Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Before I Die” Program Concludes in Delhi

 On the very last day, people came up to the “Before I Die” boards in Delhi’s Courthouse Square to post up their personal dreams and aspirations…..like about 1,000 people before them ever since the program was launched on 9/11…the National Day of Service and Remembrance. Started in New Orleans in 2011 by a young artist named Candy Chang, who was troubled by a personal crisis and was seeking a way to express her thoughts, Before I Die has spread to over 70 countries in 34 languages on over 500 boards throughout the world.

7 community organizations, representing a diverse group of Delaware County people, joined together to support this program:  The Delaware County Office of the Aging, Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, the Delaware County Veterans Service Agency, Delaware Academy Central School District at Delhi, SUNY Delhi, The Arc of Delaware County, the First Presbyterian Church of Delhi---plus the valuable support of the Delaware County Maintenance Department.
The program allowed anyone to step up, pick up a piece of chalk and share their goals, dreams and personal thoughts in a very public, dramatic way.  An earlier program last year was successfully held on the campus of SUNY Delhi.  “We decided that it would be much more of a community program to move this meaningful idea into the community where everyone could participate,” said Elizabeth Sova, SUNY’s Director of their O’Connor Center for Community Engagement.

As the boards were being taken down last Friday, Amanda Green, a resident of Delhi and part of the team that launched the program in September at an assembly for Delaware Academy high school students, said “While it was sad to see the boards come down, so many people had an opportunity to share their dreams and thoughts.  Today I posted that my goal was to become a Teacher’s Aid in a local school---- it felt great to share my dream”.
Each day members of the community support team stopped by the boards to make sure there was plenty of chalk and room for people to post up their dreams.  Special kudos are due to Justin Foster, the SUNY Delhi faculty member who led a team of his students to construct the boards, install them in the Square on 9/11 and then remove them last week.  “It was a special commitment to our community,” said Justin.

Members of the sponsoring team included Rev. Sarah Hooker & Renee Maxwell of the First Presbyterian Church, John Boecke of the Veterans Service Agency, Tammy Christman of the Catskill Area Hospice, Delaware Academy Superintendent Jason Thomson and faculty member Abigal Oliver, Sally Kauffman/Becky Townsend/Steve Finkel from The Arc of Delaware County, Wayne Shepard of the Office of the Aging, Elizabeth Sova  from SUNY Delhi,  valuable support from the County’s Board of Supervisors Chairman, James Eisel, Christa Schafer and the County’s Maintenance Dept.’s Pete Montgomery, plus important technical help from SUNY’s Nicholas Wagner.  Everyone felt that “these are the types of programs that bring our county together in a positive, caring and productive way,  and are very important for the overall welfare of the county.   During often challenging times, we all need to work together for the best outcomes and results for everyone.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Teachers and The Arc of Delaware County Launch Contest

For the 5th year, Beta Omicron, the local chapter of a world-wide educators’ organization, is working with The Arc of Delaware County to sponsor a contest open to all Delaware County school districts.  The purpose of the county-wide grades K-8 contest is to help students understand the strengths and embrace abilities of people with developmental disabilities.
 Beta Omicron is part of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, a professional organization of women educators.  This local chapter has 40 members representing several of the Delaware County schools.  Their mission is excellence in education, so they have partnered with The Arc to bring awareness of the abilities of people with developmental disabilities to school kids and their communities.

The theme of this year’s contest is “Everybody Can---Be Included.” Students can describe in essay or PowerPoint format (grades 5-8) or poster (K-4) how they would include in their lives people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). Kids likely have in their families, classes, or communities people with I/DD, such as autism, Down’s syndrome, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, etc. The aim of the contest is to encourage kids to explore how they can help others feel included and valued.

Prizes will be awarded in 3 categories: Grades K-4 class poster Grades 5-8 individual essay or Grades 5-8 PowerPoint projects. First, second, and third place winners of each category will be awarded $100, $75, or $50 respectively. Each entry will be recognized with a certificate.

 The first year winner of the contest was Erika Liddle’s South Kortright 6th grade class which read the book 10 Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, by Ellen Notbohm. Liddle recommends that other teachers enter the contest.  “You need to do it: you have a chance to make a difference in how children see things, and this is a great opportunity to build compassion.”  She said her students made a connection to a former classmate by realizing why he had behaved certain ways.  They developed a new understanding of his behavior and formulated ways they could have better included him.
For more information about this contest or for entry forms contact The Arc of Delaware County, Community Relations Department, Barbara Thompson (607) 865-7126 or email B.thompson@delarc.org

Information and details can also be found on The Arc’s website: www.delarc.org

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Art of Woodworking

Russ Neale, a community partner of The Arc of Delaware County, has shared his love of woodworking by providing many classes over the past several years.  Over a period of 8 weeks students learned about the types and properties of wood and how they can be used as well as how to operate and work safely with the tools and equipment in his workshop.   Russ’s class is very popular and and when students show their finished projects to friends,
co-workers, and family members, the more people want to participate.

This summer Joe Pantale, Tina Cawley, Robert Dircks, and Tracey Rossi enjoyed creating  a variety of personal projects including small wooden chests, bird houses, and a team project that Robert and Tracey worked on,  a fabulous park bench that was donated to Resources for Industry in Walton, NY.   The pride and enjoyment over their finished projects can be seen on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/delarc/14935643034/


Friday, October 10, 2014

Savoring the Season

Dave Riordan and Bill Vagts enjoying a ride on the Delaware and Ulster train.
Several folks from Community Living Skills- Arkville celebrated the fall season with train rides; baking, hiking, and keeping our scenic highways clean.

Kelly Piskacek and her guest Bill Vagts enjoyed a fall train ride compliments of the Delaware and Ulster Railroad in Arkville, NY in appreciation of the assistance Kelly gave to the train service.  And, Garett Morgan, an avid outdoorsman, took to the trails to take in the beauty of the Catskill mountains.

Helping to keep the scenery beautiful, David Greenwood and Danny Woytowich volunteered to help clean along the parks and roadways in the “Adopt-a Highway” program.

Enjoying the fall harvest, Cathy Ippolito and Roseanna Starkweather used winter squash and honey to make healthy and delicious treats.

Everybody enjoyed the beauty of the season and the Catskill area in their own way. We hope you did too!