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Season’s Greetings!

On behalf of the children, adults, and families in the care of the GEC, I want to wish you the very best for the upcoming Holiday Season and New Year.  This time of year prompts us to reflect and give thanks for all that is good in our lives.  I am personally gratified to be part of the dedicated GEC team that has provided supports and services to nearly 1000 individuals and families over the past year.

As I think about the work and mission of the GEC, I give thanks for the opportunities we have had to make a difference in the quality of life of a child or adult who was struggling.  Seeing the profound improvements in their quality of life is not only an uplifting experience but also a testament to why the GEC was established.  We are exceptionally proud that 90 cents of every funded dollar is used for care and services.

Throughout our 59 years of charitable work

the GEC has earned a reputation as an agency that cares.  We routinely go above and beyond to provide excellent care, often providing more than we are paid for.  Given our excellent reputation, we are often called upon to help families who find themselves in crisis.  We are often called upon to rescue people living with developmental disabilities from perilous situations and provide ongoing services by dedicated staff who truly love to help them.

This past year, the GEC has been called upon to intervene in quite a number of situations.

With the support of the GEC’s Board of Directors, our terrific GEC staff, generous donors and supporters who decide to personally assist us in our Mission, we have been able to rescue these families and individuals.

In the following pages, I would like to introduce you to some of the families we were able to assist this year. Though the names have been changed, the situations are real examples of the work we do.

A  Father’s Call for Help

I personally received a desperate call from Brian, a recent widower in his 80s regarding his only child. His son Peter is in his early 50s and is living with Down Syndrome. Peter, up until his mom’s passing, was living at home.  In the past, he attended day programs sponsored by a not for profit agency. Unfortunately Peter lost interest in the program and stopped attending.  Peter’s mother was his main caretaker at home, and now there was no one to care for him.

Brian tearfully told me, that he was not able to care for his son, due to his own poor health and severe physical limitations.  He told me that Peter became ill and was hospitalized.  From the hospital, he was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Brian informed me the facility was not equipped to meet Peter’s needs, and that his son was languishing, needlessly confined to a wheelchair.  Brian told me that Peter was being victimized by other individuals living in the facility, who repeatedly stole his belongings.

Brian continued to tell me how Peter developed pneumonia, and was transferred to a hospital.  The hospital’s treatment was successful, but Peter was weak and needed rehabilitation.  He was accepted into a nursing facility, which agreed to keep him for treatment for 90 days.  After the 90 days, Peter would be transferred back to the original facility, which, in truth, was extremely ill-suited to his needs.  Brian implored me to look into this situation and help prevent Peter from returning to a facility where he received poor treatment and victimized by other patients.

I am pleased to tell you that the GEC was able to help Peter and rescue him from his horrid situation. Through our diligent work with the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the nursing facility, we were able to offer Peter an opportunity to live in one of GEC’s community based group homes. This was a long process which stretched beyond the original 90 days offered by the nursing home. Through cooperative work, we were able to make it happen.

Peter is now happy and shows improvement every day.  As part of the GEC family, Peter has expressed an interest in participating in a day program. We are exploring the best fit for his needs.  Brian is tremendously relieved that his precious son has finally found a new home with the GEC. The desire to see Peter settled in a place where he is valued, respected and treated well, has given this concerned father peace and serenity.

A Grandmother’s Wish

The GEC was contacted by Evelyn, who is in her 70s and the sole caretaker of her grandson, Hector.  Evelyn told us that her grandson has a severe developmental disability, and attended special education classes.  Hector had graduated the public high school at the age of 21. Unfortunately, he was not able to work, given his challenges, which include limited ability to travel and communicate clearly.  Hector is eligible for a day habilitation program but his school had done little to connect him with an appropriate program once he graduated.  Hector was known to OPWDD but had not been linked to an agency for services.

Hector was spending all his time at home with his grandmother. One day was like the next, lack of activities, socialization, and overall boredom.   Hector became increasingly depressed.  He didn’t have any friends.  Evelyn said that her grandson “just sat around, watched television and sulked.”  This grandmother’s wish that her grandson would one day be happy and smile did not seem promising. Evelyn repeatedly attempted to obtain services of some kind for Hector, but did not succeed.  Evelyn dealt with this situation for more than two years, and it was becoming very difficult for her to handle.

Through a friend in Bay Ridge, Evelyn was given GEC’s contact information.  She called and was introduced to the GEC’s intake and Medicaid Service Coordination staff.  They assisted Evelyn with applying for support services through OPWDD.  Hector had the opportunity to visit a GEC day program and was very interested in attending.  The day program was able to accommodate Hector, but there were obstacles.  OPWDD would not process Hector’s application and authorize payment for services for at least 90 days.  This was daunting to Evelyn.  She finally found services that could help her grandson, but it would not be available for the minimum 90 days due to bureaucratic obstacles.

Because the GEC has generous friends and supporters like you who contribute to our mission of care, we were able to help Evelyn and Hector.  The GEC immediately accepted and welcomed Hector into our program, even though we knew we would not be paid for at least 90 days.  I am pleased to report that Hector is enjoying his time at the GEC. The various activities and the friends he met in the program have placed a smile on Hector’s and Evelyn’s face. The GEC was happy to fulfill a grandmother’s wish for her grandson.   She has peace of mind each day, knowing that Hector is in good hands.

Help Strengthen Our Mission of Care

I hope that I have been able to convey to you how seriously we take our mission.  The GEC considers our work to be a sacred trust between family members and our organization to provide love, care, guidance and fulfilment to improve the quality of life for their sons and daughters – in many cases, for the rest of their lives.  This is a profound responsibility and would be untenable without the knowledge that we have the friendship, loyalty and trust of hundreds of families, the community, and individual supporters who “get” what we do.  For that, I say thank you.

I ask you to consider making a Year End gift to the GEC.  This year we are focusing on obtaining financial support for our Building Fund.  In the coming years, renovation projects are planned for our main building where individuals attend day programs, the Martini Residence, and Olga’s House. These renovations will help make each location more accessible to meet the increasing needs of individuals who have developmental and physical challenges.

Allow me to thank you in advance for your generosity, and the difference you will make in the lives of individuals with special needs. I am enclosing a greeting card created by Gregory Alvarado, GEC program participant.

With appreciation,


Paul Cassone Executive Director/CEO


Fill out my online form.

Other Giving Opportunities


Securities, Trusts and Real Estate

Donations in the form of: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, securities or real estate can offer the contributor a substantial tax benefit. Please consult with your tax advisor for current IRS rules and regulations.

Planned Giving

Planned gifts such as: gift annuities, deferred payment annuities and remainder annuity trust can offer the donor numerous tax benefits. The Development Department can provide information that would allow you and your tax consultant to choose a plan that meets your financial needs.

Wills & Bequests

The most important reason to have a will is to ensure that you are the one who decides how your estate will be divided. By remembering the GEC in your will, you will help perpetuate a legacy of care that has existed since 1958. If you already have a will, a codicil can be added. Please consult with your attorney.

Matching Gifts

To double or perhaps triple your donation, please inquire if your employer has a matching gift program. Please include with your donation, the matching gift form. The Development Department will complete the form and return it to your employer for processing. If you have any questions, please contact the Development Department at 718-833-6633 x 228.