New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) held its fourteenth Annual Dinner Dance and Awards Celebration on March 1, and for many people it was truly a night of extended celebration. The added excitement was due to the entrance to the construction phase of the NYFAC Center slated to open in early June in Howard Beach. (See The Forum, Issue 5, February 2, 2012)
President Andrew Baumann reminded about 375 guests that there would be no talk about the dream of a new autism center opening on Cross Bay Boulevard– instead he invited the crowd to join him at the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 1 when the new NYFAC Center is scheduled to open its doors.
Among those honored at the ceremony was City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who got the Guardian Angel Award. It is presented each year to an elected official who has pledged their time and resources to helping in the fight against autism by providing the means for essential programs and services.
Baumann says he chose Ulrich because the councilman “has been an invaluable aid in navigating around City Hall and leading NYFAC administration through capital fund projects.” Ulrich, he says, is always at the other end of the phone willing to help.
The councilman is also discussing with Baumann legislature that would bring signage to an area that is populated or used by those with autism, cautioning motorists of special needs pedestrians.
“I look forward to helping more individuals affected by autism—I can finally see these kids coming into our building,” he said.
Among the other honorees were Georgiana Reese-Benatti, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Mike Brothers, the Humanitarian Award; Jack Taravella, the Community Service Award; Debbi-Edmonds-Shaddi, Excellence in Special Education; Oswaldo Roman, Excellence in Special Education; and Scott Badesch, the Autism Advocacy Award.