Tag Archives: New York Families for Autistic Children

Howard Beach native elected governor of New York Kiwanis


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/Joel Harris

After one year acting as lieutenant governor of the Queens West Kiwanis, Stephen Sirgiovanni realized he wanted to make a bigger difference. The Howard Beach native accomplished this when he was elected governor of New York Kiwanis on Aug. 15.

Sirgiovanni’s campaign trail spanned across all of New York state, from his hometown in Howard Beach to Niagara Falls. His father was one of the founding members of the Howard Beach Kiwanis and Sirgiovanni grew up volunteering around his community. He raised $18,000 for juvenile diabetes as lieutenant governor and also raised money for local Howard Beach nonprofit New York Families for Autistic Children.

“I started to run for governor because I knew I could make a difference and implement what I want to do,” Sirgiovanni said.

He will start his position as governor-elect on Oct. 1 and shadow New York District Governor Forbes Irvine for one year as he learns how to take over an organization with more than 7,000 members and 250 clubs.

Sirgiovanni is looking forward to attracting more members and expanding Kamp Kiwanis, a free summer camp for 800 children 8 to 14. He also wants to raise money for the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center, which aims to reduce trauma-related death and injuries for children. Pediatric lyme disease, cerebral palsy and autism are among the causes he wants to raise funds for.

Support from the Howard Beach community, including elected officials, has poured in, he said, because his community involvement has been extensive. Though he was deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy, Sirgiovanni still found time to deliver food to relief centers all across Queens.

“The work that I do, I do for the community and for the children,” Sirgiovanni said.

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20-mile bike ride in Howard Beach to benefit two organizations


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYFAC

Cyclists looking to ride for a cause will convene in Howard Beach for the second annual “Loop” helping two local charities.

The Loop, a 20-mile bike ride that begins in Howard Beach and benefits the NYFAC Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), will take place this Sunday, August 2.

The trail starts at NYFAC’s headquarters at 164-14 Cross Bay Blvd., snakes through Flatbush, Brooklyn, near Floyd Bennett Field and then ends back on Cross Bay Boulevard.

Tonia Cimino, director of development for NYFAC, said a discussion between Loop Chair Annmarie Gurino, the NYFAC foundation board and the JDRF board of directors spurred the creation of the event.

They chose a bike ride because “it is something that is very healthy and it engages a lot of people and it engages people from all walks of life and it’s a great way to have fun, get moving and give back,” Cimino said.

Registration for the event is $40 and includes entry to a barbecue after the ride and a “rider’s bag,” which includes a water bottle and other goodies, according to Cimino. People who pre-register for the event can pick up their bag at Sports Authority at 550 Gateway Dr. on Saturday, Aug. 1, and will also receive a 20 percent discount on purchases.

NYFAC was created in 1998 to1998 with a mission of “Helping parents, help their children, one family at a time,” according to Cimino, and provides clinical services, recreational services, and support services to educate and bring together family members of children with autism.

JDRF, which has hosted walks to raise money for diabetes research in Howard Beach for seven years, is the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research.

Last year, more than 200 people participated in the bike ride and raised $15,000. Cimino said she is hoping they can double the amount of money raised this year.

“People love it,” Cimino said. “Last year, during the inaugural ride they came back and they literally said, ‘When’s the next one?'”

There will also be a 10-mile loop for those who do not want to commit to the full 20 miles. Cimino said the organizations are still looking for volunteers and anyone interested in donating their time to the event can call her at 347-566-3122 ext. 305.

To register, visit the NYFAC website here.

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NYFAC pays tribute to seven honorees at 17th annual dinner dance


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) foundation has been serving families in southern Queens for almost 20 years, but they could not do it without the help of people from the community, said Andrew Baumann, president of the board of trustees for the foundation.

And NYFAC held an award ceremony on Thursday to honor those special people who have helped the organization grow.

“We started off with five families,” said Baumann. “But with your help we’ve been able to grow and help more children around our area.”

Over 300 people came out to Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach as NYFAC honored six people for their involvement in the foundation. They gave awards for man of the year, community service, advocate of the year, the hero award, community partnership award and the guardian angel award. Along with a trophy, each person received a proclamation from the state Assembly, a citation from the state Senate and a proclamation from the City Council.

“Folks like Andrew and his wife are what makes a community great,” said Borough President Melinda Katz, who accepted the guardian angel award.

Katz also named Feb. 26 “NYFAC Day” in the borough of Queens after her acceptance.

Baumann was elated because of the honor and said he was so happy he has been able to help so many children throughout the years. He showed a commercial he had made for the foundation, which gave statistics of autism cases such as how one in every 68 children is diagnosed on the spectrum.

The video ended with what Baumann said is the sole purpose of NYFAC: “Helping parents help their children, one family at a time.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich was one of the people in attendance and was grateful for all NYFAC has done in the community.

“This is the only organization in this part of Queens to provide these great services,” he said. “They inspire children to work towards their full potential and help people live good and happy lives.”

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Bikini Bike Wash in Flushing benefits autism nonprofit


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYFAC Foundation

SALVATORE LICATA

The Bikini Bike Wash, hosted by Harley-Davidson of NYC, was shining up rides for a glowing cause on Northern Boulevard in Flushing on Saturday.

Bikers with big hearts came out to get their motorcycles cleaned and give back to the New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) They were greeted by three bikini-wearing volunteers who went whole-hog scrubbing down the bikes to benefit the community.

“We are extremely grateful to Harley-Davidson of NYC, as well as to the riders and the volunteers for helping NYFAC,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC.

Harley-Davidson of NYC is hosting Bikini Bike Washes all summer long to benefit different organizations in the city.

NYFAC is also hosting “The Loop,” a 20-mile bike ride, on Saturday, July 26, to benefit both their organization and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. To sign up or for more information on the event, click here.

 

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Lindenwood hosts ‘Wash for Autism’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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SALVATORE LICATA

Over $10,000 was raised by the New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) at the car “Wash for Autism” in Lindenwood on Sunday.

Along with volunteers, staff and board members of NYFAC washed over 100 cars, including those of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, in the parking lot of the Queens County Savings Bank on 153rd Avenue. NYFAC also benefited from the annual car show in the lot, which featured nearly 30 classic cars and hot rods. The money raised by the organization was aimed at bettering the lives of those with autism.

“It was a great day and a great event,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC. “The community once again came out to show its support.”

 

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Autism expert says there’s still hope Avonte Oquendo will be found


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Close to six weeks have passed and although Avonte Oquendo’s whereabouts are still unknown, the search continues as hope in finding the autistic teen remains strong.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

The NYPD and volunteers have been searching daily for the boy, whose family says loves trains. Police have searched for him by helicopter, with divers, and in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers echoing Avonte’s mother’s calls.

The command center for volunteers and family searching for the boy is now operating out of an RV located on the side of The Riverview School on Borden Avenue and Center Boulevard.

According to Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC), this is not an isolated case. Children with autism are prone to running and throughout the country there have been many cases of children disappearing, he said.

“I don’t believe that anyone should give up hope on finding Avonte alive and in good condition,” Baumann said. “I don’t believe in giving up, these kids are really resilient.”

Baumann also said the teen’s family had no control over what happened because they trusted the school to take responsibility. He believes school security agents should hold back any child attempting to leave and report the incident to the principal.

“I don’t care how old the child is, no child should ever be allowed to walk out of the school during the school day,” Baumann said.

Last week Senator Charles Schumer called for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to both create and fund a program which would provide voluntary tracking devices for children with autism or other developmental disorders.

According to Baumann, these devices would and do work great, but there should be ways to make sure they are 100 percent effective and cannot be removed if the child were to take off their clothes.

“Now we need people to take action, if they see him they should stay with him until the police come,” said Baumann. “The reward is nothing. It shouldn’t be about the money and the reward, it should be about doing the right thing.”

If anyone sees Avonte, they should follow him and keep him within eye contact and call 9-1-1, said Baumann.

Since Avonte went missing, the reward to find him has increased to $95,000.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Annual Lindenwood car wash raises $3K for New York Families for Autistic Children


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) raised more than $3,000 from its seventh annual car wash, which took place in Lindenwood on Sunday, June 23.

Organizers held the wash in conjunction with a car show by the Bow Wow Boys Car Club.

The money will go toward rebuilding the NYFAC facility, which opened in April after suffering Sandy-related damage and a subsequent setback.

Organizers said the day was about the members of NYFAC, both staff and students, having fun in the sun and helping to raise money.

Karen Long, a NYFAC board member who chaired the event, said people came all day to pitch in. Some donated without getting a wash.

“They’re even passing in their cars giving us five dollars,” she added. “We have a great time. This is like the best fundraiser. It’s fun, we’re outdoors.”

Long’s son, Robert, is a member of NYFAC. The parent said he has been enjoying the new facility and the new programs.

Long said the community has been supportive of the rebuilding.

“People have been generous,” she said. “But there’s still work that has to be done.”

The facility was originally slated to open in early November 2012. NYFAC President Andrew Baumann said rebuilding the facility has been a long road, but the car wash was a day for everyone to have fun for a good cause.

“Today’s all about fun,” he said. “You can’t not do what you’ve always done. You can’t let nature hold you down.”

 

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New York Families for Autistic Children opens center after Sandy setback


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY LIAM LA GUERRE

Richard Henry moved to New York City two months ago in search of a new autism facility for his daughter.

Fortunately, he won’t have to look any further.

After a six-month delay following Sandy, about 200 parents, children, staff members and politicians attended the grand opening of the $5.9 million New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) center in Howard Beach on April 7.

Henry, an Ozone Park resident, is only 10 minutes away from the center by car.

“My daughter will be really happy coming to a place like this, because she doesn’t have to travel long distance,” Henry, 62, said.

Last October, Sandy flooded the first floor of the facility, destroying walls, furniture and electrical equipment. It forced the center to close its doors about two weeks before it was even set to open.

The post-storm renovation cost a little more than $200,000, mostly to repair damages, but also to replace appliances, according to NYFAC president Andrew Baumann.

Baumann was able to pay for the damages by borrowing money from New York Community Bank. The building now has flood insurance, he said, which it did not before Sandy.

“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Baumann said. “It’s been a long, hard road.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder secured $100,000 in the state budget to help cover the cost of rebuilding the center. He believes the facility represents the community’s rebuilding as a whole.

“We’re not done here, there is a lot of work to do,” Goldfeder said. “But it’s just a tremendous symbol for the community of strength, unity, stability and that we’re going to come back.”

The entire building is self-sufficient and environmentally friendly, running only on energy from giant solar panels on the roof.

On the first floor, there are rooms for meetings, video and board games, showers, first aid, an instrument-filled music room and a fully-loaded kitchen.

The second floor has administrative offices, a 16-seat conference room, a training room, an evaluation room and a television studio, so the center can create its own shows.

“This is going to be a wonderful resource for the families affected by autism,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “It’s going to be a one-stop shop for people to get support, to get the services they need … and to get help.”

The next step for the center is to build a gym above the parking lot. The $2 million project will include fitness machines, a basketball court inside and a volleyball court on the roof outside, Baumann said.

But for now the center is focused on providing services to people with autism.

“It was important that they opened their doors to those children and families in need of assistance,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo. “It was never a question of if it was going to open, it was when.”

Check out more photos from the NYFAC grand opening here

 

 

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