This year, we are celebrating SLCD’s 32nd anniversary. When we started 32 years ago, we served only children with preschool developmental disabilities. As an organization today, we serve individuals with disabilities from preschool through adulthood. We provide educational services on three campuses located on Long Island and in New York City. We are now providing day habilitation programs and residential services for adults on Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn. We are not a tiny preschool program anymore but a large comprehensive agency with multiple programs and services that encompasses the life cycle process.
By continuing to work together as our children grew, we have grown with our children. The economic times have presented many challenges for the development of our programs, but we have never been deterred from achieving our ultimate goal which is to provide services as our students aged up through the system. Our children’s future is bright because we are all committed to the same goal – their achievement. Through the life cycle from preschool to elementary to middle to high school to adulthood, we have built one program after another using our past experiences as a foundation for the future. We said “language first” when our children were small, we strive for “employment now” that they are young adults seeking jobs. At SLCD, we consider ourselves one big family. The Family includes our students, their families, our staff, our Directors and our benefactors. That is why, on this our 32nd anniversary, it is appropriate that we recognize and honor members of our family for their many years of loyalty and support. This evening we honor our benefactors, Vafa and Bushra Vahid, James and Rana Henderson and Karen Katzman.
Vafa and Bushra Vahid will be receiving the Joseph and Alice Ficalora Philanthropic Award. Together, Bushra, currently the Chief Administrative Law Judge for New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, and Vafa, a seasoned executive in the Financial Services Industry, have built a life centered on their shared strong sense of family and love for each other. Inspired by their upbringing and the teaching of their Baha’i faith, they have always prided themselves on serving the community.
James and Rana Henderson will be receiving the Mario and Pia Fischetti Humanitarian Award. They enrolled their son James III ("Tripp") in SLCD in 2014. Tripp was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at two and a half years of age. By the time he was 4, James and Rana had tried different educational settings and were looking for a school that would serve Tripp's needs for the long term.
Karen Katzman is receiving the Distinguished Service Award. Karen served as an individual speech language pathologist followed by numerous years in SLCD’S Evaluation and Treatment Center. Karen was then offered an Administrative position as Supervisor of Therapeutic Services, and for the past 12 years, she has served as Principal of the Pre-school and Elementary school programs.
We thank our Honorees for their support, commitment and love that has so clearly defined the success of our students over the years. The success of our students validates the vision of SLCD and underscores the passion of our teachers for the noble profession of education. Finally, we acknowledge SLCD’s Board of Directors and James Wicks, as Board Chairman, who have diligently worked to ensure the financial and fiscal integrity of an educational program which has served thousands of children on Long Island and in New York City. Our goal as a family is to work together to provide our children and adults with the greatest opportunity to achieve a life of independence and achievement. In working together as a Family, we can achieve anything and everything.