Choices 2018 Summer

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Choices Summer 2018 Newsletter

Community Options believes in the dignity of every person, and in the freedom of all people to experience the highest degree of self-determination. Embracing this philosophy, Community Options provides housing, support services and advocacy assistance to help empower people with disabilities.


Community Options’ Annual
iMatter Conference
Foundations for Growth:
Learning from Others
The Andaz
Scottsdale, Arizona
September 23rd – 26th, 2018

Community Options Enterprises Appoints New Chair of the Board of Directors

Phil Lian and Joan Mueller were honored during Community Options, Inc.’s spring iMatter Golf Classic at TPC Jasna Polana in Princeton, NJ. on May 21, 2018

Joan Mueller and Philip Lian receive the Betty Pendler award in recognition of their leadership and philanthropy on behalf of people with disabilities. Presenting the award is Robert Stack, President & CEO of Community Options.

Phil Lian was recently appointed Chair of the Board of Directors of Community Options Enterprises (COE). COE operates entrepreneurial businesses that actively integrate people with disabilities into the workforce.

“Phil is as brilliant as he is benevolent with his support and time,” said Robert Stack, President and CEO of Community Options. “His advice is invaluable, and his expertise and values are second to none.”

Mr. Lian brings more than 30 years of finance, insurance, and risk management expertise. For the past twelve years, he has managed his own financial services and insurance practice. Prior, he served as Senior Vice President for Marsh & McLennan Companies, Aon Risk Services and Willis Group. He currently holds insurance licenses in 10 states.

Throughout his tenure as a Board Member of COE, Mr. Lian has been instrumental in expanding critical housing and employment programs for individuals with disabilities. His leadership was a great asset in establishing two new programs in New Jersey; the Red Ribbon Academy in Hillsborough, which opened in 2016, and Vaseful in Princeton, opening later this year. The Red Ribbon Academy provides quality day services that foster growth and progress to adults with disabilities who are medically fragile. Vaseful, which currently has one location in Edison, is a full-service retail flower and gift shop. While serving local and online customers as a traditional florist, this unique business also provides employment and training for people with disabilities in an integrated setting.

An active community member and philanthropist, Mr. Lian serves as a trustee for the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia and Xaverian High School. He also chairs the Insurance Committee and is a member of the Finance Committee for the Union League of Philadelphia.

Mr. Lian holds a B.A. degree from Fordham University with majors in Finance and Economics. He and his wife, Joan, recently received Community Options’ prestigious Betty Pendler award in recognition of their leadership and philanthropy on behalf of people with disabilities. The award is named in honor of Betty Pendler who was renowned for her tireless efforts in helping those with disabilities. Each year, the award is given to those who exemplify the mission of Community Options and demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities live their best lives in communities of their choosing. Past recipients of this award include Ambassador Nikki Haley, Governor Tom Kean, Elaine Katz of Kessler Foundation, Senator Joe Kyrillos, and Gail B. and Senator Robert Gordon. Phil and Joan reside in Princeton, New Jersey.

Also appointed to the Community Options Enterprises Board of Trustees are Reginald Jenkins, Jr., Esq. of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, LLC; Phyllis Marchand, Princeton Mayor (1998-2009) and Lori Grifa, Esq. of Archer Law.

Mr. Philip E. Lian and Mrs. Joan L. Mueller Community Options, Inc. Princeton, New Jersey Dear Phil and Joan, I recently learned of your many years of excellent service to the disabled. I extend my sincere gratitude for your dedication to improving the lives of others. Your charitable efforts have brought relief and hope to so many. I am heartened by your willingness to help others. The countless hours you have spent assisting those in need embodies our valued American virtue of selfless service. Thank you for the example you set for all Americans. May God continue to bless you and your work. Sincerely, Donald Trump

Vaseful Flowers & Gifts 1-877-VASEFUL • Logo

Opening our second shop later this year!

305 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ

Maryland Individuals Thriving with Community Options after Return from Out-of-State Centers

In the summer of 2017, Tennille Thomas, Chief of Staff for the Social Services Administration within the Maryland Department of Human Services, launched an initiative to bring home all children with intellectual and developmental disabilities that were placed in out-of-state institutions and identify residential living opportunities for them. The state specifically approached Community Options and asked them to be one of the providers for the individuals. Community Options received a Sole Source and Emergency contract to open and operate two, four-bedroom children’s homes. Not long after, Community Options officially opened two homes by winter of 2018.

The two homes currently serve seven girls that cope with severe behavioral issues and/or trauma. Several were once living in out-of-state institutions where they were not prescribed medication, experienced physical restraint and electric shock. Since coming to Community Options’ nurturing environment, all seven individuals have been integrated into Montgomery County public schools. One of the first individuals to come to Community Options from this initiative was Rachel. Rachel departed the Judge Rothenberg Center in Massachusetts. There, Rachel was restrained 20 times a month, exhibited self-aggressive behaviors and was considered “too violent to live in the community”. Since coming to Community Options, however, Rachel has excelled in school and in the community.

In the near future, Community Options plans to open another home, which will serve individuals ranging from age 14 to 18. Community Options homes in Rockville provide therapeutic supports, life skills and psychiatric support. They are thoroughly staffed with direct support professionals including behavioral consultants, counselors and social workers.

From Workshop to Dance Studio, South Carolina Woman Enjoys Her New Dream Job

Nikki teaches Ballet and Tap to a class of five and six-year-olds

Nikki teaches Ballet and Tap to a class of five and six-year-olds.

Nicole “Nikki” had only worked at a workshop, and desired to do more meaningful work with her time. Nikki indicated art and dance as some of her interests, so her employment specialist at Community Options in Summerville, SC, participated in job searching at various creative studios. One local studio, Kelly’s Dance, had been interested in hiring an individual with a disability for a while, and was thrilled to be introduced to Nikki. Nikki was hired as an Assistant Dance Instructor shortly after being interviewed by the owner.

Nikki smiling“Kelly’s Dance is exceptionally lucky to have Nikki work with our students,” said Kelly Lax, owner of Kelly’s Dance. “She is dependable and wonderfully pleasant. The students adore her. Nikki carries out all her responsibilities as an assistant dance instructor to perfection. We couldn’t be any be any more pleased.”

Nikki teaches Ballet and Tap to a class of five and six-year-olds, preparing the children for their upcoming recital. The instructor boasts that Nikki is coming out of her shell, and has “jumped right in” to teaching the kids, who love interacting with her each week.

When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Nikki simply responded that she loves teaching kids.

In Short Period of Time, Community Options Utah Continues to Expand and Grow Services

On August 14, 2017, the State of Utah launched Operation Rio Grande, a “collaborative plan to restore public safety and improve the environment for those seeking services in the Rio Grande District of Salt Lake City.” An element of the plan was to identify homeless individuals and/or individuals with disabilities and aid them in employment searches. This initiative, along with the recent phasing out of sheltered workshops, created a need for more community-based programs in the region. To help fill this need, Community Options recently licensed their first day program site in Utah, located in Salt Lake City, and began taking admissions in mid-April. The program is employment-driven, allowing for up to 20 individuals to gain valuable life and employment skills for six hours per day from Monday through Friday.

“Over the last year, Community Options has been able to provide residential services, supported living and employment supports,” said Shannon Wilkins, Community Options’ Associate Executive Director of Utah. “We are excited to add Host Homes to our services as well as expand our current services.”

Community Options recently opened their first home in Salt Lake City in April, their fourth home in Utah since September. Homes in Ogden and Salt Lake accommodate persons with significant development disabilities who will work and enjoy the natural beauty of Utah.

Community Options now supports 14 individuals across the four homes. The staff in Utah is also looking into opening several additional homes in Provo.

Another successful iMatter Spring Golf Classic

Haldeman Auto Group foursome: Frank Mastroianni, Steve Randall, Greg Hritz, Allen Haldeman

Haldeman Auto Group foursome: Frank Mastroianni, Steve Randall, Greg Hritz, Allen Haldeman

The annual iMatter Spring Golf Classic took place on May 21st at the renowned TPC Jasna Polana, where golfers enjoyed a beautiful day on a rigorous course. The event raised more than $250,000 and hosted 116 golfers and more than 140 dinner guests. Although no one took the Hole-in-One prize of a new Subaru, Lexus or Ford from Haldeman Auto Group, there was at least one golfer who came close. (Most of the shots landed in the water.) Event chair, event sponsor and Community Options Enterprises Board Chair Philip Lian led a very exciting live auction, including Belmont Stakes tickets to witness Justify win the Triple Crown. The auction generated an additional $15,000 in support of the Community Options mission.

Foursome members, L to R: Brian Kelly, Keith Barrack, Gail Gordon & Noah Simon

Foursome members, L to R: Brian Kelly, Keith Barrack, Gail Gordon & Noah Simon

Photos from this event can be viewed on our website at