KC101 radio did a 10-minute interview with Matt Baker, Justin Moore, EmilyAnne Westman, Chapel Haven’s Special Olympics Coordinator, and Peggy Baker, who coordinates volunteers for the games and is the Mom of Matt. Click here to hear the interview
Click here to read New Haven Register coverage and to see a photo of Chapel Haven’s team members, Matt Baker and Kurt George.
Chapel Haven participates in the Special Olympic program, both on the regional and state levels. Chapel Haven athletes participate in bowling, track and field and swimming. To date we are one of the largest competitors in the Connecticut Chapter. Staff is primarily made up of volunteers who help to prepare and instruct participants in this program for the regional and state games.
The 2012 graduating class of Chapel Haven West will share the spotlight during their June 16 graduation: University of Arizona President Dr. Eugene G. Sander and his wife, Dr. Louise Canfield Sander will receive honorary certificates of completion from the school.
Michael Storz, president of Chapel Haven, Inc., announced that along with the honorees, seven students will receive their certificates of completion during Chapel Haven West’s third annual commencement June 16, 2012, 10 a.m. in the Rincon
Room of the University of Arizona’s Student Center.
The keynote speaker for the commencement will be Kathy Sander Kelley, the daughter of UA President Eugene Sander. Dr. Kelley has a son on the autism spectrum and has
been active in advocacy efforts for all individuals on the spectrum.
In announcing the Honorary Certificate recipients, Mr. Storz said,” We are proud that President Eugene Sander and Dr. Louise Canfield Sander will be with us for this important occasion to accept Honorary Certificates of Completion. Together they represent a willingness and a motivation to provide whatever services necessary to adults on the autism spectrum, so that they can be successful in college and in their communities.
Their efforts on behalf of Chapel Haven West students to become assimilated into
the University of Arizona campus and classroom have been exemplary and innovative.”
Chapel Haven West is a 24-month residential transition program for adults, 18 and older, with autism spectrum or related social disabilities. The program provides a unique curriculum grounded in social communication instruction, life skills, vocational exploration and college supports. Chapel Haven West has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the University of Arizona, with its students enrolled in a social communication class at the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences department. All Chapel Haven West students accrue college credits at the University.
For the seven students set to graduate, the commencement marks a major milestone.
They are graduating with newfound independence, friends, and wonderful memories. During the two-year program, they learned how to negotiate everyday challenges that most of us take for granted, as well as to handle college classes. And with arguably less effort, they had fun at places such as the mall, the theater, or when asked to be specific, as graduate Alex Lips put it on a recent reflections survey, “Too many favorites to name.”
Reflection surveys by the graduates show a common thread: Today they feel good about the independence they’ve gained and most have chosen to stay on in the Tucson community for the supported living program so they can work to bring their independent living skills to the next level.
“They have learned to take care of themselves, and have learned to watch out for each other,” said Chapel Haven West Director Kenneth Hosto. “They are an amazing group of young adults… and achieved great things during the two years of our program!”
Chapel Haven West will celebrate its graduation on Saturday, June 16, 2012 but
many of the graduates will continue on in the Tucson community. The
appeal of apartment living, newfound friendships, jobs and, for some
students, college studies is leading many of the graduates to stay on in
Chapel Haven’s supported living community. To date, Chapel Haven West
has 15 graduates/community members living successfully in Tucson with
the help of support coordinators, job development, social recreation and
other Chapel Haven West programs. That number continues to grow as
students from the University of Arizona learn more about the supports
provided by Chapel Haven West.
Seven young adults will graduate June 16 from Chapel Haven West with newfound independence, friends, and wonderful memories.During the two-year program, they learned how to budget, travel, shop, work, and in some cases, attend classes. And with arguably less effort, they had fun at places such as the mall, the theater, or when asked to be specific, as graduate Alex Lips put it on a recent reflections survey, “Too many
favorites to name.”
Reflection surveys by the graduates show a common thread: Today they feel good
about the independence they’ve gained and most have chosen to stay for the supported living program so they can work to bring their independent living skills to the next level. “They have learned to take care of themselves, and have learned to watch out for each other,” said Chapel Haven West Director Kenneth Hosto. “They are an amazing group of young adults… and achieved great things during the two years of our program!”
The graduating students came to CHW from California, New York, New Jersey, and Arizona.
Sydney Licht appreciated learning about fitness, in addition to the
other essentials said she decided to stay, “To learn more and truly
become independent.” Sydney “spoke” straight from the heart when asked,
“What advice would you have for families considering the program?”
“Please send your child to this program. It will be the best choice you
make,” she wrote.
Brent Levy said, “I learned how to better advocate for myself,” as well as “how to
live on a budget of $500 and make it work.” Levy also wrote that he
learned how to manage his stress — no small feat for any young adult.
Brent, who also attended Pima Community College and the University of Arizona,
said the hardest part was being away from family and friends, but
still, he chose to stay because, “I want to continue to see my new
friends and go to school.”
Sarah Duffy enjoyed her vocational work at the Postal Museum, said, “The best
part of the program was meeting new people and the staff.”
Josh Rudolph loves that he can now shop and travel independently and had a quaint
answer for why he chose to stay. “It’s a nice little place,” he wrote.
Aside from learning how to “take care of my apartment and belongings,” Adam Greenberg wrote that he also learned a more abstract lesson, “that it’s hard
being a grown up.” To families considering the school, he would simply
say in young adult language, “It’s cool.”
Jamie Rabinowitz adds social skills to the list of lessons learned, said the hardest
part of it all was “staying on track with finances.” Rabinowitz has
good reasons for staying. “I have more friends than I had in school,
plus I know the city very well,” he said.
In other news, Kristin Taft, supported living manager at Chapel Haven West, recently earned an M.Ed. of human relations at Northern Arizona University.
Jamie Rabinowitz, graduating student at Chapel Haven West, has secured new paid employment at Outback Steakhouse.
Chapel Haven West students recently participated on the planning team for the Tucson Autism Walk and organized a post-walk dance contest for articipants. Jamie, Carter and Sumner participate in Autism Walk Board meetings as representatives for Chapel Haven West. The students worked together in their Voices class to compile a list of activities, a playlist for the DJ, and prizes for games. Our students, in combination with the
University of Arizona Mentors, planned dances and “worked the crowd,”
reports Jessica Puls, Special Education Teacher/ Point Staff.
Congratulations to staff, students and parents in our ASAT program, who laced up their sneaks, donned special t-shirts designed by student Tripp Dinger (left), and took part May 6 in a walkathon for the Autism Spectrum Resource
Center. The team walked close to three miles at Choate High School in Wallingford and raised close to $1,500 to benefit the programs of the ASRC. For more information about programs through the ASRC, please log onto Autism Spectrum Resource Center
Thumbs up: Jobs and College
Chapel Haven congratulates Matt Vaughn (pictured), graduate of ASAT, for his new job at Elm City Market. Special congrats also to Tripp Dinger
for being accepted into the industrial design program at University of Bridgeport this fall, and to Seth, who graduated Chapel Haven’s ASAT program and lives now in Chapel Haven’s supporting living community. Seth recently received his certificate in computer science at Gateway Community College and has started working toward his associate’s degree.
Veggiepalooza & Gardening Adventures
Learning to grow and eat fresh produce has been a theme this spring. Students have enjoyed a class taught by ASAT student advisor Deanna Bonaventura called “Veggiepalooza” and they have once again planted a beautiful ASAT garden on the Chapel Haven campus.
In “Veggiepalooza” class each week, the students are given fresh
ingredients and a recipe and they are responsible for creating dishes such as carrot soup, cold cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches and grilled vegetable pizzas (selections must involve at least two vegetables). The goal, according to Deanna, is to help students think more about visiting the fresh produce aisles of the supermarket when they do their meal planning and grocery shopping. The course’s “final exam” will involve each student coming to class with a recipe and ingredients, preparing their dishes and sampling each other’s dishes.
For the second year, students taking the gardening class have worked with point staffer Suzanne Beckley (in photo above with Michael) to tend a garden on campus. Sarah and Michael F. (top photo) started eight weeks ago with seedling plants of lettuce, flowers, peppers, onions and broccoli. They then transplanted the seedlings into the ASAT garden,
which sits in a sunny spot on campus near the basketball court. Some herbs sown last year are back in, including chives and oregano.
Student Government organizes Walk-A-Thon
REACH teacher Alicia Earnesty and the Student Government held a Walk-A-Thon Friday, June 1, 2012 at nearby Edgewood Park.
“We are very excited and were glad that a lot of people supported charities, which are the Surviving Bullying, Make-a-Wish and Chapel Haven’s Student Government,” Alicia said. To see photos from the event, click here
Uniting Against Bullying
Several staff members and students from Chapel Haven attended a March 21 conference in Hartford entitled, “CAPSEF Unites Against Bullying.” Jessica Gale, supervisor of ASAT, attended along with Alicia Earnesty, REACH teacher, and students Drew and Uncas, representing the Chapel Haven student government. The conference took place at the Connecticut Convention Center and was organized by the Connecticut Association of Private Special Education Facilities. Workshop offerings discussed how to prevent bullying, special concerns for children with disabilities, and professional development.
Alicia said, “The students were excellent, they were engaged and volunteered to participate. The leadership skills they showed while at the conference were evident. Many professionals attending the event praised Uncas and Drew as a great example. It was wonderful to see the student Government so passionate about a topic.”
Learning the History of Westville
Members of Chapel Haven’s Community Life Program teamed up with Tina Menchetti and her Out to Art Class for a big treat recently: a guided tour of Westville by historian Colin Caplan.
Chris Sidarwick explains: “Colin took class members on a two-hour walking tour, explaining the different landmarks that we see every day but may not know how important they are to New Haven. He explained the history behind our local library, parks, schools and shops. Colin also told us how our communities’ rivers were very important in growing New Haven into what it is today. CLP and Out to Art had a great time and can’t wait to schedule another tour for the downtown area.” To see a photo album from this event, click here
Allison Haines has dreamed of being a photographer and having her own business since she was in middle school, growing up in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Now, at age 27, Allison, a REACH graduate who is part of Chapel Haven’s Supported Living community, will have her work seen by hundreds of people. Her beautiful photograph of a lily, taken in a botanical garden while she was traveling in Australia, was chosen as the artwork for invitations to the National Down Syndrome Conference June 6 in New York City. Allison also has been invited to speak at the conference and will have a table to feature her photographs.
“What does being a photographer mean to me? I would have to say, there is a reason that I was born on this earth – to share my gift with people,” Allison notes. Her inspiration, she says, is her father. “My Dad owns his own (interior design) business and I want that for myself,” said Allison. “I look up to him because it was always a dream of mine to be a photographer and to have my own business.”
And, in fact, Allison also has her own photography business (www.shutterfly.com/pro/ahaines/portfolio), has trained and worked with Chris Volpe, a former New Haven Register photographer who has his own studio, Chris Volpe Photography, located on Whalley Avenue in Westville Village. Allison has helped out at Chris’s studio, has studied with Chris and has learned a lot from him about the technical and business side of having your own professional photography business.
Chris Volpe, who has done photography work with Chapel Haven, was delighted to learn of Allison’s achievement. “Allison is a wonderful person and she is passionate about photography so I always enjoy working with her. She has a unique eye and her photographs are elegant and evocative. I am not surprised at all to hear she has won a national competition.”
Allison brings her camera along everywhere she goes. “The best part of being a photographer is traveling to different places. I do events like parties, wedding anniversary parties, family portraits and photo shoots. I also take pictures of nature and different subjects and sell them online or in art shows.”
Allison grew up in New Jersey and graduated high school in 2005. She continued her interest in photography when she earned a certificate in mass communication at Cape Cod Community College’s Project Forward Program. She came to Chapel Haven to attend the REACH residential program, graduating in 2008. She then moved out into the community and became a community member, sharing an apartment with other Chapel Haven graduates such as Heather and Monya. Currently, she works part-time at the Barnes & Noble at Yale bookstore and has a busy adult life. She is part of the newly formed Chapel Haven Art Guild with Tina, and is a fixture at Chapel Haven’s art shows, selling her photos and notecards. She also is an avid figure skater, and she and her support coordinator, Erika Greig, can be seen whizzing around the ice at the Milford ice pavilion as Allison practices her spins and jumps. In the past, she has taken part in figure skating competitions. She has a boyfriend and also loves to write.
“I feel like Chapel Haven is another home,” Allison says. “I have had a great experience here. I treat the staff and Chapel Haven like a young adult and they treat me like an adult right back.”
On April 27, Chapel Haven hosted a 40th anniversary gala attended by 450 families at Woodwinds in Branford, CT.
“It was truly an honor to dedicate the evening to the success of the men and women of Chapel Haven,” said President Michael Storz. “Chapel Haven began when two Maplebrook School families pooled their resources and bought a house at 1599 Chapel Street that became Chapel Haven. As the program grew, we moved our founding program to 1040 Whalley Avenue, New Haven, where we have steadily flourished. We now have two distinct programs in New Haven and another in Tucson, Arizona.”
Click here to enjoy photos from the evening. Thank you to Ron Guerrucci of the Supported Living Program for his fabulous photography, community member David O’Donnell for his photo contributions, and to ASAT student Craig Altman for creating the album.
Among the many highlights of the evening:
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. spoke and offered a proclamation in tribute to Chapel Haven’s longevity. Community member Sandy Goldberg, who lunches regularly with the Mayor, introduced Mayor DeStefano, and got many laughs when the Mayor complained that he always has to pay the lunch tab (pictured, at left, Mayor DeStefano with Sandy). We were pleased to present the Mayor with a “Friend of Chapel Haven” award in recognition of the City’s continuous support of our agency.
We also took time to recognize community members who have lived 30-plus years in the Chapel Haven Supported Living community. Matthew Baker, a second-year student who is soon to graduate the REACH program, introduced each and helped us honor them. We also honored community members who have lived for at least 5 years or more with independence in our community. Special congrats to our 30-year-plus club (in photo, left to right): Steve Kanter, Rick Savard, Andrew Auerbach, Cathy Cutler, Lori Krass, Jon Sherman, Paul Seigel and Laura Mintz.
Rich LaManna, a REACH graduate and community member who is the supervisor of Chapel Haven’s café, was a featured speaker and said he is thankful that his family chose Chapel Haven for him in 1986. Rich came here from his home community of Milford, CT, attended the REACH program and then graduated to Chapel Haven’s extensive Supported Living community. “I was 19 at the time and I was ready to start my own life and that’s exactly what has happened.” Rich said Chapel Haven is where he met his wife, Kim, where he learned how to live independently, where he trained for a certificate in food services, and most all of, where he has developed his own community. “All of you are really my second family and I know that I speak for many friends in the audience who feel the same way,” Rich said.
Jacob Shore, who graduated from the Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition program, brought tears to peoples’ eyes and received a standing ovation for his remarks. He said Chapel Haven has been instrumental in helping him “grow and develop in a number of ways, I’ve been introduced to a lot of things about being social, and about working, handling money, how to live with someone else, and even how to make it so that no one single thing dominates my life, such as my comic books, tv shows, DVDs, what have you.”
Jacob, who is from Phoenix, AZ, is attending college and will be graduating and moving into Chapel Haven’s supported living program, said he has also learned a lot about Asperger Syndrome. “Sometimes Asperger Syndrome is not noticeable at all with some people! Some people might go nearly their whole lives without knowing that they have it, …My Asperger’s is only a small part of who I am as a person. There are many more things that make me who I am, such as the things I write, or do… If you are a parent sitting out there, just know this: be patient with your child. Try to help them understand themselves if they can’t do it for themselves, and understand who they are, and what they want from their life, even if it’s not what you want. Just make sure that they’re happy.”
Families were touched when they listened to a warm greeting from our Chapel Haven West students who shared their happiness through a video message created by Director Ken Hosto and Supported Living community member Chris Brown.
We also took time to recognize the families of Kent Atkins (in left photo) and Harriet Schleifer (right photo, with son David), both longtime parents and board members of Chapel Haven, for their lead gifts to kick off our Endowment Campaign of 5 Million More for the Fifth Decade. “These two remarkable families have increased our Endowment fund by over $2,000,000,” Storz noted.
“We are very proud of Chapel Haven’s unique history and even prouder that we continue to serve adults with such distinction. We will continue to observe Chapel Haven’s 40th anniversary throughout 2012 with open houses, workshops and other events. Stay tuned,” Storz said.
Chapel Haven boasts a growing number of students who are seeking higher education and succeeding, often to the surprise of their families. For young adults who have often had a difficult time in the mainstream, college has raised the bar and these young adults are going for it. Chapel Haven provides supports and staffing to help make college more successful.
Ariana Habib, 24, is a student in Chapel Haven’s Asperger’s Syndrome Adult Transition Program, but she’s also a sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University with the same problems that most other college students in the world face. “It’s difficult to manage my time,” Ariana said. “I shouldn’t have been as socially active as I was.”
Ariana gets good grades, but she’s also quite the social butterfly who enjoys watching the Southern Idol singing competition, attending Folio readings — that’s the literary and poetry magazine of Southern — where she has read poetry and short stories and joining clubs. She also finds time to volunteer one day a week at New Haven Reads, sorting books and placing book orders for Cornell Scott Hill Health Center and the Books in the Park program. Of her intention to focus more on her studies, rather than the “events” she likes so much, Ariana said, “This time I’m going to tone it down.”
Brent Levy, 23 of Chapel Haven West is a third semester student at Pima Community College in a general studies program with a concentration in applied art. Rebekah Miranda, supervisor of Chapel Haven West and Brent’s point staff, said Brent’s parents never thought he could pass a math test and he’s now taking intermediate algebra. “I’m really proud of Brent,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of growth in him since he began college. He’s much more mature. He’s branched out more. I think that attracts other people to be friends with him.”
In his artwork, Brent, who has a knack for colors when applying makeup, works with a lot of different mediums, including, charcoal, pencil, paint and clay. In the academic arena, he’s really enjoyed psychology. “I really liked the teacher,” Brent said. “He wasn’t stiff and formal, he’s relaxed.”
Brent said he knew college would be different than high school and there’s a lot he loves about this new level of learning. “I met a lot of friends and I’m expanding my knowledge,” he said. Brent and his new friends hang out, watch movies, and eat together. Brent even schedules his math tutor and keeps on top of homework and studying, exceeding his parents’ expectations, Miranda said. “It makes me really feel good I can do it,” said Brent, who recently got his drivers’ license.
Sarah Allen, who is graduating this spring from Chapel Haven’s Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition program, is doing well at Gateway Community College, where she is studying early childhood education. Her favorite part of college is learning about child care. The hardest thing is English class. She enjoys socializing in the student lounge and has enjoyed special events like a Mardi Gras buffet. Her advice to students considering college? “Get help, either in the Disability Resource Center or the writing Center.”
Jacob Shore, 21, who is also in the ASAT program at Chapel Haven, had some growing pains his first semester at Gateway Community College, but he’s aware of his missteps and prepared to change some of his approaches next semester. He took composition, pre-algebra and psychology his first semester.
On composition, he said it wasn’t the kind of writing he was used to.
“It’s great to learn how to do that, but I’d much rather write stuff with my head in the clouds. Like fan fiction,” Jacob said. In his fan fiction writing Jacob says he likes to connect everything he sees in video games, television, comic books and create his own fantasy. “I notice I’ve made a pretty good impression on some people,” he said, referring to Gateway.
Jacob added that he hasn’t really shown them at the school all he knows.
Jacob said he knows he has to work on raising his hand to talk in class rather than blurting out a question or answer in an effort to get his thoughts across. “I’m still figuring that out,” he said.
ASAT student Frank Dinger III, more commonly known as “Tripp,” will become a full-time industrial design student this fall at the University of Bridgeport, with an eye toward becoming a toy designer. Tripp, 29, said he’s made past attempts at college without success, but believes this time he’ll be able to succeed because he has support staff from Chapel Haven behind him. “It should go well,” Tripp said. “They’ll help me a lot with time management and help me to keep on top of things and on top of assignments.” Tripp said he’s already progressed after a year in the ASAT program.
Tripp collects toys and said he loves them because they, “give people the freedom to explore” many concepts and use their imaginations.
“I like the sense of joy they bring to people,” he said. While he hopes to follow his passion and design toys for a living, Tripp is practical and said he’s fully prepared to broaden his design area when it comes time to search for a job.
Maria Rivera, also an ASAT student, is taking classes at Southern Connecticut State University in hopes of eventually earning a computer programming degree. “It’s good so far,” she said, adding the best part is, “meeting people and learning in general.” The most unpleasant aspects of college for Rivera: “homework and staying awake in the morning.”