HDS Celebrates Employee Milestones

At HDS Companies, our employees are our biggest asset.

Each year at our Annual HDS Meeting and Employee Recognition event, we honor employee milestones for those who have reached 20, 15, 10, and 5 years of service. In 2018, we honored our first group of 20th-anniversary recipients, a very proud moment, and a tremendous milestone in HDS History.

Not only did we honor our founder, corporation President, and CEO, Cristina Miranda Gilson, but those who have been instrumental in paving the way on the road to the major success of our companies, Paloma Miranda, Patt Denihan, and Sue Denihan-Scoggins.

Our 2019 celebrants by milestone alone account for 160 years of experience!

Tonight, we highlight the remarkable contributions our 14 recipients have made that continue to drive our HDS Companies’ success and embrace two more who have reached 20 years; Don Wright and Elena Miranda.

Congratulations to all!

Follow us on social media to learn more about our remarkable organization and staff.

You Had Me at Pizza

You Had Me at Pizza

Pizza Pizza Pizza! Last week, the Cypress Bay High School B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class took on a three-part pizza challenge that gave students the opportunity to practice their budgeting, independence, development and social skills.  

The first part of the challenge took place in the classroom where students were divided into 3 groups. Within each group, students discussed the different toppings that would go on their pizza. For example, they had to agree on if they wanted extra cheese, sliced olives, pineapple chunks, or bacon. If the students chose not to get any extra toppings, then they had the choice of choosing a dessert.  

Once each group decided what they wanted on their pizza, they came together and searched for ingredients on Walmart.com. As they found the items, one by one, students wrote down the price along with the aisle the items were located to make things more efficient. Once the groups completed their shopping list, they calculated the total (including tax) to make sure the final cost was under their given budget of $25.   

The second part of the challenge was their CBI trip where they took the bus to Walmart and shopped for their items. Even though the class had pre-planned this trip, there were still adversities that were faced in some groups. For example, Anita’s group had to figure out if purchasing 4-8-ounce bags of cheese was a better deal than purchasing one 32-ounce bag. Similarly, Charles’s group also had to problem solve whether it was smarter to buy two packages that included one pizza crust or one package with two pizza crusts. After each team figured out the best deals, they all headed towards the cashier and paid for their items making sure to stay below $25.  

The last and final part of the challenge took place at the CBHS kitchen where HDS Foundation staff member and students became chefs and created their group’s pizza with all the toppings. Once the pizzas were done baking, the class were able to enjoy a nice, fresh, delicious lunch together. The CBHS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class is always having a blast while learning. Stay tuned for our next adventure! 


CBHS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. First CBI of the Year!

CBHS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. First CBI of the Year!

The new year has started for the Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class! Yesterday, the students went on their first CBI trip of the year to the Bank of America and Panera Bread where they were able to engage in their budgeting, resources, independence and social skills.

Students have been visiting the Bank of America through the school year to learn more about creating their own account, having their own credit cards, budgeting their money. Yesterday, the students learned how to deposit their checks through the ATM machine without having to go inside where the banker would do it for them. This was a huge step towards independent living for them.

After each student completed their deposit, everyone walked across the street to Panera Bread to enjoy a delicious lunch! The students arrived, ordered their own individual lunch, then paid with their debit cards. For the remainder of the time, the students socialized with one another laughing and telling each other stories from their winter break.

We are off to a great start with the Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class! The HDS Foundation is excited to share more about our upcoming CBI events. Stay tuned!

CBHS BRIDGES Spreads Christmas Cheer

CBHS BRIDGES Spreads Christmas Cheer

The season of giving is upon us! This means making others feel special by showing love and appreciation. Many get the special pleasure of spreading holiday cheer to their community by giving gifts and making wishes come true. With that being said, the Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful afternoon celebrating the holiday season at Chili’s. The students and facilitators gathered and cherished the moments with delicious lunch, their closest friends, and a special gift from their Secret Elf. Students were able to order whatever their heart desired from the menu, including dessert, courtesy of the HDS Foundation. Once the class finished eating their meals, the Secret Elf gifts were exchanged. It was great to see how all students were happily surprised when they realized who their Secret Elf was and what they had purchased for them during their A.C. Moore CBI trip. Not only did they receive a gift from their Secret Elf, but students also received a gift card from the HDS Foundation to treat themselves on something they wanted. An abundance of smiles, laughs, and “thank yous” instantly filled the room! This holiday party was a fun way to have students practice their development and social skills.
CBHS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Visit the Post Office

CBHS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Visit the Post Office

Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Cypress Bay High School B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class gets together for a new learning opportunity towards independent living. On Tuesdays, the students participate in an in-class activity that prepares them for their Community Based Instruction Trip on Thursdays. This week the class focused on their budgeting, resources, and independent functioning skills which represents the “B”, “R”, and “I” in B.R.I.D.G.E.S.

Last Tuesday, students were busy learning how to write a letter as HDS Foundation staff taught the students everything that needed to be included: a letter heading, body, and salutation. Then, each student wrote a letter to one of their classmates explaining why a certain DVD, CD, or video game is their favorite. After the letters were written, the students then reviewed and addressed each of their envelopes. The next step was to put their letter along with their CD, DVD, or video game cover inside. Lastly, the class discussed the questions they might be asked before mailing their package. These questions included, “Does your package contain any liquids, perishables or hazardous materials? How would you like to mail the package – Priority Express, Priority Mail, or First Class? Do you want to buy insurance?” etc.

Yesterday, the class took their CBI trip to the Weston Post Office. All students brought their packages with them and waited patiently in line. As each student approached the register, they answered all the questions, weighed their package, and paid for their shipping using their debit cards. One of the students, Anita, had a VCR cover inside her envelope; thus, having to pay a higher shipping cost. Facilitators Ms. Kathy Gormin-Gard and Ms. Donna Mansolillo explained to the students why her costs were different than others. If students did not want to wait in line to purchase stamps and/or mail a package, they were taught how to use the self-service machine! They thought it was very cool and efficient.

As the students were gathering up to go back to school, Ms. Donna Mansolillo had asked the students what the difference was between using a Post Office box versus your home mailbox. One of the students, Sam, explained that if people didn’t want to reveal their address, they could use a Post Office box instead. Overall, this was a very informative and resourceful CBI trip for the students which they enjoyed very much! To follow up with this CBI, the students will receive the packages and will bring them to class.  They will then open it up and read the letter from their fellow classmates 😊