Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sinergia's 2012 Christmas Celebration

Sinergia commemorates the holidays again this year with its annual Christmas Celebration on Friday, December 21st from 3:00 to 6:00pm. This is an annual tradition that has been sponsored by the NYC Sanitation Dept. for over two decades. It is the highlight of the year for children since they receive beautiful gifts from Santa Claus and there is a wonderful feast for the families. Other than our Summer Picnic this is the one occasion when families, staff and the community gather to celebrate the holidays together.

The entertainment this year will be provided by Iluminada Hilario who will sing English and Spanish Christmas songs as well as play the guitar. We will also have Johnny Cajigas and his wife sing and play a Christmas music medley.

Again this year we would like to say "thank you" to Scott Lancelot, Maria Quintero and the men of NYC Sanitation Dept. M7. We are also grateful to John Catsmatidis and his family for their generous support through the years.

We are very appreciative of our staff for their hard work, especially Doris Rodriguez who is the coordinator of the event, Michael Mitchell who will be Master of Ceremonies and the entire team for serving food, assuming hosting duties throughout the event and making sure the children and families are having a great time. Happy Holidays to all! ¡Felicidades a todos!

Note: Sinergia will be closed on Dec. 25, 26, and Jan. 1st.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sinergia Hosts NYAEMP's Family Forum

From the Desk of the NYAEMP President, Wafa Abboud

Good afternoon everyone,

As a result of the massive destruction and impact of Hurricane Sandy, I have waited to send you an overview of NYAEMP's Family Forum with OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke on October 25th at Sinergia. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am sharing with you some of the joy that those of us who were at the Forum experienced. The Family Forum was very successful on many levels. A number of you who were there have told us so, and we thank you. The room was packed, with many standing at the back of the room and in the hallway. All of the participants were moved by the power of the stories they heard that day. I was and am proud to be a member of NYAEMP and to be serving you as the President of the Board of Directors.

Commissioner Burke was accompanied by Jill Gentile (Deputy Commissioner), Donna Limiti (Regional Director 6 & 4) and Pat Sarli (Development of Community Services). They heard from 12 individuals and families representing 10 of our member agencies. Every story was very powerful, both in its personal content as well as the critical role played by the multicultural agency.

Among some of the powerful statements made by individuals/families were the following:

“A native of the Dominican Republic, Ms. P is non-English speaking, has physical disabilities and is often confronted with cultural challenges that impede her ability to advocate for her children. Ms. P did not receive early intervention services because Ms. P. was culturally indoctrinated with the belief that her daughter's behavior and developmental deficits were characteristic of a spoiled child." Ms. P’s agency helped her to understand her daughter’s challenges and was able to help her receive the necessary services.

“Being part of a multicultural agency means so much to me because: “They understand my religious needs making sure I always have a Com-Hab worker to help me with my cooking before Sabbath and the Jewish holidays, as well as making sure I have everything for the holidays...the dedicated staff always make sure I have workers that share my beliefs and are sensitive to the principles I hold dear. This is very important to me especially when my son (with disabilities) is around, so that he hears and sees only things that I would approve of."

"I didn't enjoy the foods on the menus that were done by the nutritionist, and the staff expressed this to her peers. My agency had someone come in and sit down with me and my peers to ask us what we would like to see on the menu. I stated that I like soul collard greens, yams, and mac & cheese. Because this residence has a mixed ethnic group the menus have to appeal to all of us. This is not something that I can have at every agency. They worked with the nutritionist to help us get the foods we like, only healthier."
Commissioner Burke applauded the families for their courage and for the power of their stories. She was observed as being moved to near tears several times. The Commissioner stated that the stories "create fire in my belly and keep me going". She also stated that as OPWDD focuses more on service outcomes, "we need to partner with multicultural agencies…and bring them along with us as we change." Later in the Forum, Jill Gentile reiterated Commissioner Burke's commitment and stated in response to a question about the future of multicultural agencies, "We need them all."

As the president of NYAEMP I want to thank Yvette Watts and Allan Bergman for a magnificent job in preparing for and facilitating NYAEMP's Parent Forum. At the conclusion of the Forum, Yvette presented the Commissioner and Jill Gentile with notebooks containing the typed stories and photographs of the participants as a visual reminder of who we are and what we do.

I also want to thank our Host Mytra Cuadra-lash, Executive Director of Sinergia and her staff for making the afternoon a success with their warm hospitality. The room was filled to capacity with families, consumers and providers all of whom were warmed by the compelling stories everyone shared regarding the various agencies.

We need each other more than ever before. Please accept my thanks for your commitment to NYAEMP and our top priority for the year, which is to ensure the continuation, viability, sustainability and growth of New Yorks' multicultural agencies.

I also extend to you, your families and loved ones and to the individuals and families to whom you provide services and supports my best wishes for a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. All of us have some things for which we are grateful at this time of year.

Below are pictures from the Parent Forum. Thank You, Wafa Abboud

Sinergia bands together to help victims of Hurricane Sandy

Washington Roca is a staff member at Sinergia. He lives in the Rockaways with his family and lost his car and most of his possessions during the hurricane. The staff at Sinergia had a fund drive for victims of Hurricane Sandy, specifically Washington. Below is a letter he sent to us in response.

American Psychiatric Association Approves DSM-5 Revision

Earlier this week, the American Psychiatric Association voted to accept the revised fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is used by clinicians nationwide to diagnose mental health conditions. DSM-5 will be published in spring 2013.

The revision introduces two fundamental changes in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Two distinct autism subtypes, autistic disorder and Asperger syndrome, will be collapsed into one unifying diagnosis of ASD.

The current three symptom domains of social impairment, communication deficits and repetitive/restricted behaviors will become two: social communication impairment and repetitive/restricted behaviors.

These changes have a strong scientific rationale and will have a significant impact on how ASD is diagnosed. It can also affect access to services and influence how the prevalence of ASD is measured.

For more information visit Autism Speaks.

Monday, December 3, 2012

College and Job Opportunties for People with Disabilities

Some resources for college and job opportunities for people with disabilities:

1. A series of free webinars on many different topics on postsecondary education options for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). Families, professionals and students with ID can learn about strategies to prepare for college-based transition programs, work and community-based participation. Information will also be provided about legislative and policy changes that affect postsecondary education for students with ID. All webinars will be held from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Visit ICI Webinars.

2. offers free services designed to help people with disabilities prepare for the workplace and build their careers. They also offer social networking opportunities that help individuals connect with each other and career mentors and match individual qualifications to specific job requirements.