September 2020 | Special Edition
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 and employment supports to people with disabilities. #AllItTakes
Special Edition: Volunteer Spotlight
Learn about the Community Options Volunteers and some of their most memorable experiences with the organization. We’re thankful for their service and leadership, now more than ever, as we continue to handle the unique problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Message from Robert Stack, President & CEO
Dear Community Options’ Stakeholder:
Last night, I watched the Shawshank Redemption again. In the movie, Tim Robbins’ character got himself out of the horrific institution and then helped Morgan Freeman’s character return to society. The best line: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Then I watched Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. Thinking about how much strife, turmoil and growth this country has gone through, it made me appreciate how much we can all help each other gain freedom and how together we can work to make sense of some of the wretched lousy places we find ourselves in as a society.
We emphasize busy living and strive to dismantle the old institutionalization model. Thirty years ago, we figured out how to free our first 17 people from an institution. We did this with no money, from the kitchen table in a row home in Bordentown, New Jersey.
We meet with families, individuals with disabilities, and state officials to find proper homes and close large institutions. We have emancipated over 3,200 souls into small community programs. We helped close North Princeton Developmental Center and the Western Center in Pennsylvania.
Nostalgically, Bridget Haney became our first employee to celebrate 26 years at Community Options. I remember when our Treasurer Frank Zak and several former board members presented in Pittsburgh before a large team of case managers explaining how we could provide a better life for persons with disabilities living in that institution.
Today, three decades later, we reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to embrace our purpose and reaffirm our relentless, intrepid pursuit to shape a better future for persons with disabilities. People deserve to have work and to live in their own home. No person with disabilities who has not harmed society in any way should be segregated in an institution and denied fundamental freedoms.
Community Options offers a better life.
You see, COVID transmissions are greater and deadlier within large settings like state supportive living centers and nursing facilities than our small homes. When we place people out of a large facility after isolation, we are not only providing a better life, but a longer life.
To repeat, we have been engaged in this labor for a long time. We have 116 employees who have worked at Community Options during the half-life of our incorporation 30 years ago; another 206 have worked here for over 10 years and 609 employees have worked here more than five years. The dedication to the people we support as well as their families is second to none.
Our work remains more rewarding than difficult. It is more satisfying and uplifting emotionally, particularly during a pandemic. Those of us who have found our niche and our calling know the intrinsic value of helping enhance the quality of life of another human being---and we realize what an incredibly worthwhile endeavor it is to work at Community Options.
We are excited as we plan the openings of an additional 30 homes by the end of the year preventing institutional recourse. This is always cause for celebration and is one of the most gratifying aspects of what we do.
We will continue to fight the fight to increase wages for our direct care staff who support persons with disabilities. Government funding needs to change.
I know that this pandemic has brought to light the true meaning of essential. We cannot cancel the support that persons with disabilities need in their lives like a school semester. We cannot shut down our services like a bar or a movie theater or a restaurant. We cannot host a zoom call for the life caring needs of those we support.
We live our lives in the service of others. We all drive Miss Daisy. We all free people from unnecessary institutionalization. And, we all make sure that we can apply our experiences and knowledge to not only free ourselves but others from the shackles of injustice.
Thank you for all that you do as board members, volunteers, staff, family and business advocates. Together we ensure that our metaphorical Miss Daisy and those in need of our support make it to their chosen destination of freedom and happiness. Warmest Regards,
President & CEO
Community Options, Inc.
“I became familiar with Community Options when I was hired to help the organization acquire its first property in western Pennsylvania. This was about 1996. My work with Community Options opened my eyes to discrimination against individuals with disabilities. I began to recognize the horrific conditions of government-run institutions, and the benefits of community living. As I continued to work with Community Options, I have consistently been impressed by the dedication of this organization and its team members to the individuals who are served.”
Andrea Geraghty focuses her law practice on all aspects of real estate law. Geraghty has more than 35 years of experience working with clients through land acquisition, development, construction, and management of a variety of real estate endeavors. She started her practice with a small firm in Pittsburgh, then formed the boutique real estate firm, Geraghty + Associates, [with 6 lawyers] where she practiced for 16 years. She became a Partner of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP in March of 2012.
Geraghty grew up in Westmoreland County, graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Duquesne University School of Law.
She is very active in the bar and her local community. Some of her most notable community involvement includes:
- ACREL, Committee on Professional Responsibility – Vice Chair; Land Use/Environmental; Public-Private and Title Insurance Committees
- Allegheny County Bar Association, Real Property Section (Chair 1998-1999), Professional Ethics Committee (Chair 2014-2015)
- Allegheny County Bar Foundation
- Allegheny County Energy & Environment Vision Team 2012, Chair
- Allegheny County Government Review Commission, 2015-2016
Andrea’s commitment to Community Options’ mission has been critical to our growth and development. As a member of our Pittsburgh Capital Campaign Committee, she will be indispensable. Geraghty’s contributions of time and expertise will renovate a building where our dedicated staff works to improve the lives of hundreds of individuals with disabilities.
“As a former resident of New York City, I was moved by the front-line news reporting of Geraldo Riviera. Almost 50 years ago, his astonishing coverage in “The Last Disgrace” exposed the abusive treatment of people with developmental disabilities at Willowbrook State School. Years later as a resident of Princeton, NJ, I saw Community Options’ mission firsthand, and recalled Geraldo’s reports. Community Options was doing good work to ensure that places like Willowbrook were shut down and I was compelled to contribute. Since then, our relationship which has grown substantially.”
Philip Lian now serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Community Options Enterprises (COE). COE operates entrepreneurial businesses that actively integrate people with disabilities into the workforce.
For the past twelve years, Lian has managed Parcside Equity LLC, an independent financial services and insurance practice. Prior, he served as Senior Vice President for Marsh & McLennan Companies, Aon Risk Services, and Willis Group. Lian currently holds insurance licenses for all lines of insurance in 10 States.
Lian is an active community member and philanthropist with an emphasis on education and support for the developmental disability community. He serves as a trustee for the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia, Xaverian High School, a college preparatory school for grades 6 to 12. Lian is also a member of the Finance Committee and Chair of the Insurance Committee of the Union League of Philadelphia, and a member of the finance committee of The Presser Foundation.
Lian received his Bachelor’s degree from Fordham University with majors in Finance and Economics. He resides with his wife, Joan, in Princeton, New Jersey.
“Phil is as brilliant as he is benevolent with his support and time. His advice is invaluable, and his expertise and values are second to none.” -Robert Stack, President and CEO
“I discovered Community Options through my friendships with many of its employees. Fifteen years ago, Chris Stack, son of Community Options’ President and CEO Robert Stack, introduced me to the organization. Since then I can’t be involved enough. Community Options’ mission is especially important to me because of my belief in equal access to quality healthcare and services. People with disabilities have invaluable worth and exemplify courage, creativity and resilience. I’ve learned a lot about how to live a purposeful life as a result.”
Mr. Maiuri is the Senior Manager of Commercial Sales at Proofpoint, where the company protects people, data, and brands against advanced threats and compliance risks. He has degrees in Construction Management from Brigham Young University and in Technical Sales from Weber State University.
Mr. Mairui participates in many Community Options events and is a member of our Community Options Business Advisory Council. He is an exemplary leader and serves as Chair of our Pittsburgh Capital Campaign Committee. With Mr. Mairui’s help, our building at 900 Sarah Street will receive the renovations it needs for us to continue to support local people with disabilities in housing and employment for decades to come.
SAVE THE DATE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5TH, 2020
iMatter Fall Golf Classic
TPC Jasna Polana: 4519 Province Line Rd, Princeton, NJ 08540
SAVE THE DATE
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Find a Cupid’s Chase 5k run near you
- Glen Rock
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