Thursday, September 29, 2011

A New Life For Edwin

Some of you may have seen the television segment that Univision aired in March, which was filmed at Sinergia. It featured Edwin, a young man with polio who was desperately looking for a job. He had become quite despondent because although he pursued many employment alternatives none were successful. Much has changed since then, and we are happy to report that this remarkable young man has achieved his goals of becoming a productive citizen.

After the interview aired, Edwin secured a job in a supermarket in Queens through a referral from the reporter at Univision. However, housing was still an issue. He was sleeping on the floor of a friend's apartment, and within a week's time was going to become homeless. Through the persistent efforts of Ana Baquero, a staff member at Sinergia's Family Support Program, an apartment was found close to his work. She raised funds for his rental deposit and is diligently working to secure furnishings and household items. Our appreciation to the East Harlem Neighborhood Based Alliance, Sinergia's Christine Cuadra Special Fund and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal for providing the needed funds that enabled Edwin to achieve his goals. Edwin has a job, a car, and a home thanks to the combined efforts of the people and organizations that supported him through his time of need.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

National Preparadness Month Resources

The storms that have hit New York recently highlight the fact that caregivers need to be prepared to handle emergency situations that arise from natural disasters. President Obama has designated September as National Preparedness Month, and the federal government has compiled many helpful resources for individuals with disabilities during a disaster.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services regularly updates their site on various situations of concern. Additionally, the emergency preparedness section of has many tools and resources, including:
Other helpful websites include:

New Proposed Amendments to IDEA Part B

We received the following notice from the Office of Special Education Programs:
This week the Department of Education released a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the IDEA Part B regulations.  Changes are being proposed to the regulations regarding when a State or local educational agency seeks to use a child's or parent's public benefits or insurance (e.g., Medicaid) to pay for Part B services.  These proposed amendments to the Part B regulations would ensure the protection of the rights of parents and children and ensure that children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) while addressing concerns raised by State educational agencies and local educational agencies regarding the burdens imposed by the current regulation. 

Note that the notice of proposed rulemaking has been delivered to the Office of the Federal Register but has not yet been scheduled for publication.  The official version of this document is the document that will be published in the Federal Register in the next couple of weeks. The Part B notice of proposed rulemaking is posted at:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sinergia Receives Parent Training and Information Award

On August 12, the Metropolitan Parent Center at Sinergia received notice from Congressman Charles B. Rangel that we received funding under the Parent Training and Information Center Program to provide information and training to parents in the five boroughs.  This funding allows the MPC to continue serving families of infants and toddlers with the full range of disabilities through September 30, 2015.
Congressman Rangel wrote “ I would like to thank Sinergia Inc. on your continued dedication to providing the necessary information and training needed to parents of children with disabilities. Your organization has embraced and fulfilled the ideas set forth in the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and has been a great asset for the 15th Congressional District of the great state of New York.  As a strong proponent of providing education to children with disabilities I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Sinergia for continuing to lend support to educating parents who have children with disabilities.”

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Celebrating Direct Support Week

Direct Support Professionals, or DSPs, are care givers that work directly with people with disabilities to help them become integrated into their community and lead a self-directed life. As you can imagine, DSPs play a vital role in assisting those with disabilities and providing support and advocacy. Which is why we were very happy to see that the week of September 11, 2011 has been designated “Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week”. As part of our acknowledgment of this valuable workforce, Sinergia has selected two direct support staff members from the Residential and Day Habilitation Programs for special mention, and award them for their dedicated service.

David Bryant
David Bryant is an exceptional direct support professional who is a team leader at several residential sites. He works steadily and consistently with some consumers who exhibit challenging behaviors. He finds the balance between professionalism and empathy and always responds appropriately, even under extreme circumstances.

Argenis Pierret 
Argenis has been with Sinergia’s UpLiving program for just over a year and has been a positive addition since day one. He is a very intelligent and hard-working individual who has routinely demonstrated an innate ability to gauge the mood of the individuals with disabilities that he works with and adapts his interactions with them accordingly. Argenis has demonstrated outstanding initiative and has been able to make the most of out of every situation. His unfailingly cheerful and upbeat attitude is a wonderful influence to all of those around him.

Sinergia is very happy and proud to recognize these two outstanding staff members and demonstrate our appreciation for their outstanding work ethic.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sinergia's Back to School Open House

Sinergia held a Back to School Open House on September 1, 2011 and it's hard to capture with words how exceptional the families that attended were. We put together this special event for parents of children with disabilities to help them prepare for the fall semester, and over 100 showed up, some of them from as far as Brooklyn and Queens. Several parents brought their severely disabled children in wheelchairs along with their other children in tow. One mother who lives in a shelter came with a severely disabled child who was on a feeding tube. It was very moving to see how committed these parents are to giving their children a better life, to learning and to connecting with other families. It also speaks to the trust they have to Sinergia.

We screened a video on the 35th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) followed by a presentation on education advocacy by Cassandra Archie, co-director of the Metropolitan Parent Center (above, front left). There were also presentations by representatives of the many programs found at Sinergia, including housing assistance, residential services, respite, reimbursement services, We Are Parents Too (a program that offers parenting and other skills for parents with developmental disabilities) and the Day Habilitation and family support services. The parents had the opportunity to meet the different coordinators of programs, ask questions and receive information not only about our programs and services but education in general.

We held a raffle and seven lucky parents won backpacks fully loaded with school supplies and gift certificates to Footlocker, which will come in handy at the start of the school year. Pizza and refreshments rounded out the day. Children delighted in playing with computers in the special activity areas while the parents acquired valuable information.

Our Metropolitan Parent Center worked together with various other departments to make this a resounding success. To view the full album visit our Facebook page.