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"Self-Direction Saturday" - SNACK* Models Walk The Red Carpet Fashion Show on May 11th @ 4PM


"Self-Direction Saturday" - SNACK* Models Walk The Red Carpet Fashion Show on May 11th @ 4PM

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Sitting at Special Needs Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church yesterday with Jackie Ceonzo of SNACK*, it dawned on me how much I/we take her for granted in the Self-Direction community of NYC. Besides the support for SNACK*, this event is also an opportunity to meet many of the Self-Direction programs and community that we all need to understand better. Here is the opportunity to join SNACK* for a fun day of shopping at:

The SNACK* 2nd Annual Fashion Show

Fabulous gift items for Mother's Day, and pick up a few things for 

yourself too! Wonderful array of items will be on display:

  •  Endeavor Athletic Wear - Sophisticated Workout Clothes for the Modern Athlete

  • Kuo Ting Jewelry by Debbie Kuo - Vintage Meets Modern/One-of-a-Kind Pieces/Amazing Prices

  • Marie Atelier Handbags - High Quality/Special Collection/Handmade in Brazil

  • - Fashionable Sneakers by Branding Genius Jeff Henderson

  • SNACK*- Coffee, Student Art Scarves & Gear - All inventory, labeling, & packaging are handled by our wonderful group of  SNACK* 21+ members.

  • LuvMichael - Gluten & Nut Free Granola, Produced by Young Adults with Autism

  • Invictus Enterprises - Sweet Potato, All Natural Dog Biscuits, Hand Made by Young People of all Abilities

  • Village Health Works - Items Produced in Burundi Supporting Quality Health Care and Education for the Community  

  • The Otto Specht School and 21+ Community - Offers Waldorf Education and hands-on learning for children and 21+ young adults with learning challenges and developmental delays. They will be selling student-made items featuring ingredients from our farm in Rockland County.



AS OF 5/2/19*

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Ian Aquino

Shoen Assis

Geri Avilai

Yianni Batalias

George Billson

Ava Blyn

Noah Buhler

Joe Ceonzo

Aiden Del Aguila

Harry George 

Greenlee Gutterman

Ian Gutterman

William Hamilton

Julia Kaminsky

Noko Kurusu

Maxi Lupa

Simon Portelli

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Leo Salinas

Allan Sanchez

Dylan Singer

Dusty Sweeney

Jordan Torres

Justin Torres

Julio A Vega


SDNYC Facebook Group and Meeting on November 7, 2018 at SNACK


SDNYC Facebook Group and Meeting on November 7, 2018 at SNACK

In case you have not seen or heard, I help moderate SDNYC Facebook Group, and our “real world meetings are typically hosted by Jackie Ceonzo at SNACK - 316 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022-5265.

SDNYC = Self-Direction New York City (area)

This is Self-Direction NYC (SDNYC), which is the “Circle Of Support” group for individuals in the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. If you live in the NYC area or support individuals in the NYC area, please join us.
— SDNYC Facebook Group


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs - CBS Sunday Morning, Cornell ILR, Invictus, and SNACK 21+


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs - CBS Sunday Morning, Cornell ILR, Invictus, and SNACK 21+

Yang Tan Institute @ Cornell University

In the fall of 2017, I attended a conference in NYC put on by the Yang Tan Institue at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). The conference highlighted a number of "higher functioning Autistics" OUTPERFORMING their peers in the corporate world due to the Autistic's ability to focus, their loyalty, and their retention rates.

We help make possible the full participation of people with disabilities in the workplace, the community, and society.
— Cornell ILR - Yang Tan Institute

CBS Sunday Morning - video

My sister sent this video to me, and it is reflective of the changing attitudes towards Autistics in society and the workplace. At the end of the day, we live in NYC, and this is America. Much of our individual identity is driven by the jobs and careers that we have and pursue. Why should Dustin Sweeney not have that opportunity?

This CBS Sunday Morning piece had some great stories of higher funtioning Autistics on "The growing acceptance of autism in the workplace":

Yes, these were higher functioning Autistics in the CBS story. Our son would not fit in this story, but this is a growing trend, see Cornell.

Again, Dustin Sweeney would not fit into these corporate programs as they exist today, but a number of panelist remarked how their contracts were starting to require outside contractors to have a percentage of Special Needs workers. 

Dustin Sweeney could be a Professional Baker down the road, see Invictus:

Invictus Enterprises

Dustin Sweeney will enter the workforce in 2019, and these corporate programs are too advanced for Dustin.  However, he is now in training to be a Baker at Invictus' NoBones About It. It is an awesome program:

Many of Dustin's friends have graduated from Hawthorne Country Day School and are now working as Coffee Grinders and Packagers at SNACK's 21+ Coffee Factory

I am amazed at the progress that I am seeing in the employment arena for the Developmentally Disabled in the past six months. 


Katie Sweeney 2017 Fundraiser for SNACK - Dustin Sweeney with Jackie and Joey Ceonzo


Katie Sweeney 2017 Fundraiser for SNACK - Dustin Sweeney with Jackie and Joey Ceonzo

SNACK is the creation of New York mom and SNACK's Executive Director, Jackie Ceonzo.  In 2003, after being unable to find a fulfilling program for her son, Joey, she worked with a team of professionals to create a place where any child, despite their abilities, can socialize and enjoy activities while learning practical skills in a collaborative, fun, and welcoming environment. At SNACK, children of ALL abilities are welcome including those with no diagnosis. ALL SNACK activities are open to the general public.


From Katie Sweeney:

The journey that we are on with our 19-year old severely autistic son, Dusty, has not been easy, and while there are indeed moments of despair, the moments of glory shine through. One such shining moment came a few weeks ago when I took Dusty to a regular (non-autism Friendly performance) of Wicked on Broadway, a show that he is obsessed with. Ten years ago we were asked to leave a performance of ‘Chicago’ on Broadway shortly after the start of Act II, a rejection that still stings today. In ten years, Dusty has matured and through the love and support of the community we surround him with, he has learned to manage his impulsive and compulsive behaviors allowing him to relax and enjoy the moment. So I decided it was time to try again. There we were, 5th row Orchestra seats on the aisle and for the whole two hours he smiled. He smiled! And he was quiet! Really quiet. And then the most amazing thing happened. During the song ‘For Good’ that Elphaba and Glinda sing to each other at the end of Act II…right when Glinda sings ‘Because I knew you…I have been changed for good’, Dusty picked up my hand and kissed it. He has never done anything like that before.

This moment, this shining moment, would never have happened if it weren’t for SNACK. They have been with us every step of the way, nurturing Dusty, embracing Dusty, loving Dusty. Acclimating him to the community, the environment, his peers, enabling him to live in the world and enjoy all the shining moments versus observing it from afar.

As we look towards Dusty’s future and adulthood, SNACK will play an even more integral role as he will soon age out of the school system and ‘fall off the cliff’. There are no mandated services or programming beyond age 21 for the developmentally disabled.  SNACK’s recent 21+ initiative is well underway, but it needs your help to grow and survive. Please consider donating either by clicking the donate button above or sending a check to SNACK & Friends, LLC, 316 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022. SNACK is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

For all the good that SNACK has done and will continue to do, there is no question…there will be more shining moments yet to come. And thanks for your support, because we knew you, we have been changed….for good.