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“Who” Cares ? - Krista Lavender

kristaKrista Lavender loves sharing her passions and creativity with the Day Habilitation group she leads.

For example, she loves to cook. Every Friday she brings her enthusiasm to a cooking session that she organizes at The Arc’s Franklin Square location, creating an opportunity for both fun and learning.

“Using the theme of food from around the world, we have tried recipes from Greece, Italy, Mexico, Hungary...,” she says. “Together we go over the recipes, make a list of ingredients, check the pantry and fridge, and then shop for what’s needed.

“The group has a variety of skill levels and some individuals need more help than others,” she notes. “One man has a hand tremor and has difficulty using certain utensils. But with help and perseverance, he has learned to manage some of the cooking skills, and it is so exciting to see how pleased he is when he conquers the challenge.”

In another burst of creativity, Ms. Lavender initiated the first-ever Field Day event for The Arc. “I was thinking about what I used to do in school that brought back fond memories. What came to mind was Field Day,” she explains. When the opportunity arose to order some outdoor equipment at Franklin Square, she realized some of it could be used for the special event. On a sunny day in July, individuals from virtually all the Day Habilitation groups came for bean bag toss, giant egg and spoon races, ring toss using hula hoops tossed over helium balloons, and, among the favorites on that hot day—water balloons and water blaster squirt guns.

”It was great to see everyone interacting and playing games together,” she recalls. “Several people came up to me and said ‘Field Day was so much fun’ and ‘we should do that again soon’. One man said ‘I went home with the biggest smile on my face that day’.”

Ms. Lavender earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree (BSW) at Ramapo College and an MSW at NYU. Throughout that period, she had worked both full-time and part-time at an agency in New Jersey that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “When I started college, I intended to focus on Early Childhood Education, but I loved the work at that agency and switched to Social Work in order to have a career working with this population,” she said.

After moving to New York, she applied for a job at The Arc Rockland, and has been here since July, 2017. She currently works with a group of six men, accompanying them to community activities, including exercise at the JCC, grocery shopping, volunteering with the Westchester Food Bank, and generally enjoying what the area has to offer, including theater, the circus, malls, parks and zoos.

“Krista puts time and effort into making each day a wonderful experience for the individuals she works with,” says her supervisor, Sonia Alvarez, Assistant Director of Day Habilitation Services. “In addition to her Friday cooking sessions, she works side by side with our Culinary Instructor one afternoon a week in the supplemental Day Habilitation program, helping participants prepare meals. She is so creative and loves to be hands on with everything she does. We are so glad to have Krista as part of The Arc Rockland family.”

 

Thank You to The Arc Rockland’s 2019 Corporate Sponsors: