Autism Awareness Month 2017
Officially, April 2 is deemed World Autism Day and across the world it’s celebrated by lighting up blue on buildings, homes, and businesses to bring attention to autism.
April is also National Autism Awareness month set aside to educate communities and bring awareness to autism. Promoting and recognizing the complexities of autism, as well as fostering inclusion and acceptance, is a large part of the planned activities at organizations like Opengate who serve many individuals diagnosed with autism.
Liz Dama, who works with individuals in our Day Program, has declared “Blue Tuesdays” during the month of April where everyone wears blue in recognition of the national campaign, Light it Up Blue.
On Friday, April 14, Day Hab Lead Counselor, Tiffany Heath, (2016 Employee of the Year!) implemented a special “Light it Up Blue” day with several festivities including blue & white t-shirts which represent the united observation of Autism Awareness Month. Everyone wore their t-shirts and blue pants, painted piggy banks, made jewelry, and did jigsaw puzzles. There was music and dancing along with blue snacks and drinks. Everyone had a wonderful time!
The #LightitUpBlue campaign works for greater understanding and acceptance of those with autism throughout the world.
St. Patrick’s Day 2017
Elizabeth Dama, DDS arranged a St. Patrick Day Celebration for the individuals attending our Day Program in Somers. Once again, Residence Manager, William Hooke provided music for the party. Everyone enjoyed the dance party and festive accessories in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Lots of dancing and smiles to go around.
Happy Holidays 2016!
Opengate’s Annual Holiday Party was held at The Pinnacle at Heritage Hills in Somers on December 14, 2016. Aside from dinner and dancing, Santa and his Elves presented each individual with a personalized gift. Two Board Members also attended. They were Paula Desperito along with her granddaughter who is pursuing studies in the IDD field, and Lia Grasso, a 15-year Board member whose son, Thomas, has been with Opengate since the mid 1960s.
Happy Halloween! October 2016
Opengate’s annual Halloween Party was held at the Day Program in Somers on October 26, 2016.
As you can see by the pictures, costumes were quite original and the wide smiles indicate everyone had a great time celebrating.
During the party individuals participated in games and, of course, there were lots of sweet treats!
Opengate Annual BBQ
On August 24, 2016 Opengate celebrated its 2nd Annual BBQ for individuals living on our Somers Campus with some guests from our Day Habilitation program. It was a great way to end the summer with great food and friends and fun in the sun. It was a wonderful display of team work from food preparation to facilitating activities.
Nicole Martin, Gray Residence Manager, led the way in coordinating this event and was assisted by staff from all of our campus houses. Many of the staff brought in baked goods to be shared with all. The individuals enjoyed frozen treats and our famous parachute game along with enjoying each other’s company.
Both residents and staff enjoyed music from our live DJ, William Hooke, Auerbach’s Manager, who brought in his own equipment and played music for this special event.
Overall this event was a great success and we look forward to next year.
National Nurses Day: May 6, 2016
Opengate Nurses Alison Thomas, January McCrae, Peggy Ramsey and Darlene Perry.
Annually, on May 6, nurses across the country are honored and celebrated on National Nurses Day which raises awareness of the important role nurses play in our society and begins National Nurses Week, ending on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
Opengate shows appreciation to our nurses each year by providing a special catered lunch for them at our facility. We recognize each of them for the contribution they make to our consumers on a daily basis and acknowledge the care and compassion they provide.
“Will the Real Saint Patrick Please Stand Up?
A fun time was had by all at the performance of “Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up” celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Draped in green, Saint Patrick (all 10 of him) defended his title and why his legacy has remained so important throughout the world today.
On February 17, the Annual Opengate Art Exhibit was held. The classroom participants created reproductions of vases with paper and paint. They were inspired by photographs from around the world. Additionally there were landscapes, paintings of birds, flowers and abstract images.
SANYS Conference, 2015
Charisma Group Shines at Annual State Conference
Five Individuals representing Opengate’s Charisma Group attended the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS) conference this past October in Albany, New York. More than 800 people from across the state attended SANYS 26th Annual Statewide Conference held October 29th to 31st. The theme was “Transformation Is Us: Our Lives, Our Choices, Our Community.”
Opengate’s Charisma Group was formed three years ago and named by Wendy Heller, one of our regular members who has been involved since the beginning stages of the Group’s formation. About a dozen regular attendees meet in various locations in the community throughout the year. Rarely are refreshments served; members are motivated to come to the meetings for camaraderie and advocacy action.
The five enjoyed their time mingling with other self-advocates and the opportunity to rekindle acquaintances from the past. Each Charisma Group member also participated in an ‘open mic’ session where they shared their experiences of advocating for themselves at Opengate.
The Charisma Group initially began as a closed group but, in recent months, has expanded itself to include individuals from Westchester ARC.
October 20, 2015
Opengate held its annual Oktoberfest for all residents on Wednesday, October 20th. It was held at The Pinnacle Restaurant at Heritage Hills in Somers, NY. DJ services were provided by Scott Cameron, a favorite of the residents. All thoroughly enjoyed the music and dancing.
A sit-down dinner of penne and chicken franchese was served. It was a fun time for all!
Annual Awards Luncheon
June 28, 2015
More than 100 Opengate residents, family members, staff, and Board members enjoyed the Annual Awards luncheon at Ceola Manor in Jefferson Valley on Sunday, June 28th. In addition, there was a separate celebration at the Somers location for those who were not able to attend.
Of course, the highlight of the day in Yorktown was the dancing as many joined in the fun while also dressed in their finest clothes for the occasion. A professional D.J. provided music and many residents and staff look forward to this day each year.
A sit-down luncheon was served by Ceola Manor staff with choices of fish, chicken or pasta meals. Simply put, there were smiles all around.
Awards in the form of ribbon-tied scrolls were given to each individual for their own personal achievements. They include noted progress in things such as Plant Care, Gardening Skills, Socialization Skills, Advocacy Skills and Leadership Skills.
Chief Executive Officer Brian Hulten and Chief Operating Officer Randi Rios-Castro both offered remarks applauding the individuals’ achievements.
Time for a Wildlife Tour,
June 16, 2015
On June 16, 2015 Somers day program participants were able to get up close and personal with animals and nature at Green Chimneys Wildlife Center, a nonprofit center based in Brewster, N.Y. that strives to educate and heal its visitors and students through animal therapy and nature activities.
“Our residents rode in a hay wagon pulled by a tractor throughout the raptor area and viewed animals on the property,” said Liz Dama, Lead Developmental Disabilities Specialist.
At over 160 acres, Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center is home to nearly 300 animals and birds and houses several barns and stables, riding rings, trails, a greenhouse, and a children’s garden.
Around-the-World Day Held in May, 2015
Thanks to organizers Alicia Segalini, Activities Leader and Donisia Williams, ICF West Manager, our second annual Opengate Around-the-World Day held on May 13th in Somers at the day program for Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) residents was a great success.
Utilizing the large gym area, staffers participate by choosing a country to represent, prepare a food dish and decorate their table. For the residents, it’s quite a happy surprise when they walk in and see what’s awaiting them!
Each individual can sample a dish from the represented countries and this year Social Worker Anne Kelsey’s husband donated art work from his job at the International School in Tarrytown, NY which was a big hit! For Ecuador we had empanadas and for Mexico, salsa and tortilla chips. At the Rome table, meatballs and Italian bread were the fare. The accompanying music represented many countries and all who attended had a blast.