Choices 2022 Summer
Community Options Hosts the Phenomenal Golf Classic
Community Options held the Phil Lian and Joan Mueller Phenomenal Golf Classic on May 23rd at the Union League Liberty Hill in Lafayette Hill, PA. More than 110 golfers competed in the tournament. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of Phil and Joan, this was the most successful golf outing in Community Options’ history.
“It was great to see so many people come and support Community Options’ mission,” said Phil Lian, who also serves as Chairman of Community Options Enterprises. “It was a spectacular event headlined by one of the most beautiful golf courses in
The outing raised over $300,000 for Community Options. Some of the key event sponsors included WB Mason, OceanFirst Bank, Withum, and Haldeman Auto Group.
Katherine Neas Presents the Keynote at Leadership Conference
Deputy Assistant Secretary Katherine Neas addressed Community Options’ executive leaders at the 16th Annual Excelsior Leadership Conference on May 24th. Neas is the Deputy and Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Neas’ keynote address included a review of the Biden Administration’s priorities for promoting student equity and access, increasing post-secondary success, and funding innovative programs to replace subminimum wage programs with training for placement in high-demand career fields.
Jimmy Comes Home to Community Options
For years, Jimmy has been in the care of the Department of Children Services. As part of his care, Jimmy was transitioned from Tennessee to Wisconsin where he lived on campus at a Prader Willi school.
Jimmy’s conservator and close friends all lived in Tennessee, so he wanted to move closer to home. Throughout his time in Wisconsin, he spoke with his conservator and close friends daily.
Community Options’ staff visited with Jimmy in Wisconsin. The team spent the day with Jimmy learning about his diet, medical needs, and activity schedule. Staff learned that Jimmy has many hobbies and interests, and especially loves crocheting.
It was clear that Jimmy could live successfully in the community. The planning to get Jimmy home to Tennessee began. Community Options’ staff held frequent meetings to ensure the transition would be seamless. On April 12, 2022, Jimmy traveled by van to Tennessee aided by one of his long-term staff, Kurt Breyman, and Kim Wilson, Director of Community Services.
Jimmy is now back at home in Tennessee and is living in a beautiful 3-bedroom home in Smyrna, Tennessee, right outside of Nashville. His new home is specialized to ensure safety. Jimmy is happy to be back home and was able to visit with his conservator in-person for the first time in several years.
James Spano Awarded Betty Pendler Award
Community Options presented James Spano with the Betty Pendler Award in recognition of his advocacy and philanthropy on behalf of people with significant disabilities.
The prestigious award is named in honor of Betty Pendler, who fought tirelessly for the interests of people with disabilities. Having a daughter with Down Syndrome, Betty worked to educate the public and policymakers on the capabilities of people with disabilities.
Spano joined the Board of Trustees of Community Options Enterprises in 2016. He is the Managing Director of Spano Partners Holdings, a real estate investment firm with a focus on renewable solar projects. Spano’s company installed solar panels for 29 Community Options properties, saving the organization thousands in utility costs and providing emergency backup power for the homes. The project received significant praise from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and state legislators.
Ashley’s New Job at Hank’s
Hank’s Frozen Custard and Mexican Food (AKA Hank’s) has been a landmark in New Brighton, Pennsylvania for over 50 years. Hank’s specializes in over 20 flavors of frozen custard, Mexican food such as tacos, nachos and burritos and American food such as burgers, fries, gyros, and salads.
Growing up in the New Brighton area, Ashley frequented Hank’s and enjoyed their food and frozen custard. When Ashley saw they were hiring for the upcoming season, she applied for a job. Ashley set up an interview herself and was hired the same day.
Ashley has responsibilities in the front and back kitchen, where she does everything the business needs to make their customers happy, from filling dressing cups to calling out orders for pick-up. When asked why Ashley wanted to work at Hank’s she said, “I was tired of getting only $10 a week from the office.” Ashley also has a cat, Gracie, and wants to provide for her needs.
Ashley said the hardest part of her job is reading the order ticket. When asked what the most important part of her job is, Ashley said “making sure everyone gets what they ordered and if there is a big line, I do the best I can.” Community Options provides employment supports to assure Ashley has all she needs to succeed.
From Rwanda to Phoenix;
A Mother & Daughter’s Journey
Community Options’ staff members, Deborah Ntabwoba and her mother, Specious Ufitinema, provide exemplary care to people with disabilities in Phoenix, Arizona. They are outstanding employees and their journey to employment with Community Options unique.
Deborah came to the United States from Rwanda in 2016 while her family remained in Rwanda. Deborah’s mother, Specious, followed in her footsteps to join her in the United States five years later. In July, Specious joined the Community Options’ team in Phoenix. Since arriving, she has stood out as an exceptional employee. A mother of a child that Specious supports even made a point to visit the local office to commend Specious’ work. The mother described Specious as caring, attentive, and involved in all aspects of her child’s care.
Specious suggested that Deborah join the Community Options team as well. Last October, Deborah did just that. Like her mother, she loves supporting the individuals with their day-to-day activities. In addition to working at Community Options, Deborah is a full-time student at Arizona State University. There, she studies Supply Chain Management. She expects to graduate in 2025. As a successful young woman, she is a great example to everyone that she supports. We are fortunate to have Specious and Deborah on our team.
The Daily Plan It Opens Sixth Location
Community Options Enterprises celebrated the opening of a new Daily Plan It with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 9, 2022. The Daily Plan It, located at 826 Alexander Road, Princeton, NJ, is a unique entrepreneurial business that provides job training for people with disabilities in an integrated environment while paying them competitive wages. The Daily Plan It offers fully furnished office space rental and virtual tenancy to the local business community.
“We’re excited to open a new Daily Plan It to provide an important service to the local business community,” said Dina Casalaspro, Managing Director of Community Options Enterprises. “At the same time, we will be able to train people with disabilities for the workforce and pay them competitive wages from revenue generated through the rental income.”
This is the sixth Daily Plan It in New Jersey, with additional locations in Morristown, Moorestown, Wayne, and two in Princeton. All offices in the five other locations are currently rented out. A seventh location in Denville is planning to open before the summer.
“As a lifelong resident of Mercer County, I am thrilled that Community Options is building on their legacy of service and equity for folks living with disabilities throughout the Central Jersey region,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “I look forward to continuing to work with Community Options and our non-profit partners to work toward a fair and accessible workforce landscape here in the Capital County.”
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