2007-05-04 / Columnists

Addressing The Issues

Heartshare: 25 Years of Exemplary Community Service
By Geraldine M. Chapey Democratic District Leader

By Geraldine M. Chapey Democratic District Leader

Dr. Geraldine Chapey
Dr. Geraldine Chapey Heartshare Human Services has been giving outstanding service to our children for 25 years. Their objective is "to nurture, care for and provide needed services to society's most vulnerable individuals so that they can become as self sufficient as possible and achieve their fullest potential in life" (according to their website). Heartshare offers inclusion cases for typically developing children and for children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 5. They also offer home based early intervention services for children from birth to 3 years of age.

Please join me and my family on May 24, at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach at 7 p.m. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Heartshare offering quality educational programs for our children.

Heartshare Educational Services is extremely fortunate to have as its leader Carol Verdi, a dynamic educator who has boundless energy and enthusiasm for her chosen profession - education and social work. Her reputation for helping children is legendary. Under the Heartshare team's talented direction the children learn socialization, academic skills and creative play at the four centers located in Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Bay Ridge Brooklyn. The programs are named for Matilda Raffa Cuomo; the Lefferts Liberty Kiwanis and Dolly and Frank Russo Sr.

The First Step Centers work with children with speech and language difficulties, behavior disorders, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism, Down syndrome and special medical conditions according to their charter. Heartshare has an evaluation center located at the Angels on the Bay Center, 162-30 Crossbay Boulevard in Howard Under the expert supervision of a clinical and highly skilled professional team the children are tested and evaluated to determine the best educational environment. Heartshare professionals along with the committee on pre school evaluation determine the appropriate services and resources which will meet the individual child's needs. First Step works intensively with the parents and the staff to continuously review the child's progress to determine the most appropriate course of action during the child's educational program.

The Heartshare professionals are family oriented. They have parent support groups where parents share experiences among themselves and with professionals. Professionals, parents and children working together as a team will allow each child to succeed to the best of his/her capabilities.

Congratulations to Heartshare on the recent opening of a brand new site in Bensonhurst. This is a new school and a new venture. This site will serve children between the ages of 5 years and 14 years who have been diagnosed with autism. Children with autism "are marked by delays in their social interaction and language as used in social communication or symbols or imaginative play." Their three behavioral impairments are: 1) impaired social interaction; 2: impaired communication; and 3) restricted and repetitive interests and activities" according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and Wikipedia. There has been an increase in the number of reported cases of autism according to the CDC; currently one in 150 children are diagnosed. The Heartshare School has a long record of outstanding service to children and will continue that excellent record of educational achievement at this new site in Bensonhurst.

In addition to the sound and valuable educational expertise at the Heartshare schools they also call upon community resources to come into the school such as the Science Museum and the Queens Libraries. They also add some fun by bringing in Fran the Clown.

Heartshare is partnering with KABOOM - an organization with the vision to "create a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America." Heartshare will be joining with KABOOM to build two community playgrounds. Our funding partners for the build days are: Sprint on June 2, 2007 at The Heartshare School, 1825 Bath Avenue, Brooklyn and The Home Depot on June 28, 2007 at the Matilda Raffa Cuomo Center, 115-15- 101 st Avenue, Richmond Hill. On each of these two dates Heartshare will be looking for 100 volunteers to help them to build 2 beautiful new playgrounds. Please join my mother, my husband and myself on each of these dates to partner with Heartshare and KABOOM to provide these playgrounds for our children. You can register to participate at www.heart share.org (and go to news and events and click the events calendar) or by calling 718-323-2877.

Kudos to Carol Verdi for working arduously to put together an outstanding professionally qualified and dedicated staff to help our children reach their potential in their physical, intellectual, emotional and social growth. Through their specialized staff Heartshare identifies developmental delays. The educational literature is replete with examples of how important it is to identify a child's needs as early as possible. All of the schools at Heartshare offer inclusion classes. This works to the benefit of each individual child.

Again, please join me and my family at the 25th anniversary celebration of Heartshare successes for our children on May 24, 2007 at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach. Your presence will raise much needed funds for the worthwhile project. I look forward to seeing you there.

For ticket information visit the website at www.heart share.org or call 718-323-2877.

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