How Abilities, Inc. and the Henry Viscardi School Teamed Up to Deliver Food
and Show Their Compassion This Year
Participants from a variety of programs at Abilities, Inc. at The Viscardi Center teamed up to make a difference this Holiday season, delivering food and other supplies to families-in-need on Long Island. For a little more than a year The Viscardi Center has partnered with Island Harvest to operate a food pantry within the campus. This site is managed by participants enrolled in the Work Readiness Training Program. This year, the Abilities teams which preside over the program determined that the food and toiletries could be utilized in a new and helpful way.
“We decided that families of Abilities program participants and Henry Viscardi School (HVS) students might benefit from the non-perishable items we collect throughout the year, but may not necessarily reach out directly to get them,” says Sara Eckstein, Vocational Instructor of the Work Readiness program. “Door to door delivery was suggested to alleviate any perceived stigma for participating families and assist those who have limited transportation to get to a food pantry.” Participants in Sara’s program put together baskets of food and supplies from the pantry. HVS Social Worker Amanda Caccavo identified and reached out to families and coordinated sending some baskets home with students on the bus. Henry Viscardi School serves children with severe physical disabilities from Pre-K to age 21.
It all came together when the Day Habilitation Without Walls program team stepped in to offer delivery of the remaining baskets as part of their community-centric programming. On December 4th, the DayHab group took the baskets and delivered them to families in Far Rockaway, Glen Cove and Westbury. DayHab Program Manager, Janice King, said “No was not an option for this group of young adults who like to give back and participate in supporting their community through volunteerism. People with disabilities are often on the receiving end of kindness and assistance, but we want to focus on empowering our participants to be on the giving end of the equation. We all feel good when we give.”
One thing that shone throughout the ideation and launch of this initiative was the importance and power of collaboration. The various teams and groups who worked on this do not often get a chance to work across programs with their peers to accomplish goals. This initiative was a departure from the norm. Alice Muterspaw, Associate Vice President of Vocational Services at Abilities, lauded the efforts of her teams, saying, “This was a moment where I am so proud of my team and humbled by them. It was such a great effort and across so many different departments!”
Ultimately, the collaborative effort improved the quality of life for local families, which can be especially crucial during the Holiday Season. The holidays can be a difficult time for all families, especially families who have limited income and members with disabilities. The impact will go far beyond those families however; The Work Readiness and DayHab teams want to continue offering these deliveries throughout the year and are considering developing a monthly door to door food pantry drop off program to an even larger number of households.