By Shana Liebman–
On September 19, the Extended Family, a community-based organization for disabled adults, opened a second location at the Shames JCC in Tarrytown.
According to Laurie Cameron, the director of the Extended Family, which is based in Somers, NY, “This partnership will allow The Extended Family to provide a community space and services for more young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.”
Started by three women (including Cameron), The Extended Family launched in 2017 with four participants, whom they call Dreamers. Their mission is to provide meaningful engagement for young adults with developmental disabilities who are not comfortable in traditional job settings.
According to recent reports, 85% of adults with developmental disabilities are unemployed and many more don’t have a home. This often leads to drugs, suicide and incarceration and creates a significant burden for these individuals’ parents. By providing job training, charity opportunities, a safe space for socializing, and meaningful engagement, the Extended Family works to relieve the isolation and helplessness that many young adults with disabilities face.
They now have 85 Dreamers in the family, all of whom participate in ongoing programs such as the Community Giving Cupboard program, which packs and delivers food and other necessities to neighbors in need, and Operation First Aid, which delivers handmade gifts to essential workers. The Extended Family members help pack, sort, and deliver these items. “Because our Dreamers are typically the recipients of support services, we felt it imperative to empower each of them to lift up others,” Cameron says.
The JCC will assist with the Community Giving Cupboard program by helping to expand food pantry partnerships in Sleepy Hollow and with Neighbors Link, which aids newly immigrated families in Westchester who are facing food insecurity. The JCC and The Extended Family are also partnering with Select Connects, a charity program that will help JCC-selected food pantries deliver food.
“It’s truly a partnership made in heaven,” Cameron says. “The JCC facility is beautiful, and everyone who works there is warm, welcoming, and heart-centered: exactly the environment in which our Dreamers thrive and, importantly, one in which we can have fun and celebrate Dreamer accomplishments.
Annie Bridson, the Director of Supportive Services of the Shames JCC, is similarly excited about the partnership. “When I came across The Extended Family and delved deeper into the remarkable work they were accomplishing, I recognized that there was an opportunity for us to collaborate and create something extraordinary,” she said.
For the immediate future, the Extended Family will offer two-hour sessions for Dreamers at the JCC, on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.. “We are mindful of carefully creating a true Extended Family replication at our new JCC home and fully anticipate that in the near future, we will expand our days and times,” Cameron says.
Even with this gradual launch, Cameron is thrilled to be able to provide even more space and services for current and future Dreamers. “It eases our hearts as we are always eager to connect with Dreamers who are geographically too far from our space in Somers.”
For more information or to arrange a visit, contact Laurie@theextendedfamily.solutions or 914-617-8161.Read or leave a comment on this story...