Easterseals New York Annual Meeting
Close to 100 board members, staff, partners and stakeholders attended Easterseals New York Annual Meeting on Monday, January 30th. The spirited event, at 210 E. 43rd Street, celebrated the past, present, and future of ESNY, and recognized the remarkable stories of the individuals who the agency is so proud to serve.
Michael Friedman, Chairman of the ESNY Board of Directors, welcomed guests and thanked Fedcap President and CEO Christine McMahon. Craig Stenning, Executive Director of Easterseals NY, talked about the remarkable journeys of Luther Saint-Joy, a young man living with autism and bipolar disorder, and Amour Nixon, a U.S. military veteran who faced homeless prior to finding ESNY. Craig thanked members (and the crowd joined him in a rousing applause) of the Regional Development boards for their dedication and hard work to support ESNY’s child development centers, veteran’s services, medical and residential services, Camp Colonie, and the Senior Community Service Employment Program.
Marianne Gribbon, Senior Director of Children’s Programs, welcomed David Parsons to the stage. David’s son Luke, a non-ambulatory child, joined an integrated class at Project Explore in Valhalla in September 2016. Because of the exceptional work of Caitlyn DeSimone, Luke’s 1-1 aide, and other staff, today Luke is able to play to his cognitive strengths and mix and learn with children who have the same cognitive skills.
“Without her, Luke would not be able to attend Easterseals and he would be denied the opportunity to interact and learn with his peers,” David said. “We found the perfect match who not only met Luke’s needs, but who brought the right formula of compassion, caring and skills to ensure that Luke would flourish throughout his journey.” In a deeply moving moment, Caitlyn joined David on the stage to the ESNY Excellence in Service Award.
Rita Stella, Senior Director of Vocational Services, introduced Michele Johnson, an ESNY consumer who shared her remarkable story. A highly successful account manager for an ad agency, Michele lost her job after the economic downturn of 2009. Without work and caring for an ailing parent, she was forced to go on food stamps and almost lost her home. With the help and support of Ronald Rodgers, Manager of Placement & Retention, Michele discovered skills and strengths within herself and today is working full-time at a job she loves. Michele offered heartfelt thanks to Ronald, who was also presented with an Excellence in Service Award. “Ron took me under his wing and helped me negotiate my fears and restore my confidence,” she said. “Today I see the world through a different lens, one of perseverance, gratitude and strength.”
ESNY Board Member Richard C. Lauricella welcomed Jimmy DiBenedetto, an ESNY legend who has served on a number of boards and as a friend of Easterseals has brought hundreds of people into the ESNY family. The James M. DiBenedetto Award, given to board members in recognition of exceptional dedication to ESNY’s mission and programs, was presented to Scott Pollack, Chair of the NYC Development Board and Dan Cooke, Chair of the Capital District Board.
In closing remarks ESNY Board Member Mark Legaspi offered sincere thanks to Fedcap and Christine McMahon, and spoke for every member of the Fedcap and Easterseals families when he said that we are better together, and together going forward will touch even more lives.