Mill Neck Services’ Signs with the Times Café
A Safe Place for all Deaf Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Individuals who are Deaf with developmental disabilities often have a hard time feeling like they belong. It isn’t as easy to socialize with friends or participate in meaningful group activities within the comfort of a safe environment.
Because of this, Mill Neck Services, Inc.—whose main goal is to empower Deaf and developmentally disabled individuals to become more independent—created a one-of-a-kind project called Signs with the Times Café. Mill Neck Services recently received a $5,000 grant from Wheat Ridge Ministries to help with program funding.
This Café—the sole program of its kind on Long Island—opens its doors to all individuals who are Deaf with developmental disabilities throughout the community. A variety of activities are offered on- and off-site that engage and connect not only the Deaf population, but the community at large.
Under the direction of two extremely passionate coordinators—Diana Pelchuck, who has been Deaf since she was three years old, and Nicole Shaw, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies and a master’s in Teaching ASL as a Foreign Language—the program’s participants enjoy casino night, movie night, visits to museums, sports and more.
Offering a sense of comradery and an inviting environment to individuals who daily face adversity and social isolation, this program breathes new life into a once stagnant feeling of belonging.
While the impact of the program on these individuals is significant—gaining confidence, exploring new experiences, establishing friendships within the Deaf culture and more—hearing individuals are also profoundly affected just by simply engaging with and being introduced to Deaf culture.
The Cafe is currently held at Mill Neck Services’ Day Habilitation Center every Wednesday evening and one Saturday a month.