STATEN ISLAND, NY — Over 400 people attended The Eden II & Genesis Foundation Annual Gala on Friday, November 8th, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield. Funds will benefit programs and services for children and adults with autism. This year’s honorees are: TRUE Vodka, Jeanette and Joseph Collins, Omundsen Construction Corp., Alessandro D’Antoni, and Billy & Rachel Irvine. The evening began at 7pm with a cocktail hour, silent auction, raffles, and an exclusive Eden II popup market. Dinner, dancing, award ceremony, and a live auction followed.
The Corporate Leadership Award was presented to TRUE Vodka. TRUE Vodka brings to the market a vodka that truly reflects the sophistication of the city. The TRUE Vodka team, a consortium of advertising directors, designers and restaurant owners, has been working to establish a product that directs your gaze and delights your palate. TRUE is vodka seven times distilled, and made with wheat and rye from Northern Italy. True Vodka strives for active philanthropic efforts in the community, and is a great supporter of a number of organizations, including Eden II Programs and the Dan Marino Foundation.
The Ambery Leadership Award, named for a parent of a child with autism and an advocate who gave their time and energy to support the mission of Eden II, was given to Jeanette and Joseph Collins. Jeanette and Joseph have been actively involved with Eden II since 1995, when their eldest son, Joey, enrolled in Little Miracles. Jeanette is a registered nurse, employed by Metropolitan Jewish Health System (MJHS) in Brooklyn since 1995, and is currently acting as a Managed Care liaison. Jeanette has been a parent member of the Eden II Board of Trustees for the past four years. Jeanette also sits on the HR board committee. Joe is currently employed by the Monastery of the Precious Blood in Brooklyn, as facilities manager. Prior to this, Joe was a proud member of the Brick-Layer and Allied Craftsmen, Local 1 for over 25 years. Jeanette and Joe emigrated from Ireland in 1988. They are longtime residents of Bay Ridge, and very active in their local community. Jeanette and Joe are the proud parents of three adult children: Sarah, Joey and Luke. Sarah is a speech-language pathologist and both Joey and Luke attend Eden II adult day services.
The Community Service Award was presented to Omundsen Construction Corp. Omundsen Construction Corp. is a full-service general construction company based out of Staten Island. Founded in 2014, President Eric Omundsen has over 25 years of experience working in the Tristate area. Eric and his team have worked on an assortment of commercial and residential projects, with a focus on the commercial side of the industry. Over the past five years the Company has experienced growth each year, thanks to the successful relationships they have made with subcontractors and clients alike. Omundsen Construction Corp. prides itself on being able to deliver optimal customer experiences and they continuously pursue improved ways to satisfy their clients.
Alessandro D’Antoni received the Little Miracles Achievement Award. Alessandro is an 8-year-old boy who lives at home with his parents, Anthony and Stephanie, and his older brother, Massimo. Alessandro’s struggle with meeting developmental milestones was evident around 20 months of age and shortly after, he began receiving services through Early Intervention (EI). Alessandro was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He was unable to make eye contact, respond to his name, and share affection with his family. With the amazing education and support that he and the entire family received from Eden II, they are now proud to share that Alessandro is excelling in many areas; both academically and socially. At any family party or special event, you will find Alessandro right in the center of the dance floor dancing the night away. One of the family’s greatest joys is to see him enjoy life. Alessandro has been blessed with amazing people in his life, and the staff at Eden II have been angels on earth, working to provide these continued miracles for him. Stephanie shares, “As a parent of a child with ASD, I cannot begin to tell you the comfort I felt at that moment I knew we were not alone in this, and that our special boy was in the hands of experts; his angels!”
The recipients of the Participant of the Year Award were Billy & Rachel Irvine. This award is given to participants who have excelled over the last year. Billy and Rachel were born on October 26, 1998. Ten days before their second birthday,
they were diagnosed with autism. At three years old, Billy and Rachel entered Eden II Programs non-verbal, with no ability to focus. They were incapable of reciprocity and had significant self-stimulatory behaviors. Eighteen years later, it has been a journey requiring an incredible amount of patience, perseverance and love from everyone who has touched their lives. Eden II has always been the foundation. They provided the supports for every achievement and walked beside the family through every challenge. Billy is smart, strong-willed and courageous. He has made amazing strides in his personal development over the years. He is learning to embrace living life with autism, focusing on his strengths and capabilities. Billy loves computers, and recently received his certification in Microsoft Word. He is interested in pursuing a job in computer programming and data entry. Billy will be moving into his own apartment in the next few weeks. This will provide him the opportunity to reach his dream of becoming an independent young man. Rachel is beautiful, innocent and always happy. She is a peaceful soul. She loves texting and hanging out with her friends. She has an amazing memory and incredible organizational skills. She utilizes these skills while working at the NY Public Library and Walgreens. She loves to ride her bike, do puzzles and play cards. Spending the last eighteen years in at Eden II has made Billy and Rachel who they are today. The dedication of Dr. Joanne Gerenser and every person affiliated with Eden II throughout the years has made a tremendous difference in their lives.
Eden II’s Executive Director shares, “Tonight, we get to celebrate our honorees for their accomplishments and dedication. Congratulations to Billy Irvine, Rachel Irvine, and Alessandro D’Antoni on your accomplishments and achievements! Thank you to Joseph and Jeanette Collins for your decades of dedication to Eden II. Omundsen Construction Corp. and True Vodka, we thank you for going above and beyond in supporting our cause. Thank you to so many for always going above and beyond for Eden II Programs and our participants! We hope that you all enjoyed this evening and continue help us in our important mission to serve individuals with autism and their families.”
Eden II & Genesis Foundation Board Chair, Anthony Castiglione, shares, “Each and every honoree is quite deserving of their award, and together they embody our success and demonstrate our purpose and mission. On behalf of the Eden II & Genesis Foundation Board of Directors, we are grateful for your continued commitment; you are a key component of our success.”
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.
ABOUT EDEN II & GENESIS FOUNDATION
The Eden II and Genesis Foundation (previously known as FAAP) is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to provide much needed funds for programs and services that support individuals with autism. The Eden II and Genesis Foundation supports programs, serving children and adults with autism in NYC, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, including day schools for children, as well as day and residential services for adolescents and adults.
From left, Eric Omundsen, Greg Elefterakis, Michael Barbieri, Vinny Cotona, Ralph Scamardella, Dr. Joanne Gerenser, Billy Irvine, Rachel Irvine, Dan Rauch, Jeanette Collins, Dr. Irene Cavanagh, Alessandro D’Antoni, Sandra Terzulli, Joseph Collins, and Dr. Eileen Hopkins at the Eden II and Genesis Foundation Gala.
Brianna Roberts with Eden II Board Chair, Ralph Scamardella and Matthew Rosen at the Eden II and Genesis Foundation Gala.
Jaclyn Tacoronte and Aileen Fuchs, with former Borough President, Honorable James P. Molinaro at the Eden II & Genesis Foundation Gala.