COMMUNITY INVESTMENT STRATEGIES PARTNERS WITH PRINCETON CHILD DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE TO CREATE JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADULTS WITH AUTISM
Work Offered at The Clare Estate, a Senior Residential Community in Bordentown
BORDENTOWN, N.J., March 21, 2012 – Community Investment Strategies (CIS), Inc., the developer, builder and property manager of market-rate and affordable apartment-rental communities throughout New Jersey, has partnered with the Princeton Child Development Institute (PCDI) to help make a difference in the lives of two young men with autism. According to Christiana Foglio, founder/owner and chief executive officer of CIS and a member of PCDI’s Board of Trustees, this partnership is an example of CIS’ commitment to include non-profit partners throughout a community.
Four days a week, Shane and Dan can be found hard at work as part of the maintenance and housekeeping staff at The Clare Estate, a senior residential community in Bordentown owned and managed by CIS. The two men were matched to their new jobs by PCDI, which provides treatment, education, and training to support people with autism beginning with early intervention for toddlers through support and guidance for adults.
Feedback from the new employees’ supervisor at The Clare Estate has been very positive according to Dr. Gregory MacDuff, executive director of PCDI. “They are well-liked, and everyone is very pleased and complimentary about their work.”
“They take such pride in what they do, and the outcome is wonderful,” confirmed Aly Mulryne, executive director of The Clare Estate. “I know when they’re here just by walking through the hallways. Our building looks amazing.”
PCDI has been working with Dan and Shane since they were children, and once they turned 21, they transitioned to the Adult Life-Skills Program. “We created the program 28 years ago to offer a continuity of services,” noted MacDuff. “About 98 percent of our graduates participate, and currently 22 adults are involved, 19 of whom have been placed in jobs.”
Working with PCDI is a perfect fit for CIS, which maintains a “people first” philosophy and a commitment to the communities where it builds. “It’s been ideal for PCDI’s clients as well as for the residents and staff of The Clare Estate,” said Foglio.
CIS acquired The Clare Estate approximately 10 years ago when the historic 120-year-old monastery was occupied by 18 cloistered nuns. The company accomplished a historic restoration and adaptive reuse of the property. Today, The Clare Estate offers assisted living services in a full service apartment-style community. The residence includes a restaurant-style dining room, social activities and recreational programming as well as wellness and health care services and an innovative new dementia program.
Learning about Autism
Autism is a developmental disability that affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States, according to the Autism Society of America. It is a lifelong disability that begins in early childhood, usually the first three years of life.
“Much of the public is misinformed about people with autism,” said MacDuff. Instead of talking about autism in general, he said he prefers to be specific when he has a student in mind for a job.
To help match autistic adults with the right job, PCDI introduces clients to a variety of work opportunities beginning in their late teens. “It’s one way to identify job preferences,” explained MacDuff. “We get to know participants in our program very well so we try to match their options to their skill level.”
Since the challenges of autism tend to center around language and social interaction, PCDI teaches ancillary skills as well, such as learning to interact with the senior residents at The Clare Estate. “The adults with autism that we serve learn through direct interaction,” he added.
In addition to checking in with their supervisor everyday, Dan and Shane also contact their life coaches who work closely with clients, as a resource. They also gather data on their daily activities.
This one-on-one support and supervision guarantees the quality of the work being done. “The life coaches will step in when needed to help their clients on-the-job,” explained MacDuff. “And whenever a client moves into a new environment, our life coaches try to get a feel for the corporate culture because that is where they need to fit in. The warm, caring environment of The Clare Estate and its people was very appealing.”
“Dan and Shane were very shy when they first started,” recalled Mulryne. “Now Dan comes up to me and shakes my hand, and when Shane sees me, he greets me with a smile and a warm ‘hello.’” The residents also have embraced having the men working in the building.”
Coaches collect data on job efficiency, which can help other adults with disabilities find employment in the future. “The experience assists us in understanding what we need to teach and how to help our clients function more efficiently on the job,” stated MacDuff. “It’s the coaches’ support that makes this arrangement so successful,” said Mulryne.
PCDI’s program is “wonderful,” added Mulryne. “We are happy to be involved and appreciate what the institute does for its clients, and what their clients contribute to our community. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Related Clips: Burlington County Times