Who said Halloween was just for children?? Here at HDS Companies, we take Halloween to the next level. From rollercoaster rides and Disney movies to actual “DEATH”, we love coming together and dressing for the occasion. This year, we started our Halloween festivities with a fang-tastic breakfast from Chik-Fil-A. Following the breakfast, we had our exciting costume contest. Everyone gathered around the main conference room area and showed off their spook-tacular costumes for the judges. There were four categories to compete in: Most Creative, Funniest, Scariest, and the HDS Grand Award. The winners of this year’s contest were:
- Most Creative – Natalie Stevenson as Darla from Finding Nemo
- Funniest – Mario Rumasuglia as The Cat in the Hat
- Scariest – Aura Valerio as Grim Reaper “Death”
- HDS Grand Award – eHousingPlus for their Roller Coaster Ride
Each year the costumes get better and better, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s Halloween. HDS Companies hopes everyone had a ghoulishly delightful Halloween yesterday.
There’s something about spending an afternoon eating a great meal with our friends that just can’t be replaced! The Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program got to enjoy their lunch with friends at the Weston Diner yesterday. The class took their Community Based Instruction (CBI) trip to a restaurant this time in order to practice their money management skills. This was a great experience giving each student the responsibility to order their own lunch, receive their individual bill, and calculate the tax along with tips for their order. The teachers, Ms. Donna Mansolillo and Ms. Kathy Gormin-Gard, emphasized at this outing how important it is to budget their money so that the students have enough funds in their accounts to cover what they ordered. By giving these students a firsthand experience to manage their money, they gain a whole new perspective of what it can be like living independently, especially dining. This outing not only allowed them to practice their budgeting skills, but also gave them the opportunity to use their problem-solving skills when having to split their check with alternative payment methods. The HDS Contenders helped the students find a solution and taught them how to calculate the payment using both their ATM card and cash. It is amazing to see the growth in these students each time we meet! The HDS Foundation loves following the journey of these bright and passionate students as they become independent young adults.
Budgeting. A topic that Ms. Donna Mansolillo and Ms. Kathy Gormin-Gard have been teaching the students in the Social Living Skills class at Cypress Bay High School. Students are currently learning how to be responsible – especially with money. Bank of America is helping with this important lesson.
Two weeks ago, Bank of America representatives came to Cypress Bay High School to help students set up their very own bank account. In order to support the development of school-based social and community life activities, the HDS Foundation issued checks to each student to deposit in their account.
To follow up with this event, the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class attended the second part of their banking and budgeting project on a Community Based Instruction (CBI) trip to the Bank of America at the Weston Commons. The B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program has been organizing these banking events for several years now which in turn have created close relationships with the staff at this local branch.
Upon visiting the branch, the students had the chance to meet the staff, learn about different transaction processes, and deposit their own checks in an ATM. Many might think this is an easy task, however, for these students, this process can be overwhelming. This is one of the many reasons why the HDS Foundation and B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program give students a firsthand experience at the bank.
The HDS Foundation B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program supports the development of school-based social and community life skills activities designed to meet the needs of ASD High School Students. Structured in the form of a grant, the Foundation encourages High School ESE Departments to create school-based programs that provide opportunities year-round for Social, Independence, Community and Personal Development to teens who have Developmental Disabilities within this population.
This past Saturday, the HDS Foundation met with Cypress Bay High School B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class for their annual Budgeting Life Skills Event. Students, along with their parents, met with the Bank of America representatives to learn budgeting skills. They learned all about transactions like deposits and withdrawals and even opened their very own bank account. Managing money is a very important life skill and represents the B. in the HDS Foundation B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program goals.
Cypress Bay teachers, Ms. Donna Mansolillo and Ms. Kathy Gormin-Gard, have built a valuable curriculum filled with life lessons around this skill in preparation for this event but also thread throughout the program for the year. With that being said, the HDS Foundation and the Bank of America provided the opportunity for the students to open their first bank account. These bank accounts will be used throughout the rest of the year in order to give students the experience of: saving money, utilizing the ATM, depositing cash or checks, and having a debit card to pay for meals or activities during their Community-Based Instruction (CBI).
Veteran students, with active accounts, participated as well by learning more about the variety of banking options. The B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Class will accompany this event with a CBI trip to the Bank of America at the Weston Commons. At this CBI, they will learn more about the banking process that occurs at Bank of America, while also becoming more acquainted with their local branch. In addition to familiarizing themselves with the bank, they will also be making their very first deposit with checks issued by the HDS Foundation. This allows the students to learn, step by step, how to deposit their check and use the ATM properly to access their money.
While the students signed up for their bank account, the HDS Contenders brought the students, parents, and volunteers’ snacks and refreshments to enjoy.
This event allowed parents to participate alongside their children and see the strides they’ve made by learning how to become independent adults.
The students came in excited to open their own bank account, and left feeling super confident on how to manage, save, and use their money for upcoming events and activities.
The 2019-2020 Academic Year at Cypress Bay High School is off to a great start, with the HDS Foundation kicking-off the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program at the Bay! On Friday September 21st, the HDS Board members, Cristina Miranda Gilson and Meagan Bouscher Miranda (along with other HDS Foundation staff), hosted a fun pizza lunch and Meet and Greet for the students and class facilitators Ms. Kathy Gorman-Gard and Ms. Donna Mansolillo. The students each introduced themselves and spoke a little about their interests, hobbies, and some goals. This is definitely an exceptional class, and we are sure this year will be a very special one.
Designed as a Program Grant to support diploma seeking students on the Autism Spectrum, the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program focuses on supporting the development of school-based social and community life skills activities designed to meet the needs of this population. At Cypress Bay, the ESE Department’s Social Living Skills (SLS) Team has put together an exciting plan for this year, gaining them this award for the 5th year in a row. The B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program will provide these students with learning experiences focused on Budgeting | Resources | Independent Functioning | Development | Growth | Empowerment | Social Skills.
Some of the activities planned this year by Ms. Gard and Ms. Mansolillo include various community based-field trips to local businesses who are poised to provide potential future employment, life skills development initiatives such as establishing bank accounts, shopping opportunities, learning about transportation options, and social skills activities during the school year. These activities have been successful conduits to building better communication tools, peer mentoring, fostering friendships, and preparation for life after high school, including post-secondary.
Best wishes for a great year class!