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Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf would like to thank The D’Addario Foundation—a dedicated supporter of the Mill Neck Music Therapy Program—for their generous donation of snare drum heads, drum sticks and guitar strings.
When it comes to literacy, Deaf children have the odds stacked against them from the time they are born. A Deaf infant begins life in a soundless world with the unimaginable task of trying to make sense of what is happening around them. By school age, most Deaf children’s language skills are significantly behind their hearing peers and the gap tends to widen as time goes by.
With literacy acting as a distinct road block for a Deaf and Hard of Hearing child, Mill Neck was pleased to find studies that show music can act as a powerful tool to positively affect oral language development and increase other literacy skills. Historically, Deaf children do not usually have access to music, but the effects of the advanced technology such as high-impact hearing aids and cochlear implants alongside this particular therapy are visibly astounding.
In 2009, Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf launched the Music and Literacy Program, where students who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or have other disabilities participate in music therapy to improve pre-literacy skills, auditory memory, expressive communication skills and much more.
In keeping with Mill Neck International’s mission to create a world where Deaf people are included, empowered and embraced as equals, their latest initiative brings that vision one step closer to becoming a reality.
MNI is creating an online Deaf Global Resource Center, launching on Nov. 8, which will offer online courses to train professionals on how to teach Deaf children; self-paced courses on various topics related to Deaf advocacy and empowerment; webinars and webcasts for professionals working with Deaf people; and videos about best practices for collaborating with Deaf individuals to build strong communities.
The online Resource Center will also feature blogs, forums, videos, information and resources on various topics such as MNI project work.
“The Center will be a one-stop shop with resources and information focusing on Deaf-related topics,” says Lisa Fisher, MNI’s Global Resource Center Manager. “It will be beneficial because we aim to make it accessible through sign language, reaching many Deaf people around the world.”
MNI strongly believes that by having a central place with information and interactive activities specializing in Deaf-related topics, Deaf people and those who work with the Deaf community will be able to find resources to support their work.
Visit www.millneckinternational.org for more information.
Dr. Amy Wilson, the Director of Mill Neck International (MNI)—an organization that collaborates with partners worldwide to mobilize the capabilities, skills and resources for the Deaf community—met with Mill Neck staff regarding international development with Deaf communities overseas and to enlighten them on the need for this important work.
Through Dr. Wilson’s presentation, it became evident that MNI’s main goal is to advocate for the Deaf community worldwide, helping them achieve their human rights to access effective communication and education for living and sustaining independent, productive and meaningful lives. Unfortunately, in many countries, this is not the case. The Deaf community is often excluded from education and job training, basic healthcare, political and legal processes and are the lowest priority for any limited resources (food, clean water, land, etc.). Because of that, Deaf individuals are underutilized and many live in poverty.
MNI wants to change this endless cycle by improving the quality of life for Deaf people through focusing at the community level and empowering them, giving them a real voice in decisions that affect their lives. Too often, organizations provide money and products to Deaf individuals, without giving them the resources and skills to enhance their lives on their own. And once the organization leaves, the Deaf community is no better off than when they started.
“MNI doesn’t work for the people, we work with the people. We want to instill transformative change—their attitudes, their behaviors, their relationships—and in these Deaf communities, you’ve got smart people, but they just don’t have the skills. They just need help to understand what they don’t know,” says Dr. Wilson. “MNI isn’t giving out money for materials, we want to share skill sets. We want to go into the grass roots of the community, find out what they want, what they need and then teach them the skills to make it happen.”
When Deaf people feel that they have some control over their lives, their attitude toward themselves, their family, their community and their future becomes more hopeful and change becomes an attainable goal.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, who purchased this program during the silent auction at the 2017 Sail the Sound for Deafness Regatta, Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf students now have the unique opportunity to participate in a Therapeutic Equestrian Program at the Red Barn in Old Brookville, N.Y.
“There are so many life lessons that can be learned, as well as insight into the workings of a farm…”
The Red Barn—whose mission is to deliver and maintain professional Equine Assisted Activities to enhance the lives of those with developmental, cognitive, social and emotional challenges—offers the opportunity to experience the benefits of being around horses in a safe and friendly environment.
Beginning this fall, Mill Neck students will use their time at Red Barn to gain required hours toward their Career Development and Occupational Studies credentials, which includes 216 hours of job or volunteer experiences that earn students a certificate upon completion.
Led by Katharine Parsons, Red Barn’s Education & Special Events Coordinator, and Kelliann Kleva, Mill Neck’s Vocational Teacher, students will enjoy activities like stable care, grooming, proper safety around horses and more.
“Our students benefit so much from the unconditional love that comes from being with animals. Taking risks and trying new things is less stressful because the animals won’t judge or criticize what they do,” says Kleva. “There are so many life lessons that can be learned, as well as insight into the workings of a farm that most of the students wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.”
Mill Neck Services’ Day Habilitation (Day Hab) Program, located in Hicksville, N.Y., helps adults with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities, as well as medical and communication issues, to reach their fullest potential.
Day Hab consumers celebrated “Fun Friday,” where they were able to enjoy the movie “The Sandlot,” and learn how to cook a tasty enchilada casserole dish as a group.
Mill Neck’s Day Hab program provides functional and enjoyable activities that enable participants to meet their individual goals and become more independent in their daily living, socialization, communication and leisure activities.
The Day Hab center also features an in-house coffee shop called “Have a Nice Day Café,” completely run by the consumers on a daily basis, working the cash register, greeting customers and preparing the coffee. Consumers also participate in “coffee chats” within the community, where they travel to different local coffee shops and simultaneously learn travel training skills, like how to properly cross the streets.
Volunteer work is an integral component of the Day Hab program. As dedicated volunteers, Day Hab participants acquire new skills, develop meaningful relationships, contribute to their communities and build self-confidence.
Day Hab is very active in the community with Meals on Wheels, Last Hope Animal Shelter, teaching American Sign Language to the elderly and more.
Center for Hearing Health participated in Active Aging Week— a week-long campaign that calls attention to and wholeheartedly celebrates the positivity of aging today. It showcases the capabilities of older adults as fully participating members of society and spotlights the role models that lead the way.
With fun-filled activities and lectures, including free hearing screenings, hearing aid cleanings and a lecture on “Brain and Hearing,” CHH informed the community on hearing health.
During the “Brain and Hearing” lecture, Director of Audiology Dr. Susan Antonellis explained how hearing affects the brain, hearing loss and its relationship to age, and how actively using hearing aids reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
“When we think about hearing we always think about ears, but the truth of the matter is that hearing is done with the brain,” says Antonellis. “How does the hearing affect the brain? The speech understanding; that’s when the brain becomes very involved. It’s not how loud the speech is, it’s that they can’t understand what is being said. And that’s a cognitive process.”
Mill Neck Foundation hosted foundations and major donors at this year’s Lutheran Grantmakers and Donors Network annual conference.
The Lutheran Grantmakers and Donors Network, which provides a forum for family foundations and donors supporting Lutheran ministries, aims to enable its members to be informed, involved and effective grantmakers and donors in their philanthropy.
“It was a great opportunity to gather industry-leading speakers with foundations and donors who support Lutheran ministry work.”
The three-day long conference was jam-packed with activities, including lectures from industry front-runners like Mill Neck International Director, Dr. Amy Wilson, on “A Practical Approach to Grantmaking & Analysis” and “When Helping Hurts.” An investment panel, moderated by Michael Gross, Executive Vice President and Co-founder of Fiduciary Investment Advisors—a multi-billion dollar investment consulting firm from Conn.—discussed “Growing Your Asset Base” and “Maximizing Returns with Asset Diversification.” The panel included representatives from Oppenheimer, Siguler Guff, Met West, Vaughn Nelson, Westfield Capital and Diamond Hill.
Conference participants also enjoyed a riveting presentation by Lt. Col. Robert Darling, author of “24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker,” where he narrated the firsthand, minute-by-minute drama in the White House bunker during the September 11 attacks; a trip to New York City to visit the 9/11 Memorial grounds; a guided tour through the historic Mill Neck Manor mansion; the Tony Award-winning Broadway play “Beautiful, The Carole King Musical;” and a private tour of the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, N.Y.
“It was a pleasure to host this year’s Grantmakers Conference,” says Michael F. Killian, Mill Neck President and CEO. “It was a great opportunity to gather industry-leading speakers with foundations and donors who support Lutheran ministry work.”
Mill Neck would like to thank all of this year’s Grantmakers Conference attendees: Marcia Haaff and Dennis Goff from The Lutheran Foundation; Rev. Michael Dubsky from The Lutheran Home and Hospital; Rev. Jerry Klug from The Lutheran Legacy Foundation; Brenda Skelton from The Siebert Lutheran Foundation, Inc.; Miyoko Oshima from the Vesper Society; Richard Herman and Joanne Otte from Wheat Ridge Ministries; Rebecca Emmons from The Batterman Family Foundation; Janet Klotz from The Chicagoland Lutheran Education Foundation; Lloyd Probasco from The Dunklau Foundation; Mary Gambicki from The ELCA Foundation; Barb Hoffman from The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod; and Ann Vazquez and Rebekah Miller from The Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri.
Lutheran Friends of the Deaf (LFD)—the founding member of the Mill Neck Family of organizations, dedicated to bringing the Word of God to the Deaf community through Sign Language translation—wants to make it possible for Deaf children and adults to have access to God’s Word.
Holding true to this mission, LFD has created Bible Story Books—a unique series of 12 written and ASL translated Bible stories for children—that bring the Gospel into the lives of the Deaf community by combining American Sign Language, expressive artwork, the written word and video. This amazing collection of works allows children who are Deaf and hard of hearing to not only learn the Word of God, but to spread the divine message.
Over the past several years it has become apparent to Lutheran Friends of the Deaf that there is an absence of materials available in American Sign Language (ASL) with spoken and written Spanish. Research shows that in the United States, 25 percent of Deaf individuals come from Spanish speaking families and, in some regions like the western United States, that number goes up to 50 percent. With over 400 million Spanish speakers worldwide and 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the United States, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language, with American Sign Language coming in third.
Spanish resources are the most requested items from LFD, especially when traveling to countries like the Dominican Republic. Deaf children and adults in that area would be able to utilize Spanish and ASL Bible stories in the publicly funded schools for Deaf children and take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into places where He is not currently being proclaimed.
LFD is seeking to translate their resources, such as the Bible Stories, in ASL into written and spoken Spanish. LFD would like to thank The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Office of Hispanic Ministry, who allowed Deaconess Luz Guerrera to begin translating their Bible story book “Noah and the Big Flood.”
Lexington Agrees with Mill Neck Legal Claims in Suit against NY State Education
Lexington School & Center for the Deaf has agreed in their court filing with the claims made by the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf in their law suit that NY State Education Department errored in allowing the 4201 Association, a nongovernmental agency, to determine how funding was split; failed to use the three year enrollment average; and employed a methodology that is inconsistent with the Legislature’s directive.
The law suit is seeking the current allocation be annulled and have it replaced with a formula that is consistent with the Legislative mandates, which includes up-to-date enrollment data.
“It is gratifying to have yet another leading educational institution agree with our legal challenge,” said Michael F. Killian, President & CEO of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, which includes the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf. “I am looking forward to a satisfactory resolution that is fair and equitable to everyone, and not just a few.”