2021 In Review

As 2021 ends, we look back at the challenges, successes, and accomplishments of this year! 

 2021 was another tough year, still dealing with the fluid nature of the Pandemic. Our planning consisted of many questions that we did not know the answers to. Can we reopen yet? Is it safe to welcome families back? How do we keep everyone safe and healthy? As the vaccination program was rolled out and more and more people were receiving the double doses, we began to welcome people back to the Playhouse. In the Summer, we greeted a few families back for tutoring and during our Fall session, we were excited to offer in-person tutoring to 11 participants; which was amazing! Amid the Summer and Fall sessions, we also offered opportunities to be back at the playhouse for special events and some group programs. It was terrific to see everyone again! 

Samantha, Kelly, Jennifer, and Gwyneth at the Gala.

This year we were able to hold our annual ‘I Have a Voice’ Gala in September. We welcomed 125 people to Tarrytown Mansion on a Friday evening where we danced, socialized, drank, and ate. It was a wonderful night to be able to celebrate being with each other again.  Our tremendous self-advocate Samantha gave an inspiring speech, while her friends encouraged and supported her throughout. They all rocked the dance floor! It was our immense pleasure to finally celebrate our fabulous honorees: Catherine & Erik Graybosch; Kelly Moravec, and Ken Shirreffs and Steven Amato of ASK Contracting.

We were very excited to introduce a few new programs throughout 2021, such as Ballet, Musical Theater, and Gratitude Committee. In addition, we welcomed back some favorite programs – Fantastic Friends and Destination Discovery. In October, we partnered with Bain & Company to deliver a wonderful Halloween-themed Destination Discovery for all ages. Everyone had so much fun learning the monster mash and making spooky crafts.  

Our Holiday Party was a huge success thanks to all the volunteers from Bake Back America.

In 2021, we were able to welcome partnerships and collaborations with other organizations to provide free and purposeful programs and events to our community. Developing these relationships with our community partners has been wonderful and we cannot wait to develop this in 2022: 

  • Bronxville Ballet Not For Sale has partnered with us to bring 4 sessions of Ballet to our Playhouse, teaching more than 10 participants some ballet moves! 
  • Bain & Co. organized a Halloween Destination Discovery program 
  • Rye Country Day School Fellowship Program, allowed Carter to work with us to develop the brilliant Musical theater Dance Program that was introduced this Summer 
  • Volunteers from Bake Back America put together our amazing Holiday Party, securing sponsorships and donations from other organizations to create amazing virtual program bags. 
  • Volunteers from the Big Give donated storage and organized our craft area to make it much more accessible for our participants and volunteers. 
  • Iona College and their OT program – we welcomed an OT intern this year who developed a very informative Family Speaker Workshop Series discussing OT skills. We hope to continue this partnership into 2022. 
  • Sarah Lawrence College – we were able to partner with them again this Fall, offering Tutoring Internships to 5 students.  
  • We have also welcomed volunteers from many High Schools in the area including Edgemont, Scarsdale, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Maria Regina, Dominican Academy, and St Ursuline 

Debbie, Tracy, and Ana practicing ballet poses!

This summer, we hosted an outdoor event as part of our GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge – Dance for Down Syndrome, which was a huge success. More than 20 families joined us outside the playhouse for yoga, ballet, ice cream, and dancing on one of the hottest days! Together we raised over $20,000 to continue to provide purposeful programming to our community. We could not have done this without the enthusiasm, motivation, and dedication of our amazing volunteer team, who helped to pull this all together. 

Volunteers and Families participating in group yoga during our Dance For Down Syndrome Event.

We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate some of the many ‘best of alls’ that have occurred this year: 

Laura has attended our literacy program during the Summer and Fall sessions. Her tutors have concentrated on developing her writing skills and letter recognition. Laura’s best of all is that she attended her most recent eye exam and was able to complete it by identifying all the letters when asked to do so. This has allowed her optometrist to make a diagnosis. Way to go Laura! 

Laura and her tutor Hannah

Two of our math students have now progressed so much that they have been exploring algebra equations and doing very well learning these new skills. Fantastic – keep up the hard work! 

One of our level 3 literacy students, Molly, has been exploring and learning words from the New York Times Spelling Bee and has rocked them! I am sure she would be happy to challenge you to spell words such as innuendoes, egregious, and archetypal!! Great job! 

Molly at our Fantastic Friends Halloween Party.

In 2021 we had over 2800 participation hours, nearly 2800 volunteer hours accrued by 159 volunteers, and we currently have 322 families in our database. As a result of your generosity and the wider community, we welcomed over $180,000 in monetary and in-kind donations. THANK YOU! We cannot do what we do without your generosity, support, and encouragement.

Happy New Year and we cannot wait to see what 2022 brings us!

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