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HeartShare’s Queens Day Habilitation (QDH) Program celebrated its 20th Anniversary in April 2015. The two-day occasion was held at the program, and featured the Block Out Band and its performance group, the Queens Day Hab Players, with guidance from HeartShare employees Betty Green, Dominick Barone and Josh Tanitsky.
The program reached this milestone with the support of its dedicated employees, some of which have worked at the program since its inception. QDH Program Coordinator Carolyn Delgado-Braimi vividly remembers volunteering on April 4, 1995, the first day the program opened its doors. Throughout the years, Carolyn rose from Direct Support Professional to Senior Group Leader, and ultimately Program Coordinator. Carolyn’s career exemplifies HeartShare’s philosophy regarding investing in employee growth, as well as her love of the work. “When I was out in the field with our individuals, I would challenge them to designate an alternate route to return to the program. Now, they can use those skills to commute independently,” said Carolyn.
Today, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the program are out in the community daily volunteering at local senior centers, churches, York College and other HeartShare programs, including the Cuomo First Step Early Childhood Center. Several are making the transition to working part-time for Cleaning with Meaning. All enjoy spending time with their program “family” during field trips and holiday celebrations.
Direct Support Professional Betty Green, who also has been at QDH for two decades, instills her work with vibrant creativity and a person-centered approach. Green founded the Day Hab Players, which routinely performs at HeartShare events, including at its Annual Everyday Heroes celebrations and the Centennial Anniversary “Block Party” last year. “It’s so important to recognize their talents. For people diagnosed with autism, singing and dancing—the performance experience—builds confidence in a way that enhances their social skills in other aspects of their lives,” explained Green. Throughout the years, Green also has brought her program participants to shows on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall. “When they’re uplifted, we’re uplifted. It’s that simple,” Green said.