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Eden II participants Meghan and Michael with Congressman Dan Donovan

Congressman Dan Donovan visited The Hon. James P. Molinaro Center for Autism, located at 15 Beach St. as the ‘Principal for the Day.’ Led on a tour by Eden II participant Meghan Mattei, Congressman Donovan noted the spacious classrooms and design of the new building and the opportunities it creates for participants.

“I had such an incredible time with the Eden II students during my visit, and the facility’s staff are providing an invaluable service. I’m proud to represent a team so dedicated to improving the lives and experiences of our special needs population, and I look forward to returning again soon. I’d like to give a special thanks to Meghan, my student guide, and to the leadership of Joanne Gerenser,” said the Congressman.

The ‘Principal for the Day’ serves as an opportunity for Eden II to have community leaders spend time with the participants as they perform their daily activities. This allows them to see first-hand the programs and services Eden II provides. Past ‘principals’ have included radio show host Frank Morano, Dr. Christine Cea, former Borough President James P. Molinaro (the center’s namesake), Northfield Executive Vice President Robin Lefkowitz, and most recently, Richmond University Medical Center’s Chairman of Psychiatry, Dr. Pankaj Patel.

Eden II’s Executive Director, Dr. Joanne Gerenser, stated, “We’re thrilled that Congressman Donovan was able to take the time out of his busy schedule to see all the new facility has to offer. It shows tremendous commitment to education and dedication to the community.”

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Signs of autism typically tend to show between 2-3 years of age. Statistics for an autism diagnoses are currently 1 in 68 children in the United States, with boys being 5 times more likely to have an autism diagnoses than girls.


Established in 1976, Eden II Programs began with just six students and one special education teacher. Today, the organization serves over 500 individuals throughout the New York City area as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. The mission of Eden II Programs is to support people with autism throughout their lives to achieve their full potential through service, science and passion. Eden II Programs provides a variety of services using the evidence-based principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to treat the delays and challenges associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Eden II offers a full-day school program at its new state of the art autism center in Staten Island, a preschool, six adult residences, family support services, the Genesis School in Long Island, crisis services, adult day habilitation, SEIT and SETTS, and diagnostic and outreach centers on both Staten Island and Long Island. To learn more about Eden II Programs, please visit our website at