Pictured from left (Christine Ponzio, Executive Director, Winters Center for Autism, Lauretta Majuk, Secretary and Grant Writer, Smithtown Elks Lodge, Raymond Berrios, Administrative Clerk, Winters Bros. Waste Systems, Michele Winters, Founder, Winters Center for Autism, Patrick Winters, Board President, Winters Center for Autism)
In recognition of #NationalReadAcrossAmericaDay, we are happy to share some exciting news...
February 25, 2021 marks the date Lauretta Majuk of Smithtown Elks Lodge#2036 awards The Beacon grant to Winters Center for Autism.
The Order of Elks is an organization of American citizens who love their country and desire to preserve its cherished institutions, who love their fellow men and seek to promote their well-being, and whose primary objective is the practice of charity.
This year, the Elks of Smithtown Secretary and grant writer, Lauretta Majuk, has secured a record amount of money to be disbursed to organizations in our community. The Winters Center for Autism, in honor of Nicholas Luizzi, has been designated an organization of distinction by Mrs. Majuk and has received one of the largest grants, The Beacon.
The Beacon Grant will fund literacy software and materials needed for employment preparedness and success. Children with ASD don’t always develop early literacy skills in the same order or timeline as other children. While some children with ASD may be fluent in reciting the alphabet and identifying letters, they may lack the understanding of why people read and write. If this problem persists into adolescence, it creates an additional barrier to employment. The unemployment rate for individuals with autism is 85% and the Winters Center for Autism is committed to changing that.
The grant is in honor of Nicholas Luizzi. At 3 years of age, Nick was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and at 21 graduated from the life skills program at Smithtown High School. Shortly thereafter he joined a cooperative residential housing program where working at a local supermarket is part of his therapy. Nick is proof of the importance of life skills and job preparedness programs, such as at the Winters Center for Autism, to help people with ASD live to the fullest potential.
Literacy skills are essential for getting into the workforce. Less literate individuals have disadvantages coming into the workforce including limited ability to complete a job application and limited computer experience. At the Center, we teach adults with autism a variety of literacy-based skills including vocabulary, learning to read, reading fluency and print awareness. Employees with higher literacy skills earn more income and are less likely to become unemployed which is what makes literacy an essential component of job training and preparedness.
Winters Center for Autism Team
The Winters Center for Autism is committed to enhancing the quality of life for adults with autism through job creation, training and placement while helping businesses to develop and implement programs to employ people with autism.