Former ECC Student Thrives More than a Decade Later

Nancy Mark Attributes her Son’s Success to the Mill Neck School

Nancy Mark reluctantly waved goodbye to her then 3-year-old son, Charlie, as he traveled by bus for more than an hour each way to the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf campus, where he would be attending Mill Neck’s Early Childhood Center (ECC).


Charlie when he was attending Mill Neck Manor’s Early Childhood Center

The ECC provides early and intensive assistance to hearing children, ages 3 and 4, with a range of special communication needs, including speech and language delays and disorders, cognitive and motor deficits and autism-related disorders.

Charlie, who was diagnosed with speech delay as well as no receptive or expressive language skills at the age of 3, was not very fond of getting in and out of his car seat. “He was frequently extremely frustrated and it was very challenging to control his meltdowns,” Nancy says.

She stood there each morning with a heavy heart, watching that giant yellow bus drive away with her most precious cargo, her mind swirling with worry. But one thing eased her anxiety a bit: “I knew he was going to one of the best early intervention pre-school programs on Long Island.” And for that, she was hopeful.


Charlie enjoying life today.

“We were relieved that Charlie wasn’t diagnosed with a lifelong disorder,” Nancy admits, “but we knew we faced a significant challenge to get him on track academically, and we were concerned about the impact of the delay on his social/emotional development.”

Within three weeks, Nancy noticed a significant improvement in Charlie’s language. “I visited the school to see how they did their ‘magic’ and I was blown away by the teachers’ intensive focus and techniques.”

Charlie was mainstreamed into a remedial kindergarten class at the age of 5 in his hometown of Port Washington. “The transition was very smooth,” recalls Nancy. “Charlie began reading early in his kindergarten year and was fully mainstreamed into a regular kindergarten class within eight months.”

Fast forward eight years to present: Charlie is 13 years old and about to enter eighth grade with solid A/B grades across the board. “I am a strong student,” says Charlie. “I love watching basketball and I am very active in both tennis and skiing.” Charlie plans to attend college and pursue a career in sports management.

To help more children just like Charlie, please call 516-922-4100. For more information about the Mill Neck Manor Early Childhood Center, click here.

ECC Quote_Nancy Mark

Mill Neck’s Early Childhood Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary & Graduating Class of 2016


ECC Principal, Suellyn Giserman, speaks to family, friends and staff.

This year’s Early Childhood Center (ECC) graduation was one to remember. Not just for the 50 preschool graduates and their families, but for the entire ECC staff. “This graduation fell on a very special year—the ECC’s 25th anniversary year,” says ECC Principal Suellyn Giserman.

Many changes have occurred since the school’s inception 25 years ago. One, in particular, was the number of graduating students, which jumped from only 22 in 1991 to now 50 this year.  “For us it’s always a bit bittersweet because we get attached to you and to them,” she said with a full heart to an audience filled with proud family members, friends and staff.

After Giserman’s welcoming remarks, a mother of two children, both of whom were among the graduates this year, made her way to podium to reflect on her long road and emotional journey. “There aren’t any words that can explain my gratitude toward the ECC staff that have touched my children’s lives,” she said. “Mill Neck is a place that makes things possible that you never thought were possible.”


A proud ECC graduate holds his diploma high.

The audience then turned in their seats with anticipation as 50 little graduates proudly walked down the aisles, some happily waving to their families. As the children gathered around the stage, they sweetly performed the ABC Song, “Good Day Sunshine” and “Wheels on the Bus” at the top of their lungs. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Right after, the lights dimmed as a slideshow appeared on the projector screen. The children squealed with delight as they recognized their faces and the faces of their friends.

At the end of the ceremony, the graduates accepted their diplomas from Giserman and Social Worker Cecelia Lynch. Cheers and applause roared throughout the auditorium as everyone jumped to their feet to celebrate the graduates and dance as Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” floated in the background.

The Mill Neck Family joins friends, family and staff in congratulating our little graduates and wishing them the best of luck as they head off to kindergarten and their new school adventures!

Founded in 1991, the Early Childhood Center (ECC) provides early and intensive assistance to children, ages 3 and 4, who may have deficits in speech, language/communication, cognitive and gross and fine motor development. Most children who attend the program graduate and attend kindergarten in their home school districts. The ECC is part of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, which also includes Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, founded by Lutheran Friends of the Deaf in 1947. For more information about the Early Childhood Center, please call 516-922-4276 or visit:


The ECC graduating class of 2016 gathers around the stage to sing a medley of songs for family, friends and staff.


Cooking with the DEC

Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf goes beyond in-classroom learning and provides their students with real-life learning opportunities.  This summer, Deaf Education Center students went on many experiential learning excursions. One of which was learning how to cook. Each week, the students, along with staff, would go to different grocery stores to practice shopping following an itemized recipe list. Once they have purchased their items, they would then head to the school’s Life and Sciences kitchen to cook and eat together as a group.

“I want them to learn how to make simple recipes that they can do on their own,” says Maria Limperis, a teacher at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf. “There are so many learning factors that play into this activity, including literacy skills by writing and following a list; learning about reusing ingredients to make another meal; navigating directions to each grocery store; working on cooperation and team building; learning how to use equipment and more.”

Joel Pastrana, a high school student at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, finds this particular activity to be extremely enjoyable. “We all get together and work as a team. When we go home we can cook because we have done it already in school.”DSC_0058


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Category: Blog, Deaf Education Services · Tags:

LFD Director of Deaf Ministry Rev. Tom Dunseth travels to Macau, China

Lutheran Friends of the Deaf (LFD) Reverend Thomas Dunseth recently traveled to the city of Macau, China.  Rev. Dunseth’s first stop was at the graduation ceremony for the Concordia School for Special Education in Macau where he is currently the President of the Board.  He was responsible for presenting certificates of merit to three Concordia School teachers.

For the next stop, Reverend Thomas Dunseth visited the Pu Choi Center of Fu Hong Society for Special Needs in the city of Macau.  The Pu Choi Center provides comprehensive vocational rehabilitation services for adults with mild or moderate mental handicap (some of their clients are Deaf). With financial aid provided by the Social Welfare Bureau, the center is able to cater for up to 100 service users. Using diversified working modes, one-stop services including workshops, supported employment, on-the-job training, and programmed trainings, the center gradually enhances the work skills and adaptive capacities of the service users and finally helps them get engaged in open employment.

Rev. Dunseth’s final stop was with the Lutheran Social Services (LSS) in Hong Kong. LSS is an agency of the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod which is a long time church partner of both the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and LFD. The Hong Kong Synod Lutherans operate the only Deaf school in Hong Kong (Lutheran School for the Deaf), and the LSS operated several Deaf centers.  Rev. Dunseth took the time to visit with one of the centers in Hong Kong where Deaf people are served. LFD/Mill Neck Foundation for Deaf Ministry gave a grant during the 2015-2016 grant cycle called ‘Get Moving Healthy Life.’ This was to encourage Deaf people in Hong Kong to be mindful of their bodies and souls which God has given them. Highlighted in this project was focus on care for the whole person: eating right, getting plenty of exercise, as well as church going and Bible study.

LFD develops and disseminates resources for deaf ministry, congregations and training for religious interpreters. Originally founded in 1947, LFD is a Recognized Service Organization within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  LFD is the founding organization of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations.



Reverend Thomas Dunseth with the principal Grace Lam and 3 teachers at the Macau Concordia School for Special Education graduation ceremony. 



Pictured here is Rev. Thomas Dunseth with the director, and one of the center’s sub-directors as well as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s English Center director.  



Pictured with Rev. Dunseth are Wesley Ching and Joan Liu of Lutheran Social Services (LSS) in Hong Kong.

Category: Blog, Deaf Ministry · Tags:

When Life Gives you Lemons, Create a Lemonade Stand

Two Young Brothers Set up Shop to Help Students with Disabilities

When Amanda Cerami, an employee of Mill Neck Services‘ Community Habilitation program and Medicaid Service Coordinator, met blind 6-year-old Anthony Dones in 2008, her life was changed forever.

 Anthony didn’t grow up like other children his age. Diagnosed legally blind and with osteoporosis, he wasn’t focused on life’s superficial offerings. He didn’t fret over video games, or beg to stay up past his bedtime to watch his favorite cartoons. Anthony, who was receiving services from Mill Neck at the time, learned at an early age what is really important in life: the intangible.

“Anthony taught me how to appreciate the simple things that most people take for granted, like being able to see what he wears every day, knowing what he looks like, and when he visits a beach being able to see what’s in front of him,” Amanda said. “This 6-year-old boy taught me how precious life can be and inspired me to want to help others.”

From there, Amanda began working at Mill Neck Services in the Community Habilitation program, which is designed to help individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing and have other disabilities, to learn independence skills and improve their socialization skills. She also works as a Medicaid Service Coordinator for Mill Neck, a program that helps hearing children and young adults who have intellectual disabilities adjust to life and build long lasting relationships. “I enjoy encouraging our individuals, supporting their participation in recreational activities and watching them get excited when they learn something new or master a task,” she explained.

Amanda’s passion and dedication for her work naturally spilled over into her family life. “One day, I told my family that I would like to help put a group together that would benefit both groups of individuals in Community Habilitation and Medicaid Service.” Amanda’s brothers, Tyler, age 9, and Nicholas, age 5 – who previously attended Mill Neck’s Early Childhood Center for speech – both jumped at the chance to help. “It was important to me that Tyler and Nicholas understand that not everybody has the same opportunities as they have,” Amanda explained.

Amanda, Tyler and Nicholas decided to set up a lemonade stand to help such an important cause, raising around $160 for the individuals at Mill Neck. “They really enjoyed running the lemonade stand, and would like to continue to do it. Thanks to their efforts we are putting together a fishing trip outing for the group in July.”

A special thank you to Owen and Michael Perfetti for also participating in the lemonade stand.

Golfing for a Great Cause at Mill Neck Manor’s Swingin’ Summer


At Swingin’ Summer, golfers participated in several challenges on the course, the Hole in One contest, sponsored by BMW of Oyster Bay and Beat the Pro, among them.

A gentle breeze and plenty of sunshine greeted the golfers who participated in Swingin’ Summer, a benefit tournament held on June 27. The annual event took place at the luxurious Cold Spring Country Club, with proceeds supporting the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, which provides programs and services locally, nationally and around the globe for children and adults who are Deaf or have other special needs.

Golfers made their way to the course following a hearty brunch at the clubhouse. During their round of golf, they also enjoyed contests, refreshments and a barbeque lunch on the course. Later, they were joined by other guests for the Champions Dinner, featuring awards, silent auction, numerous raffles and, the highlight of the evening, recognition of honorees. Each of the 2016 honorees were recognized for their selfless dedication to the Mill Neck Family’s mission, whether this dedication has existed for a quarter century or began more recently.


Honoree Marianne Artinian, a long-time employee of Mill Neck Services Center for Hearing Health pictured with her two sons, husband and Mill Neck Family President and CEO Michael Killian (on the left).

For Marianne Artinian, support for Mill Neck began more than 25 years ago. Mother and grandmother of Mill Neck alumni, Artinian is currently the Administrative Assistant at Mill Neck’s audiology facility, Mill Neck Services Center for Hearing Health. During her often humorous speech about Artinian, Dr. Susan Antonellis, Operations Manager of the facility, had a number of serious reflections to share. “Her smile and beaming personality surrounds the office.

She knows every person’s name: treats them like family. She is an advocate for the Deaf and hearing impaired. Most importantly, her wonderful contribution is the empathy she offers to all families that walk through the doors with their children who are newly diagnosed. Marianne is up there, front and center, with a kind word, some advice or a hug,” said Antonellis.


Mill Neck Family Director of Human Resources, Kathleen Lagalante and Mill Neck’s Director of Advancement, Nancy Leghart with honorees Valerie and Joe Giacinto of PBI Payroll.

PBI Payroll owners, Joe and Valerie Giacinto, have been associated with Mill Neck since 2008 when PBI began processing the organization’s payroll. Over the years, PBI has repeatedly shown their support of Mill Neck. As noted by Kathleen Lagalante, Mill Neck’s Director of Human Resources, who presented the Giacinto’s with their honoree recognition, PBI not only hired candidates through Mill Neck Services, but “also showed they were all in by sponsoring several of Mill Neck’s golf events. Countless golf balls, tees, foursomes and even sponsoring holes were graciously donated from PBI over the last eight years.”



Nancy Leghart, Director of Advancement for the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, presented an honoree award to Ken Thalheimer, volunteer docent at Mill Neck Manor.

When not pursuing the next great shot, professional photographer Ken Thalheimer uses his time and talents as a volunteer docent at Mill Neck Manor. Whether leading a small gathering at the monthly Sunday tours of the mansion that stands on Mill Neck’s campus or guiding a group of 50 through the house, Thalheimer tirelessly imparts his in-depth knowledge, often sprinkling his talk with humor. He came to Mill Neck several years ago via a Designers’ Showcase® event and ever since, continues to give his time whenever called upon, including volunteering for the Mill Neck Manor Archive Committee.

Acknowledging that this event is the result of many helping hands, the Mill Neck Family of Organizations wishes to thank the golfers and guests, volunteers, committee members, parents and students for supporting another Swingin’ Summer and, by extension, the programs and services of the organization. Recognition is due to the following sponsors and contributors as well: BMW of Oyster Bay; General (Hole in One Sponsors); JLJ Enterprises; PBI Payroll; TNT Industries (Champions Dinner Sponsors); Bank United; Capitol One; Core BTS; Samuels Datacom, LLC; Wilson Elser (Eagle Corporate Sponsors); Glen Cove Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation; Celeste and Hank Pinkerton (Birdie Sponsors); Apple Bank; Fiduciary Investment Advisors, LLC; hint; R.S. Abrams & Co., LLP; Pickney Electric (Fairway Combo Sponsors); Mayor Peter and Mrs. Crisler Quick (Driving Range Sponsors); Christopher Jones, The Center for Wealth Preservation; McBreen & Kopko; Maspeth Roofing & Siding; Noodles & Co.; Ted B. Smith, Jr.; The Honorable Claire R. Kelly and Joseph J. DiBartolo; Tower Fasteners; Signature Bank; Richard Wehner (Par-Tee Sponsors); Applebee’s; Ayhan’s Shish Kebab; Bagel Café; Best Yet Market; Cheap Thrills Jewelry; Chipotle; Chocolicious Chocolatier; Carol Cook; Corporate Loss Prevention Assoc.; Cradle of Aviation; Eagle’s Nest – Vanderbilt Museum; Steven and Erin Ferrara; Fish on Main; Greenberg Cosmetic Surgery; Healing Arts Massage Therapy; Michael F. and Susan M. Killian; Locust Valley Florist; Locust Valley Market; Long Island Picture Frame and Art Gallery; Dilip Madnani, M.D.; Joseph L. Mancino; Mario’s Pizza of Oyster Bay; Megaris and Megaris Salon; Millcroft Farms Co.; Moe’s Southwest Grill; NuBest Salon and Spa; Old Westbury Gardens; Panera Bread; Safavieh; Marilyn Samuels; Sands Point Shop; Scentsational of Huntington; Kathleen Ray Smith; South Shore Golf; Spa Doc; Spuntino; The Garden City Hotel; Timber Point Country Club; Toshiba Business Solutions; Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement & Trust; Whole Foods and George and Carole Zivanow.

JJ DiBartolo, a former student at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, enjoyed the Champions Dinner.



The Mill Neck Family of Organizations includes Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, founded in 1947 by Lutheran Friends of the Deaf, Mill Neck Manor Early Childhood Center, Mill Neck Services, Mill Neck Services for Hearing Health, Mill Neck Interpreter Service and Lutheran Friends of the Deaf. For more information, please call 516-922-4100 or visit

For more photos from the 2016 Swingin’ Summer Golf Tournament, please visit

Remember to  “Like” us while you are there!

Category: Blog, Events, Our Services Slideshow · Tags:

Swingin’ Summer Invitational Golf Tournament

Benefiting the Mill Neck Family of Organizations

Monday, June 27, 2016 


Club LogoThe Mill Neck Family of Organizations will be hosting the annual “Swingin’ Summer Invitational Golf Tournament & Spa Day” to be held on Monday, June 27, 2016 at Cold Spring Country Club in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. The Tournament will feature many exciting opportunities for golfers. There will be prizes for individuals and teams, opportunities for hole-in-one prizes, a million dollar challenge, putting green contest, raffles and more.  Non-golfers can also show their support by attending the evening’s “Champions Dinner.”

The Mill Neck Family of Organizations is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people who are Deaf, or who have other special needs, through excellence in individually designed educational and vocational programs and services. Advances in technology have allowed us to greater enhance the quality of education and services we offer. Proceeds from this event will help to increase our access to the new and vital technology our organization needs.

We hope you will join us for this exciting event!



Ways to Get Involved:

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Why not donate a foursome to your club or a raffle prize to our silent auction?

Please call Samantha Hallman with your raffle prize ideas and donations at (516) 628-4239, email or contact any of our committee members:


Rudolph Auslander Bill Charon Nancy Leghart Frank McIntyre
Michael Killian Maryann Rocchi Maura Burns Michelle Yadoo
John Mangano Samantha Hallman Matthew Pomara











Thank you to all of our sponsors, golfers, spa participants and spa-goers for making the 2015 Swingin’ Summer Golf & Spa event a success!


Visit our Facebook page for fun photos from the event.



(Back to Community Events)

Category: Blog, Events · Tags:

Running for a Reason: Deaf Child’s Family Steps Up

For Vincenza and Daniel Garcia: it was simple. When their one-year-old niece, Giuliana Fullone, was diagnosed with severe hearing loss, they knew they wanted to do something special for her—give back somehow. But just mailing a check wasn’t going to cut it. Instead, they decided to make an impact—run 6.2 miles through the most magical place on Earth: Disney World.

It’s been said before that bringing a child into this world is one of life’s greatest miracles. The melodic purity of their laugh; the high-pitched squeak of their first word; the soothing wave of comfort splashed on their face at the sound of a familiar voice. These gifts are ones that play on a blissful loop; engrained memories for parents that make it all worth it—make it all tangible.

giulianaBut for some, those tangible gifts turn to intangible fears when things don’t go as planned. And for the Fullone family, those fears became an earth-shattering reality the very day they found out their daughter, Giuliana, was unable to hear.

“The first thing I felt was shock—sort of like a trauma,” Carolina Fullone, Giuliana’s mother, explained.

With a trauma of this kind, it usually bleeds into the hearts of anyone in arm’s length. In this case, it was Carolina’s sister, Vincenza. “Our family was extremely worried for Giuliana. I remember thinking, ‘Are her peers going to make fun of her or bully her because of her disability?’ and ‘What do we do now?’”

Numerous physician visits, inundated with new research and unfamiliar information, hearing aid trials, constant speech therapy—all of which failed to improve Giuliana’s hearing—started to take a toll on everyone involved.

But Vincenza was behind them every step of the way—she knew that her sprightly, bright-eyed niece would come out of this stronger than ever. “Giuliana is extremely caring and thoughtful,” she said with a full heart. “When I saw everything she had been through, I knew that she would emerge determined and strong-willed.”

Because Giuliana’s hearing aids failed, she became a candidate for cochlear implants. She was enrolled in the Nassau BOCES Hearing Services Infant Program five days a week and underwent two cochlear implant surgeries—all before the age of two. Giuliana then moved on to attend Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, and this is where things began falling into place.

“When Giuliana first came to Mill Neck, her speech was nowhere near the level it is today,” recalled Vincenza. “Now she has more than 100 words in her vocabulary and has no signs of a speech delay. She speaks in complete sentences and communicates very clearly.”

Vincenza_DanielInspired by the sheer strength Giuliana possesses, Vincenza and her husband, Daniel, decided to participate in an event called runDisney, allowing participants the unique opportunity to run through Disney Theme Parks. In February of this year, Vincenza and Daniel ran the Disney Princess Enchanted 10k race at the Epcot center in Orlando, Fla., to raise money for Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf and to raise awareness for children who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

“Completing this event was a huge accomplishment and knowing that it was being done to thank Mill Neck Manor’s teachers was the motivation behind it all,” Vincenza continued. “Our hope is that Giuliana learns that through determination, perseverance and faith, she can achieve anything.”

Established in 1951, Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf provides the highest quality of services to children who are deaf and have other special needs from all social and economic backgrounds. Children are bused to Mill Neck daily from 49 Long Island School Districts, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan with the hope that one day they will have an opportunity to leave their mark on the world, just like everyone else.

For more information on how to help children at Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, please contact 516-922-4100.

Category: Blog, Deaf Education Services · Tags:

LFD Launches a Free Vacation Bible School on Long Island

VBS_Tiffany_resized“Gospel Hands” Vacation Bible School (VBS) is an exciting 4-day program being offered this summer by Lutheran Friends of the Deaf. Free of charge to Deaf children and their siblings (ages 6-12), this unique VBS will be held at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Garden City on August 16-19, 2016.

Since 1947, Lutheran Friends of the Deaf (LFD), the founding member of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations has made it their mission to serve the spiritual needs of those who are Deaf, locally, nationally and around the world. And while they serve Deaf individuals as far away as Ethiopia, LFD’s first and foremost priority is to serve individuals right in their backyard of Long Island.

With a generous grant from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), LFD was able to develop and launch this special program. LFD also teamed up with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), who awarded a grant that funded the development of “Bible Story Books”—a series of 12 written and ASL Bible Stories for children. Using the Bible Story Books as the basis of the VBS curriculum, LFD will bring the Gospel into the lives of children by combining American Sign Language, expressive artwork, the written word and video.

Language and cultural barriers have often left the Deaf population in isolation, especially when it comes to learning the Gospel. Christian Deaf ministries estimate that only 1 percent of Deaf adults will attend a Christian church. Through “Gospel Hands” VBS, as well as other programs and social events, LFD aims to reach hundreds of Deaf individuals on Long Island, greatly increasing the percentage of those who attend an LCMS church and also actively participate in this community.

Advance registration is required to attend the “Gospel Hands” VBS. The program’s hours are from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Lunch will be provided and financial scholarships for public transportation are available for those with a demonstrated need. Please visit for more details or contact Deaconess Tiffany Manor at or 516-628-4229.


Gospel Hands is free


May is Better Hearing and Speech Month


Mill Neck Services
Center for Hearing Health

is celebrating hearing health all month long! Call 516-628-4258 today to reserve your spot at these FREE events.


May 4 & 5
For Moms
This Mother’s Day, why not give the gift of better hearing?
Free hearing screenings and hearing aid cleaning will be available. Refreshments too!


May 17-19
“Good Neighbor” Days
Hearing screenings open to the community.  All ages.


May 26
Civil Service Day
Hearing screenings for civil service employees.


The Center for Hearing Health is a full-service adult and pediatric audiology facility. Most insurances accepted.

Mill Neck Services Center for Hearing Health
40 Frost Mill Road
Mill Neck, NY 11765





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40 Frost Mill Road
Mill Neck, NY 11765
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Established in 1947 by 
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