BY JUDI BOSWORTH
One of the hallmarks of my administration is to provide services and address the needs of each and every resident of the Town of North Hempstead. Our seniors age comfortably in their own homes through Project Independence services, we serve our veterans through our recently formed Veterans Advisory Committee and we are always open to suggestions from any resident about how we can better serve a certain segment of our population.
Recently, I was approached with just such a suggestion by Jackie Shenkman of Great Neck and Larry Greenstein of Port Washington. Both of these involved community residents have been advocates for those with disabilities for decades, and their passion and energy for this issue is both admirable and inspiring. Jackie and Larry shared their view that there was a need for an advisory group to provide another layer of support when it comes to aiding individuals with disabilities in our town. It was decided at that meeting that the town would form a Disability Advisory Committee, comprised of residents with interest and expertise in this area, and I was pleased to announce at my State of the Town Address that we will form this committee to advise us.
North Hempstead already does important work to help and benefit those with disabilities through many programs and initiatives within the town. One example is the special volunteer program instituted this past summer at Clark Botanic Garden. This program gave individuals with vision and hearing loss and those with intellectual disabilities a chance to volunteer in the 12-acre garden. This program, the first of its kind in the town, provided an opportunity for enthusiastic and capable adults with disabilities to experience gardening in a warm and nurturing environment. Another example is the town’s free program for youth with developmental disabilities at Clinton G. Martin Park, which has offered recreational activities like bowling, arts and crafts, hiking and modified sports, as well as help in achieving socialization goals to our residents for 40 years.
I believe the Disability Advisory Committee will bring a new dimension to the way we are able to serve our residents with disabilities. I expect the framework of the committee to mirror that of the Veterans Advisory Committee in the sense that the town will not physically provide services to residents, but will instead connect them to the appropriate agency or organization that can help them. As time goes on and we receive input from constituents, we will continue to adjust our mission in order to adequately assist individuals with disabilities and their families. Some of the ideas we are considering include a database and referral system to connect those with disabilities to affordable home maintenance services, and providing information on housing and rentals.
To make this committee as successful as possible, we need your help, as we are asking for residents to join and help us along the way. It takes a community to help address an issue as important as connecting our residents with disabilities to the services they need and deserve. If you would like to be a member of the Disability Advisory Committee, or if you would like more information on any of the other aforementioned programs for residents with disabilities in the town, please call 311. I look forward to hearing from you.