Easterseals New York Spring Warm Up a Great Success
On Tuesday May 2nd Easterseals New York held its first annual Spring Warm-up – an event to celebrate the great work of ESNY staff, and to welcome new friends to our Easterseals family. Over 150 staff, supporters, partners and friends gathered at the Memorial Art Gallery attended the event.
Craig Stenning, Executive Director of Easterseals New York, noted that in a year of major change and growth, the staff had maintained a constant focus on the care and support of the individuals and families served by the agency. Craig reminded attendees to use the “shout out” mailbox created for the event to offer special recognition to colleagues for their good work. Lindsay Rachow, Program Director for the Diagnostic & Treatment Center (DTC), presented the ESNY Excellence in Service award to Gianine Burgo, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the DTC who is a respected team leader, and extraordinarily effective caregiver and advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities.
“Gianine exemplifies everything that is inspiring about all our staff – flawless professionalism, a passion for service, and a willingness to always go the extra mile for our clients,” Lindsay said.
The evening included moving testimonials from individuals and families served by Easterseals New York. Ellie Anolik began counseling at DTC in 2014 and formed a strong bond with Bonnie Kaplan, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Ellie, an extraordinary young woman whose growth and development has inspired Easterseals staff, presented a slideshow about her life, growth and goals. The beautiful and moving presentation was preceded by remarks by Ellie’s mother, Dr. Jennifer Anolik, who spoke to the special relationship between Ellie and Bonnie.
“Easterseals has really been instrumental in helping Ellie find her way, navigate life’s challenges, and fulfill her great potential,” Jennifer said.
Jason Lustig, Director of Education, Kessler Center, honored Brent Vance with an award for his outstanding contributions to The Kessler Center, and embodying a "whatever it takes" attitude on behalf of clients. Jason read remarks by Jim and Linda Maryinuk, the parents of a student named Alex who as the result of a difficult birth suffers from a severe developmental disability. As Alex matured, he became combative and unpredictable. The challenges were many and at times Jim and Linda, who love their son dearly, despaired of providing him with appropriate care and services, until they were referred to the Kessler Center. Alex joined Kessler’s residential program and the impact on the Maryinuk family has been remarkable.
According to Jim and Linda – “All of our lives have changed dramatically. The staff taught Alex to be more patient, and taught us better ways to handle him. Today, Alex is less impulsive and complies more easily. Brent brings compassion, understanding and kindness to Alex every day. He is teaching Alex how to be in this world, and is teaching us how to live alongside our son.”
Shawn James, Director, Residential Services for the Kessler Center, profusely thanked staff for their work on March 8th, when hurricane-force winds caused power outages at all four Easterseals group homes in Rochester. Staff worked through the night to ensure the safety and comfort of residents, and with the help of Easterseals staff from throughout the city helped to move residents from two homes into the Kessler Center while maintenance crews worked to restore power.
In concluding remarks, Regional Director Stephanie Wells offered one final shout out to the entire stakeholder community of Easterseals New York - partners, supporters, staff and sponsors!