Ed. Note: Someone Special Needs You (SSNY) is having their annual walk on Saturday June 6th from 9:00 to noon at Divine Park at The Lake at Spring Lake (park in train station at Warren and Railroad Ave, starting point at 5th and Warren Ave.) Here is information about the organization. We hope you join us!

Everyone needs a place to belong. And for my children, one of those places has been Someone Special Needs You.

I’ve written before about our participation in SSNY, from Easter Egg hunts to Halloween activities, as well as visits from Santa, and carnivals. Vince Scanelli and his wife Gina are the co-founders, and their mission is twofold. First, they provide a monthly arena where children of all ages and disabilities can convene to do crafts and various activities with high school buddies. These teens are carefully selected to pair with the children, and provide them with a wonderful opportunity for friendship. Justin has absolutely reveled in the experience over the eight years we’ve been attending the meetings, changing from a child who wanted nothing to do with crafts or teen-agers, to a boy who can’t wait to assemble a leprechaun and hug a pretty girl. He’s grown to love these nights, and in keeping with family tradition, I’ve brought Zachary too.

The second part of their mission includes the creation of a group home on a farm, a topic near and dear to my heart. SSNY has been afforded the gift of twelve acres of land in Colts Neck, and as soon as the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed, construction will begin. A friend of Vince’s who is a planner knew he wanted to do a farm, and he knew a builder who was involved with affordable housing. They then connected with New Horizons in Autism. SSNY needs about two million dollars to complete everything, but the property is ready, and has been donated by a large development called Overbrook Farms.

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It will be a working farm for adults with autism, and will include several green-houses as well. Vince hopes to have sheep, chickens and alpacas in abundance (I admit, I had to google the latter, I need to brush up on my farm vocabulary.) He hopes to provide a safe and productive atmosphere within which a number of fortunate adults with autism can live and thrive, together.

The farm sits on twelve acres at the end of a cul-de-sac, has two barns, and it’s just beautiful. Vince says the farm will have ten beds, two wings for five adults each. Since it has the barns he hopes they will be able to do many different farming activities, raise alpacas, maybe have horses, and host events. Vince’s goal is for the adults to work the land. He’d love to see it provide jobs for the people who live there, and for people in the community to get involved as well.

SSNY is always on the look-out for new participants for their monthly sessions, and they meet the third Friday of the month at the Colts Neck Reformed Church, from 6:00 to 7:00 in the evening. They also greatly appreciate donations of any sort toward the creation of the group home. Trust me, it is a daunting task to bring this kind of wide-scale dream to fruition. As Vince and his wife are two of the kindest, most generous parents I have encountered on my New Jersey autism journey, I truly hope they succeed in reaching their goal.

Someone Special Needs You will be having their annual walk on Saturday June 6th in Spring Lake, from 9:00 AM to noon (please see above for details.) Please join us if you can. You can also donate by going to their website at www.ssny.org

The fundraising site for the walk is www.crowdrise.com/2015ssny Come create a team and walk!
Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

If you’re interested in attending the crafts sessions the next get-together is Friday, 4/17, at 6:00, and all families are more than welcome to attend. Hope to see you there!

Vincent Scanelli is the president of the non-profit Someone Special Needs You (SSNY), as well as the president of the Douglass Organization for Occupational and Related Educational Services, Inc. (DOORS) program at Rutgers University. He serves as Vice-President for Ride for Autism, a group home liaison for New Horizons in Autism, and as a Community Work Partner for the Monmouth County Chapter of the Arc of New Jersey. Vince is the owner of the Colts Neck Insurance Agency, and has twenty-five years of expertise in financial planning as well as specializing in special needs and estate planning. He has two daughters and an adult son on the autism spectrum.

Colts Neck Reformed Church
72 County Road 537 West
Colts Neck, NJ 07722
For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com/
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