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“It’s like I put out to the universe what I needed and HeartShare responded,” said Staten Island PACT Program Director Amy Fried. Four years ago, Amy spoke as a parent advocate at the Brooklyn Developmental Disabilities Council Legislative Breakfast. At this annual event, developmental disabilities agencies and parents appeal to New York elected officials to act on behalf of children and adults with special needs, primarily through more government funding.
In her speech, Amy described the strong suite of services her son, David, received from different agencies. However, Amy had not yet found a residential program for her son. “It keeps me up at night,” Amy told her audience. “Not knowing how my son will live independently when I’m no longer here worries me.” Immediately following this speech, HeartShare Executive Director Linda Tempel approached Amy. She wanted to help. “Linda told me about the possibilities and that she was willing to work with me in order to make it a reality,” Amy recalled. Over the past four years, HeartShare developed a group home for four young men with autism. David moved there in April 2016. He loves his new home, which he gets to share with a long-time friend, Justin.
This is not the first time that HeartShare collaborated with Amy. “Ten years ago, when David aged out, there was no day program in Brooklyn meeting his needs,” explained Amy. When HeartShare leadership found out that a parent was struggling to help her special needs child due to lack of services, the agency sprang into action. “The Brooklyn PACT Program was established with David in mind,” said Amy. At that time, David was attending a program out of the borough. The PACT model or Partnering with Autistic Citizens is customized to adults on the spectrum.
David’s special needs have driven Amy’s career, including work for United Cerebral Palsy and the Developmental Disabilities Center at Brookdale Hospital, but she likes working at HeartShare best. “I am so blessed to be a part of the HeartShare family.”