On Wednesday, December 12th, the BRIDGES class from Cypress Bay High School held their annual holiday luncheon at Chili’s in Weston. In attendance were all the students, their instructors, interning teachers, and also invited guests including members of the ASDY-Tech and HDS Foundation teams. The luncheon was not only an activity to celebrate the holidays, but it also was an opportunity for the students to continue mastering the social and daily activity skills they have been working on all school year.
The luncheon began once the students and guests arrived at the restaurant. They were seated and quickly began ordering their meals. After everyone finished dining, the class did their Secret Santa gift exchange. They were each presented a gift, that had been purchased and wrapped by the Secret Santas, that came from AC Moore. Each gift also contained a card from the Secret Santas. After all gifts were distributed, it was a joy to hear the classmates sincerely thanking each other and enjoying their gifts.
After the gift exchange ended, Meagan Bouscher, Board Member of HDS Foundation distributed to each student and teacher a gift containing a holiday card and gift card. The gift cards can be used to purchase holiday gifts, to use during future field trips, or the students have the choice to use them at their own discretion.
AJ Silberman, Special Projects Liaison at HDS companies, was one of the guests at the event. She said, “There are so many daily life skills that most people take for granted, or consider simple, that can be a struggle for others. It was rewarding to witness the students mingling with one another, ordering and paying for their own meals, knowing that this activity is one of many that will help lead them towards independent living in the future.”
The HDS Foundation is honored to help support the BRIDGES class at Cypress Bay High School so that they can continue to experience activities such as this holiday luncheon. If you would like to donate to the HDS Foundation, visit www.HDSFoundation.org. You can also help the foundation by making your Amazon purchases through the Amazon Smile program.
Visit www.smile.amazon.com and assign the HDS Foundation as your selected charity. Whenever you purchase on Amazon, make sure to log in through the Amazon Smile page. This can be done all year long!
The HDS Foundation thoroughly enjoyed being part of the BRIDGES holiday luncheon, and they want to wish everyone a happy holiday and a prosperous New Year.
On November 30, 2018, employees of ASDY-Tech visited the BRIDGES program at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, FL. A jobs related program initiated by the HDS Foundation, ASDY-Tech is coined after Autism Spectrum Disorder Young-Adults, and it focuses on small technical projects that can be scaled to address the employment needs of this population.
One purpose of the visit to the BRIDGES program at Cypress Bay was to illustrate to the students that those with related Autism disorders have opportunities for employment after high school. The ASDY-Tech employees who presented (Marco Spinelli, Miguel Sanchez, and Mario Rumasuglia) all have different backgrounds which prepared them for their jobs with ASDY-Tech. High school, technical school, and the Dan Marino Campus were just some of the experiences that helped prepare them to enter the workforce.
Carla Otiniano, Program Manager of the HDS Foundation, led the discussion. She began with an overview of the HDS Foundation and the ASDY-Tech program. She then introduced the ASDY-Tech employees and they each took turns telling the students a little bit about themselves. This was followed with an explanation of the path each took to get to ASDY, including what it felt like to experience a job interview and how not all interviews become employment opportunities. The presentation then led into each of the employees explaining what their specific job functions are at ASDY-Tech – Miguel is a prepper, Marco is a scanner, and Mario works as an uploader. The instructors and especially the students were very impressed with ASDY-Tech and the importance of their roles. The presentation drew towards its conclusion with a question and answer session, where the BRIDGES students posed some great questions to the ASDY-Tech team. Carla reminded everyone, “Never give up. If one door closes, try another one. These young men are an example of that, and because of their experiences, they are better employees today.”
The ASDY-Tech employees did an excellent job of presenting. To celebrate, they enjoyed a lunch at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza before returning to work.
The Broward Partnership is an organization whose mission is to assist in reducing homelessness. They accomplish this by promoting independence and self-worth. With programs and comprehensive services focused on advocacy and housing, they have been able to assist more than 23, 400 individuals to date. On November 28, 2018, employees of HDS Companies volunteered at the Broward Partnership during their holiday event. A group from HDS met at the offices of the partnership in Fort Lauderdale and actively assisted in decorating the facility in preparation for the holidays, preparing lunch, and serving meals. Here are what some of the HDS employees had to say about this event:
Carla Otiniano, Program Manager, HDS Foundation – “We were asked to decorate the main areas for the holidays. We hung wreaths, bows, lights, and we decorated trees. While some employees were busy decorating, other employees served lunch to people currently residing at the Broward Partnership. I walked around taking pictures of the event, where I saw families with children in the line for food. Though I was sad that this is other people’s realities, I was gratified knowing that I could do something to help make them happier and help put them in the holiday spirit. This opportunity to interact with the Broward Partnership staff and to see all the wonderful things they do to help the homeless community makes me want to do more, to make sure I continue to teach my children to be grateful, and to pay it forward.”
Terri Scharnow, Program Administration Support, eHousingPlus – “Thank you for allowing me to participate in giving back to the community today. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me, as I had never before been to a homeless shelter. I was in awe of the residents there. They were grateful, appreciative, and even our putting up decorations put a smile on their faces. My next thought was their story…how did they end up homeless? Then I realized what I have and often take for granted or worry about and this experience made me realize I shouldn’t do this. I am very appreciative for the opportunity to be involved in such a wonderful experience with such an amazing organization.”
Lorena Hernandez, Business Associate, Housing and Development Services and Shanna March, Supervisor of Program Administration, eHousingPlus – “Seeing the smiles on each person’s face when assisting serving in the kitchen was a very fulfilling experience to both of us. Everyone seemed genuinely appreciative of everything that was done to assist them. It was a bit disheartening to see so many displaced families, especially those with small children. But this experience made us feel even more thankful for what we have, and glad to have had this opportunity to give back.”
HDS is proud to have so many dedicated employees who assisted the Broward Partnership this year, and we look forward to donating more time and services in the future. If you would like to help the Broward Partnership, you can donate on their webpage at www.bphi.org or you can donate items from their wish list. These wish list items, such as unexpired canned and dry foods, personal hygiene products, and clothing, can be dropped off at 920 NW 7th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Call the Broward Partnership at 954.779.3990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can assist this wonderful group.
The BRIDGES HDS Foundation Program at Cypress Bay High School is more than just a class. It is an opportunity with those on the Autism spectrum to learn how to better socialize, money management, and other necessary life skills for independent functioning. Such things as these aren’t always taught in traditional classroom settings, as illustrating real-life scenarios can be difficult in the classroom. That is why the BRIDGES HDS Foundation Program at Cypress Bay program frequently takes students on field trips where they can practice socializing, managing budgets, and other such skills that can easily be taken for granted by those not affected with Autism. Some of the great field trips and activities that this BRIDGES group have taken part of this year included:
- Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
- Bank of America
- Weston Diner
- Homecoming: Spirit Week and Baychella
- Panera Bread
On each field trip, the students were able to such things manage their money, calculated tips where appropriate, and socialize with students and persons unfamiliar to them. They even were able to open personal bank accounts on their trip to Bank of America with grant money provided by the HDS Foundation.
It’s field trips and activities such as these that make BRIDGES HDS Foundation Program at Cypress Bay so successful and a benefit to those who participate in the program. If you would like to contribute to this, or other great programs sponsored in part by the HDS Foundation, you can email us at email@example.com or donate directly on our website: https://www.hdsfoundation.org/donate/.