Celebrating April Brooks and Janet Miller with the Abilities First Inspiration Awards

Abilities First Autism Acceptance: Together We Understand

Community Spotlight - Hudson Valley Walk for Autism

Program Updates - Abilibee App at the NY Alliance 2024 Annual Conference

AF Foundation Supports Organization Needs & Initiatives

FAFNY Welcomes Newest Board Member

AF & FAFNY Events

Celebrating April Brooks and Janet Miller with the Abilities First Inspiration Awards

This month, the Abilities First Board of Directors, led by Gary Cassiello, Chair and President & CEO Dr. Jeffery Fox, honored staff members April Brooks and Janet Miller with the Abilities First Board of Directors Inspiration Awards!

April, serving as a Residential Coordinator at Abilities First, was recognized for her

exceptional dedication to our mission, her exemplary service, and her steadfast devotion to building meaningful relationships with those she assists. Colleagues praise April for her tireless work ethic, kindness, and consistent willingness to exceed expectations. On receiving the award and her time here at Abilities First, April says, “There are no words to express my gratitude. The best part of my job is going into my programs and interacting with the people we support as well as the staff. Letting them know who I am by face and not only by name.”

Janet, who works as a Physical Therapist at the Abilities First LaGrange School, was nominated as an inspiration to others for triumphing over obstacles and adversity to reach success! Known for her unwavering dedication, Janet serves as a guiding mentor, fostering excellence among her colleagues. Her efforts to create a supportive and motivating work environment are deeply appreciated by all who know her. “It is truly an unexpected honor to me to have received this award. To be an inspiration, however, one must first be inspired. My coworkers have both individually and as a team, served greatly to motivate and inspire me in the field. I consider this award to be as much a reflection of this as it is an honor to me.”

Congratulations April & Janet! Your stories inspire us, your actions motivate us, and your passion fuels our collective journey towards a brighter future.

Pictured left: President & CEO, Dr. Jeffery Fox with Janet Miller and Right: With April Books.

Abilities First Autism Acceptance: Together We Understand

April is Autism Acceptance Month. Abilities First is committed to championing individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), including those on the autism spectrum. All month long, schools and programs have been marking Acceptance Month by celebrating all of our strengths and diversities and promoting the three A's: Awareness, Action, and Acceptance. 

Today is the final day to show your support for our community. Your gift, whether in honor or the memory of a loved one, will contribute to our Autism Acceptance Campaign. With your generosity, we can strengthen our resources and extend critical assistance to meet our community's educational and program needs. Every contribution makes a meaningful impact. Give today and help us continue our mission of acceptance and support for individuals with autism. Thank you for your generosity and compassion.



Hudson Valley Walk for Autism

On a gorgeous sunny and crisp Saturday morning, members of the Hudson Valley community, along with families and local organizations, gathered at James Baird State Park to stand in unity with the Autism community. Festive tents, lively music, and engaging activities adorned the park as participants gathered to embark on the walk, demonstrating their pride and support for those affected by Autism.

Abilities First proudly sponsored this year's Hudson Valley Walk for Autism, organized by the Autism Service Directory, Inc. and numerous local businesses. The Abilities First team, comprising of dedicated staff, program participants, and families, came together to foster inclusivity, offer support, and extend acceptance to all, especially individuals on the Autism spectrum.

Program Updates

Abilibee App at the NY Alliance 2024 Annual Conference

Pictured left: Mark Nace, Chief Program Officer with Marcy Handler and Dr. Jeffery Fox.

Marcy Handler, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Abilities First, showcased the Abilibee App at the NY Alliance for Inclusion & Innovation - 2024 Annual Conference at The Sagamore Resort, NY. This year's theme, "Driving Forward & Forging Change," emphasized the essence of progress, innovation, and transformative action, underscoring a shared dedication to propelling the I/DD field towards a future characterized by positive evolution and meaningful advancements.

Marcy demonstrated the Abilibee App, an app designed to assist families in navigating systems of care in one spot. This project is made possible through a grant from the NYS Council for Developmental Disabilities. In the upcoming months, we're gearing up to test a demo of the app. For parents and advocates eager to lend a hand, scan the QR code below to register to "Bee a Tester."

AF Foundation Supports Organization

Needs & Initiatives

Picture at left: Friends at Patrick Lane. Middle picture: John at the Watkins Glen Race Track. Right: Apple Valley participants taking it easy on their new recliners.

At Abilities First, our commitment to serving over 1,100 individuals in the Hudson Valley is unwavering. Behind this mission stands the Foundation for Abilities First NY (FAFNY), which is dedicated to providing steadfast financial support to fulfill the needs and wishes of our programs and schools. Over the past few months, your generosity has helped fund wish lists for our educational and adult programs. In an environment where budgets are tight, the Foundation's assistance addresses emerging needs, ensuring our programs and schools can offer unparalleled support and services. Requests from educators and program staff to enhance are at the forefront of the Foundation's mission.

Thanks to the generosity directed towards FAFNY, we've been able to turn dreams into reality. From simple comforts like new patio tables and umbrellas allowing our Day Habilitation participants to enjoy the upcoming warm days to new recliners providing moments of comfort and relaxation, fun scooters for students in gym class, a wheelchair swing, new TVs, fun science project kits, and new technology for art projects your gifts are meaningful. Pictures below are also a request to fulfill your lifelong dream of attending the raceway; the impact of your potential donation is tangible and transformative.

Our Board of Directors, students, individuals, and staff express heartfelt gratitude to everyone who makes a gift of any size to the Foundation. 

To make an online gift to the mission of Abilities First, visit

For information about gifts, sponsorships, events, volunteering, or hosting a fundraiser, contact JoAnn Parker at

Giving an online gift to Abilities First is easy with PayPal!

  1. Scan the QR code.
  2. Sign into your PayPal account.
  3. Fill in the amount you’d like to give. 
  4. SEND!
PayPal QR Code

Abilities First & Foundation Events

FAFNY Welcomes Newest Member

The Foundation for Abilities First NY Board of Directors proudly introduces Michael Mazzuca as its newest member to the board. A longstanding member of the Lower Hudson Valley community, Michael has deep roots in the region with extensive experience spanning over 25 years in business-to-business sales and more than 20 years in business banking and commercial lending, Michael is also recognized as a talented professional photographer who generously lends his photographic skills to various organizations, and contributes to their causes.

Actively engaged in community service, Michael supports numerous organizations with both his time and photography. Among these are United Way of Dutchess Region (where he also serves as a current board member and Secretary), The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Poughkeepsie, Ulster County Veterans Administration, Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Heroes Cowboys & Companions, and Family Services.

We are thrilled to welcome Michael to our board and eagerly anticipate collaborating with him in the future!

For Sponsorship & Reception Ticket Opportunities, please contact

JoAnn Parker, Director of Development, at

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