On June 21st of 2017, I started working at a company in Weston known as Housing and Development Software as a paid intern, which marked the beginning of the best year of my life. Unlike most businesses, the employees are specially trained to interact with coworkers on the autism spectrum like me. That’s because the CEO of the company, the wonderful Mrs. Cristina Gilson, has an equally wonderful daughter named Kate who also happens to be autistic. This inspired her to create an organization within HDS dedicated to helping autistic people find work, succeed, and so on. At first, my responsibilities at HDS were a bit limited, having to only do tasks such as cleaning the break room and occasionally move boxes around. But as the months passed, I gained more experience and my tasks become more diverse and challenging, ranging from scanning files onto the office database to pulling various folders for corresponding cases. Also, I’ve developed strong friendships with many of my coworkers, including my superiors Carla and Erin, who happen to be Mrs. Cristina’s right hand women. They’ve been very supportive of me, making sure I wasn’t too overwhelmed by the workload they presented to me while also helping me improve myself as an employee. And likewise, I’ve provided my coworkers with the same level of support and acceptance they’ve shown me out of gratitude for welcoming me with open arms. I’m so lucky to have been a part of the HDS family for a whole year now, and here are the reasons why:
- Friendships stronger than Spielberg and Kubrick working together on A.I.
- More optimism than Eddie Murphy after Adventures of Pluto Nash
- A more thrilling environment than Alone in the Dark
- A richer history than Assassin’s Creed
- A stronger group infrastructure than the Yautja in Alien vs Predator
- Female coworkers more beautiful than Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire
- Paychecks so generous they make me feel like Batman
- The employees love coffee like vampires love blood in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Protection of par with Captain America’s shield
- Like Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian, they make and underdog like me feel important
- They never turn a blind eye to a problem like Daredevil
- The people there are so nice that Ghost Rider doesn’t even have to look at them to deem them “innocent”
- They’re physically strong like the Hulk
- They’re mentally strong like Iron Man
- They’re better ruler enforcers than Judge Dredd and RoboCop combined
- They’re wiser than the Oracle the The Matrix
- They’re more charismatic than Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat
- They’re more responsible with their great power than Spider-Man
- The staff has more diversity than the cast of Street Fighter
- Every day is so action-packed it’s like one of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies
June 18, 2018 marked the 20th year anniversary for Housing and Development Services, Inc. (HDS). Together its business units – Housing and Development Software, eHousingPlus and 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit, HDS Foundation – celebrated this milestone and kicked off a year of celebration activities that are planned.
HDS employees all gathered at the Weston office on Monday afternoon for a cocktail reception hosted by the company founder and CEO, Cristina Miranda Gilson.
To start the festivities, Cristina spoke to everyone about the origins of HDS. She explained that even with being in the midst of preparing requests for proposals, participating in conferences, and delivering client demos – all of which are the basis of the company – HDS wanted to take time to celebrate the company, its employees, and the great achievement of reaching 20 years. Cristina shared with all the many memories we have had along the way taking time to thank everyone for their commitment and leadership.
Cristina toasts HDS, “Thank you to our great staff, wonderful partners and clients, and amazing leadership who have helped us make this happen, and especially my family for their unwavering support and love. Today we celebrate 20 years of a company that has been at the center of our lives. Now in our 20th year we launch our HDS NextGen, our platform to great client-centered business solutions that will continue to transform and reshape the business solutions for the Affordable Housing and Community Development Industry.”
HDS started in a make-shift office inside of Cristina’s Weston home. Though six people worked out of this space, using large cell phones and dial-up internet, they made it work. HDS now employs 74 people with headquarters in Weston, Florida and offices in Miami, Florida and satellites Atlanta, DC, Vermont, and Nebraska.
Cristina also announced another first for HDS. HDS officially launched ASDY-TECH, a Micro-Enterprise focused on the mentoring and development of employment opportunities of young adults on the Autism Spectrum. This NEW team will support both HDS business units, eHousingPlus and Housing and Development Software. The ASDY-TECH is lead by our HDS Foundation in collaboration with the Dan Marino Foundation and their first project and client is eHousingPlus DigitalDocs (eHPDD) where they will provide technology, file scanning and digitizing services for lenders unable to initially deliver digital files on eHPDD.
Housing and Development Services, Inc. is a mission driven organization 100% dedicated to affordable housing.
To learn more about the HDS Companies, visit our corporate website www.HDSCompanies.com and click on each of the HDS units, Housing and Development Software www.HDSoftware.com, eHousingPlus www.eHousingPlus.com, and The HDS Foundation, www.HDSFoundation.org. For additional information contact Edielyn Walsh at 954-217-9597 x 204 or Edielyn.Walsh@hdsoftware.com.
I have changed since the Social/Personal skills class by learning how to pay for my own check when we go out for Lunch For our C.B.I trips. This class has helped me turn into a more responsible teenager/adult. This has made me more responsible because When Mrs. Mansolillio writes on Ms. Rosado’s Board ” Go to Google Classroom: We are going to The Weston City hall, she tells us to make sure we bring our: Wallet, ATM Card, A bag lunch, and phone requires responsibility form us because If we do not bring any of those items, then we will get a bad grade for the assignment. I like when Ms. Gard presents the videos on the projector for the lesson for the day or gives out handouts because It teaches us that skill on Every day, and it tells us the more mature way of how to respond to people. I Thought when they asked us to have conversation with others on A day lunch was a struggle for most of us, but i found it helpful because it requires us to use what we learned to socialize in class and use it in the real world. I felt very comfortable talking to others in the Social skills class this year during lunch because I applied what I learned from the class and did it in an appropriate manner. I felt when we were in groups was helpful because It helped us with Problem solving skills to know when we might get a job one day.
The social skills that I still need to work on is problem solving skills because I usually struggle to make choices independently. Another social skill that I need to work on is Effective Communication because there could be points in which I take breaks during conversations with People and start to Relax and start to put my head down and not look at them with poor eye contact. Another social skill that I need to work on is Dealing with my anger management. At Home, my brother would tease me and then I would start to get mad and start having a meltdown and I think that Is inappropriate for someone at my age. On the last day together, we exchanged phone numbers with kids from the class and to make summer arrangements with all of them. Well, I already started to hang out with Matthew on Sunday at the Hollywood Beach. It is a good sign that I made plans with a friend over the weekend during the late stages of school.
On Thursday, May 24, 2018, the HDS Foundation along with all HDS Companies participated in Red Nose Day at both the Weston and Miami offices. Red Nose Day is a fundraising campaign run by Comic Relief, Inc. The concept began in the United Kingdom in 1988 with the UK Charity, Comic Relief. It was brought to the US by Comic Relief USA in 2015 with the purpose of supporting “projects to keep children and young people safe, healthy, educated and empowered” not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Currently $42,126,438 has been raised for this campaign (source: https://home.rednoseday.org). Red noses to support the charity were purchased locally at Walgreens stores (and at Duane Reade in other parts of the country), and NBC hosted Red Nose Day themed programming during the evening to promote the fundraising efforts. As part of the support effort, HDS purchased a multitude of red noses that they distributed to the staff. In the afternoon, all of the employees gathered at the front lobby of the office building to have a picture taken, thus commemorating everyone in their red noses and their dedication to the cause. Donations are still being accepted. If you would like to make a donation, visit: https://donate.rednoseday.org.
Housing and Development Services Looks Forward to B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Coming Back to the Offices Next Year
The B.R.I.D.G.E.S. field trip to the offices of Housing and Development Services on Thursday, May 17th was a great success. Ten students of Cypress Bay High School who are in the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program visited HDS with their instructor and facilitator, Donna Mansolillo. When they arrived at the office, they were first greeted by Carla Otiniano, Program Manager of the HDS Foundation. Carla explained to the students what type of work HDS does and the different companies that make up Housing and Development Software – Housing and Development Software (HDS), eHousingPlus (eHP), and of course the HDS Foundation. Carla then brought the students to their first stop on their tour, eHP, where Naileth Garcia told them about how eHP helps with loan processing for affordable housing programs. After Naileth, the students were brought to the office of Cristina Gilson, CEO of Housing and Development Services, where they learned about the importance of an owner/operator at a company. A visit with Lorena Hernandez, Business Associate, was next. Lorena told everyone how the Business Department functions with all of the arms of the company to make things work together. Eddy Alfonso, Multi-Family Product Manager, followed with his explanation of the importance of computer programming. That led well into the next presentation made by Andrew Moffitt, Chief Technology Officer, who showed the students the server room. The last stop the students made was to the conference room. While there, Erin Batista, Manager of Office Administration, spoke to everyone about the roll of Human Resources in any company. After Erin spoke, the kids were served subs, chips, cookies, and soda for lunch. As they ate, AJ Silberman, Special Project Liaison, did a short presentation to them of how to use Microsoft Teams. Teams is a vital program tool at Housing and Development Software as it enables employees to manage and work together on various projects. To close the trip, Carla once again spoke to the students, at which time she presented Donna Mansolillo with a donation for Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. This donation check was a portion of the money raised at the Dan Marino WalkAbout Autism & Expo held on January 27, 2018. Donna and the students thanked Carla and Housing and Development Services for the check and also for the fun and informative field trip. Housing and Development Services looks forward to B.R.I.D.G.E.S. coming back to the offices next year.