‘Tis the season!
With the giving season in full-swing, Southampton Hospital GAVE a wonderful opportunity to Mill Neck Services Day Habilitation consumers by asking them, for the second year, to decorate the Hospital’s Christmas tree! Our team at Mill Neck Services was quick to GIVE their time! They did a wonderful job and had a great time doing it! This is what the giving season is all about folks!
It’s finally here! Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 2, 2014, is #GivingTuesday!
We are excited to announce that Mill Neck Foundation, Inc. will match every dollar raised through The Mill Neck Family of Organization’s Indiegogo #GivingTuesday campaign… dollar-for-dollar! That means your gift of $50 will amount to a donation of $100! There is no better time to GIVE than right now, during the giving season. Visit our Indiegogo campaign page and check out all the ways you can GIVE.
The Mill Neck Family of Organizations has a long relationship with its volunteers. After all, for more than 50 years, scores of volunteers have shown up to help run the organization’s annual Fall Harvest Festival. Without the nearly 300 people who sign on each year, the festival would simply not be possible. As many nonprofits do, Mill Neck relies on volunteers during different times throughout the year too. The Mill Neck Family has also found this relationship with their volunteers to be a mutually beneficial one, as many volunteers express an appreciation for the opportunity to help. Karen Hiller is one such example.
Karen Hiller and her husband, Wolfgang, first visited Mill Neck in 2001 when Wolfgang was referred to Mill Neck Audiology for a hearing evaluation. The Hillers, residents of Glen Head, have since become dedicated volunteers at Mill Neck’s fall festival for the past 4 years, where they help run the fudge booth. Karen, a nurse practitioner who retired in 2009, spent a few years trying part-time work while looking for volunteer opportunities. The part-time situations weren’t satisfying, so she began thinking about volunteer opportunities. Karen eventually landed at a publisher of audio magazines for blind and visually impaired subscribers, where she prereads content. While she finds this works rewarding and is happy to do her part, Karen still longed to offer assistance at other organizations. Earlier this year, the Hillers met Nancy Leghart, Mill Neck’s Director of Advancement, when they attended a tour of the historic Manor House located on the Mill Neck campus. Karen expressed how much she and her husband enjoyed their festival volunteering and inquired if there were any additional opportunities at the organization.
Leghart had two suggestions, one involved the newly formed Manor House committee, whose volunteers work as tour docents or help out in the Manor’s gift shop. Karen embraced the committee and was soon instrumental in organizing the gift shop, including creating a number of floral pieces to sell. Leghart also mentioned needing assistance at various times in her department. Since the summer, Karen has been helping out with mailings and other administrative work one day a week in Leghart’s office.
“Karen is a very special volunteer. We are so blessed and thankful to have her as part of our Mill Neck Family. Not only does she give us her valuable time, she also brings wisdom, creativity and a willingness to pitch in where ever we need her,” says Leghart.
Recently, another opportunity for Karen arose, helping out in the school’s cafeteria. Once a week, she assists the preschool children during lunch, helping them with meal set up. A grandmother of four, Karen is delighted for a chance to work with the children. “I’m in the cafeteria about three weeks and it’s just wonderful! It’s even better now that the kids are starting to come around. They greet me enthusiastically when I come in now,” she says. And Wolfgang? He’s definitely open to increasing his volunteering beyond the yearly festival. For a time, he returned to do some tutoring back at St. Francis Prep after retiring from the school six years ago. He taught German and Spanish at St. Francis for 39 years, the last 17 years as the department chairman. Since his retirement, Wolfgang has kept busy tending his garden and traveling with Karen. When he sees how enthusiastic his wife is being at Mill Neck, he says, “I’d be happy to have more opportunities to volunteer as well.” Of her experience as a valued Mill Neck Manor volunteer, Karen says, “It’s where I need to be.”
When asked about her job, Kelly Kildare is emphatic in her response. “I feel confident. I feel brave. I feel proud of myself,” she says. That she takes pride in her job, and herself, is clear to see. Her proud moment was recently highlighted at the annual “Works for Me” Awards Ceremony held by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Kildare shared the spotlight with her employer, King Kullen Supermarkets which was selected as the OPWDD 2014 Large Business of the Year.
At the November 6 event, which took place at the Albany Museum, Kildare was joined by her family and several staff of Mill Neck Services (MNS), her supported employment agency (see video clip of the King Kullen segment below). MNS is a three-time winner of the “Works for Me” Award, which is given by OPWDD to honor businesses from across New York State that have a proven track record of hiring individuals with developmental disabilities. These businesses have recognized the worthy contributions that individuals with disabilities can make in the workplace and hiring these workers makes sound business sense. MNS was pleased to nominate King Kullen this year, recognizing the corporation’s contribution to this practice.
An alumna of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, Kildare’s path to employment began with the school’s Vocational Program, where she gathered experience in a number of settings. One such setting, the school store, provided practice in money management and learning customer service. Kildare joined the MNS Job Club, worked on her interview skills and participated in the Day Hab program to gain further experience through volunteer opportunities.
Despite developmental challenges and being Deaf, Kildare has made great strides in her
position as a cashier at the King Kullen store in Bellmore. With her friendly personality and willingness to learn, she has progressed steadily since she began working. Jeff Burns, the store’s Assistant Manager, says he offered her the position based on what she could bring to the job, the same as with any potential hire. Over the course of the year, she proved him right.
Burns says, “Kelly started out a bit timid, that was normally what I thought was going to happen, but she grew into a better cashier, became more conscious of her work. She came along in the past year very well.”
Kildare has indeed grown into her job. She says she is learning to concentrate on scanning faster, has learned to count out her cash drawer independently and to offer good customer service, making her popular with shoppers and coworkers alike. Her overall comfort level is apparent when she refers to her coworkers as her “second family.”
So it seems employment has made a noticeably positive impact in Kildare’s life. Her joining King Kullen has given her opportunities to grow, not just in the space of her job, but in her life beyond the store too. As Donna Spano, Kildare’s Job Coach, notes, “I feel this job gave her more confidence outside work as well, to accomplish things. Motivate herself.” For Kildare, this has meant taking responsibility for the other aspects that relate to her employment, like learning how to take public transportation and making sure her uniform is ready ahead of her scheduled work day.
Believing in the transformative power of a job, Mill Neck Services continually advocates for candidates with disabilities, especially since the rate of unemployment for people with disabilities is significantly higher than for the general population. Creating a culture of inclusive employment has the potential to work for all; from the individual with a disability, the employer who is rewarded with qualified, dedicated workers, the agencies that strive to match the two, all the way to entire communities.
Established in 1986, Mill Neck Services (MNS) has placed more than 1,000 deaf, hard of hearing or otherwise disabled workers in over 400 businesses operating on Long Island. To find out how the qualified candidates in the Steps to Success Program at MNS can help your business, please contact Marta Reeger, Coordinator of Employment Services at email@example.com or
516-922-3818, ext. 315.
During this period of construction, West Shore Road will be CLOSED from the railroad overpass to Cleft Road. Directions to Mill Neck Manor, provided here, take the West Shore Road closure into consideration.
For detailed information about this improvement project, please visit the
Nassau County Department of Public Works website.