Tag Archives: Services for the Underserved

American Softball starts second season helping developmentally disabled of Queens


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Randy Novick asked which hand the player threw with.

He held up his left hand, which was already gripping a softball. Novick, patient and personable, found a glove that fit. As he adjusted it for the player’s hand, Novick recalled a visit to the man’s group home and how much he had enjoyed it.

It was just another Saturday as American Softball entered its second full season after Novick revived it last year. The league works with five group homes for mentally disabled people throughout Queens. There are about 50 players who all get a chance to hit, run the bases and play the field.

“The players are just happy to play because the rules are, there are no  rules,” he said. “It’s nice to get to see the players do something they normally wouldn’t do.”

This year, it was easier to get started for Novick. Last season, he had problems finding a field and getting funding.

He said he hopes the league can one day expand citywide or even across the country.

Novick, a Howard Beach resident, credited State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich for supporting his efforts. The organizer recruited coaches from counselors to childhood friends who wanted to lend a hand.

Addison John, a counselor at Services for the UnderServed, said clients normally start looking forward to the game by the middle of the week. Services for the UnderServed provides support for individuals with mental illness and other challenges.

“They love it,” John said. “As Friday comes, they’re ready to go.”

The coaches include Dore DeQuattro, a musician and lifelong friend of Novick’s. DeQuattro said he has enjoyed being able to give personal attention to the players. He added while his band regularly plays for the developmentally disabled, the league lets him get to work with individuals on a one-on-one basis.

“I just love these guys,” he said. “I love to give them a little extra personal attention.”

 

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Glen Oaks elementary school donates to military veterans


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A Glen Oaks elementary school has donated $1,000 to military veterans.

Youngsters at P.S. 115 presented a check to Services for the UnderServed (SUS) on Friday, March 15. The funds were allocated for SUS programs that support the country’s veterans.

“It really touches an old man’s heart,” said Howard Wheeler of Elmhurst, who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy. “It means so much to us that you all, as young as you are, have the mind to think of others than yourself.”

The pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students raised funds through a bake sale and a school dance. They then worked with AmeriCorps, a federal government program focusing on community service, to connect with SUS.

“It’s an extraordinary gesture on their part,” said Kevin Burke, the school’s parent coordinator. “These children are our future. It’s very important that they recognize the history of our country and know there are people that commit themselves in protecting our country.”

P.S. 115 plans to hold another bake sale at the school on April 22.

“It’s a very, very selfless act,” Staff Sergeant Nicole Robinson of the Army Reserves said to the students. “You guys are future soldiers for change. You did a very good thing.”

 

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A league of their own: American Softball is all inclusive


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Everybody hits. Everybody runs the bases. Everybody has fun.

This is how Randy Novick from Howard Beach describes American Softball.

Every Saturday throughout the summer, Novick, along with counselors and mentally challenged people from five assisted-living homes met at a field in Kissena Park to get a chance to play softball. Five homes currently comprise the league: Little Flowers, YAI Network, Bernard Feinstein, Lifespire, and Services for the Underserved.

“They’re having the time of their lives,” Novick said. “Whoever comes down, plays. This way everyone’s included.”

On August 25, the last day of this year’s season, Novick, counselors, the participants and their friends from home celebrated before taking the field. While eating pizza and hero sandwiches, they talked with each other and asked if they were coming back next year.

“They love it very much,” said Cecilia Hewitt, a counselor at Little Flowers. “All week, as long as the season is in, they look forward to it.”

The league was started in 1998 as Acheivers of America by a friend of Novick’s who had a son that was mentally challenged and entering his 20s. Because there were no leagues for older people, Novick said, the man started the league. The founder moved to Florida in 2010, however, and the league fell dormant.

For the last two years, Novick said he got a number of calls from counselors asking when or if softball would start up again.

Novick tried this year but requests to the Parks Department were not answered by March. Finally, he went to State Senator Joseph Addabbo asking for help. Addabbo was able to secure Novick a field that was enclosed and adjacent to a bathroom, which Novick and counselors said was the ideal location to play.

Addabbo said it was a pleasure for himself and his staff to help Novick with some of the work load to get the league running.

“It’s not easy to run a league, provide some sort of recreational activity, and work with the Parks Department, so it was our pleasure in providing a recreational activity for them,” he said.

Despite ranging from 15 to 45 players a game, Novick said he expects the league to grow next year — by getting an earlier start organizing it and branching out to more homes. He went on to say he would like to see it grow into a city or statewide organization.

“I want to expand this in all the boroughs and hopefully New York State,” he said. “You have Special Olympics once a year for a week, but other than that there’s no league like this.”