Straight from the Executive Director’s Desk – Aug 2018 Newsletter
Throughout the previous year, Erin started to express her strong desire to spend her time working with animals. Through an impressive amount of self-advocacy, her message was heard. The first challenge Erin faced was that working with animals is not traditionally considered a “group” activity. Other individuals might not want to work or constantly be around animals. Secondly, she would need to work within a budget to make it work for her individually. These challenges did not stop Erin and her support team from trying to figure out how to make her interests come to fruition. This led Erin to decide to utilize the individualized services we offer at SARAH Inc. to secure the ability to volunteer on her own without having to get a group involved.
Erin, with the help of SARAH Inc’s Direct Support Professional Bianca, spent her time at the local library doing research and looking at applications for nearby shelters. Days of hard work only made this experience more fulfilling and exciting for Erin. Once the applications were submitted – the waiting began. In the meantime, Erin was honing her skills and preparing for this future opportunity. All of the waiting, hard work, advocacy, and dedication paid off and the right opportunity presented itself at a nearby shelter.
At the Branford Animal Shelter, Erin cleans the cages and provides the animals with an abundance of love. This experience is the perfect example of how rewarding Individualized services can be. Erin is incredibly proud of her work at the Branford Animal Shelter and we are extremely proud of her. We strive to provide these types of opportunities to all of our participants and we are always looking for ways to help the people we support advocate for themselves.
Andrew “AJ” Massimino – Featured Employee
Andrew “AJ” Massimino has proven his abilities within the company and is advancing in his career. In June 2017, AJ started his employment with SARAH Inc. as a Direct Support Professional and is now being promoted to Program Coordinator. Learning about both the company and the process were some of the biggest challenges he faced when starting in our North Haven location. There are many roles and responsibilities that come with the title of Direct Support Professional. It is their job to assist the individuals in our programs every day and to make sure all of their needs and goals are met. It takes real commitment to take on such responsibilities and AJ is always looking for ways to enhance the programs and activities offered to the individuals we supports.
Now that AJ has been promoted to Program Coordinator he will work with his fellow team members to implement improvements to the program. For example, AJ is looking locally to find more participating businesses and partners that are looking for volunteers or offering recreational activities for our supported individuals. He feels that with the help of the other Program Coordinators and the Program Director there are no limits to the potential at North Haven.
AJ loves that he has a chance to change lives and he loves working with the people in our programs. When asked about his favorite moment he said, “There are so many great times that I’ve had over the year that I’ve been here, that I can’t recall a single moment, but every day I look to make more memories with the individuals who come here and my coworkers.” His positive attitude makes work better for everyone involved.
From the Director
We at SARAH Inc. we take great pleasure in committing ourselves to civic engagements. In 2018, we took on more opportunities to support and interact with our neighboring communities. SARAH’s community focus can be seen across all of our programs. Individuals in our Enrichment Services diligently offer their services across several towns and cities in Connecticut. They can be seen delivering food for Meals on Wheels, dusting and organizing books at local libraries, and other types of volunteering that truly make a difference. The KIDSTEPS staff go house to house working with families and children in various communities providing top of the line service. Additionally, SARAH’s Transitional Services programs partner with local businesses to set up employment sites. Such partnerships are beneficial to both parties involved, with those we support and our local community businesses.
Our commitment to community involvement will manifest itself in a new way this year. In keeping with our spirit of community service, SARAH Inc. will be taking part in National Voter Registration Day on September 25th by holding three separate voter registrations at our Westbrook, Madison and North Haven locations.
National Voter Registration day is the recognized day of the year where citizens can register for the first time, renew their registration, or fix outdated information that might prohibit voting capabilities – such as a change of address. Our participants and staff will be running the booths and helping the community register to vote. This includes picking up the forms and promptly turning them in after the event ends. This election is critical for non-profit Service Providers and it is imperative that our voices be heard.
As stated by author Sharon Salzber, “Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world.” SARAH is excited to open its doors to our neighbors and fellow community members to assist in their expression of this vital civic duty. This is also an opportunity for the people receiving our services to learn about the importance of voting, as American citizens, they have a powerful voice in our political process.
It is important that SARAH Inc. contribute to the communities that play such an important role in our ability to deliver inclusive services. Holding this voter registration event is one way for us to do so. If you have any questions about this event or if you want to volunteer with us for it please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteering in the Community
Giving back, and staying involved, in the community are critical aspects to a non-profit like SARAH Inc. We are always looking for ways to offer our services to the communities that continually support us and our programs. In the photo are three of SARAH’s volunteers who spend their volunteer hours in a variety of places around Branford and Madison.
One of the stops on their route is to SARAH’s Cupboard Thrift Shop. SARAH’s Cupboard has been in operation since 1982 and is a program through the SARAH Foundation. These participants will clean and offer needed maintenance to the little shop. Some of these tasks include organizing art, dusting photos, and keeping things in tip-top condition. On Tuesdays this hard-working group takes the time to drive to Stop & Shop and Starbucks to pick up day-old baked goods. Once picked up and ready for transportation they make their way to St Georges Church in Guilford where they will deliver these goods to those in need.
Volunteering can require a lot of hard work, but it is ALWAYS for a good cause. Helping others help themselves is one of the core values we foster in our programs and it is imperative to spread good deeds and activities back into the local communities. On multiple occasions, our volunteers tell us that it feels good to be out in the community and doing their best to contribute.
SARAH Inc. is always looking for new opportunities. If you, or someone you know, has volunteer opportunities please contact us!
Emily Schernau and KIDSTEPS
Emily has been working in Early Intervention for over ten years. She joined our KIDSTEPS program almost four years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Emily is a Developmental Therapist who helps children with the integration of conceptual, motor, and language skills. The experience she has gained in the KIDSTEPS program in conjunction with her education at Bank Street College of Education allows Emily to excel in more ways than one.
In her spare time, Emily volunteers as a Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor (CPSTI), showing families and caregivers the correct way to install and use their child’s car seat. Moreover, she also teaches the SPST courses so other individuals can become technicians and further the educating process. Studies show that the number one cause of preventable death in children is car accidents. Car seat misuse rate is roughly 80% and Emily has stated: “I’m really passionate about properly using a car seat and helping parents use theirs the right way.”
Emily’s skills and commitment to children and their families is just another example of how SARAH Inc. employees make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Participants in our Madison, Westbrook, and North Haven programs have taken it to the high seas. The boat rides were a blast and even on cloudy days, we enjoyed the views from the Eden. Captain Retano has graciously partnered with SARAH Inc. to take groups of our participants out in the open waters on his Charter boat.
It’s experiences like these that our participants will remember for years to come. Going out on a boat is something that the Shoreline might take for granted, but to some of those that we support, it is an amazing opportunity. We want to give a big thanks to Eden Charters. You have helped make this a summer to remember.
Stay tuned to see what else we have in store for you!
Family and Children’s Center
Summer vacation (sadly) is almost over but that’s good news for the Family and Children’s Center. We are looking to resume the Parent’s meeting on Tuesday, September 4th in Higganum from 10am -12:30pm. The following Tuesday, September 11th, the East Haven Support Group will be held from 11am -12:30pm.
The East Haven group will meet in the Community Room at The Summit at Mill Ridge, 140 Mill Street. East Haven, and the Parents of Adults group have been meeting at 16 McTigh Rd., Higganum. We look forward to seeing everyone soon.
Dan Nixon – Employment Services
Dan Nixon is a star employee at Home Depot and has taken full advantage of the Employment Services that SARAH Inc. offers. Dan enjoys his time working and wants to better communicate with all customers which led him to decide to sign up for an Adult Education class to learn Spanish. We are here to support Dan, and encourage all of our participants, to explore their interests, look for ways to better themselves, and to expand their knowledge base. Dan’s work ethic is highly appreciated and acknowledged by multiple staff members.
Since this was a project that Dan wanted to take on he is paying for this class out of his own pocket. It is this kind of dedication and desire for improvement that we love to see here at SARAH Inc. and encourage throughout all of our Employment Services! SARAH Inc. Employment Services continues to be successful since we do NOT use the one-size-fits-all approach. We recognize that all of our individuals are just that – individuals. Supported workers can be independently employed with occasional supports as needed or they can take whatever approach works best for them. Support services can be tailored to meet a person’s needs.
Dan is proud of how far he has come and is excited to take on this next adventure. If you want to stay updated on Dan’s story or if you want to support Dan in his education process please contact us.
This June Jen Kostek, The Director of Employment Services, met with several directors of the Wallingford YMCA who have agreed to partner with SARAH Inc’s Employment Services. We want to give a big thank you to Mark Bundoc, Facilities Director and Colleen Villano, Health and Wellness Director for seeing how partnering with SARAH Inc. can be extremely beneficial to both parties.
The Wallingford YMCA is one of our newest employment assessment site for the participants taking a part of SARAH Inc’s Transitional Services. Assessment sites are critical for our Transitional Services because it lets our participants gain life and work experience out in the general community within a safe environment. At this YMCA these future supported employees will be taking a part in various tasks including, but not limited to, cleaning and sanitizing. These experiences are invaluable in determining the skill levels and interests of our participants and will help in securing them meaningful future employment. We are always looking for more places willing to partner with us at SARAH Inc.
If you, or someone you know, is looking to take a part in these Transitional Services – as a participant or as a company wanting to partner with us, then please reach out to us at 860-399-1888 ext 311 or fill out the contact form.
SARAH Inc has been looking for ways to stay active in the community and we are excited to say we have a number of fun events coming soon.
On September 25, 2018, all of our SARAH locations will be partnering up with the Alliance to host Voter Registration booths. The Alliance is a non-profit dedicated to helping other non-profits continue to grow and thrive. In conjunction with The Alliance SARAH Inc. will be opening our Madison, Westbrook, and North Haven locations up to the community to help you register for the next election. If you are unsure about your registration status, or just need to update your registration status due to recently moving, changing parties, or any other big life changes then we can help. SARAH Inc. locations will be opening our doors from 12pm-5pm. This is a big election year in Connecticut and it is critical that everyone does their best to stay educated and vote when required. Stay posted for more information.
Moreover, on October 13 our very own Jen Kostek is running the Hartford Half Marathon on behalf of SARAH Inc. The money she raises will be put directly into the programs offered by SARAH Inc. to continually provide opportunities for our participants. If you want to help contribute to Jen’s run you can donate here.