Planting Seeds of Hope: Jawonio and Bon Secours Charity Health System

Jawonio’s Day Habilitation participants recently visited the Garden of Hope at Bon Secours’ Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern, NY, to experience horticultural therapy with horticultural therapist, Anne Meore. Jawonio planted ‘seeds of hope’, and in doing so experienced the garden with a multi-sensory stimulating approach. A letter from Anne, on the blooming relationship between Jawonio and Bon Secours Charity Health System –

Vegetables, flowers & herbs aren’t all that’s growing in The Garden of Hope at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. As evidenced by the continued and increasing program participation from Jawonio of New City, it is obvious that relationships are also something that grows quite abundantly here too! As a therapeutic, accessible growing space, the Garden of Hope’s food production serves the food pantry of Suffern, NY, and also provides an opportunity for program participants to garden in a safe and meaningful way.

The Garden Ministry of Bon Secours Charity Health System (BSCHS) came to fruition as a vision of Rockland Co. Catholic Community Services and BSCHS. With the support of the Good Samaritan Foundation, the BSCHS Healthy Communities Grant and the generosity of a number of community groups, we have been able to provide a wide array of horticultural therapy and garden education programming for the hospital staff, patients, and our community members. It is the coming together of so many people, each with a gift to give, which makes our garden such a special space. It is true that we are nothing without those that give of themselves here. It is also true that we are something super special because of all that the people of Jawonio have blessed us with since 2012 & continue to bless us with today.

As each Jawonio participant steps into the garden and begins tending to its needs, be it the sowing of a tiny seed or the harvesting of a ripe tomato, watering tender seedlings or using a little extra effort to turn the soil, he or she becomes an integral part of the solution to alleviating hunger for our own neighbors. This special space serves as a “level playing field” of sorts, where neither ability nor disability matter; where only the love and care generously provided to what grows here matters; where we are given the opportunity to grow through our mistakes… “The perfection of imperfection.” And what a “perfect” place this is.

It is here, in the Garden of Hope, that we not only learn about a plant’s needs, but also about our own needs: air, water, food, sunshine and most importantly, a constant stream of TLC. Together, hand in hand, with the exemplary Jawonio staff, the talented hands and huge hearts of Jawonio program participants, we not only cultivate our garden, but more importantly, we cultivate our relationships with one another, enriching our lives and making us part of a healthier and happier community.

Anne Meore, MA, LMSW, HTR
Registered Horticultural Therapist
Garden Projects Coordinator

Autism Awareness Day – A Proclamation by the President of the US

World Autism Awareness Day, 2014

by the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation:

Each year, people across the globe take time to recognize the millions of people living on the autism spectrum, including 1 out of every 68 American children. Americans with autism contribute to all aspects of society and are an essential thread in the diverse tapestry of our Nation. On World Autism Awareness Day, we offer our support and respect to all those on the autism spectrum.

Because our whole Nation benefits when Americans with autism succeed, we must ensure our health care and education systems work for them. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer deny coverage to people because they have autism, and new plans must cover preventive services — including autism and developmental screenings — at no out-of-pocket cost to parents. My Administration remains committed to eliminating discrimination against students with autism and to giving schools the resources to help them hone unique talents, overcome difficult challenges, and prepare for bright futures.

We must also do more to improve our understanding of the autism spectrum, which is why I was proud to sign legislation that continued critical investments in research, early detection, and support services for children and adults with autism. Last year, I launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a program that aims to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind. By unlocking new knowledge of the brain, we can pave the way for myriad medical breakthroughs, including a greater appreciation for the science of autism.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on earth. Today, let us celebrate our differences — but let us also acknowledge our
responsibilities to each other and move forward as one.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2, 2014, World Autism Awareness Day. I encourage all Americans to learn more about autism and what they can do to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.


Last Chance! Advocacy Needed ASAP for Our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs)

If you’ve been following our New York State budget advocacy efforts, then you will want to know that the salary increase for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) is in danger in the Senate and the Governor’s office.  There has been no funding increase for Direct Support Professionals in 4 years.

We need your help to CALL as soon as possible to make your voice heard so that our DSPs get the salary increase they deserve for their compassionate, dedicated work.

Even if you already called, CALL AGAIN! We need direct action right now and have a very small window to make change. The DSP increase may be discussed in the Senate conference later today.

As a constituent you are very important to your elected officials and you must tell them what is important to you NOW.

Our underpaid DSP’s have been neglected for years and need an increase in this budget.  Supporting the people who support the most vulnerable New Yorkers should be our highest priority!

 Senate switchboard: (518) 455 – 2800

Assembly switchboard: (518) 455 – 4100

Governor: (518) 474 -1041 (press 3 to speak to an assistant)


Share this Message on Twitter:

Advocacy Needed ASAP to support DSPs. Call NYS Senators (518) 455 – 2800 & Gov. Cuomo (518) 474 -1041 #specialneeds

Please share this message with your staff, families and groups. The more direct callers we have the better our chances. While we are getting attention on important issues, during negotiations not all things will end up in the final version of the budget, and this one is most important.

Last year your advocacy accomplished a virtual miracle, and with your help we can do it again!


Reflections on Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is national Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed this month of significance in 1987 to welcome an era of social change towards people with developmental disabilities and to shine a spotlight on our moral obligation to support those with developmental disabilities and disability issues.

The national conversation around developmental disabilities is just now starting to grasp the full spectrum of services needed for people with disabilities to live secure, fulfilling lives.

We understand that support is needed not only for individuals, but also for their families, caretakers and community at large. The idea that people with developmental disabilities not only want to, but are capable of, leading productive, self-directed lives within the community is becoming more obtainable every year.

And because of improvements in healthcare, people with developmental disabilities are living longer, making the case for providing services that support them through the lifespan.

Specific programs like early intervention, special education, adulthood transition, and adult employment are now staples of disability provider services.

So yes, in many ways we have made important strides a quarter century after the establishment of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. But for those of us who work on the forefront of special needs care, we are all too aware of the challenges ahead to retain the accomplishments of past decades, and the fight for more advances.


Most schools are not equipped to provide students who have special needs with an engaging and enriching educational environment. School districts across the country are faced with shrinking budgets, and sometimes they complain about special education mandates. Jawonio is proud to offer the highest quality education services nurturing children as young as 18 months all the way into adulthood.  Programs like the Jawonio Early Childhood Education Center, Special Education Preschool, Jawonio School Age Care, Transition Planning, and Summer Education Programs all provide outstanding, compassionate, and enriching education by dedicated and professional staff. Maintaining our education programs, and specifically our Early Childhood Educations services, is our priority this spring in coordination with our annual Kidz Express event, and we hope you will join us.


Taxpayer-funded programs for people with disabilities, always under pressure, are more at risk in today’s economic environment. Discussions at all levels of government threaten the advances made during the past 25 years. The New York State budget is in its final stages and it is still unclear whether there will be continued funding for Jawonio. Our Assembly members recently proposed a 2% Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) for our human service workers – who work hard, long hours, and have gone without a raise since 2008.  That is a great start. Now we must urge Governor Cuomo to fulfill his promise to provide funding for disability service providers including Jawonio. Please, join Jawonio’s NYS budget advocacy efforts.


The idea that individuals with developmental disabilities can become productive members of the workforce is still new to many people and is perhaps the single biggest barrier to shattering misperceptions.  From a business perspective there are so many incentives to hiring people with special needs, and now a new petition from Sen. David Carlucci adds another: InspireNY is a bold plan that will give a tax credit to any employer in the state that hires individuals who have a developmental disability who are either unemployed or a current employee of a sheltered workshop. Jawonio Businesses – Clean by Steam, Ebiz Docs, the Jawonio Cleaning Company, and the Jawonio Work Center in Rockland County; and our employment training services – have helped hundreds of people with special needs find meaningful employment and achieve greater independence. Please sign the InspireNY petition today to continue job opportunities for our community in Rockland County and statewide.

Jawonio Valentine’s Day Dance At Fisher House

Will you be our Valentine?

Jawonio invites the community to attend the #love_ABLE Dance this Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2014 at Jawonio’s Fisher House.


Who:  The Jawonio Family – all clients, staff and their families are welcome!

What:  #love_ABLE Dance

Celebrate this day of love with friends and family in a comfortable, fun environment.  We will have plenty of food including sandwiches, snacks, drinks and…. chocolate fondue with strawberries! There will also be decorations and entertainment.

Valentine’s Day also marks the end of our #love_ABLE campaign.  For the last 3 months Jawonio supporters have worked tirelessly to raise $50,000 for our children and adult programs. This is a chance to celebrate their hard work and generosity. Thank you to everyone who got involved!

So, come enjoy some great music, show off your moves, and feel the love with Jawonio.

When: This Friday, 2/14 6-8 pm

Where: Jawonio’s Fisher House (Samuel G. Fisher Building), Main Campus

240 North Little Tor Road New City, NY  10956

*Parking available near front of building.

Why: Because it’s Valentine’s Day…. and we are #love_ABLE !



Please RSVP to Jouliana Petranker by email, , or phone, 845-708-200 ext.1388