Joey's Story 2018
We are celebrating Joey’s 23rd birthday!
Many of you may remember Joey graduated from his version of high school just 2 years ago and started the next chapter of his world with SNACK21+. Since then, Joey has grown into a big man! He is really an adult, doing things I never imagined he would be capable of doing. He now takes classes at SNACK21+ along with an assorted 16 others who have become his great friends.
Joey has lost 40lbs. since he started attending SNACK21+ — he’s exercising, doing yoga, cooking healthy meals, all at SNACK. Joey’s been to more places in NYC with SNACK21+ than I have in my life! He visits the New York Public Library once a week every week; he’s been to the Bronx Zoo, gardened at Governor’s Island, takes walks along the East River… his list goes on! He works at SNACKworks sending many of you your Cup of Joe coffee of the month and as time has gone by he is really able to stay focused as you can see in the video.
But even with all the good in Joey’s life and the great progress he has made, we are still managing his recurrent behaviors and habits—the things that always have and will make Joey the special guy he’s always been. The stuff that makes autism different from other disabilities, the challenges that could hold him back. The past few weeks have been especially tough for Joey; the seasonal transitions, particularly from Winter to Spring, are historically difficult times for him. This year we dealt with more extreme levels of self-injurious behavior and physical aggression towards anyone he came into contact with than we have before.
For the first time, I did not feel comfortable sending Joey to SNACK. I did not want Joey to interfere with the other kids’ progress; I just did not know what to do.
We decided Joey needed to go to classes - we are always there for our families and our family really needed the support too! I am always amazed by the levels of talent, patience, compassion, and love that our SNACK staff project every day, but specifically during this extremely difficult time for Joey, I was more amazed than ever before. We never would have made the amount of progress we did in such a short time if it wasn’t for the SNACK staff.
We are forever grateful that Joey has such great staff who love him and quality programming available, no matter what he’s going through—and that’s thanks to all of you who have made this possible.
Two years ago, facing transition, I had no idea what Joey’s life would become. I was disappointed, once again, by the lack of quality programming available to Joey at this stage of his life, and did not know if the SNACK21+ program we were creating would be what he needed.
We have always believed that everyone deserves to have the same opportunities available in a welcoming environment where they can experience fun, make friends, improve skills, gain a sense of accomplishment, work, become more independent and be safe. Thanks to you, Joey and his friends have been able to do so for the past 15 years and now are transitioning to their new schedules beautifully. I hope you follow us on social media, so you can see how Joey and our SNACK21+ kids are really doing it all! Joey has had a blip in his behavior but thanks to snack 21+ he will begin his job at Columbia in May!
So please, give what you can and share with others who may help - these snack stories should be spread to give hope to others and to see what can be done when people help.
Thank you for always helping SNACK, and never giving up hope!
Let’s make this year the best one yet!