FREE Blast: October 2017

November 1, 2017 | FREE Blast

Hello All,
Again, this month’s FREE Blast contains a wide variety of accomplishments! We are privileged to have such talented Valued Team Members who help to create partnerships, and other providers and agencies, as well as elected officials, who help us continue our mission. Keep up the great work!
Respectfully, Chris



Happy Halloween!
As you can tell by the photos, people at FREE love Halloween. The PM West Respite program had a fun-filled Halloween party in which there were many creative and outstanding costumes and festivities! Recently, Fancy FREE enjoyed their day at Brightwaters Farm pumpkin picking. Special thanks to all who contribute to Treasure Town, as it allowed FREE to provide our Valued Team Members with approximately 275 costumes this year, putting huge smiles on the children’s faces that received them. The Individuals at Penn Ave. had a wonderful time dressing up as Minions. And finally, Individuals in the Old Bethpage location enjoyed a party in the multi-purpose room, where they had tons of fun dancing, eating and mingling with each other. Value of Quality
The Appreciation Squad Is Still at It
The fun didn’t stop when the Appreciation Squad finished surprising our DSPs in September; they still had a few more tricks up their sleeves. Once DSP Appreciation Month ended, the Squad shocked a few more people — the winners of the raffle prizes! La China Allen won the 50-inch TV, Tiffany Cameron won the Keurig and Eileen Moritz won the iPad Mini. Congratulations to the three of you! Value of Responsiveness
FREE Participates in Annual SANYS Conference
The FREE Team participated in the Self Advocacy Association of New York State’s (SANYS) Annual Regional Conference. This year’s theme was “Preserving Our Advocacy in Challenging Times.” The FREE Players Ensemble provided the conference attendees with an amazing performance! Matthew Kuriloff, Manager of Development, Public Relations and Advocacy, East End Disability Associates; Angel Athenas, FREE To BE Vice President; John Ginther, FREE To BE Greeter; and Claire Miller, FREE To BE Facilitator; presented a workshop on PrideAbility, the NYS LGBTQIA initiative funded by the NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. Congratulations to the SANYS Team for putting together a fabulous Long Island Advocacy Event! To learn more about the FREE To BE advocacy group, please contact Claire Miller at 516-870-1645 or Values of Diversity and Quality
40th Annual Celebration of Life Gala
On April 20 in 1977, FREE was founded with a mission to serve one of Long Island’s most vulnerable populations. From our humble beginning, with one residence and a handful of employees, we have grown into an agency with more than 2,500 Valued Team Members that supports more than 4,000 men, women and children to realize their full potential! It was amazing to be able to celebrate 40 years with such dedicated people. This year’s Community Impact Award was given to Stony Brook University Partners, including the School of Professional Development, the Graduate School, the College of Business and the Career Center. Heartwarming speeches were given by Barbara Townsend, former CEO of FREE, and Clara Davis, one of the founders of FREE. The night also included spectacular performances by Danny Kean, The FREE Players Color Guard, The FREE Players Ensemble and Brian Calhoun. Thank you to everyone who has helped FREE thrive for these past 40 years! Values of Interdependence and Innovation
Dr. Christopher Long Gives Presentation
This past month, Dr. Christopher D. Long gave a presentation at Leake & Watts with the core objectives being: To provide words of wisdom based on his own personal experience of adopting and fostering children; To share what he has learned about the challenges foster children face and why it’s important to hang in there; To offer some scientific facts relevant to parenting with a  focus to help attendees understand a little bit about how the brain develops and why children may not make the best decisions; To define and discuss positive parenting; and To present the Stop the Bounce initiative. Value of Responsiveness
Fundraiser to Benefit Skills Unlimited
Recently, a Zumba fundraiser was held at Retro Fitness with monies raised to benefit the remodeling and improvements to the Skills Unlimited facility. Besides just the Zumba class, raffles were also held to raise extra funds. Overall, the fundraiser was a great success! Thanks to everyone who donated their time and money. Values of Responsiveness and Stewardship
Thank You Rewards
Christina Arnao was nominated by one of the supervisors in her area for helping out and reviewing books in preparation of an upcoming audit. Jimmy Campbell, of Cartwright, was nominated for a Thank You Reward because FREE received a letter from a family member of an Individual residing in Cartwright. During a time when it mattered most, Jimmy went out of his way to keep the family informed and followed up with them to make sure everything was okay. Roldine Sainbert, of Jefferson, was nominated because the other day there was a staffing emergency at Jefferson for the overnight position. Roldine had left the residence at 10:00 p.m. and shortly after was called about the situation. She immediately came back to the residence, without any advanced notice, to assist the program during the staffing emergency. She is recognized for her commitment to the program and to the Individuals she serves. Janet Romano wanted to give Pamela Simon-Schwartz (an MSC) a Thank You Reward because she worked diligently to find new housing for a young man on her caseload, which, as we all know, finding affordable housing on Long Island can be very challenging. She has also assisted with coverage for the Adelante caseload Janet has been covering. Janet commented, “Thank you so much for your assistance in this matter.” 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 Integrity and Responsiveness
CQL Holds Conference Regarding Person Centered Planning
The conference theme was a “Blueprint for Person Centered Planning,” offering workshops in: The emerging roles and expectation of the DSP workforce — understanding the DSP code of conduct; Enhancing Outcomes; Community living and relationship building; Person centered workplaces; Preparing for true community integration; Supported decision making — US Trends and Best Practices; Human Rights, Civil Rights, Disability Rights — The Same Thing; among others. The conference was attended by CQL accredited providers and participants from all over the United States and Canada. Stefanie Russo, Advocacy Peer Mentor at FREE, was on a panel regarding Person Centered Planning. Her, among other self-advocates, discussed the importance of defining and measuring quality from the perspective of the person receiving services. They focused on key quality-of-life areas, such as exercising individual rights and balancing risk-taking with responsibility. CQL Tweeted a quote from Stefanie, stating “How would you like people to come into your home? … Because it’s our residence first, your job second.” For more information on advocacy at FREE, please contact Michelle Flood, MS Edu, Director of Advocacy, at 631-952-0257 or Value of Quality
Elected Officials Tour FREE
It was our pleasure to have Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino and Tory Vine, Community Liaison (9th District); Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Chief of Staff Brendan Cunningham (11th District); and Brian Sapp, Suffolk County Regional Rep. for Governor Andrew Cuomo; tour our Old Bethpage facility. It’s always wonderful when various government officials take interest in the work we do, as it means they will help advocate for us. Values of Interdependence and Innovation
FREE Players Drum & Bugle Corps Announce Open Auditions
At a press conference held at the Old Bethpage facility, FREE announced that the nationally renowned FREE Players Drum & Bugle Corps will, for the first time ever, hold open auditions for membership to the Drum Corps to all of Long Island, not just individuals supported by FREE. For the past several years the FREE Players Drum & Bugle Corps has performed across the country at world class events in front of thousands of spectators. Through their social media efforts, they have inspired millions of people around the world. The impact the Corps has made on the differently-abled population locally, nationally and globally is simply tremendous. Values of Responsiveness, Innovation and Quality
The Chris and Robert Show Premieres
The Chris and Robert Show premiered on K98.3 on Sunday, October 8th at 7:00 a.m. Co-produced by Connoisseur Media, the show features FREE President Dr. Christopher Long and FREE CEO Robert S. Budd. The premiere episode served as an introduction to Chris and Robert, how they came to work together, and how they lead FREE together. Going forward Chris and Robert will be discussing topics ranging from the employment of differently-abled individuals to finding forever homes for children in foster care. They will periodically have guests from within FREE, as well as FREE’s partner agencies, donors, and community leaders; as well as taking questions from the audience. “Our hope is to educate the larger public about what FREE does in a more informal and inviting fashion,” said Chris. “We’re not here to talk at people,” said Robert, “We’re here to talk to them and engage them.” Additionally, Chris is looking forward to having such celebrities as Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep on the show, while soaring ahead in the ratings past radio pros such as Howard Stern. But who would listen to a show called The Chris and Robert Show? This is where you come in… Help Chris and Robert pick a catchy name for their radio show. If your name is selected, you will win a prize! Time is limited, so email Pat Hogan at your creative and catchy name by November 6th for your chance to win. Value of Innovation
SILO Hosts FREE To BE Monthly Meeting
Suffolk Independent Living Organization (SILO) hosted the first FREE To BE monthly meeting on National Coming Out Day! The LGBTQIA advocacy movement continues to grow as SILO joins the collaborative efforts as the fifth chapter on Long Island and in Queens. Meetings will take place on the second Tuesday of the month from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at SILO, located at 755 Waverly Ave., Holtsville. The next meeting is on November 14th. All are welcome! To learn more about the FREE To BE advocacy group, please contact Claire Miller at 516-870-1645 or Values of Diversity, Innovation and Quality
FREE Players Sing at Smile Farms’ Golf Outing
The FREE Players Ensemble recently performed two songs at the Smile Farms’ 3rd Annual Golf Outing. For those who are unaware, Smile Farms’ mission is to provide people with developmental disabilities meaningful work in agricultural settings. They want them to be able to grow and produce in the communities where they live. Smile Farms wants to rally neighbors (individuals, small and big businesses, and civic organizations) to support the purchase of these products so that ​together we’re taking care of each other. They believe that our ​communities are stronger when everyone has a stake in them … and together is smart! Because their mission aligns so well with FREE’s mission, we thought it would be a wonderful partnership. This is why we have already partnered with them in creating a Smiles’ Farm on the Skills Unlimited property. Values of Responsiveness, Interdependence and Innovation