This past Friday marked two significant milestones for FREE that are worthy of celebration.
First, after two decades of providing exceptional transportation services Rides, Inc. has officially been sold to highly regarded, award-winning transportation companies with well established reputations for providing services to persons with disabilities. As many of you are aware, Rides, Inc. was established out of necessity as there was, at that time, a dearth of transportation services available to the persons we are privileged to support. Rob Quinn and his team led Rides, Inc. to become the premier provider of transportation services serving over 1500 differently-abled people each day in Long Island and 4/5 boroughs in New York City. Rides, Inc. received the highest accolades from our government and community partners including: Department of Transportation, Nassau and Suffolk County, OPWDD, OMH and countless sister organizations who contracted with Rides, Inc. for years because of their exceptional track record for safety and service.
We must take pause to acknowledge the Herculean efforts of Rob Quinn and the rest of the members of the Rides team who exercised innovative leadership and commitment to excellence from Rides humbling beginnings to the transition of services to new providers. Special thanks also to John Herchenroder who spearheaded one of the most complicated negotiations and transactions we have ever experienced. John, we so greatly appreciate your competence, steadfast advocacy and passion for our mission. You did it my friend!
Although this marks the end of a chapter, we must appreciate and recognize the opportunity this afford FREE, Inc. and most importantly those we serve.
That’s not all folks ………
Additionally, we physically moved out of the beloved Day Services East (DSE) program in East Setauket, which was officially sold last month. After providing center-based day services for more than three decades, the persons served at the DSE have been transitioned to more inclusive opportunities. These include but are not limited to: Pathways to Employment, Integrated Day and Community hab and Employment Readiness.
Consistent with the Olmsted Act, the newly designed Home and Community Based Waiver and the direction of the health and human services system, public agencies are charged with the responsibility to ensure the people we support are fully included in their community. FREE, Inc. has always adopted a philosophy that encourages and facilitates people to choose their own path to self-sufficiency and happiness. The DSE team will continue to serve the 150 people who attended the East Setauket location in new opportunities. Although the building has been sold, we must celebrate the exciting future this creates for those we support. Sue Sorrentino, Kelly Byrne, Michelle Cipriani what can we say other than – you never cease to amaze us! We recognize this is a change of significant magnitude and was not an easy one to accomplish—-you remain true to our mission and this is just one example of many. Thank you and your team for their making this happen!
There are many more people we must acknowledge; Joe Consolo and the maintenance support teams, our legal support team, the residential team, Sue D and the fiscal team, IT and HR and many, many more. This family is the A – Team and we are honored to co-lead this incredible organization.
Finally, in both instances, we celebrate the individuals who we are honored to continue to support and the valued team members who continue to support those individuals whether directly or indirectly. We are thankful for the opportunity this created to continue with a collective healthy future. We often remind ourselves and others of the old adage “the only constant is change”.
We appreciate that we are afforded the benefits of co- creating change and not doing so in crisis as has happened too often around us.
We are grateful for the leadership provided by each team member who made possible these significant changes. We use ‘leadership’ descriptively; not as a position but as our collective role in embracing change. We know that our innovative family has once again experienced a tenet of our vision statement:
“Together… creating the right solution for every need.”
Robert & Christopher