In 1976, a group of parents of Autistic adolescents came together to organize Special Citizens as a nonprofit organization. The organization began as a vehicle to advocate for ongoing adult programs for their children who had aged out of Special Education services with very little options for long-term housing or day programming.
The group of parents began their journey in 1977. Upon approval of a three-year grant from the then OMRDD, Special Citizens opened its first group home in Westchester (Cortlandt Intermediate Care Facility) on December 7, 1981.
We are committed to the development and delivery of a comprehensive, integrated system of services, which has as its primary purpose the promotion and attainment of independence, inclusion, individuality and productivity for adults and children with Autism.
Special Citizens has a workforce of over 200 employees supporting over 300 people with Autism Spectrum Disorders throughout New York City, The Bronx and Westchester County.
Special Citizens provides the following services:
Residential (Individual Residential Alternatives and Intermediate Care Facilities)
Day Habilitation (Site and Community Based Day Options)
Medicaid Service Coordination
Therapeutic Surf Camp for Children with Autism
Our CEO's Annual Message!
Since 2012, I have been charged with the care and leadership of this wonderful organization, Special Citizens Futures Unlimited, Inc. I knew from the beginning that SCFU was a unique and extraordinary organization. One that not only specializes in supporting those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but works tirelessly to ensure that the men, women and children we support live the most inclusive and fulfilling lives that they can.
This past year alone has yielded tremendous outcomes, as a result of our hard work. In the past year, our organization has:
Having the opportunity to work side by side, every day with the people we support, as well as our incredible workforce, is truly a gift. I feel very fortunate that even amid the ever-shifting landscape of our industry, we have a strong and sustainable workforce, utterly capable of navigating the changes yet to come. No matter what program I walk into, I am always met with a sense of warmth, family and people that really care about the organization and the people.
Having worked in the human service field now for over eighteen years, I can honestly say that all of the years preceding my arrival were to prepare me for the joys and challenges I would face when I came to Special Citizens. SCFU has come out of the dark and into the light over the past two years and it is an amazing transformation both to be a part of and to witness.
I look forward to many more years of working with all of you, as SCFU continues to pioneer the manner in which people with Autism self-direct the course of their lives.
Jessica Zufall, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Surf Camp for Kids with Autism
The Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp for Children with Autism, previously the iMatter Surf Camp, was founded in 2007 by Jessica Guberman. It is a one-day free camp for children with Autism and their families where children surf one-on-one with a qualified instructor and reap the benefits of aquatic therapy. The camp takes place at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton, NY. Click here to view the 2014 video from our 8th Annual Event!
Direct Support Professional Training
Need Training for your DSP's? We can do that for you! Check out the trainings we can customize for your workforce!
It has been an exciting year at Special Citizens, only my second, and yet we’ve managed to get so much accomplished. As the holidays approach, please take time to think about all we have done and all of the “unlimited futures” that await us. These futures can be made possible with our hard work and your generous donation.
In this past year we have embraced a person-centered philosophy that we now use as a blueprint for all of those we support. In doing so, we achieved accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). We were also awarded the New York State Therapeutic Recreation Association’s Innovative Program of the Year Award. We’ve expanded our Pre-Vocational program and started a Supported Employment program via a generous private donation.
These are all steps on our continuing journey to help the people we support, not just to live, but to thrive and to excel. SCFU continues to champion and to pioneer for people with Autism, to enable them to self-direct the course of their lives.
Thanks to our staff of caring and dedicated professionals, we have already touched the lives of so many men and women, their families, friends and advocates, people like you. Help us to continue to help them to improve the quality of their lives. In these uncertain economic times, SCFU needs your support. Your gift is extremely important to SCFU as it provides resources that immediately impact the lives of those with Autism. This year we received a generous contribution from the EJ Autism Foundation, to directly support the 8th Annual Surf Camp for Children with Autism. You can do the same.
If you’d like, you can specify your gift to a particular program or department. Donating is easy. Simply go to our website at www.specialcitizens.org and donate via PayPal or send a check payable to SCFU. Tax-deductible donations will be accepted in any amount.
Please consider making as generous gift as you can. Your donation will make a world of difference in the lives of those with Autism spectrum disorders.
Thank you so much for your help.
Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!
Jessica Zufall, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
SCFU Receives Four-Year Accreditation with the Council on Quality and Leadership!!!
(September 30, 2014, New York, New York) Special Citizens Futures Unlimited, Inc. (SCFU) announced today that the agency has been awarded the four year Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates that SCFU shares CQL’s vision and commitment to person-centered solutions to improve the quality of life for people receiving supports and services.
Person-Centered Excellence is an approach that provides people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the power to choose and direct the supports that make a difference in their lives. “We are so excited,” said Jessica Zufall, CEO of SCFU, “in my two years here at SCFU, there have been many exciting changes, all of which have brought us to this important milestone. I am so proud of my team and of the hard work that went into getting accredited. “ Zufall added: “This is just the beginning. SCFU will continue to aspire to the goals created during the accreditation process, including teaching the people we support new ways to dream.”
About Special Citizens
Special Citizens Futures Unlimited, Inc. (SCFU) is a New York-based nonprofit organization that has been supporting adults and children with Autism for over thirty years. SCFU is committed to the development and delivery of a comprehensive, integrated system of services, which has as its primary purpose the promotion and attainment of independence, inclusion, individuality and productivity for adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Special Citizens has a workforce of over 200 employees supporting over 300 people with Autism Spectrum Disorders throughout New York City, The Bronx and Westchester County.
About the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL)
For over 40 years, CQL has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define measure and improve the quality of life of all people. CQL offers consultation, accreditation, training and certification services to organizations and systems that share a vision of dignity, opportunity and community for all people.
Stay in touch with SCFU by following SCFU on Facebook at www.facebook.com/specialcitizens or through SCFU’s website at www.specialcitizens.org.
SCFU Receives $3,000 Donation for Camp!
(October 2, 2014, New York, New York) Special Citizens Futures Unlimited, Inc. (SCFU) received a $3000 donation from EJ Autism to help support the Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp for Children with Autism.
Following the success of this year’s Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp, August 16, 2014, EJ Autism Foundation reached out to Special Citizens to make a donation that would specifically benefit the children of Long Island, affected by Autism.
Bea Huste-Petersen, Founder of EJ Autism reached out personally to Special Citizens to ensure that the donation, made on behalf of the Lennon/Conklin family, would be earmarked exclusively to benefit the Long Island area. The Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp, founded in 2007 by Jessica Zufall, CEO of Special Citizens, to memorialize her dear friend, takes place annually in Westhampton, NY.
Mrs. Huste-Peterson was on hand at the East Islip Marina to present the check to Zufall, where she said: “EJ Autism Foundation supports The Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp so that our kids can ride the wave of hope on Long Island!” Also present were Kristen Bednar’s family: Janet Blum, Jennifer Procaccini and Michael Bednar.
“It is always particularly gratifying to be recognized by your peers. Receiving a donation from a fellow supporter of the Autism community makes us all so proud of the work that we do.” said Zufall.
About The Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp for Children with Autism
Previously the iMatter Surf Camp, The Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp was founded in 2007 by Jessica Guberman. It is a one-day free camp for children with Autism and their families where children surf one-on-one with a qualified instructor and reap the benefits of aquatic therapy. The camp takes place at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton, NY.
About EJ Autism
The EJ Autism Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity. Its mission is to create Autism Awareness and to support programs and schools on Long Island that currently work with children on the spectrum. www.ejautismfoundation.org
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