Helping You Help Others

By: Noelle Lambert


January’s Charity of the Month is:

PBS Community Foundation


The PBS Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was established to help people with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities and other special needs. They particularly focus on self-determination and full inclusion in the local community.

Now more than ever, individuals with disabilities are seeking the opportunity to stay in their own communities and pursue their personal goals, while receiving the needed levels of support to make full community inclusion a sustainable reality.

In New York State, anyone who is eligible for OPWDD Services (NYS Office For People With Developmental Disabilities) and enrolled in the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver, can choose to self-direct their services.

Self-direction is a person-centered approach that empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to create a life plan with support that they chose, based on their unique strengths, needs and goals. It also gives the individual more control over how funding is used to purchase needed support and services.

While the number of individuals choosing to self-direct their services is quickly growing, the PBS Community Foundation aims to provide support through grass roots, community based networks.

In addition to some of this foundation’s initiatives: Big Time Glee, Nassau Voice, The Crafting Connection and Mid-Week Meetups, they also offer workshops and classes based on the interests and needs expressed by individuals in their self-directed community…one being their Emergency Preparedness Training. This training seeks to assist young adult and adult individuals that are self-determined and living in their community to develop a plan for staying safe.

In light of what many of us experienced as a result of Super Storm Sandy, it has become evident that we are not all fully prepared for being evacuated, living without electricity or living without cell phone communication. Many were traumatized because of the changes made to their everyday life. The Emergency Preparedness Training/Workshops are comprehensive and based on California’s Feeling Safe, Being Safe program. The program is appropriate for all self-determined individuals, their families and the people who support them. Instruction about important procedures and protocols for before, during and after a disaster will be presented.

This training is being reintroduced by popular demand and will be offered in Suffolk County in March and in Nassau County in April. In order to run these classes, the foundation is asking for donations of first aid kits, monetary donations (to cover the cost of class materials) supplies, as well as donations of space for other classes to be held around Long Island.

Additionally, The Nature Experience is a new PBS Community Foundation class that was introduced last year. This course has enriched the lives of many self-directed individuals through learning about and having contact with the natural world. Enrollees gain knowledge about the animals that can be found living in and around Caleb Smith State Park/Nature Preserve, located in Smithtown. The Nature Experience provides an all-inclusive social environment, where friendships can develop through shared interests and experiences.

The instructor, Jordan Ofgang, is a certified K-12 Special Educator and a life-long resident of Long Island. He is also an avid nature lover and explorer! Jordan leads the group weekly for the following: a lesson on one or more animals,
a mindful hike focusing on the lesson content and nature safety, a wrap-up for group discussion, social time and snacks.

These popular classes, and more, are made possible through the generous donations of individuals, businesses and the community at large that share the goals and mission of the PBS Community Foundation.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about this foundation and their initiatives can visit their website at www.pbscommunityfoundation.org for more information/to view calendar of events or you can contact Ruth-Ann Hartney at info@pbscommunityfoundation.org!


If you would like your organization to be featured in this column, please email Noelle@SouthBaysNeighbor.com!

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