FREE Blast: January 2018

February 1, 2018 | FREE Blast

Hello All,

It comes as no surprise that the first Blast of the new year contains stories of snow and cold weather. However, as you will read, the Valued Team Members at FREE have come together, as always, to make sure the Individuals we are so privileged to support have a safe and warm place to stay during the dreary weather, and have fun activities to do while stuck inside. Happy New Year!!!

Respectfully, Chris



Winter Storm Contest
Human Resources initiated a game to play on our first snowy winter day of 2018! Contestants had to log onto Facebook, find Family Residences and like our page, then look for the Winter Storm Contest post. In the comments section, people were tasked to post a picture of what they were doing that day and the picture with the most “likes” won a fabulous prize! Congratulations to Danielle Celardo and her pal Chip!!! They got the most likes in the contest. Special thanks to everyone who participated. Value of Innovation

Individuals Participate in Microsoft Classes
Recently, participants from Day Services at Bethpage attended a workshop at the Microsoft Store in Walt Whitman Mall. FREE will be partnering with them every Tuesday as our Individuals continue the series. We are so excited to transition these skills into new and exciting projects. Values of Interdependence and Innovation

Annual Community Holiday Reception
Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre recently held her Annual Holiday Party at Federation of Organizations at Copiague Community Center. “Thank you to everyone that attended Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre’s 2017 Holiday Party,” her staff commented on Facebook. “This year we decided to make the night more special by honoring our 2017 Summer Reading Challenge Contest Winners! Special thanks to our sponsors: Federation of Organizations, The Macon Realty, Inc., FreedomCare, Liga De Justicia, Spanish Soulfood, Christina’s Sweet Treats and DJ Art. Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year!” FREE took part in the holiday reception by providing artwork to have on display, created by the Individuals in the Fine Art and Art Therapy programs. Value of Diversity

Pajama Day at Fancy FREE
Recently, Individuals who attend Fancy FREE Day Hab participated in Pajama Day, showing off their unique and fun bedtime attire. Everyone who joined in on the festivities had a wonderful time and look forward to doing it again. Value of Innovation

Thank You Rewards
Maureen Roache nominated Brian Lunn, who works in Old Bethpage Day Hab. One day Brian was assisting one of the Individuals change their clothes because he had an accident. The pants that were provided to him were a little too big so Brian gave this Individual his own belt to use and wear home. Nick Cannata, who works out of Day Services West, has been a great resource for Kelly Byrne for the past three weeks in her bid to open the Medford hub site (Hub Med). He has gone out there on a minutes notice to await deliveries, he has put together 70 chairs and five dollies, and has done light maintenance. He has been at the hub – without heat – during times of extreme cold and snow, including when the fire system company and National Grid were there to do service. He keeps in communication with Kelly Byrne and Joe Consolo regarding the progress and constantly asks what else FREE needs for him to do to help get the hub site ready for the Individuals we are privileged to support. This is all in addition to his work load at the Hauppauge site. Vanessa Kern nominated Nina Pena, a Maplewood IRA Team Member, for a Thank You Reward for her help during the snow storm. Nina stayed late the evening before to help prep by going shopping and making sure all shovels and salt were available. On the day of the storm she made it in, completed shoveling and cleared out the van. When her shift was over she stayed to shovel again after she punched out. Stacey got wind of this and, of course, adjusted her time so she did that on the clock. But Nina did do so on her own accord with no financial reciprocation expected or requested. In addition, FREE just discharged a terminally ill Individual who was on life support during some stages of his stay. Nina continued to visit him on a weekly basis on her own time out of the goodness of her heart, and because she has worked with him for the past six years. Vanessa Kern also nominated LaToya Arnold, SH Supervisor, for a Thank You Reward. LaToya was originally scheduled off on January 2nd but ended up changing her plans to work and accommodate a homeless Individual that had nowhere to stay after January 1st. Because she was concerned he would be out in the cold, she cancelled her day off and changed his move in date for then. The Friday after the snow storm, Valued Team Members shoveled out the bus doorways and the front of the main entrance at the Old Bethpage location. Staff included: Ava Adams, Jennifer Fazio, Linda Johnson, Kevin Merkel, Veronica Garcia, and Maureen Roache. Melissa Blusonis joked that she would have to write a novel to explain in detail the changes and controlled chaos that is happening over at PWW. In short, as FREE is in the process of training new staff, Melissa and the other Program Coordinator (PC) have been covering routes daily in addition to adding guys to existing staff’s routes. Georgia Galvin, the youngest of the staff, has accepted these changes without any complaint and has been trying to offer ideas to ease the workload. Her positive mental attitude is above expectation! Due to the stress on the staff, there have been some interpersonal issues, but Georgia did not become involved and handled things in an appropriate manner that again, struck Melissa as way beyond her years. Recently, an Individual became behavioral at the mall and Georgia assisted the other PC in safely SCIP-ing the guy out while also being physically attacked. To observe Georgia’s work and level of professionalism is to see a light in her that cannot be described in common words. Melissa wishes to not only reward her for her exemplary work, but also encourage her to continue on this level of professionalism. Finally, Edwin Gomez nominated Steven Jackson, of Bethpage Day Hab, for a Thank You Reward. He has been doing a great job holding down the fort while his classmate is on FMLA. He has been able to work independently for over a month now and continues to have a positive attitude. Steven and his classmate are in charge of the FREE Players Ensemble. He has been able to continue to go to gigs by himself and has never asked to reschedule or cancel. This is something the Individuals look forward to and he runs it independently. He is then able to come back to program and run the classroom effectively after all this. His paperwork is on time and accurate, even though his caseload is now double. Edwin wanted Steven to know that he is appreciated and notices all his efforts. If you would like to nominate someone for a Thank You Reward, please contact Pat Hogan at Winners of a Thank You Reward receive a gift card and thank you card to show our appreciation. Values of Responsiveness and Interdependence

Volunteering at the Coalition for the Homeless
FREE’s Program Without Walls group were eager to help out others in the community by volunteering at the Coalition for the Homeless, the oldest not-for-profit advocacy group focused on homelessness in the United States. Formed in 1981, the Coalition provides food, clothing, eviction prevention, crisis services, permanent housing, job training and special programs for youth to more than 3,500 homeless men, women and children daily in New York. Values of Diversity, Responsiveness and Interdependence

First Performance of 2018!
Select members of the FREE Players Drumline and Color Guard did two performances in front of middle and high school special education students at Nassau BOCES Rosemary Kennedy School (RKS). They were excited to bring some RKS Alumni with them, and hope they inspired the children of tomorrow to know no boundaries and chase their dreams! Maybe some future RKS graduates might end up one day joining the FREE Players Drum & Bugle Corps!?! A huge thank you goes out to the RKS teachers, faculty, staff, students and PTA for being so kind, accommodating and generous to us. The FREE Players had a wonderful time and can’t wait to come back! Values of Diversity and Responsiveness

Univision Unidad 41 en Long Island at Adelante
Unidad 41, from the segment A Tu Lado, of Univision, recently stopped by Long Island for the first time and made a visit to Adelante. Additionally, they visited different neighborhoods with journalist/reporter Berenice Gartner and the investigation team to talk with people and try to help resolve their problems. This was a great opportunity for locals to come and speak out about their problems and challenges in reference to immigration, injustice, landlord-tenant issues, housing, business claims not resolved, etc. Values of Innovation and Quality

PWW Visits White Post Farms
FREE’s Community Theater Program Without Walls recently enjoyed spending the day at White Post Farms, located in Melville, NY. FREE’s Individuals had an excellent time playing with and feeding the various animals at this local petting zoo. Value of Innovation

Jillian Brunner Presents Personal Story at FREE To BE Meeting
FREE To BE hosted Jillian Brunner, PWW Specialist, who presented her personal story on “Coming Out As Bisexual: You Love Who You Love” at the January meeting. Join us for the PrideAbility Workshop to be held on February 27th at 4:30 p.m. in FREE’s Old Bethpage location. Pizza will be served. To learn more about the FREE To BE advocacy group, please contact Claire Miller at 516-870-1645 or Values of Integrity, Diversity and Quality

PWW Shoots Hoops with Zendon Hamilton
Our Program Without Walls never let the cold stop them from having interesting community excursions, like playing basketball with Zendon Hamilton, a former American professional basketball player and current assistant coach for the Texas Legends of the NBA G League. He played in the National Basketball Association from 2000 to 2006. Zendon, who was born in Floral Park, NY, visited FREE’s Old Bethpage location to give tips and have fun with our Individuals. The men and women we serve were so excited to meet this local legend, and look forward to many more PWW adventures in the future. Values of Diversity and Innovation

Discussing TRI on WCWP
Susan Feifer, LCSW, Director of Vocational Services, TRI Business and Career Training Center, and Andrew Cohen, Vice President, Employment Services and Affirmative Business Development, FREE, recently appeared on the Project Independence radio program, available for listening on WCWP 88.1 FM. They discussed one of FREE’s affirmative businesses, TRI, which has partnered with the Town of North Hempstead since 2010, providing the Town’s senior citizens with maintenance and janitorial services in their homes, which allows them to age in place — the purpose of Project Independence. Tracy Sweet, a graduate of TRI and a Valued Team Member of FREE’s Maintenance Department, was also a guest on the show, discussing his experiences with the different programs and services that TRI offers. Values of Responsiveness, Innovation and Quality

Valued Adelante Employee Retires After 25 Years
Iris Roman-Alicea has worked with Adelante for the past 25 years. She started out as a receptionist and has taken on many roles over the years, including bookkeeper, payroll/HR assistant, case manager, property manager and ending her 25-year career at Adelante as a Mental Health Supported Housing Supervisor. As the Program Manager of the Supported Housing Program, Iris had the responsibility to oversee and lead her staff, and work directly with people with mental illness for whom she managed, advocating and addressing issues and concerns they were facing in regard to housing, benefits, and financial and social stability. Iris is always passionate about helping her community and those who are the most vulnerable. She is an outstanding example of leadership, loyalty and compassion, as well as a wonderful human being who will definitely be missed. Values of Integrity, Diversity and Quality