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KeyBank supports NHR with 10K Grant

Thanks to KeyBank for its generous $10,000 grant to support New Horizons Resources Annual Certification and Staff Development Program. This grant helps ensure that our staff is trained in the latest therapeutic methods available to help the people we serve achieve fulfilling lives within their own communities. It also supports education programs for required New York State certifications in areas such as fire safety and basic life support.

Alison Heady (left) and Alicia D’Eufemia at
home in their apartment in Poughkeepsie .

Building Skills Together in the Community
Contributed by Julianna Fitzwilliam and Alison Heady

Among the Mountain Brook Apartments in Poughkeepsie, there live five newly independent people receiving supports from NHR. They are building skills in many areas: budgeting of money for food, household necessities and eating out; learning transportation schedules; developing interpersonal skills to succeed in living with an roommate, etc. In addition to receiving supports from DSPs, these five are learning from and supporting each other by visiting each other; waiting together for a Poughkeepsie Loop Bus or ride; and simply staying in touch with each other with a phone call for advice.

Our first visit takes us to the apartment of Allison Heady and Alicia D’Eufemia. Allison is the navigator throughout all the interviews and seems to be the strong unflappable constant for all the group to find guidance when seeking aid in solving a problem or in need of advice. In both these ladies' home one can feel warmth and a welcoming atmosphere to sit on the big comfy couch to talk. Both ladies enjoy the freedom to go to bed when they like. Eat what they choose at any time of the day within their budget and diet. Both rely on each other to check cabinets for replenishing food or other products. They appreciate not relying on 24 hour staff to tell them what to do next.

Jocelyn Murray’s and Wendy Hawkins’ apartment is further back from the main entrance of the apartment complex. The focal point of the apartment is the homey inviting lure of the dinner table where one can chat and laugh about funny cooking mishaps and overcoming obstacles. Jocelyn loves sports like basketball and football. She's very proud of her skills using the microwave and making leftover food for her lunches the next day. Wendy loves to use the microwave as well and helps plan the grocery list with staff that comes in the evening. She is very different from Jocelyn. Jocelyn likes being alone and thinking about sports. Wendy does not prefer sports but is learning to compromise with Jocelyn so she may watch the football game on the large television in the living room on Sunday evenings. Wendy loved having a 24 hour staff before she lived on her own. It was quite an adjustment and she will call Allison for advice to help her make her decisions. Wendy is surprised that she is emerging into an independent person. She never thought she could make decisions on her own or enjoy not being told what to do next for each activity of her life. She is surprised how free she feels and is proud she is coming out of her shell.

Around the corner to the back of Jocelyn’s and Wendy's apartment lives the very determined industrious Todd Motter. He has taken to living on his own (with roommate Ryan) with full force and a new opportunity to fulfill his dreams. Whenever he can, watching out for safety rules, he glides through the streets on his red mountain bicycle to the convenience store or to K-Mart. He attends self advocacy meetings and helps conduct interviews with DSP applicants held at the West Road training and administrative center. Todd loves having the responsibility for and control of his own money and food shopping. While staying in touch with staff, Todd visits friends supported by NHR, the ARC of Dutchess and Abilities First. One obstacle he needed to learn to overcome was being aware of the different fares expected while taking the Loop Bus in Poughkeepsie to various destinations. Todd is so happy that family can visit often and the location is near meetings and his work. He has wanted to be on his own for a few years and this opportunity was one that did not come too soon for Todd!

These five young people (and several others who are also supported by NHR in apartments on Innis Avenue) have talented and dedicated DSPs to provide a support system to ensure their success in living independently.

Alison, Todd, Alicia and Jocelyn enjoying time together at Jocelyn's and Wendy’s apartment. While competently supported by experienced DSPs, they also support each other as they develop skills living more independently.

Todd Berk, artist, musician, neighbor.
Contributed by Julianna Fitzwilliam

Local artist Todd Berk is well known in New Paltz.

Enter into the quaint rustic yet bohemian social hub of New Paltz called The Bakery. People wait on a long line with smells of bacon and eggs on bagels, toasted oat nut raisin bread, and strong Kenyan coffee fragrances the air. Three staff take orders all at the same time with shouts from customers of, "a shot of coconut flavoring, please in my coffee!" or " taste the pumpkin almond nut muffin, it's delicious!"

You also can hear a gentleman named Todd Berk, ask the customer on line after him, "Are you an artist?" The customer from a yet unknown place, answers, surprised, "Why yes, I am". From that beginning, the two talk about art they are interested in, the climate in New Paltz, surrounding areas of interest as well art exhibits coming up in the near future. That conversation ends with smiles and fond good-byes. Todd then begins to ascend the stairs to the next level with works from local artists lining the walls of the stairwell. There are photographs of nature and children in high grass as well as paintings of bridges illustrated in pastel colors. As Todd reaches the 2nd level dining area, he sees friends and new potential friends to chat with as he enjoys his hazelnut coffee with The Bakery's big chocolate chip cookie. Todd is, in a very real sense, home.

A quartet of abstract art by Todd Berk.

As an artist, Todd is most well known for his abstract art which is filled with shapes and bold colors that seem to fit together puzzle-like. The shapes fit into corners or edges where the colors begin and end. You may well have seen Todd’s art firsthand as his designs are featured every month in the birthday cards that NHR sends to people receiving supports and staff.

However, this form of the arts is not the only passion Todd nurtures. He is also a harmonica player and a great lover of ALL sorts of music. His collection may begin with a Glen Miller Big Band music from the late 1930's or 1940's to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Nino Tempo and April Stevens to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Cat Stevens, and Rod Stewart, and The Muppets and all between and beyond. Todd can name that tune before the announcers on WGNY 98.9 on the Oldies radio station! He recognizes most of the time which instrument is being used in the song and if not, he researches it on social media. He can communicate the "music language" to other musicians when popping in a music store. Todd is extremely proud of his knowledge and likes to surprise people with how much he actually knows. Recently he attended a Four Seasons performance in New York City with his beloved sister, Lisa Seligman and Jansen Road Residence Coordinator Brooke McNally.

Besides the arts, Todd likes learning more about communicating with people. He is beginning to learn very basic phrases and words to communicate in Spanish. Next he would like to learn a little bit of French. He feels people's company make him a happier person and if knowing another way to say hello or exchange a few words in another language can make people smile then Todd is "over the moon!”

New Horizons Resources, Inc. is a not-for-profit agency that provides services to children and adults who have developmental disabilities and live in the Hudson Valley region of New York State.

NHR was founded in 1974 by a group of parents seeking alternatives to institutionalized care for their sons and daughters. In 1981, the agency opened its first residences for adults with developmental disabilities.

The agency’s founders wanted to create services that would provide a home and the reasonable assurance of lifetime care. They also wanted to give people with disabilities opportunities to build friendships and establish relationships in their communities.

Today, NHR offers services to 450 people who have disabilities where they need them most: in their homes, at their work sites, or in our community-based residential programs.

The goal at New Horizons is to provide individuals who have developmental disabilities with opportunities and environments where they learn the skills and develop the confidence needed to live their lives as independently and as happily as possible.

To learn more about our services, click here.

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