FOR BREAKING 25 for breaking NEWS news VISIT visit www.www.couriersun.queenscourier.com com SEPTEMBER 10, 2015 september • bUsiness 17, 2015 • the QUeens • The Courier CoUrier sun 47 a saving grace to the community after school program in Queens Village, which provides educational enhancement opportunities. Recreational activities are also an important part of the after-school program, as they teach the children important social interaction skills. EIHAB Human Services also supports families who need assistance in transporting their loved ones to and from valuable services with its transportation reimbursement program. The program covers the transportation costs that are not covered through Medicaid. EIHAB also operates several residential group homes at various locations in Queens and Brooklyn, including Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Tiff Court, Rockaway, Canarsie, Chauncey and Pilling Street. Success stories The agency’s team of teachers, therapists, social workers, physicians, administrators and staff work together to meet the challenges faced by individuals with developmental and behavioral challenges. EIHAB Program Coordinator Olga Colon began working with Jason, a 29-year-old man, who entered the program resisting learning new skills. “Jason would not work on his goals or chores without opposition,” Colon said. “He would respond with negative behavior and simply refuse. Working with his direct support professional, today, Jason not only performs his tasks and goals on a consistent basis, but he won’t stop until his goals are complete.” EIHAB’s team is focused on working toward tangible goals. Darryl O’Connor, a community habilitation worker at EIHAB helped Ryan, a program participant, set four goals: money management capabilities, socializing skills, travel training and telephone skills. “After working with Ryan for almost a year, he has shown great improvement,” O’Connor explained. “He has flourished in all four goals, especially his traveling skills. Ryan is successfully taking the bus to and from school and is also crossing the street carefully without any assistance.” EIHAB individuals also learn to help and support each other. “Erik, one of our residents, has been a tremendous help,” O’Connor said. “He continues to lead the other individuals in completing their house chores in a peaceful and respectful matter. One of his peers was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic and was very unhappy. Every day, Erik faithfully went to see him at the rehabilitation clinic to encourage him along.” The organization’s team members work closely with individuals to teach him or her how to be as independent as possible, often learning from them as well. “My experience with Natalia has been wonderful,” said Nick Nana of EIHAB’s community services program. “We’ve made much progress in the areas that we have set as goals and we continue to work hard every day to reach her ultimate goal to become a veterinary nurse,” Nana said. “We’ve created a friendship that will last forever. Sometimes, I think Natalia teaches me more than I’ve taught her. She never stops dreaming about her life, her career or her family and it inspires me to pursue my own dreams.” 2 www.queenscourier.com • QUEENS BUSINESS • SEPTEMBER 2015 business 40 THE QUEENS COURIER • BUSINESS • AUGUST 6, 2015 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.queenscourier.com Human First Talent Show Human First On Steinway addition to accommodate the medical equipment for their 3 year-old daughter. A series of strokes left the child in a vegetative state and hospitalized for three years – 18 months of which were due to the inaccessibility of the home. Human First secured funding from the State and HUD and within six months, the $225,000 addition to the family’s home was complete. “We got to see the family together and how they prospered together,” Ms. Abboud said. Her greatest joy comes from seeing the life-changing work done by her staff on behalf of clients and their families. For Ms. Abboud, it boils down to a simple philosophy: “Helping others to reach their goals is the way to live.” And she practices this philosophy outside of Human First, too, as an active member of her community. Her affi liations include serving as board president and statewide representative of the New York Association for Emerging and Multicultural Providers, and being appointed to sit on the People First Committee for System Transition by former OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke. She has received countless awards for outstanding achievement and leadership, and was most recently named one of 2015’s top women in business by The Star Network. Ms. Abboud believes coming to the United States provided her with the steppingstone for success, and she was able to utilize the opportunities presented to her through hard work and dedication. But, at the end of the day, Human First is not about Wafa Abboud. She says, “In the beginning, I started Human First as a vision – my vision. And I was so keen in applying this vision and not losing track.” However, she recognizes that the people whom she surrounds herself with are integral to the success of Human First, adding, “Our team is the reason we are here today.” “I have the privilege of working with an extremely great and committed staff.” Wafa Abboud credits her staff of nearly 500+ employees for Human First’s success. “Our staff does an amazing job,” Ms. Abboud stated, also adding, “I take the same amount of responsibility for my staff as I do for my clients.” Ms. Abboud practices what she preaches. Human First employees receive a generous compensation and benefi ts package upon hiring, and the organization regularly offers continuing education. As a (continued from cover) Tribute to a mentor A dedicated advocate to those living with disabilities, Abboud is remembered as a beloved leader. Her determination to help those transition into community life is celebrated by those who worked with her. Compliance officer and Director of Family Services Lelia Quiroz joined EIHAB in 1999. “Over the years, Abboud not only grew the company at a rapid pace but she also showed patience in many trials and tribulations she encountered, all while remaining a solid steel wall, one that cannot be broken,” she said. “Always direct, but fair, Ms. Abboud pushed all of us to the limit, asking us to focus on the well-being of those in our programs or obtaining services.” “We responded because — for her — we would do anything,” Quiroz explained. “I recall Ms. Abboud telling me on multiple occasions, ‘Everything is possible in life when you are committed to it.’ I had the privilege to work for a wise mentor, a great human being and an extraordinary woman for 16 years.” EIHAB Comptroller Millie Calderon began working at EIHAB in 2008, alongside Abboud. “I called Fatma ‘The Book of Knowledge — The Encyclopedia,’” Calderon said. “There was never a situation she wasn’t prepared for, as she was always a step ahead. When someone came to her with a problem she spent that whole night working on the solution. She was solid and strong.” “On a personal level, Fatma was like a mother who had raised a lot of children (indeed her staff) and always found time in her very long days to listen and assure everything is okay — leaving you knowing that everything was.” Abboud’s legacy lives on through programs, services and the dedicated workers at EIHAB, which is all about serving families, helping individuals and strengthening communities.
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