Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
Their mission is simple: create employment opportunities for individuals whom may otherwise be deemed unemployable. Spectrum Designs Foundation is a nonprofit social enterprise that produces customized printed apparel, but is unique in that it is primarily staffed by teens and young adults with autism and developmental disabilities. An innovative program developed by The Nicholas Center for Autism in Port Washington, their effort highlights the dire need for purposeful employment creation and training in the local community. The center is named for Manhasset resident Stella Spankos’s son Nicholas.
According to the CDC, 1 in 88 individuals are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that affects the way one communicates, socializes and interacts with the world around them. It is not uncommon for many young people with autism to lead lives of isolation and seclusion.
Regardless of their “functioning level,” people on the autism spectrum often have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, both of which are fundamental to social interaction. This has proven to be a tremendous barrier when seeking participation in the workforce.
Spectrum Designs steadily employs eight young people with autism who following training and some small accommodations have little to no difficulty in assisting in Spectrum’s print shop.
“Our employees assist us with all aspects of running our business, from the ordering and dispatch of the garments, to the prepping and the printing of the products” says Program Director Patrick Bardsley. “We tend to look at what a person can do, versus what they can’t. It’s about presuming competence and you have to keep raising the bar. We are always exploring new avenues to foster and maintain transferable employability skills that they can take with them no matter where they go.”
Their efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed, as Spectrum was recently nominated for Best Non Profit of Long Island 2013.
Spectrum Designs is also not alone in recognizing the urgent need for productive and meaningful opportunities for those with autism. The North Shore Autism Circle, a Manhasset-based, parent-run organization, awarded Spectrum Designs over $30,000 to purchase higher volume printing equipment, in an effort to assist Spectrum in increasing service capacity. The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation, a national nonprofit founded by NFL legend Doug Flutie, awarded Spectrum $20,000 towards securing trained support staff for Spectrum’s employees with autism. They have also received over $5,000 from private funders who are donating toward Spectrum’s $100,000 expansion campaign goal, which is hoped to be realized by March 1, 2013.
“We are making every attempt to double our service capacity in the next two months, securing more facilities and equipment will allow us to produce more products and in turn, offer more work. We are overwhelmed by the generosity everyone has shown in getting us a step closer to that goal,” says Development Director Nicole Sugrue. “Spectrum’s vision is progressive and innovative, which certainly attracts numerous inquiries.
Our newest campaign is to expand our business model such that we could have more facilities and increase the number of employment opportunities to those who otherwise couldn’t secure it elsewhere.”
In addition to offering paid employment, Spectrum has also functioned as a training site to over 25 other individuals who have been able to learn pre-vocational skills and improve on their social, communication and work skills. Spectrum has already identified and begun negotiations for the additional space, which is only walking distance from their current location on Main Street in downtown Port Washington.
At the core of Spectrum’s mission is its dedication to staying person-centered and assisting those with special needs to become contributing members of society. “It is an exciting time here at The Nicholas Center for Autism and Spectrum Designs,” says co-Founder and CEO Stella Spanakos, the mother of the center’s namesake. “My son turns 21 in April and graduates from high school in June. I am elated that every vision I had for this center and so much more is becoming a reality for so many others like my Nicholas.”
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00
Submitted by Manhasset Post 304 American Legion
Matthew Falcone, commander of the Manhasset Post 304 American Legion, and James Brooks, parade chairman, have announced the parade order and schedule for the 2013 Manhasset Memorial Day Parade and Memorial Services. All Manhasset residents, their families and friends are invited to join the Legion in this remembrance of the great sacrifices of our American heroes. The theme of the parade this year, “Honoring Those Who Serve in Special Operations,” is a reminder that, while Memorial Day honors all deceased veterans, the intention is to remember service personnel engaged around the world in an effort to preserve American freedom and way of life from global terrorism.
A memorial service in honor of Manhasset’s war dead will be held at the Community Reformed Church, 90 Plandome Rd., on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. Pastor Steven D. Pierce will officiate. All are urged to attend and to join with the Legion in the remembrance of the great sacrifice of our military.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
That first meeting, culminating in the May 2 ribbon-cutting for organic vegetable and herb gardens at all three Manhasset school campuses, was in September 2012.
Two organizations, both formed under the auspices of the SCA, were involved: Planet Manhasset, which under president Angela Classi and officers Merilyn Donnelly, Zari Ginsburg and Connie Parsons, spearheaded the construction of each site and Project Share, the which will distribute the produce raised to families in need. Classi, during the ribbon-cutting, told the students they were limited only by their imagination, and encouraged each one to embrace the secondary school garden as their own.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Gymnast Alexis Stern, an eighth-grader at Manhasset Middle School, represented New York State in the Junior Olympic National Championships held in the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, MI the weekend of May 3. Competing against the top Level 9 gymnasts in the country, Alexis took home a bronze medal on the balance beam with a 9.45 and finished 12th in the country with an impressive 36.80 all around score (bars, beam, floor, and vault). Alexis earned her spot on the Junior Olympic team with a third place finish at the Level 9 North East USAG Regional Championship held in Springfield, MASS and was also recognized as one of New York’s top Level 9 gymnasts. Alexis trains five days a week at Gold Medal Gymnastics Center in Greenlawn under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach Tammy Marshall.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
On April 7, the Manhasset High School Crew Team held its first 5K Walk/Run fundraiser, which started and ended in the Flower Hill Village Park. More than 300 participants came out to race or stroll through Flower Hill, while raising funds for two great causes.
Proceeds from the event will fund additional equipment for the growing MHS crew team, with 10 percent of monies raised contributed to the Manhasset UFSD Fields Initiative, a fund created to re-turf the MHS Stadium Field and create a new field at Shelter Rock Elementary School. Barbara Thermos, who organized and coordinated the 5K event, noted, ”It was a great way for the community to come together for these causes, connecting with neighbors and friends while getting some exercise on a gorgeous, crisp sunny morning. Both causes support healthy athletic opportunities for Manhasset’s youth.”