ILA’s Residential Program… Making a House a Home

For Brian, Jared, Daniel, and Tiano home for the past few years has been in a quiet neighborhood in Cambria Heights, Queens, New York. These young men live in a group home (Individual Residential Alternative or IRA) owned and operated by the Independent Living Association, Inc. a not for profit organization which opened its doors in 1986 as a residential haven for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

ILA operates over 35 group homes across New York City providing safe living environments for 250 men and women. Four of their homes are equipped for non-ambulatory residents and many of the homes are coed.
At the Cambria Heights home, every individual has their private room, decorated to their own style and taste. The immaculately clean kitchen, dining room and recreational areas are all designed with a personal touch and with safety in mind. There are televisions in every room and those who wish can have access to the internet. Family members visit often and are always welcomed by the individuals and staff.

Janet Woolward, the supervisor of this home has been with ILA for 26 years. She is responsible for the welfare of the residents and along with her staff provides 24/7 coverage of the home. There are always three Direct Support Professionals present, each of whom have undergone intensive training and competency reviews. The longevity of service of many of the Cambria Heights staff is a testament of their commitment to the residents of the homes.

A typical day for the men starts off with an early morning breakfast and soon they are off to their respective Day Habilitation programs. ILA’s Day Habilitation program, “Day takes a non-traditional approach giving participants options to develop life skills. Day Hab programs are generally 5 hours each day and activities may include movies, bowling, museums and trips to malls and amusement parks. Each of these locations presents learning opportunities such as decorum within the community, necessary vocational skills and healthy eating and living. Back at the home, the men and women can pursue their own interests. Jared, for instance, uses his computer to create animated movies and also has a stationery bike for exercise.

Thanks to the financial support of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) as well as individual and corporate donations, ILA provides a viable living situation for the Cambria Heights individuals who have aged out of the residential public school system.
The families of the residents know that their loved ones are well cared for and safe and know that the high standards that Janet Woolward and all of her co-workers continually set ensure this.

2019 Golf Event Scores a “Hole In One”

This year’s Independent Living Association’s Golf and Games fundraiser event proved to be a smashing success. The weather at Harbor Links Golf Course was perfect for the 120 golfers, many who have been participating for many years. There was also a record attendance for the Mah Jongg games and lessons. In addition 40 dinner guests were in attendance.

Many of the participants came away with great giveaways including golf outerwear, cigars, lighters, wine and baseball caps. A highlight of the evening was when Danny Askari’s matching donation up to $2500 was achieved. Happily, record breaking funds were raised at this year’s event.

The biggest winners in the event, however, were not the generous donors but the men and women whose lives have been enriched through the work of ILA. All proceeds will go to support a new ILA’s Day Habilitation program, designed to promote community involvement, independent living and socialization for program participants.

Arthur Palevsky, the Executive Director of ILA, could not have been more pleased knowing that so many people continually donate their time and money to this unique program.

Philanthropy…A Gift of Hope

Independent Living Association (ILAonline.org) has been offering its services to individuals since its inception in 1985. Due to ILA’s unique programs, hundreds of developmentally disabled men and women who may have spent their entire lives in large institutions have been able to live flourishing and fulfilling lives in their communities. As with many similar not for profit organizations, funds to support their many programs come from various sources including federal and state grants and, most importantly, private donations.

Danny Askari, owner and founder of Tower Drugs in Floral Park, New York has been a supporter of ILA for over 15 years and he is the Honoree at this year’s Annual Golf Tournament.  Danny, a pharmacist, had been working with long term health care facilities when he saw a need to streamline the way medications were ordered by these facilities and distributed by the staff to the residents. He saw inefficiencies and mistakes in the process and started to develop ways to improve it. Danny contacted ILA, presented his ideas and thus started the relationship between them.

Over the years, Danny and his team have developed tools for nurses and staff at ILA’s many group homes to track individual medication usage, send refill reminders, allow online access for refills, and generally ensure a safer process for each individual. In addition to these tools developed and donated to ILA, Danny has given fax machines, scanners, medication cups and other supplies to ILA.  All ILA has to pay for are the medications not covered by insurance. The money saved has gone towards funding current programs and initiating new ones.

When asked why he supports ILA, Danny says that he sees the difference that ILA has made in other people’s lives and he wants to do his part in the process. He sees how the parents and families of the residents appreciate knowing that medications administered to their loved ones are carefully monitored. He knows that ILA is an amazing, caring organization that looks at each individual as a unique person with talents that can be contributed back to the community. Danny states that while other facilities are interested in cutting costs, ILA is about spending what is necessary and best for its residents.

At this year’s golf outing Danny pledged to match all cash donations up to $2,500.  The auctioneer, in dramatic fashion, raised the money from the golfers. Danny matched the donations.  Because of Danny, the Agency has $5,000 more money for services.    

“Maybe ILA is the best thing that has happened to me,” Danny says, “and I hope to be able to continue to support this special place.”

ILA appreciates any contributions made to help support efforts to improve the lives of hundreds of developmentally disabled individuals.

To make a contribution please click here.

Golfing for Good: ILA’s Tournament to Support Day Habilitation Services

Most golfers in Port Washington enjoy a round or two for fun or business. But for those who participated in Independent Living Association, Inc’s Golf and Games Tournament, the stakes went well beyond basic bragging rights.

Making a Difference in the Community

On Friday, September 13, golf enthusiasts and do-gooders alike took over the Harbor Links Golf Course for a good cause. Proceeds went to support a new Day Habilitation program recently launched by ILA designed to promote community involvement, independent living, and socialization for program participants.

For more than 30 years, ILA has been providing a number of services to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. One such service is ILA’s unique day habilitation program “Day Hab Without Walls”, supervised by Nicole Sawyers, who has been with ILA for 26 years. The non-traditional, non-cookie cutter approach that Nicole and her co-workers have developed give participants options to develop the life skills that matter to them.
Through the program, a number of the individuals are gainfully employed and others volunteer their services. Individuals work in soup kitchens, flower shops, and pet stores, and volunteer with Meals on Wheels. They learn valuable computer and business skills, and also enjoy outings to amusement parks and museums.

Why Fundraising is Essential to ILA’s Efforts

Day Habilitation is just one of many services ILA provides to strengthen the community by teaching and encouraging independence to the participants so they can give back to the community.

Nicole says that ILA is a family-based culture. The entire staff is vested in keeping the program successful, and it’s making a noticeable difference. For example Jared didn’t fit into other day habs, but when given the opportunity to make a movie and create characters, he’s thrived here. Xavier has a passion for 3D computer art and Michael loves taking photos and visiting museums.
All of this takes money. Fundraising efforts such as the Golf Tournament are essential to continue this program as well as the others. Funds are needed for vehicles, drivers, supplies, and a myriad of other ongoing needs. ILA has plans to expand this one-of-a-kind program.
“Our approach is based on the individual and how we help them reach their goals,” says Nicole, citing the individualized approach as one of their biggest contributors to the success of the program.

How to Get Involved

The golf tournament was the 13th annual outing. Funds collected from this event will help to support the Day Habilitation program, which is funded predominantly from money donated by dedicated supporters.

You can support ILA by donating to the fund that will allow ILA to continue making a difference in the community.

Click here to donate now!