Viewing entries in

ArchCare @ Saint Teresa on Staten Island Part II: Community-based, Family-governed Self-Direction Community


ArchCare @ Saint Teresa on Staten Island Part II: Community-based, Family-governed Self-Direction Community

October 27, 2019 - Welcome Mass and Brunch to New Residents and Families

Final inspections from NYC are expected this coming week. With any luck, Residents will be moving in 1/1/2020!!

January 2019 - Press and Community Event - ArchCare @ Saint Teresa, Staten Island, New York

Yesterday, we invited the Press and Staten Island Community to take a tour of ArchCare @ Staten Island. It was a great day and here are some highlights and updates.

From the Parents Committee:

“One Perfect Day 24/7/365”

Danielle and Izzy Paskowitz in San Diego

Danielle and Izzy Paskowitz in San Diego

When I started down this housing and community path for the Autism/DD community, I always pulled inspiration from our friends at Surfers Healing who create “one perfect day” of surfing for the Autism community. My goal was to create a community that took that surfing spirit into a lifelong community for our Autism and Developmentally Disabled population. The Founders of Surfers Healing have broken ground on a facility in San Diego, California area that will extend their ocean spirit to the Campus of Life.

As Parents, we were all very very excited yesterday about the commitment from ArchCare, Saint Teresa Parish, and the entire Staten Island community to reach in, reach out and truly support this community. There were so many new ideas presented to us about how to make ArchCare @ Saint Teresa work. It was an inspiring day, and we hope and expect ArchCare @ Saint Teresa to be a model for other projects.

Jackie Ceonzo, Susan George, Donna Maxon, and Mike Sweeney

From ArchCare @ Saint Teresa:

Offering housing for young adults with Autism 21 years of age and over, transitioning to independent living, ArchCare at St. Teresa will be located at 139 Windsor Road, Staten Island on the campus of Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church. The housing is projected to be available in late summer, 2019. It will feature separate apartments with a combined living/dining/sleeping area, a bathroom and a small kitchen with a stove, refrigerator and microwave. A recreation area, community room, teaching kitchen, lounge and laundry will be shared by the residents. The building and apartments will have fire, smoke and emergency response alarms. The building will be fully sprinklered and will have a key fob access system. Residents must be able to live independently. No support services will be provided, but it is anticipated residents may receive services through self-directed funding and from Circles of Support.

A live-in project manager will be responsible of assuring the cleaning and upkeep of the building and will respond to emergencies when he is present in the building. It is anticipated that the Circles of Support will help develop and run group activities. Residents may also have individual staff support through self-directed funding.

ArchCare at St. Teresa will not have 24 hour supervision, but residents can arrange extended supervision through self-directed funding, other resources or by their Circles of Support. Families will be able to work together to develop support systems.

CBS New York Report - Thursday January 18, 2019

Question and Answer from ArchCare:

Why is there a need for special housing for young adults with autism?

The number of young adults with autism among our local parish families and across Staten Island continues to grow, and many worry that they will have no place to go or people to live with as their parents and siblings age. Prompted by concern for these young people and their families, Cardinal Timothy Dolan challenged ArchCare, the non-profit healthcare ministry of the Archdiocese of New York, to identify creative ways to help. When told of the opportunity to repurpose an unused convent building at St. Teresa’s to create individual apartments for young adults with autism, he immediately gave his blessing to the project. 

Why are St. Teresa’s and ArchCare doing this?

It is a way for St. Teresa’s and the archdiocese to put an unused Church property to good use in the way Jesus would want us to – to help members of our community who need and deserve our help, compassion and support.

What is ArchCare?

ArchCare is the non-profit healthcare ministry of the Archdiocese of New York. ArchCare cares for more than 9,000 people of all faiths every day across the archdiocese in their homes, in the community and in its skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. On Staten Island, ArchCare provides skilled nursing care and rehabilitation at ArchCare at Carmel Richmond Nursing Home, comprehensive home health services, and a PACE program that helps hundreds of people, many with intellectual and other disabilities, continue to live safely and independently in the community instead of in institutions. 

Who will be living at St. Teresa’s?

The residents will be young adults with autism who have “aged out” of programs in their early 20s and are capable of living safely and successfully with the level of independence the residence will require. Some will likely have jobs in the community, while others may leave to attend classes or other programs during the day. Their families will continue to be involved in their daily lives and, together with the residents, will be responsible for arranging for any services they might need, such as transportation personal assistance. While the focus is on young people with autism, those with other developmental disabilities who are capable of living safely with the degree of independence the residence will require may also be considered.

Where will the residents be from?

The initial goal is for half of the residents to come from within Saint Teresa’s Parish and 50% from elsewhere. Typically, they will have been living at home with their families and will be living in the community for the first time. As a condition of residency, their families will agree to continue to be active in their lives and commit to serving as members of a family council, who will work together to ensure that residents are successful and address any issues that may arise. That’s why ArchCare is referring to this as community-based, family-governed housing.

How will residents be selected?

Residents will be selected by a panel of autism advocates and other experts with experience working with young adults with autism. Residents will have to meet specific criteria, including: 

  • Residents must capable of living safely with the degree of independence the residence will offer;

  • Residents’ families must agree to continue to be involved in their lives and their care for the foreseeable future and serve as members of a family council who will work together to represent their loved ones’ interests as necessary;

  • The residence must be an environment in which residents can continue to thrive socially, emotionally and intellectually.

Is the building being enlarged or changed in any way?

The building is not being enlarged, and the “footprint” will remain exactly the same. The renovation will mainly be taking place inside to bring the building up to code and create the individual apartments and common living spaces. 

How much will this cost St. Teresa’s Parish?

Absolutely nothing. The estimated $2.5-3.5 million cost of construction will be covered by ArchCare and other funding sources. ArchCare will lease the building from the parish under a long-term lease and assume responsibility for all maintenance and repairs. St. Teresa’s will receive a regular stream of income in the form of fair market rent for the property, and will no longer face the risks and costs of maintaining an unused building or finding other tenants. 

Is ArchCare looking to create similar residences elsewhere?

Not immediately. The hope is that St. Teresa’s will serve as a model that can be replicated not just by other parishes but also by others in the community with space to offer and the desire to help. 

What is the timeline for the project?

ArchCare announced the project in mid-2017 and construction began in early 2018. Current projections call for the renovations to be completed in July 2019 and for residents to be able to begin moving in by September. Applications are currently being accepted, and resident selection will take place in May. 

Do residents have to be Catholic? 

The residence will be open to people of all faiths. Of course, residents who would like to attend Mass will always be welcome at St. Teresa’s.

Will any residents be coming from institutions?

The residence was conceived and is being designed as transitional housing to help individuals with autism who have been cared for at home live away from their loved ones for the first time. The goal is to provide a comfortable, homelike environment in which they can develop the skills and relationships they need, and perhaps be able to live in an even more independent setting in the future. 

Will there be a caretaker or other staff on-site?

There will be a full-time project manager who will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the building and will respond to emergencies when present.

What kind care and other services will ArchCare be providing? 

This is a residence, not a care facility. ArchCare’s role will be that of a landlord. Some residents and families may choose to obtain services from ArchCare programs, but that would be up to them and is not required to live at St. Teresa’s. 

Update: Spectrum News NY1 - “Adults With Autism Can Soon Call Former Staten Island Convent Home”


Updated: Otto Specht Spring Farm Faire - Saturday April 13th, 2019


Updated: Otto Specht Spring Farm Faire - Saturday April 13th, 2019

Here are some updated pictures from today’s Otto Specht Faire, and Thursday’s setup. It was a great day(s), great place, and great people at Otto Specht.

Original Post from March 2019

Get to work Dusty!!

Get to work Dusty!!

I am on the Board of the Otto Specht School in Rockland County, NY, and it is a very unique and special place. Otto Specht is on the campus of the 200 acre Threefold Community, and we are at the beginning stages of building out:

  • Otto Specht 18+ Summer Camp for Commuters;

  • Otto Specht 18+ Young Adult Commuter Program; and

  • Otto Specht 21+ Residential Program (three homes have been purchased by Otto Specht families).

The Spring Faire is a casual opportunity to see the campus and potentially meet some of the staff, students, and the surrounding community. It is a really unique and special place and I will be there along with Dustin Sweeney on April 13th, so come check it out and see my previous writeup on Otto Specht/Threefold for additional background:

Music is a daily event at Otto Specht/Threefold.

Music is a daily event at Otto Specht/Threefold.

27 Miles to Otto Specht from Sweeney’s NYC Apartment



CO/LAB Live Annual Benefit - Monday April 22, 2019 - Honoring Katie Sweeney (and Dusty!)


CO/LAB Live Annual Benefit - Monday April 22, 2019 - Honoring Katie Sweeney (and Dusty!)



CO/LAB’s annual benefit is an exciting celebration of diversity and inclusion through theater arts. Take a behind-the-scenes look at a CO/LAB class in action, and see how their actors’ lessons in the classroom evolve into a live performance. 

Support the work of CO/LAB actors and celebrate Creative Opportunities without Limits And Boundaries—all while enjoying a festive cocktail hour and the opportunity to win incredible raffle and live auction prizes.

This year’s event features a special performance by a CO/LAB class.


MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2019

137 W 26TH STREET / NEW YORK, NY 10001




  • Cocktail hour open bar and lite bites



  • Cocktail hour open bar and lite bites

  • One reserved seat in prime location

  • Includes five raffle tickets


  • Cocktail hour open bar and lite bites

  • Four reserved seats together in prime location

  • Includes 10 raffle tickets


  • Cocktail hour open bar and lite bites

  • Four reserved seats in prime location

  • Includes 10 raffle tickets

  • Ad for your company featured on our event slideshow

  • Shoutout on our social media pages and your logo featured on the event web page



  • Special, lowest price only available online


  • We’ll be in touch once you make your purchase and work with you to design your tribute ad.



Low Income Homes in Harlem - 46-48 East 129th Street - DEADLINE 1/30/19


Low Income Homes in Harlem - 46-48 East 129th Street - DEADLINE 1/30/19

Sorry for the last minute, but this just popped up - JANUARY 30, 2019 DEADLINE


HCCI has developed a new homeownership opportunity. Applications are now being accepted for 4 renovated HDFC cooperative units at 46-48 East 129th Street New York, NY 10035. These newly renovated, three-bedroom homes include new kitchens equipped with energy efficient appliances, plus a washing machine and dryer in each unit. 


You may register here to access the downloadable application and ad.  These materials are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian or Spanish. 

Or, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (postage is $2.00) to request an application in your language of choice to: 

Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc.,

Attn:  LéPrie Manor, HDFC

256 W. 153rd Street

New York, NY 10039 



Only send one application. Do not submit duplicate applications. Applicants who submit more than one application may be disqualified. Completed applications must be returned by regular mail only (no priority, certified, registered, express, over-sized, or overnight mail will be accepted) to a post office box number that will be listed on the application.

No application fee • No broker’s fee • Owner Occupancy Required  


Applications must be postmarked by January 30, 2019.


An Informational session will be held on: January 15th, 2019 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at Victory One at 1468 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10035 Seminar attendance is not mandatory to purchase a cooperative unit.


Register here for more information  and access to the application in your of choice.



Podcast with Journey Skills: "Possibilities with Mike Sweeney of Carousel 51"


Podcast with Journey Skills: "Possibilities with Mike Sweeney of Carousel 51"

I met Debra Caldow of Journey Skills via Alison Berkley of Invictus Enterprises, and Alison did a Podcast with Debra here.

Debra is based on the Southeast coast of England in Kent, and they position their Podcast and Blog as:

“We have a vision for our daughter, and we want to provide a central hub for like-minded parents and carers – a place to find resources that will help develop skills around purpose, relationships and daily living skills. Young people with additional needs can achieve many great things, and we want to help them on their path to greater independence.  We aim to provide practical resources to parents and carers to make the journey a bit easier.”

It’s interesting to hear the comparisons and contrast of USA and England for Autism services, and here is my first Podcast (22 minutes):

Podcast Episode 52. Rather than waiting until we have to act the better option is to start exploring what is already out there and start actively working towards creating solutions. This is exactly what this week’s podcast guest Mike Sweeney is doing.

Mike talks about the various projects that he has become involved in as he looks towards finding a community for his son Dustin to live in when he is ready for independent living.

Mike talks about how he has moved from thinking of housing as being the most important focus of his efforts to the realization that work would as he puts it “changes peoples perspective”.

He also discusses how the system in the USA is changing towards young people with additional needs being given more control over their own futures through what is known as self-direction. Mike also reminds us how important integration is in terms of ensuring that our young person with additional needs can have an independent future even when we are no longer around.

Although Mike’s journey is not a unique one, there is much to learn from the way he is navigating his way through the challenges. Listening to Mike’s story will help you as you plan ahead for your own son or daughter’s future independence.
— Debra Caldow of Journey Skills - Kent, England


Jobs: New York State Tax Incentives for Businesses - New York Department of Labor


Jobs: New York State Tax Incentives for Businesses - New York Department of Labor

I am learning more and more ways that our population can CONTRIBUTE to society, and this is very tangible asset they they can bring to employers. From the New York State Department of Labor.

If you have specific knowledge on these programs, please reach out. Many thanks to Martha Jackson of Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities who identified this information last week at a meeting.

Mike Sweeney

Lower Your Labor Costs

Employers that do business in New York State can trim their labor costs through several workforce and economic development programs. Employment-based tax credits may save your business money by cutting federal or state tax liability.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) offers employers up to $2,400 in federal tax savings for hiring individuals with barriers to employment. Qualified individuals must complete at least 120 hours of work to qualify for the partial WOTC credit of $1,500, and over 400 hours for the full $2,400 credit. To qualify businesses for the credit, individuals must be verified as members of a targeted group. The groups include:

  • People who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

  • Veterans who:

    • –  receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or

    • –  have a service-related disability

    • –  have been unemployed for
      at least 4 weeks in the previous calendar year

  • Ex-felons

  • People (age 18-39) who live in a federal empowerment zone or rural county

  • Disabled persons receiving rehabilitation services

  • Youth (age 16-17) who live in a federal empowerment zone (summer employment only)

  • People (age 18-39) who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits

  • People who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

  • People who receive Long-Term Family Assistance

  • Long Term Unemployment Recipients (LTUR)

Workers Employment Tax Credit (WETC)

Businesses that employ people with disabilities who currently receive vocational rehabilitation services (or people who received them up to two years prior to hire) may earn $2,100 more in state tax credits. You get the credit during the second year of employment and can combine it with the WOTC credit.

Workers with Disabilities Tax Credit (WDTC)

For-profit businesses and organizations that hire individuals with developmental disabilities may earn up to $5,000 for full-time employment (30 hours or more per week), and up to $2,500 for part-time employment (between 8 hours and 30 hours per week). The period of employment must be no less than six months. If the amount of the credit exceeds the entity’s tax liability, then the tax credit may be carried over for the following three years. Note: Businesses cannot claim this tax credit for an individual they hire if they are already claiming another tax credit for that individual.

New York Youth Jobs Program

The New York Youth Jobs Program helps young people entering the world of work have a successful start. The program encourages the hire of unemployed, disadvantaged youth. Businesses may earn tax credits of up to $7,500 per youth for full-time employment, and up to $3,750 per youth for part-time employment. To qualify, both businesses and youth must be certified by the New York State Department of Labor. Businesses may be eligible for certification if they are in good legal standing, and have a physical location in New York State. Youth may be eligible who are unemployed, between ages 16 to 24, live New York State and meet one of the designated risk factors.

Hire-a-Vet Credit

The Hire-a-Vet Credit encourages the hire of qualified veterans. Businesses must employ a qualified veteran for no less than 35 hours per week for one full year. A qualified veteran is someone who served on active duty in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, New York Guard or New York Naval Militia, and was released from active duty by general or honorable discharge after September 11, 2001. Qualified veterans must attest that they were not employed for 35 or more hours in the previous 180 days. Businesses may earn up to $5,000 for hiring a qualified veteran and up to $15,000 for hiring one who is disabled.

Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit

The Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit helps businesses adjust to the rise in the minimum wage rate of pay. Businesses may earn a credit of $1.35 per hour for all hours worked by an eligible employee. An eligible employee is a student who is 16 to 19 years of age at the time of employment at the minimum wage rate.

Work For Success

The Work for Success Program helps businesses earn up to $2,400 in federal tax credits (WOTC) for each formerly incarcerated person they hire. This helps to reduce recidivism, promote economic development and improve public safety throughout New York State. Work for Success sends businesses only the most qualified and appropriately trained applicants for open jobs.

How to Apply for Credits

Call the New York State Labor Department at 1-888-4-NYSDOL or go to