Watch Our Video!Chapel Haven is proud to be an inaugural winner of AFAA Applauds, a national initiative recognizing innovative, high-quality support programs for adults living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Providing an array of lifelong individualized support services for adults (18+) on the autism spectrum and those with developmental and social disabilities, enabling them to lead independent and productive lives.
“Chapel Haven is an amazing organization. We have always felt a total commitment both to our child and to the population that the organization serves. If there is an identified need in their population that is not being met, they develop a program to deal with it."
Pamela and Michael
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The new curriculum was created with the following goals in mind: to help Chapel Haven’s clients attain and maintain a healthy weight; to reduce clients’ risk of chronic disease; and to help clients live a healthy lifestyle.
To achieve those goals, health center staff created an eleven week program that covers everything from weight loss tips to healthy snacks. Weigh-ins, food tastings,
hands-on activities and food demonstrations are also included in the weekly
classes. Students engage in a variety of activities including Nutrition Jeopardy.
Read more about it in the New Haven Register here
“The Weigh to Live” started April 11th and currently has fifteen students enrolled. Each student had pre-testing done including glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure screenings as well as waist and hip measurements. Post-testing will also be conducted.
“Weight management and fitness are vital components of leading a happy and healthy adult life,” said Michael Storz, President of Chapel Haven. “We have been delighted with the success of this initiative in such a short amount of time. The staff of the Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center are remarkably skilled at making fitness fun and manageable for our students and that is the key to any sustainable health program.”
The program is being overseen by Jill Meyerhoff, a Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center Wellness Educator. She is also thrilled with the program’s progress: “So far the program has been a success. Not only have the fifteen students lost a combined thirty-five pounds, they have been buying new, healthier foods at the grocery store and learning how to portion control their foods, important skills that will serve them well as they move toward independent living.”
The Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center is the oldest and among the largest community health centers in Connecticut. The center provides integrated medical and behavioral health solutions throughout the greater New Haven area and the Naugatuck Valley
with the goal of improving the health status of patients and the community at
large. The Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center has been a leader in community healthcare innovation for over 40 years. Learn more at www.hillhealthcenter.com.
Chapel Haven is a nonprofit agency founded in 1972 and dedicated to helping adults with developmental and social disabilities live independent and productive lives. Through three core programs, Chapel Haven has helped more than 300 adults gain the skills needed to live happy and productive lives of independence. Chapel Haven has campuses in New Haven and Tucson, AZ and recently was selected as a national “best practice” by Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism. Learn more at www.chapelhaven.org.
A family who toured Chapel Haven recently was enamored with Chapel Haven’s Jewish Student organization and wrote a blog post about it.
Click here to read the story.
Thank you to Betty Ross and her daughter, Ilyse, for the story and for visiting us!
The Jewish Students Organization – unique to Chapel Haven – falls under the auspices of Jewish Family Service’s Shalom Group, which serves Jewish individuals in the New Haven area who have developmental needs. The Shalom Group seeks to help individuals experience holiday observance, Torah study and shared fellowship.
Many of the 6-15 students and Chapel Haven community members who attend the twice a month meeting have a strong Jewish life at home, but are away from family and relish the chance to carry on traditions and learning.
“It’s made me feel stronger and closer to my religion,” said student Andy Hausler, who was instrumental in establishing the group, along with some dedicated Chapel Haven parents.
Organization members meet two times monthly on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the library, with Rabbi Hesche Sommer leading one week and JFS social worker Rachel Scolnic Dobin another. While Sommer focuses on religious teaching, Dobin handles etiquette, daily living, holiday observances and activities through the Jewish Community Center.
Armed with rakes, mulch, brooms and shovels, dozens of volunteers and Chapel Haven staff worked hard through the morning, placing mulch around the flowering shrubs and plantings that dot the courtyard and the campus. In a special feature, Debbie Edwards and the New Haven Garden Club brought three American elm trees to campus to be planted as part of the City of New Haven’s 375th birthday, and the marking of the New Haven Garden Club’s centennial.
Click here to see New Haven Register coverage of the tree donation. Chapel Haven is grateful to Tucker Trimble, mother of community member James Trimble, for recommending Chapel Haven get the new trees through her Garden Club connections in New Jersey.
To see a photo album of pictures from the event, click here. Thanks to Ron Guerrucci from the Supported Living program for taking such fabulous pix.
The annual event is a chance for families from the REACH, ASAT and Supported Living programs to mingle and celebrate the strength of Chapel Haven, an agency dedicated to helping adults with a variety of disabilities learn to live independently. Chapel Haven, founded in 1972, marked its 40th anniversary in 2012.
The event included a silent auction that raised in excess of $20,000, including funds to go toward campus improvements.
Michael Storz, President of Chapel Haven, gave a very personal speech about Chapel Haven’s significance to him. “Each day when I pull into our parking lot, I am thronged by high energy – smiling, excited faces. I am surrounded by passionate people – students, community members and staff – who look at the prospect of having a successful, independent adult and think not about limitations or impediments, but instead, about opportunity. Our adults are living the dream of independence each and every day, and that is an intoxicating mission to be around!”
John Bilezekian, chair of Chapel Haven’s board of directors and parent of Diane Bilezekian, longstanding Chapel Haven community member, gave the welcome and also introduced Chapel Haven’s new video, created when Chapel Haven was chosen a best-practice program through the national Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism. To see the video, click here. To read more about Chapel Haven’s prestigious designation, click here.
Student speakers at the brunch were John Orr, Katy Balog and Jeff Blattmachr.
John Orr graduated from REACH in 1989. He is employed by Chapel Haven managing a cleaning crew of 3 employees. He is an avid artist; painting birds and landscapes in
acrylic and oil. He remains active at Chapel Haven attending classes both as a student and mentor.
Jeff Blattmachr entered Chapel Haven’s Bridge Program nearly five years ago before quickly transitioning into Supported Living. Despite being relatively “new” on the scene, Jeff is at the hub of Chapel Haven’s social network-always volunteering to host parties at
Katy Balog came to the Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT) program in the summer of 2012 with the ambition of pursuing a career in the arts. In just two short years, Katy has accomplished so much, from gallery internships to working at the International
Festival of Arts and Ideas to her current position at Hull’s Art Shop in the
heart of New Haven. Katy is graduating the ASAT residential program this June
and will move into the Supported Living community.
Chapel Haven also took time at the brunch to recognize its many Student Ambassadors, who are selected by the Admissions Office to help give tours to prospective families and take the time to talk about their experiences at Chapel Haven at conferences and other special events. The Admissions Office look forward to honoring its Student Ambassadors
later in May.
And four staff members who have hit the milestone of having worked at Chapel Haven for 20-plus years were presented with special awards. “Talk about passion and purpose, our hats are off to these individuals,” Mike said in presenting them with their plaques.
Congratulations to Sunny Richards, Deborah Elliott, Linda Evans-Willis and Joanne Roberts-Sims.
For the first time, Chapel Haven hosted an Art Day on campus, giving students and community members the chance to participate in a day of creating artwork to celebrate Autism Awareness Day (April 2) on the campus of Yale.
Their creations will be displayed in Woolsey Hall at Yale University on April 2 in celebration of Autism Awareness Day.
Art Teacher Tina Menchetti said Yale graduate student Andrew Sotiriou, who has interned with Tina’s Out to Art classes, secured grant funds to help Chapel Haven purchase art supplies. Students from Yale and staff from the Yale Center for British Art were on hand Sunday to help the students with their creations. The group created paintings, drawings, collage, and sculptures.
The New Haven Register sent photographer Melanie Stengel to photograph. Click here to view her incredible slide show:
Chapel Haven is proud to be an inaugural winner of AFAA Applauds, a national initiative recognizing innovative, high-quality support programs for adults living with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Check out our video!
The transition from high school to college is tricky for most students, and for those on the Autism Spectrum, there are added and unique challenges.
But the college environment in many ways is also ideal for those on the spectrum, because of factors like scheduling flexibility, more choices and a diverse student population that may be more accepting of quirks.
It’s all about the right supports and preparation, said Ginny Hodge, Director of Chapel Haven’s Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT) Program. “Students on the spectrum can soar,” she said.
Hodge recently addressed parents and educators at a Chapel Haven workshop focused on how a student on the spectrum can meet with success in the college or other post-secondary education setting. The room was packed with families nervously considering the transition to college.
Hodge, a certified speech-language pathologist who also is Chapel Haven’s Vice President of Autism Spectrum Programs, explored the differences between high school and college, presented a “Big Six” checklist of skills students face in a more challenging college environment and concluded on an up note: college can be just right for many adults.
“She nailed everything,” educational consultant Daria M. Rockholz said of Hodge’s presentation. “People who read of the triumphs don’t see all the blood, sweat and tears.”
First, Explore Expectations
Hodge said the first important step is for parents to talk to the student about expectations, asking them directly, “Do you want to go to college?” and “Why do you want to go to college?”
Hodge said don’t be shocked by answers like, “That’s what I’m supposed to do,” or even “I’ve heard there are a lot of parties.”
Everyone needs to be on the same page, Hodge said. Continue reading
Rabbi Hesch Sommer of Jewish Family Service stood at the white board in Chapel Haven’s library, posing a question to students and community members: “You just got back from break. Did your Jewishness go on vacation?” For student Andy Hausler, who led a Shabbat service on a cruise, and Liora Steinschriber, who led two shabbatons or celebrations, it was an obvious, “no.”
But for a couple of others in the meeting of Chapel Haven’s Jewish Students Organization, it took a little drawing out by Sommer to realize their Jewishness didn’t go on vacation either. “I played with my dog,” David Schleifer said, after telling the Rabbi he didn’t do anything Jewish.
To which Rabbi said, “Taking care of pets is a very Jewish thing to do. It’s a mitzvah (good deed)…We learn in the Torah that God gives us the responsibility to take care and responsibility.” Eric Kay said he went to “synagogue” over vacation, then changed it to, “Let’s say we went to Temple.” He also helped his grandmother put on her seatbelt. “You didn’t let your Jewishness go on vacation,” Sommer said. “The Jewish part to us isn’t a separate part, it’s within us.”
Sommer, Director of Jewish Wellness and Healing Center at Jewish Family Service, said the student group at Chapel Haven was begun about two years ago, an extension of work JFS was already doing with the Chapel Haven community. Continue reading
Kristina, a graduate of Chapel Haven’s REACH program who is currently enrolled in the SAIL program, makes her way in the kitchen confidently, slicing, dicing, measuring, and chatting under the expert guidance of Nicole Romano, her holistic health counselor, who also teaches nutrition and cooking classes at Chapel Haven.
Together each week Kristina and Nicole prepare a week’s worth of healthy, portioned breakfasts and lunches so that Kristina has good food options at her fingertips. Kristina picks the recipes the week before from one of Romano’s cookbooks, they order the ingredients and hit the kitchen. Spending three hours cooking may seem like drudgery to some, but not this pair – they have lots of conversation and laughter in the process.
Kristina loves to recall the time they were cooking in a group and the beans of the edamame she was peeling starting flying around. And the humor isn’t lost on either one of them when the sensitive smoke alarm goes off several times during cooking even though there’s no smoke in sight. Nicole waves a dish cloth in front of the alarm, joking,”This is my exercise for the week.” Does Kristina enjoy the time? “Oh yeah,” Kristina said. Continue reading