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Y Special Needs Employment Initiative Success in First Year

As part of its commitment to serving individuals with special needs and their families, the New Canaan YMCA proudly launched its employment initiative a year ago, providing meaningful employment opportunities to teens and adults with special needs within our community. In its first year, the Y has been the workplace for six employees with special needs, who have held positions in departments throughout the Y; providing not only opportunities for employment, but also strengthening the inclusive and welcoming environment that is found throughout the Y.

New Canaan YMCA Executive Director, Margaret Riley, shared, “Our Y is grateful to be able to provide meaningful job opportunities to individuals with special needs through this important initiative. We’re incredibly proud of every employee hired through the initiative and excited to continue growing our employment offerings in a workplace committed to inclusivity.”

Through this initiative, employment opportunities are included in various departments throughout the Y and are designed to provide meaningful work, skill development, and job experience in a supportive environment. Since the launch of the initiative a year ago, the Y’s six employees with special needs have held positions in aquatics, youth sports, gymnastics, summer camps, and the Y’s wellness department. Additionally, through its partnership with Abilis, employees with special needs have also supported the Y’s café this past year.

Joe Lupinacci, Aquatics Assistant through the New Canaan YMCA’s employment initiative, shared, “I love the Y. My favorite things about working at the Y are getting to work with the kids, learn from the staff, and making friends.”

Carolynn Kaufman, Director of Special Needs at the YMCA, added, “We’re honored to be able to offer job opportunities for individuals with special needs at our Y. These opportunities go beyond our enrichment special needs programs and services, providing these individuals with competitive employment and meaningful work to hone skills and gain experience. Our goal is that these employment opportunities build confidence, independence, and a professional foundation that helps these teens and adults continue to grow and achieve their goals.”

The employment initiative is made possible through the Cioffi Family Fund within the Y’s endowment fund with the vision of strengthening the Y’s commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. The New Canaan YMCA is home to one of the largest special needs departments in the YMCAs throughout the country. The Y serves over 130 children, teens, and adults with special needs each year through meaningful programs, events, and resources.

For additional information about the New Canaan YMCA’s Special Needs programs, support services, and employment opportunities, contact Carolynn Kaufman at 203-920-1656 or ckaufman@newcanaanymca.org. Special Needs programs and support at the New Canaan YMCA are made possible by donations. To make a donation or learn more about supporting the Y, visit www.newcanaanymca.org/donate.