PROJECT WALK WITH ME:
SENSORY PATHS FOR KIDS AND ADULTS
ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM
The Agape Project NY has established “Project Walk with Me”, an annual program developing and implementing an outdoor Sensory Path for a program/organization servicing children with Autism. Our inaugural project kicked off in spring 2022 to benefit Pegasus Therapeutic Riding in Brewster, NY. The Sensory Path consist of looping pathways guiding participants from station to station, with tactile and musical elements, a bridge, low obstacles, exploration boxes, and more. Particular to Pegasus’ core programs, participants will guide their assigned horses (mounted or unmounted) along the paths, enhancing their experience and interactions. The center of the Sensory Path map also features a butterfly pollinator garden aiming to attract monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects. To achieve this project, volunteers gathered over several days to transform an open paddock, creating the paths, spreading footing, installing sensory elements, and planting seedlings.
Outdoor sensory paths for children are not only fun to explore, but they also provide opportunities for children to build sensory connections in the brain, challenge their balance and spatial awareness skills and experience many different tactile sensations in the one area. Sensory play is also calming, improves ability and desire to communicate, boosts their motor skills, and helps children with Autism retain more as they learn. In addition, outdoor sensory paths tend to stimulate more opportunities for gross motor movement, refocusing of energy, create therapeutically purposeful activities, and opportunities to socialize and collaborate with peers.
The Agape Project NY has created the annual “Project Walk With Me” initiative with the goal of partnering each year with a new organization or program servicing children with Autism to create a Sensory Path for their students. We look forward to tailoring each project to the site and therapeutic goals of each of our partners. If you would like to become involved with “Project Walk With Me” for either current or future initiatives, please send us an email. Volunteers, collaborators, and material donations are always needed and appreciated.
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OVER 725 THANKSGIVING MEALS SECURED WITH
2ND ANNUAL "A THANKSGIVING TO SHARE"
Every community is home to families who face hunger. The pandemic has most impacted families that were already facing hunger or were one paycheck away from facing hunger. According to the USDA's most recent Household Food Insecurity in the United States report, more than 38 million people in the United States experienced hunger in 2020, including as many as 13 million children. This year, because of the tremendous outpouring of generous donations, The Agape Project NY was able to provide 725 Thanksgiving meals.
These meals were delivered to Exodus Transitional Community locations in Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and East Harlem. Because of the number of dinners donated this year, we were also able to extend to additional shelters in the Poughkeepsie area, some with residents that "normally don't receive a special meal for the holidays". Exodus delivers innovative programming tailored to adults and youth affected by the justice system, and advocates for a society in which all can achieve social, economic, and spiritual well-being. Across their Newburgh and Poughkeepsie locations, 60-80% of Exodus program participants are parents of minor children predominantly under the age of 10, with household income averaging 200% below the federal poverty level. Over the last 20 years, Exodus has provided services to over 25,000 recipients via numerous programs offering housing assistance, work force development, multiple youth empowerment programs and an outpatient substance abuse program.
See more at www.etcny.org.
Rich and Cassie Parente and the Clock Tower Grill team were instrumental in making this year’s event happen. Double the amount of meals from last year meant much more planning, logistics, ingredients, they even brought in a refrigerated truck! Rich and Cassie are anchored in their community and committed to changing the way people eat. Their partnership with The Agape Project NY is proof of this philosophy. See more about their commitment to sustainability and their delicious menu offerings at http://www.clocktowergrill.com
We also extend our thanks to Allie Grammas of Wildly Beloved Photography for many of the photos featured below from our volunteer drop off day See more of her professional photography at www.wildlybelovedphotography.com.
And many heartfelt thanks to The Agape Project NY and Clock Tower Grill volunteers.
We are so thankful for your commitment to making a difference, one family at time.
CAMP FOR KIDS!
The Agape Project NY would like to thank every donor who made a special summer experience happen for 23 Agape Campers. It is because of their caring hearts and generosity that children in our local community will enjoy traditional summer camp activities, make new friends, learn challenging new skills. Agape campers will enjoy the natural surroundings of Camp Herrlich on 156 beautiful acres in Patterson, NY. They will experience a week taking part in their wide range of outdoor activities including swimming, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, sports, arts & crafts, nature programs, archery, kayaking, music, and much more. Camp Herrlich’s goals for campers also include social and emotional growth. End of summer family surveys continually report great improvements in their child’s ease of making new friends, self-confidence, and acceptance of difference. Additional studies have shown that children who participate in outdoor activities and social enrichment via summer camp have shown improved performance during the school year and increased self-esteem and physical well-being.
This has been possible thanks to:
Lisa & Chuck Straub
Stacey & JD Crowley
The Giacopelli Family
Leanna & Brian Keevil
Paula Steinberg- Goodman
The Kelleher-Forsyth Family
The Whittier-Mankoff Family
Rosa & Raul Morales
Albo Antenucci Jr
Mateusz Sepko & Hannah Gerard
Rich and Cassie Parente & Clock Tower Grill
Dr. William Bradley &
New England Equine
We are so tremendously grateful to our donors!
The Agape Project NY
Why Sponsor a Child at Camp?
Because Summer Camp allows kids to be kids.
Because Nature needs to be an integral part of the lives of all children.
Because Summer Camp helps kids overcome social and emotional challenges.
Because every child deserves the chance to attend Summer Camp.
Camp Herrlich is a not-for-profit children’s camp comprised of individuals who believe that Camp Herrlich, with its diverse offerings, changes lives. Within a setting of 156 acres in Putnam County, they provide outdoor programs to children from all walks of life – from summer sleepaway camp for underprivileged children from NYC to day camp for children of working parents, with open air education and team building for all ages. Camp Herrlich provides a completely inclusionary experience for campers, working with kids of all different levels of developmental need. Neurotypical campers are in the same groups as children with ADHD or on the autism spectrum and everyone benefits from learning about how different people can get along.
Every session of summer day camp is packed with games, swimming, arts & crafts, boating, hiking, fishing, basketball, volleyball, nature discovery, music, adventure courses, archery, a 400' zipline, and a three-sided, 30' climbing wall. A structured day is combined with freedom of choice, creating a personalized camping experience for children from ages 4 through 14. Learn more about Camp Herrlich at https://www.campherrlich.org .
Eligibility for camp sponsorship is needs based and determined via Putnam Community Action Partnership (CAP) with criteria including household income, CAP program enrollment, or inclusion in other state or county programs. See Putnam CAP http://www.putnamcap.org for more information on their wide range of programs.
CLOTHES FOR COMMUNITY
We’re so pleased at the community response to our Clothing for Community Drive benefiting Brewster Cares and Putnam Community Action Program. We estimate over 13,000 clothing and personal hygiene articles were donated and processed, well over double what we had hoped to gather.
Over two Saturdays in March, we accepted donations at two local site – the Brewster Cares facility and the North Salem Police Station. The first Saturday, our volunteers were overwhelmed with the amount of donations and a call was made to the community for additional assistance. The following Saturday The Agape Project NY was joined by 45 student volunteers from North Salem High School, John Jay HS, Fox Lane HS, Mahopac HS and JF Kennedy Catholic Prep who helped with donation intake, sorting, processing, and moving everything to the final staging area. We could not be more grateful to these students, their hard work ensured that the backlog was sorted, and the drive completed on time. We are also tremendously thankful for the adult volunteers in the community or connected with St Lawrence O’toole church, Brewster Cares and The Agape Project NY who helped over both weekends.
We must also highlight a few donors who went above and beyond. One family that asked to remain anonymous donated nearly 50 bags of new clothing and toiletries. Another family near the Brewster Cares site put together their own collection box which arrived full to the brim with personal hygiene products. North County Valu Dry Cleaners in Golden’s Bridge donated a full SUV’s worth of exceptionally clean, gently used clothing. The John Jay Middle School students partnered with us to donate new socks, undergarments, and toiletries. The employees of Silarx Pharmaceuticals in Carmel teamed together to make a huge donation of clothing as well as a cash donation. Studio VMX in Katonah was an ambassador for the clothing drive, spreading the word and connecting our volunteers for countless off-site donation pickups. We are so grateful to these donors and to all the kindhearted, community minded individuals who took the time to stop at one of our donation sites.
Brewster Cares provides an emergency overnight shelter (including laundry facilities and showers) and daytime warming center during the winter months as well as a range of programs including active parenting classes, tutoring, assistance to the elderly, and “Supper Hugs” meal deliveries (see www.brewstercaresny.org ). Putnam CAP seeks to mobilize and effectively manage resources that help low-income and at-risk populations in Putnam County become more self-sufficient. Their vast array of programs includes a food pantry and soup kitchen, intervention services, and referral and advocacy to community services and resources (see www.putnamcap.org ). Both organizations have a critical demand for clothing and toiletries throughout the year.
2ND ANNUAL BRIGHTER BEGINNINGS BACKPACK EVENT
48 FULLY STOCKED BACKPACKS DELIVERED!
We’re so excited to share that The Agape Project NY’s 2nd annual Brighter Beginnings Backpack Event provided 48 backpacks filled with essential school supplies to children of families in need in the Brewster area. The children receiving these backpacks were selected specifically because their families have not been able to maintain housing and their needs are great. Each of these stocked backpacks will make a tremendously positive impact on the lives of these children as they embark upon their school year. Your donations are deeply appreciated!
We thank our donors for making this event another success:
The Gerard Family
The Giacopelli Family
Leanna and Brian Keevil
The Crowley Family
The Esposito Family
The Rosenwasser Family
The Morales Family
The Straub Family
Our partner, Value Village, located in Brewster, NY generously offered these materials at a discounted price and we are so grateful for their ongoing annual support. Putnam CAP (Community Action Partnership) is an anti-poverty program dedicated to serving the residents of Putnam County who are struggling to support themselves and/or their families. Their wide range of services and programs are designed to serve specific area community needs. For more info: http://www.putnamcap.org
PIZZA PROJECT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS
In June, The Agape Project NY teamed up with DoughNation to thank first responders including the Croton Falls Fire Department (many of whom are local volunteers) and the North Salem Police Department for their commitment and ongoing dedication in serving our community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Donors had the option to purchase pizzas for their families as well as additional pizzas for first responders. The event resulted in 85 pizzas being delivered to the local stations and firehouses. Who knew showing gratitude could taste so good?
The Cookery's DoughNation is Westchester County’s first mobile wood fired pizza and voted ‘Best Food Truck' by Westchester Magazine, their pizza truck produces perfect Neapolitan pizzas topped with carefully sourced local ingredients from a 900-degree wood-burning oven. See https://doughnationpizzatruck.com.