Michael

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.

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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Employee of the Month, April 2019

Congratulations to Sonia Parkinson for being selected the Employee of the Month

Every month Opengate staff members are asked to nominate and select someone as the Employee of the Month based on the person’s merit. In April, colleagues voted to award the honor to Sonia Parkinson.

Sonia is being recognized by her peers for being an outstanding team member who always places the well-being of the individuals she cares for first and foremost. Employed with Opengate since 2011, Sonia is assigned to the Lehr House where it’s reported that she goes out of her way to advocate for the individuals. She also makes sure they get to any of their appointments on time.

As an example of her commitment, Sonia escorted an individual to a medical appointment and subsequently to the emergency room. While she was at the emergency room, she was notified that someone from Lehr House called out, leaving a shift uncovered. She immediately volunteered to work the shift. When she returned to campus after the medical appointment and emergency room visit, she went home, then returned for the 10pm shift.

Sonia’s team members feel this type of dedication is going beyond the call of duty in a day’s work!

Congratulations to Sonia Parkinson 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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Meet Kristen Elkins

Kristen Elkins began her career as a Direct Support Professional working as a teacher’s aide at a special education preschool during summer breaks from college. She subsequently earned degrees in both Psychology and Criminal Justice with a Forensic Psychology specialization from St. John’s University.

After graduation from college, Kristen was employed as a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional at United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, where she spent 11 years in positions of increasing responsibility. She last held the position of Director of Compliance and Quality Improvement at the agency.

Kristen relocated to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn where she was referred to Opengate by a former colleague. She immediately felt the position with Opengate was a perfect fit for her.

Coming to Opengate with 15 years in the field, Kristen currently holds the title of Chief Compliance Officer where she oversees compliance with federal and state regulations, the incident management process, and internal policies and procedures. She also develops and maintains training curricula and coordinates the internal audit process. Kristen recently earned Certification in Healthcare Compliance (CHC) from the Compliance Certification Board.

My goal is to make compliance fun! I want to empower employees with knowledge, and to support programs to achieve innovative, person centered programming.

As an avid long distance runner, Kristen has completed 13 marathons and 5 ultramarathons (a distance longer than 26.2 miles), and recently participated in the Boston Marathon. She loves to travel and calls herself an adrenaline junkie! Travel highlights include shark diving in Honduras, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, bungee jumping in Costa Rica, trekking in Peru and rappelling down waterfalls in Ecuador.

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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Karen G. Gennaro, M.D. Appointed Medical Director

We are delighted to announce Karen G. Gennaro, M.D. has been appointed Opengate’s Medical Director. Dr. Gennaro has provided psychiatric care to our residents for the past 10 years and is very familiar with our focus of care. She is experienced in both the medical and psychiatric fields. Some of her accomplishments include:

  • Past President of both the Psychiatric Society of Westchester and the Westchester Academy of Medicine
  • Senior Fellow with the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry
  • APA Distinguished Fellow, early research psychopharmacologist for Otto Kernberg’s comparative personality disorder psychotherapies project

She hails from a multigenerational family of medical professionals. After earning her MBA, and a successful career in business, Dr. Gennaro returned to the family business of medicine, studying at the University of Illinois as well as Case Western Reserve University. She completed her residency training at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in White Plains, NY.

Dr. Gennaro is an expert in treating personality issues and is able to draw on her vast training and experience in psychiatry, psychoanalysis and the cognitive therapies in order to tailor a unique blend of treatments to help each individual patient maximize their unique strengths and shore up their vulnerabilities.

Her office will continue to be located at 29 Warren Street, Somers, NY.

We are also pleased to announce that Opengate will be partnering with Hudson Valley Regional Community Health Centers in Brewster, NY to focus on providing the best comprehensive primary health care to all of our residents. Our partnership is to build a healthy community and continue to improve our individual’s health, well-being, and quality of life.

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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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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