Enviable Life News Fall 2022/Winter 2023

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Adults Supported Shine Along with their Employers at Employment Recognition Breakfast

Applause and cheers filled the room on the morning of October 20th as ACLD celebrated its first Employment Recognition Breakfast since the pandemic at the Heritage Club at Bethpage. The 37th breakfast was emceed by Assistant Director of Vocational Services Jeanie Shelton, and honored eight men and women working in the community, along with three outstanding employers.

“It is a pleasure to have everyone here with us today as we celebrate the accomplishments of all our honorees,” said Shelton. “And we are proud to boast that our Vocational Services Program currently works with over 100 employment partners to enhance the employment of more than 300 people each year!”

The award presentations began with the Employer of the Year, presented by ACLD President/CEO Rob Ciatto to Racanelli Construction Co., Inc. in Melville for being a company that has knocked down barriers and created opportunities for people with disabilities. The Business Leadership Award went to Costello’s ACE Hardware for welcoming job seekers throughout the pandemic and for allowing people to try out different positions. The Advocate of the Year Award was then presented to Jayson Drucker of The Home Depot for going above and beyond to ensure that an individual with a disability has the opportunity to succeed in the workforce.

The Thomas Choma Longevity Award, named in memory of Thomas Choma for his strong work ethic and dedication to his job at Grumman for 18 years, was presented to the following people: Alan Alexander, 27 years as an Office Clerk in ACLD’s Finance and Human Resources Departments; Liz Appel, 27 years as a Maintenance Aide at ACLD’s Kramer Learning Center; George Hamlin, 21 years as a Baler at Target in Levittown; Karen Hofmann, 26 years as a Garden Sales Associate at The Home Depot in Jericho; Fred Spiegel, 31 years as a Dining Room Attendant for Aramark LIU Post.

Volume 8, Number 1 | Fall ‘22, Winter ‘23 | www.acld.org
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The Thomas Choma Longevity Award winners (left to right): Alan Alexander, Liz Appel, George Hamlin, Karen Hofmann, Fred Spiegel.
WHAT’S INSIDE: PAGES 1-2 • Employment Recognition Breakfast PAGE 2 • ACLD Welcomes OPWDD Commissioner PAGE 3 • A Night of Support and Inclusion PAGE 4-5 • Summer Fun Photos PAGE 6 • Children’s Services Program Grows • Celebrating Direct Support Professionals Week • Enviable Life News Video Publication PAGE 7 • New Generators for ACLD • New Murals for Preschools PAGE 8 • The Van Goghs of ACLD
President/CEO Rob Ciatto delivering remarks about the award-winning employers.

Volume 8, Number 1 Fall ‘22, Winter ‘23 www.acld.org


In May, ACLD welcomed Kerri Neifeld, the Commissioner for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), to the agency’s Bethpage campus. This marked the Commissioner’s first visit to ACLD since her appointment by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul. During the visit, Commissioner Neifeld had the opportunity to tour the beautiful campus and meet with staff and people supported by ACLD.

Neifeld’s tour was led by Emily Krebs, an Administrative Clerk on the Bethpage campus. Krebs has been employed with ACLD since March of 2019 through their Vocational Services, and is also a member of the Board of Directors. Krebs led Commissioner Neifeld to the Bethpage CHOICES Day Habilitation Program, the Oyster Bay Gardens, RewearAble and the Day Habilitation Art Program, where she was presented with a papier-mâché bird by Lead Day Habilitation Specialist Frenal Mezilas. Neifeld was also shown two short videos about the agency, including one that highlighted ACLD’s autismfocused Day Habilitation Program, B.L.U.E., which stands for Balanced Living Unlimited Exploration, located in Deer Park.


Employment Recognition Breakfast

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The PACE Award (Partnership for Advancement and Choices in Employment) goes to an employee who has made great strides to learn more and advance within their industry of choice, and was presented to Michael Garing, who works for the Town of Oyster Bay Sanitation Department. Garing also received a Citation from the Town of Oyster Bay at the breakfast from Councilwoman Laura L. Maier.

The Vocational Achievement Award was presented to John Czarniecki, Maintenance Aide at Holiday Farms in Glen Head. The Front Line Worker Award, a new award added this year, was presented to Amanda Gliptis,

ACE Hardware in Island Park. Gliptis was recognized for working through the pandemic and selling PPE and cleaning supplies at the store.

Cashier at Costello’s welcomed Commissioner Neifeld back to join them at their 65th Anniversary Celebration at the Enviable Life Ball in October, where Neifeld accepted the Humanitarian Award on behalf of NYS Governor Kathy Hochul. Employers, adults supported, their families and staff enjoying the morning. OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld (front; third from left) joined by members of the ACLD Executive Team, Chair of the Board of Directors Joseph J. Ortego, Esq. (back; second from left) and Board of Directors Member Emily Krebs (front; third from right.) Lead Day Habilitation Specialist for the Art Studio in Bethpage CHOICES Frenal Mezilas (middle) presenting OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld (left) with a papiermâché bird made at the Day Habilitation Art Program. Emily Krebs (far right) leading the tour with President/CEO Rob Ciatto and OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld.

A Night of Support and Inclusion

The ACLD Foundation’s Enviable Life Ball is a night filled with music, dancing, and raffle prizes, all to raise funds for ACLD’s mission to provide enviable lives to all. Within all the excitement in the Garden City Hotel Ballroom, you will find Marc Engel, celebrating with his girlfriend Carol Annenberg and his co-workers from Target in Farmingdale.

Engel, who lives in an ACLD Apartment in Westbury and is supported by the agency’s Vocational Services, is known as a fundraising force by all his family and friends, and always puts together a table of his co-workers from Target at the annual fundraiser.

“They’re all excited to come and celebrate with me as a group! And so many of them want to go, so I try to mix it up and choose some different people every year,” says Engel. This tradition of him bonding with his co-workers at the Ball began in 2015 when he asked a few people if they wanted to volunteer at the fundraiser. They all loved it and wanted to come back every year as his guests.

“The only thing is, it’s very expensive to attend the fundraiser,” explains Engel. “So, every year I write a letter to my family and friends asking them to donate money to help me put my table together.” As a testament to the friendships he has made at the store, his co-workers get excited for the big night early in the year, making it difficult to keep to just one table. “And not only that - my store’s Human Resources Manager also donates to the event’s Goods and Services Auction. This year she donated a $500 Target gift card and in the past donated a bicycle as well.”

After almost 15 years at the Farmingdale location, Engel says the reason he has stayed for so long is because of his co-workers and for the opportunity to meet new people who come into the store. “I love it here, and I enjoy the challenges of dealing with different customers all the time. And I love the employee benefits too. I plan to work here forever.”

Outside of work, Engel enjoys traveling and spending time with his family, friends and his girlfriend Carol. He loves going on cruises and recalls different ships he has been on with the ACLD Apartment Program. “I don’t like cruises much though – I’ve only been on about 50 of them,” he jokes.

Few families have been involved with ACLD longer than the Engels. Marc’s father, Arthur “Art” Engel, was a past President of the Board of Directors. His mother Rita, and his brothers Stuart and Jamie remain active in the agency today. Stuart lives in an ACLD residence in Great Neck and Jamie is the current President of the ACLD Foundation.

Marc (back, second from right) and his girlfriend Carol (back; far right) with his Target co-workers at their table at this year’s Enviable Life Ball. Marc and his girlfriend Carol posing at the gala’s step-and-repeat. Marc at work at Target in Farmingdale.

Summer Fun

Volume 8, Number 1 Fall ‘22, Winter ‘23 www.acld.org 4
Children’s Services summer barbeque at The Alan and Ellen Spiegel Children’s Center. The Program Without Walls having fun at a Long Island Duck’s Game, and their summer barbeque at Belmont State Park. Ice cream day at the Hauppauge Oasis Day Habilitation program, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Pavone. The Chichester house on their upstate New York road trip, which included Lion King on Broadway, Playland Park, Palisades Center Mall, the town of New City, Bear Mountain State Park and their beautiful Airbnb.

Summer Fun

The Syosset house making some healthy summer smoothies with the help of an ACLD Nutritionist.

The Sejon house spent a beautiful day at Islip Grange Park and learned about the historic buildings and landmarks on the property.

The Bethpage Day Habilitation program held their annual end of summer luau with DJ Rick.

The Alan and Ellen Spiegel Children’s Center and Kramer Learning Center celebrating their students moving up and graduation ceremonies.

Children’s Services Program Continues to Grow

The ACLD Children’s Services program has grown by four classrooms thanks to the completion of a construction project at The Alan and Ellen Spiegel Children’s Center. At the beginning of this school year, the school administration welcomed children into these classrooms for the very first time.

In addition to the new classrooms, the expansion connected the gym to the main school building to facilitate ease of transition to and from the gym. This also added additional seating in the gym, which serves as a stage for graduation. The construction was made possible in part by a generous grant from the Fay J. Lindner Foundation.

ACLD Celebrates Direct Support Professionals Week

In September, ACLD thanked all of their Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) for being the backbone of the agency during the annual Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week. DSPs are in the field every day delivering services directly to the people who turn to the agency for support. ACLD would not be able to carry out its mission without their dedication and commitment.

Throughout the week, ACLD held a drawing each day to choose two eligible DSPs to receive $50 TD Bank gift cards. In addition, every DSP received their annual gift, which this year was a long sleeve ACLD t-shirt.

In October, ACLD celebrated its 65th Anniversary at The Enviable Life Ball, which honored the dedication, commitment and unwavering service of the ACLD Staff, who were recognized as this year’s Leadership Award recipients. Twenty staff representing all programs and departments were invited to attend the fundraiser, and together accepted the Leadership Award on behalf of the entire ACLD workforce.

Beginning in 2023, the Enviable Life News newsletter will be turned into a video publication that is sent out to families via email, and we will no longer be printing the newsletter. If you do not already receive emails from ACLD, please visit acld.org/contact to join our email list.

Volume 8, Number 1 Fall ‘22, Winter ‘23 www.acld.org 6
This newsletter is becoming a Video Publication
Newly constructed addition connects the school building to the gym building. ACLD DSPs posing with their annual gift alongside adults supported. One of the school’s four new classrooms.

NEW GENERATORS Bringing Comfort to ACLD

The ACLD Foundation’s Generator Campaign launched last year to equip existing ACLD community residences with generators. Thanks to the success of the Year End Appeal and the ACLD Foundation, funds for seven generators have been raised, with three of them already installed at our Oyster Bay, Westwind and Lynbrook homes. By year’s end, four more will be installed at the homes of Washington Avenue, Oak Lake, West Hempstead and Seaford. To help ACLD as they continue to raise money for this necessary expenditure for all 46 homes, visit https://bit.ly/ACLDGenerators2022


The nonprofit organization Splashes of Hope painted stunning new murals and door signs in September for ACLD’s Kramer Learning Center and The Alan and Ellen Spiegel Children’s Center.

Assistant Principal of Children’s Services Linda Eisen thanked the Splashes team. “These spectacular murals and door signs enliven the walls of our buildings, and families touring them delight in the artwork”, said Eisen. “The Alphabet Mural encourages an interactive experience for the children as they engage in locating the various sea creatures and animals depicted, and the space-themed murals support our commitment to PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports), illustrating our mascot Buddy, and his friends.”

In total, this project created two large murals, two small murals, and 17 door signs and was made possible by funding from the Thomas & Jeanne Elmezzi Foundation.

The new generator on the side of the Westwind home. The Oyster Bay community residence.


A publication of Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (ACLD) - 2022

Board of Directors

Joseph J. Ortego, Esq.


Richard Breuninger

Vice Chair

Edward Murphy Treasurer

Rebecca Kooper


Ellen Alexander

Keith Brady

Sharon Cimino

Anne Emmerson, Ed.D.

Megan Gardner

Ernest Gonzalez

Gail Hamlin

Meryl Jackelow

Executive Staff

Robert Ciatto President/CEO

Gerard DiMuro

Emily Krebs

David B. Lever, Esq. Donald Mitzner Caryn Pincus, Esq. Doris Shaw Ellen Spiegel Hon. Norman St. George Jeffrey Taylor

Vice President, Administration

Anne Marie Sime

Vice President, Adult Services

Kim Leonard Chief Financial Officer

Christine Brown, M.D. Chief Medical Officer

Joel Santana

Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs and Corporate Compliance

Aimee C. Keegan Director, Development and Community Relations

Founded in 1957, ACLD is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit agency whose mission is to provide opportunities to children and adults with autism, learning and developmental disabilities to pursue enviable lives, promote independence and foster supportive relationships within the community. ACLD employs more than 1,200 people and operates more than 100 program sites including community residences and apartment programs across Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Services include early childhood services, day habilitation, residential alternatives, vocational training and job placement, respite, family support services, and occupational, speech and physical therapies.

807 South Oyster Bay Road

Bethpage, New York 11714

Phone: (516) 822-0028

Fax: (516) 822-0470 www.acld.org

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ACLD’s Own Van Goghs Get their Artwork Displayed

Ten adults supported in ACLD’s Day Habilitation programs had their artwork displayed in New York State Senator John W. Mannion’s district office this year from January through the end of the summer. The artists collectively put together an impressive selection of paintings of abstract pieces, wildlife portraits and more.

“I’m thrilled to bring some of this art in to brighten up my district office and to support both the arts and the disability community” said Senator Mannion, who represents the 50th State Senate District and is the Chair of the New York State Senate Committee on Disabilities. The art display is part of Mannion’s goal to highlight artists with disabilities across the state.

This gallery was made possible through the coordination of ACLD’s Art Studio Program and Community Coordinator Diane Salomé-Diaz, and Mannion’s Creative Services Director Suzy MacPherson. ACLD also honored Senator Mannion at the Enviable Life Ball in October as this year’s Advocacy in Action Award recipient.

One of the walls of Senator Mannion’s office displaying the impressive paintings.

Delores from the Bethpage Day Habilitation program working on her parrot.

An affiliate of ACLD is One of the Best Places to Work on Long Island! An
807 South Oyster Bay Road Bethpage, New York 11714
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