Greetings dear readers,

For this Spring Community Insider edition, I want to center on and celebrate “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month”.

March is recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and represents a pivotal time for raising awareness about the challenges and achievements of individuals with developmental disabilities. Led by the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), this month is dedicated to promoting understanding, acceptance, and inclusion within the broader community. It is a period marked by advocacy and outreach, aiming to bridge gaps in knowledge and foster a more inclusive society where individuals with developmental disabilities can participate fully and equally.

History and Formation

Developmental Disability Awareness Month has its origins in 1987 when then-US President Ronald Reagan officially recognized the event. The proclamation aimed to increase public awareness about the potential and needs of Americans with disabilities. This initiative encouraged support and resources to help individuals achieve their fullest potential and lead productive lives.

2024 Theme: “A World of Opportunities”

For 2024, the theme “A World of Opportunities” highlights the campaign’s focus on celebrating diversity, removing barriers, and creating inclusive communities where everyone has the chance to thrive. The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) leads the observance, emphasizing the inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life and acknowledging the ongoing work to overcome existing barriers.

How to Advocate and Participate

Educate Yourself and Others: Use this month to learn more about developmental disabilities and share your knowledge with others. Spreading awareness can challenge stereotypes and promote a more inclusive society.

Show Support: Participate in events or use social media to show your support. Utilizing the official color orange, symbolic of energy and positivity, can be a powerful way to demonstrate solidarity.

Advocate for Change: Engage with policymakers and support initiatives aimed at improving the lives of those with developmental disabilities. Advocacy can involve pushing for accessible public services, inclusive education, and employment opportunities.

Volunteer or Donate: Consider supporting organizations like New Hope Community that work tirelessly to support individuals with developmental disabilities. Your time or financial support can make a significant difference in the lives of many!

Last but not least, please navigate to this webpage www.NewHopeCommunity.org/Viewpoint to view our public television segment on The Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid. It debuted earlier this month and celebrates our beautiful, talented, and very engaged New Hope family. It highlights people we support, family members, staff, and community partners – all in celebration of caring, compassionate communities that empower lives of meaning. We are so privileged and proud to put our efforts and hearts into a mission that truly matters!

Here’s to promoting awareness, acceptance, appreciation, and so much more for all people who just happen to have a developmental disability as part of who they are as incredibly beautiful and important humans!

Warmest regards,





As New Hope Community celebrates Martin Luther King Day in honor of a leader who shaped our country’s future in life-changing ways, I wanted to share a few words that speak to his message, example, and impact.

We all know Martin Luther King, Jr. as a hero in the fight for civil rights. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

King was assassinated in 1968. The MLK holiday was established in 1983 during the Reagan administration but it didn’t become an observed holiday in the U.S. until 1986.

Here are a few points that speak to the value and basis for this important holiday:

  • Martin Luther King Day celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. His words were inspiring, but they weren’t just words that he voiced. He lived a life fighting for freedom and justice. He withstood threats against his life as a result of standing up for his beliefs.
  • Martin Luther King Day honors the life of a fighter for racial justice and equality. It celebrates this equality in a society where he dreamed of becoming color-blind. He stood up to make a difference for every race. His words spoke for every nationality, to feel no segregation. This is not to be known as a “black holiday”; it is known as a “peoples’ holiday.”
  • Martin Luther King Day celebrates that he was a peaceful man. He spoke with his voice, not with violence. He knew that nonviolence meant that his voice was not drowned out. People were more apt to listen to non-aggression.
  • Martin Luther King Day honors one of the bravest men in America. He endured threats, beatings, and bombings. He went to jail 29 times to achieve freedom for others.
  • Martin Luther King Day teaches the next generation to learn about standing up for their rights through non-violent disputes.
  • Martin Luther King Day is a day of service. His followers choose this day to help out at shelters, hospitals, and even prisons. People volunteer to help feed the homeless, mentor children that come from a life of struggle and essentially help to make the community a better place.

In closing, I always love to share this small piece of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech:

“I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”– Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

May we all live lives founded on, and grounded in, MLK’s dream to feed a beautiful reality filled with justice, fairness, equality, and loving kindness – for everyone, everywhere – always.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Warmest regards,




Dear Readers,

I’ve never done this before, but I am “re-running” last year’s message. When I went back and took a peek at it, I realized the sentiment expressed in December 2022 continues to be a perfect match for my thoughts and feelings in 2023.

I will always be so thankful to – and for – our staff and am so acutely aware of all those who happily and generously step away from their own families to share the holidays with their New Hope family. Warmth and kindness abound and I am thankful and amazed!

Hope this message will continue to resonate with you too!

A Thank You Letter to Everyone Working at New Hope Community During the Holidays

Many of us look forward to finally having the chance to relax and spend time with our family and friends during the holiday. Schools close, many businesses either close or shorten their hours, and workers put in for vacation and enjoy a much-needed day off. The only way this could possibly get any better is if this applied to everyone. But, for an organization providing 24/7 support, it simply doesn’t. Some people will be clocking in as their family gathers to celebrate Hanukkah or before Santa leaves the North Pole and will not be together with their families until the festivities are over. To all our staff who put in so many long hours and who will be at work during this holiday season, this post is a thank you letter to you.

Thank you for working away from your loved ones while caring for, and celebrating the season with, cherished family members of our New Hope Community. Thank you for ensuring each person you support is in good hands and surrounded by holiday cheer. Thank you for playing holiday music, cooking special meals, baking special treats, donning festive outfits, and setting up calls and Zoom meetings with loved ones. All your actions celebrate the gift of giving and caring – a gift that is so important and extra special during the holidays.

And to our extended New Hope family this holiday season, I wish you peace and moments of joy. May you share laughter as you break bread together with those you hold dear. May you also reach out in an act of kindness to brighten the day for someone less fortunate but also so deserving of experiencing hope and generosity within their lives. I truly believe it is “better to give than to receive” and all kind acts taken will ultimately become a cherished gift to all involved.

Happy Holidays!

My best wishes,


PS: Please visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to catch up on all the wonderful holiday activities taking place at New Hope Community this month! @NewHope1975 for both!



Dear New Hope Family,

Although the world around us struggles often to live in peace and lift up its own humanity, I must take a moment to shine a light on New Hope Community and express my deep gratitude for a family that truly DOES show fairness, kindness, compassion, commitment, caring, and love. In the midst of many life challenges, our staff put their heart and soul into all they do, and the people we support set an example for all of us that speaks to their positivity and amazing ability to plug into life in beautiful ways.

So as many of our staff work on Thanksgiving and navigate schedules that juggle celebrations both at work and at home, I first and foremost, thank them. Our staff always find amazing ways to come together to cook, share, and celebrate this holiday and I am thankful for each and every one of them. And to every person who has chosen New Hope Community as their path to their most promising life, I also am thankful that they have chosen to travel their journey, with us.

And as I step back and again, reflect on our entire New Hope Community family, I am filled with thanks. Together we truly represent strength, resilience, caring hearts, and a commitment to carving out a future that brings us all to new heights.

As you can see, we have so much to be thankful for and I will be counting many blessings as I give special thanks tomorrow that will absolutely include our wonderful New Hope Community family.  Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Warmest regards,




Dear New Hope Family,

It gives me distinct pleasure to share the news that I will not be retiring at the end of this year. Thankfully, I have moved to a higher state of health and stability which opened the door to reconsidering that move. Although our New Hope Community Board of Directors extended great effort over the summer to building and rolling out a CEO search, they proved equally committed to considering my change in circumstances and entered into a careful and caring discussion that culminated in supporting a decision that weaves me into New Hope Community’s next chapter!

I am so excited to continue into 2024 as your CEO, joined by an incredible leadership and staffing team, and know beyond a doubt that together, we are going to explore, create, and roll out some amazing new partnerships, programs, and initiatives that will dynamically shape our best future.

I have to say; isn’t life funny? Just when you think you know what the future holds, it teaches you that our journey in life is uncertain – but often in rich and beautiful ways.

I am, once again….

Feeling thankful,




Hi all,

This week is National DSP Recognition Week and I would like to invite everyone to extend a big “thank you” to our DSPs for all they do and all they are. I thought I would pen a special message just for them and share it with everyone as we join together to celebrate their skills, their hearts, and all their hard work:

To all our invaluable DSPs,

What would we do without you? You represent our heart and soul and tirelessly lift the lives and spirits of all those we are privileged to support.

Your role is so multi-faceted. You need to have a diverse set of skills, a broad base of knowledge, and the ability to advocate within a multidisciplinary team environment and the larger community.

You listen, you reach out, you connect, you care, you cry, you go the extra mile over and over again because you get the importance of all you do and you value the health, safety, and happiness of the people we support and all those within our New Hope family.

We are proud of you! We are amazed by you! And we will always be here to support your growth, to hear your concerns, and to ensure we are stitched together as a team that will always be mindful of your contribution and our collective need to do all we can to empower people with I/DD.

So, from all of us, please accept our heartfelt thanks. Please know you are special and that you will always matter!!

And – enjoy this week of well-deserved recognition and know that in our hearts, it is “DSP Recognition Week” every single week of the year!





Greetings all,

Thought I would share with our greater New Hope Community family, the message I sent out to all our staff late last week in honor of Labor Day.

As I’m sure all of you would agree, our workforce is essential to all we are able to accomplish and every opportunity to remind them of their true worth is an opportunity that we are very happy to take!

On another note, we all hope to see you at our family barbecue coming up this Sunday from 12 noon to 4 pm on our main campus. We are beyond excited to finally bring this wonderful event back into our lives!!

Happy Labor Day and hope to see you very soon!






I wanted to share a bit about the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the OPWDD recently rolled out campaign entitled “Look Beyond My Developmental Disability”.

Recently, OPWDD announced a new, statewide campaign called “Look Beyond My Developmental Disability” to combat the stigma that people with developmental disabilities face in their daily lives.

The campaign was unveiled by OPWDD and New York’s Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) to coincide with the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – a sweeping affirmation of rights for the disabled in American history, that was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush.

I was privileged to represent New Hope Community at the Governor’s mansion last week, to join Governor Kathy Hochul, OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld, other public officials, self-advocates, family members, and voluntary provider agency staff, for a very moving gathering that celebrated the meaning of the ADA while also addressing the responsibility we have to further the impact of this important act (you can see a picture from last week’s event on our Facebook page – @NewHope1975).

As noted by OPWDD Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld, “Part of our advocacy continues to be educating the public about developmental disabilities and to help people learn more about their peers, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow community members with developmental disabilities.” NYS Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “The stigma and negative stereotypes against people with developmental disabilities or mental illness leads to discrimination in housing, education, employment, and other opportunities. Stigma can also decrease a person’s self-esteem, discourage them from seeking help and negatively impact their relationships.”

The “Look Beyond My Developmental Disability” anti-stigma campaign was spurred by legislation Governor Hochul signed in 2022 directing OPWDD to develop and implement a public awareness campaign that combats discrimination, stigma, and stereotyping of people with developmental disabilities. The law took effect in September 2022. New Hope Community was thrilled to be invited to have several of the people we support highlighted in the campaign both on the YouTube video and OPWDD’s social media campaign.  Watch the video here and help spread the message https://youtu.be/–k6zFTKrYg

Kim Hill Ridley, Chief Disability Officer for NYS stated, “My team and I are proud to be participating in the development of the “Look Beyond” public service campaign that is aimed at removing stigmas attached to people with developmental disabilities because part of our office’s mission is to ensure integration, inclusion, and accessibility for every New Yorker, regardless of the type of disability they have. Helping to remove the harmful and inaccurate stigmas that are attached to those with developmental disabilities is absolutely necessary to achieve our goal and reduce the discrimination people face because of these negative stereotypes.”

Many people with developmental disabilities still experience pre-conceived stereotyping and discrimination in various aspects of life, including access to housing, employment, and medical care, which can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes as well as social exclusion and isolation. The campaign seeks to raise awareness so that people with developmental disabilities can be freed from the stigmas.

Senator John W. Mannion said, “This multi-media awareness campaign promotes inclusivity and will help inspire New Yorkers to reject the stigmatization of our friends and loved ones with an intellectual or developmental disability.”

May we all mindfully and responsibly play an active societal role in reshaping people’s attitudes, understanding, and approaches specific to all people with a disability. There is so much more we can accomplish!! And, may we always celebrate the richness and value of diversity that ultimately lifts us up and forwards our humanity.

Warmest regards,


For more information on OPWDD’s “Look Beyond” Anti-Stigma Campaign, please visit https://opwdd.ny.gov/lookbeyond.



This coming Monday we will be officially recognizing the Federal holiday, Juneteenth. Last year was our first year in doing so and I penned a message speaking to the importance of Juneteenth and would like to once again, share that message with all of you now.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a Federal holiday celebrated on the nineteenth day of June to commemorate the emancipation of African Americans who were enslaved in the United States. It memorializes the end of slavery and has been observed annually since 1865. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed into law Senate Bill 475, making Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday.

Background and History

In early 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the freedom of more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states. More than two years later, on June 19, 1865, this news finally reached people living in Texas with the arrival of Union soldiers. When African Americans living in Texas learned that slavery had been abolished, they immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance – the foundation of Juneteenth.

The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. Original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals. Celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and several other states followed suit. Within a few years, African Americans in many other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition.

Ways to Celebrate

Today, many Juneteenth celebrations include religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing. In some places, demonstrations and parades commemorate the day. These celebrations often include ways to honor aspects of African American culture.

Is Celebrating Juneteenth Only for African Americans?

While Juneteenth has immense meaning for the African American community, there is value for every person — regardless of race, culture or background — to observe this holiday. A celebration of freedom for any group is a celebration of the ideals that we value as a nation.

It is Juneteenth that shows the value of everyone’s life and liberty – black, white, and any color in between – and inspires this nation to exhibit strength, not fragility, in taking action to protect them. Whenever elected government officials are threatened, which has been a concern in this modern era, let Juneteenth inspire protection of their lives and liberty to avoid a repeat of history like those terrorized post-Civil War officials. Whenever the freedom to vote, protest, or other rights are threatened, let Juneteenth inspire the protection of those rights.

Specifically, Juneteenth is a day for African Americans to celebrate liberty, resilience, and strength. While participating and commemorating, all should pause to acknowledge the historical and somber importance of the day.

While we all celebrate Juneteenth, may we consider and include the traditions of reflection, education, achievement, and prayer. Celebrate achievements such as Texas being last to free the slaves yet first to adopt Juneteenth as a holiday and Philadelphia running independence celebrations from June 19th to July 4th that highlight connections between the holidays.

May we always responsibly support life and liberty for all and mindfully celebrate this critically important holiday.

Warmest regards,




Remembering and Honoring our Veterans on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of the United States’ most poignant federal holidays. It’s a day to remember and honor the sacrifice made by all those who lost their lives during their service in the United States military.

This national holiday reflects on those lost in service through many historic battles, including the Civil War, World War II, and more recent conflicts. Whether such loss has impacted you personally or from a distance, such selfless service can never be diminished or forgotten. A former US President once stated: “Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never repay”.  How true. Such sacrifice is priceless, endless, and profound. May we always deeply appreciate the fight for freedom and never lose sight of the fact that with that freedom, comes responsibility.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and may freedom always ring.

In honor and remembrance,




Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

This coming Monday New Hope Community is proud to celebrate a most important holiday. I wanted to post this update (that was also sent as an email to all staff) to note a few points about this day and found some interesting facts online that I felt were worthy of sharing, so here goes.

We all know Martin Luther King, Jr. as a hero in the fight for civil rights. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the “I Have a Dream” speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The holiday is observed on the third Monday of January, which is the 16th of this year. King was assassinated in 1968, but it wasn’t until 1983 during the Reagan administration that the holiday was established, and it wasn’t until 1986 that Martin Luther King Day became observed in the United States.

What does Martin Luther King Day mean to the United States?

  • Martin Luther King Day celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. His words were inspiring, but they weren’t just words that he voiced. He lived a life fighting for freedom and justice. He withstood threats against his life because of standing up for his beliefs.
  • Martin Luther King Day honors the life of a fighter for racial justice and equality. It celebrates this equality in a society that he dreamed would become color-blind. He stood up to make a difference for every race. His words spoke for every nationality and the need to obliterate all acts of segregation. This is not to be known as a “black holiday;” it is known as a “peoples’ holiday.”
  • Martin Luther King Day celebrates that he was a peaceful man. He spoke with his voice, not with violence. He knew that nonviolence meant that his voice was not drowned out. People were more apt to listen to non-aggression.
  • Martin Luther King Day honors one of the bravest men in America. He endured threats, beatings, and bombings. He went to jail 29 times to achieve freedom for others.
  • Martin Luther King Day teaches the next generation to learn about standing up for their rights through non-violent disputes.

Martin Luther King Day is a day of service. His followers choose this day to help at shelters, hospitals, and even prisons. People volunteer to help feed the homeless, they mentor children that come from a life of struggle, and essentially help to make the community a better place.

As we recognize this holiday this year, may we all take a few moments to reflect on the deep meaning and value of this day. And may we also take the opportunity to extend a helping hand to others with a heart of service and with the intent of lifting humanity. Together we can – and should – do our absolute best to make our communities, a better place.

My best,


“I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”– Letter from Martin Luther King, Jr., Birmingham Jail, 1963



A Thank You Letter to Everyone Working at New Hope Community During the Holidays

Many of us look forward to finally having the chance to relax and spend time with our family and friends during the holiday. Schools close, many businesses either close or shorten their hours, and workers put in for vacation and enjoy a much-needed day off. The only way this could possibly get any better is if this applied to everyone. But, for an organization providing 24/7 support, it simply doesn’t. Some people will be clocking in as their family gathers to celebrate Hanukkah or before Santa leaves the North Pole and will not be together with their families until the festivities are over. To all our staff who put in so many long hours and who will be at work during this holiday season, this post is a thank you letter to you.

Thank you for working away from your loved ones while caring for, and celebrating the season with, cherished family members of our New Hope Community. Thank you for ensuring each person you support is in good hands and surrounded by holiday cheer. Thank you for playing holiday music, cooking special meals, baking special treats, donning festive outfits, and setting up calls and Zoom meetings with loved ones. All your actions celebrate the gift of giving and caring – a gift that is so important and extra special during the holidays.

And to our extended New Hope family this holiday season, I wish you peace and moments of joy. May you share laughter as you break bread together with those you hold dear. May you also reach out in an act of kindness to brighten the day for someone less fortunate but also so deserving of experiencing hope and generosity within their lives. I truly believe it is “better to give than to receive” and all kind acts taken will ultimately become a cherished gift to all involved.

Happy Holidays!

My best wishes,


PS: Please visit our Facebook page to catch up on all the wonderful holiday activities taking place at New Hope Community this month! www.facebook.com/newhope1975



Dear valued readers,

Once again, Thanksgiving is upon us. As always, I am looking forward to precious time with family and friends and can’t wait to have a slice of homemade apple crumb pie with whipped cream. Yum!

Despite ongoing challenges, our New Hope family continues to commit great efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of all those we support. Daily, our staff display empathy, resourcefulness, skill, and dedication, and they are deeply appreciated. We are a team that works together with an “all hands on deck” approach to help each other through the good days and the challenging days. And this expands to our entire New Hope family. Your active demonstration of caring and support speaks to our togetherness and our collective sense of “us”. In last year’s message, I noted that we were a bit of a “muddied bunch”. Well, we still are, but we are persevering and grabbing opportunities to lift one another up and this humbles me and causes me to be both thankful and grateful!

So, as we give thanks, I know we will also, unrelentingly, push forward with hope, and not lose sight of the blessings in our lives.

Wishing everyone a safe, warm, delicious, and healthy Thanksgiving. Please be sure to take care of yourself as much as you care for others.

Warmest regards,




Dear Readers,

I would be remiss not to post a Labor Day message in honor of our staff. Their labor of love this past year, through the most challenging of times, needs to be recognized and celebrated. I don’t usually do this, but I would like to share a heartfelt message, directly to all our New Hope staff and hope it will also fuel your deep appreciation for all they do – day in and day out.

Dear New Hope staff,

Always know that each one of you is valued for the unique qualities and skills you bring to our team. Our ability this past year to advocate for those we support in meaningful and heartfelt ways gives testimony to collectively, standing side-by-side to make the right things happen. I thank each of you for being “all in.” I have seen the sweat on your brow, the tired creases on your face, and the stress in your eyes. This year has been hard on you, but you have persevered! Thank you for hanging tough during tough times, for believing in our purpose, and for staying the course when it was exhausting to do so. We will become stronger – together – and your commitment to our New Hope family will allow us to move mountains. Yes – we can do that – and we will!!

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the important role you play in the lives of so many. And thank you for traveling forward with us on a path of hope and positive change.

Happy Labor Day!

Warmest regards,




This month we celebrate National Nonprofit Day so I thought it would be nice to share some information about this day with all our beloved readers.

National Nonprofit Day, celebrated on August 17th, is your chance to applaud those who are doing amazing things in your community. Founded by Sherita J. Herring, an author, and respected speaker, its goal is to educate and empower everyone to be the change they want to see in the world.

National Nonprofit Day brings attention to the importance of nonprofit organizations, and all the vital services we provide. It recognizes nonprofit organizations’ ongoing efforts to serve the local community, including populations within communities that have both specific challenges and goals; recognizing that there are individuals in our midst that will be able to embrace life more fully with holistic support.

Each day, nonprofits throughout the country work to promote awareness, acceptance, and opportunity in ways that fuel relationships, opportunity, and growth. Such activities contribute to our positive evolution as a society and provide hope for a brighter future.

We can all contribute in some manner, through volunteering, giving, or just spreading the word about a great nonprofit. We would invite you to raise the public profile of a nonprofit that you feel is doing good work (like your very own New Hope Community!). You can do this by telling friends and family, or by using the hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay on your social media accounts.

New Hope Community is a mission-driven nonprofit that is committed to enhancing the lives of all people with I/DD. This has been our path and purpose since 1975. I invite you to determine ways in which you can support those nonprofits that are near and dear to your heart in celebration of National Nonprofit Day. And, as always, I (we) thank you for the many ways in which you support New Hope Community. Your support propels us forward and lifts us up and we will be forever grateful.

Warmest regards,





I have the unfortunate task of sharing the news that, once again, we will not be holding our September Family Barbecue or Holiday Staff Party. We have painstakingly considered COVID outbreak numbers within our New Hope family and Sullivan County these past two months and also given careful thought to our deep staffing challenges to sadly determine we cannot responsibly support these high-density, large gathering people functions – yet. Please know we take this position in support of closing out 2022 in the highest, most stable state of health and wellness possible.

Thank you for your continued support as we grapple with impacts that require some tough decisions. We love our New Hope family and honestly cannot wait to gather in fun and fellowship – and we will get there!

Warm regards,





What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is a federal holiday celebrated on the nineteenth day of June to commemorate the emancipation of African Americans who were enslaved in the United States. It memorializes the end of slavery and has been observed annually since 1865. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed into law Senate Bill 475, making Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday.

Background and History

In early 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the freedom of more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states. More than two years later, on June 19, 1865, this news finally reached people living in Texas with the arrival of Union soldiers. When African Americans living in Texas learned that slavery had been abolished, they immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance – the foundation of Juneteenth.

The following year, on June 19, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. Original observances included prayer meetings and the singing of spirituals. Celebrants wore new clothes as a way of representing their newfound freedom. Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and several other states followed suit. Within a few years, African Americans in many other states were celebrating the day as well, making it an annual tradition.

Ways to Celebrate

Today, many Juneteenth celebrations include religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing. In some places, demonstrations and parades commemorate the day. These celebrations often include ways to honor aspects of African American culture.

Is Celebrating Juneteenth Only for African Americans?

While Juneteenth has immense meaning for the African American community, there is value for every person — regardless of race, culture or background — to observe this holiday. A celebration of freedom for any group is a celebration of the ideals that we value as a nation.

It is Juneteenth that shows the value of everyone’s life and liberty – black, white, and any color in between – and inspires this nation to exhibit strength, not fragility, in taking action to protect them. Whenever elected government officials are threatened, which has been a concern in this modern era, let Juneteenth inspire protection of their lives and liberty to avoid a repeat of history like those terrorized post-Civil War officials. Whenever the freedom to vote, protest, or other rights are threatened, let Juneteenth inspire the protection of those rights.

Specifically, Juneteenth is a day for African Americans to celebrate liberty, resilience, and strength. While participating and commemorating, all should pause to acknowledge the historical and somber importance of the day.

While we all celebrate Juneteenth, may we consider and include the traditions of reflection, education, achievement, and prayer. Celebrate achievements such as Texas being last to free the slaves yet first to adopt Juneteenth as a holiday and Philadelphia running independence celebrations from June 19th to July 4th that highlight connections between the holidays.

New Hope Community is proud to recognize Juneteenth as our 8th official holiday for 2022!

Celebrating the value of life and liberty – for all,



Remembering and Honoring our Veterans on Memorial Day


I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of our entire New Hope Community family, to remember, honor, and express solemn respect and gratitude to all the brave men and women who have fought for our country’s freedom and democracy, and to all those military members who perished in times of war or peace.

A little history on this special holiday…

Memorial Day has been celebrated in the United States for almost 150 years. Originally called “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day was created as a day dedicated to honor and remember all those who died in service of the United States, inspired by the 500,000 deaths of soldiers in the Civil War. Since the Civil War, over one million soldiers have died in various wars. Currently, there are over two million people serving in the US; willing to risk their lives to protect our rights and freedoms.

On Memorial Day, a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. And as we all know, there are many parades, memorial services, and special celebrations taking place. I hope we can all find our own distinct way to meaningfully reflect on and honor the heroism of the soldiers who have died for our country.

And as we mourn the recent tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde, may we resolve to be strong in the fight to build up and sustain an America that our heroes fought for and dreamt of – knowing that this nation will remain the land of the free only as long as it is home of the brave.

Let Freedom Ring,


“Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month” 


During March, we celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM), an annual event recognized across the country. DDAM serves to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in community life and shines a light on the obstacles people with disabilities continue to face. In 1987, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Presidential proclamation declaring March “National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month,” he wrote:

“I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

This was an essential step in bringing attention to the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities. The 2022 theme is “World’s Imagined,” which can help us look at new and ever-evolving opportunities for people with disabilities. It encourages us to analyze intersectionality and intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as we look at how people with I/DD are living longer and more productive lives than ever before.

Throughout March, our homes and programs are taking part in activities that highlight the importance and value of awareness, understanding, and advocacy. There is so much to celebrate but also so much to still accomplish! I trust you and yours will also find special ways to honor Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month as we all work together to fuel a culture that embraces and engages with all people with I/DD with an abundant, positive, and forward-thinking mindset.

And certainly, this is not just this month – it is forever and always! So, if you’re looking for a way to keep the conversation going year-round, I’ve listed some books below that I believe are worth the read and worth talking about. I always find it so worthwhile to discuss thoughts with friends, family, co-workers, and very importantly, with people with developmental disabilities. There’s so much to recognize, to understand, to support, to fight for, and to celebrate!

Six Good Reads:

  • The Pretty One by Keah Brown
  • Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan R. Nussbaum
  • More Alike Than Different: My Life and Lessons for Everyone by David Egan
  • How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?: Inside My Autistic Mind by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
  • Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
  • Thicker Than Water: Essays by Adult Siblings of People with Disabilities by Don Meyer

Warm Regards,



COVID/Vaccination Update 


Hi everyone,

With the holiday season behind us and the first month of 2022 fast coming to a close I am happy to provide an update that shares some positive news.

Effective Thursday, January 27th, the CMS Vaccination Mandate that applies to many health care and human service organizations such as New Hope Community, is now in full effect. All staff employed and actively working must either have (at the very least) their first vaccination completed. And if not already fully vaccinated, staff must complete their second vaccination by February 26th. We have a very small percentage of staff (less than 5 %) that have approved exemptions (religious/medical) or deferments (based on having had a recent case of COVID) who are following strict protocols to ensure optimal health and safety measures are upheld.

I should note that our workforce was only reduced by approximately 2% in the achievement of fulfilling all vaccination mandate regulations. As sad as we are to lose any of our valued staff, we also stand in a place of deep appreciation for the 98% of our staff that have stayed the course. Our vaccination status now supports our ability to fuel optimal health levels as it relates to COVID, and we are thankful!

In addition, the Omicron variant which was present in several of our homes over the holidays has quieted down tremendously and staff and individuals are appreciating a return to a healthier rhythm.

Also, the number of active COVID cases in Sullivan County has come down by approximately 85% in just the last two weeks (as of today we stand at 356 active cases throughout the county). For more detailed information, please visit:


So – although our country, county, and New Hope family understand our pandemic is not over, we see hope on the horizon and are continuing to commit our full efforts to approaches and actions that feed a positive, kind, supportive program, home, and work environment.

That is our status and story at this moment in time. I trust you, our dear readers, are staying healthy and taking a moment to find positives each day that lift your spirits and keep hope in your hearts!

Warm regards,



An Update Message 



As promised, and as the Delta and Omicron variants continue to spread, here is our latest COVID update.

Like the rest of New York State, Sullivan County has experienced a surge in new cases, occurring in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We currently have multiple homes on isolation or quarantine, with new cases daily in staff and/or individuals. All are managing the illness well so far, with no resulting hospitalizations. We are thankful for that, as our local hospital has experienced a dramatic increase in cases.

Our vaccination rates continue to increase. Although the CMS mandate was paused, staff have continued to follow through with the immunization process and are receiving their second doses. That said, we do expect a small group of staff (less than 20) to leave our employ when the CMS mandate is enforced.  Currently, any staff member not vaccinated must double mask at all times.  All new hires and any individual being newly admitted to NHC must be vaccinated prior.

We are continuing to access the community for COVID booster shots for individuals. This is a challenging process, as many of the individuals we support are not comfortable with community vaccination.  It is also difficult to obtain, as walk-ins are harder to find and appointment availabilities scarce.  We do have a vaccination clinic scheduled on-site at New Hope Community on January 5th, with a snow date of January 6th.

At the end of last week the CMS vaccine rule — which applies to the staff of many Medicare and Medicaid certified providers such as ours, is back in action in some states. Through a variety of legal actions, the scope of the injunction has been narrowed and has now been lifted for 26 states (one being NY). However, it is a bit unclear when CMS will reinstate this mandate. Hopefully, CMS will issue clarification on the timing of enforcement, given that the first of its compliance dates (Dec. 6, 2021) has passed. We are following this closely.

We have reviewed our current protocols for family visits as we approach the year-end/New Year holidays. We are actively communicating the current increase in COVID cases and will discourage family visits for any houses on quarantine and strongly discourage any visits for homes on isolation. Should any individual leave NHC and go on a family visit overnight or longer, they will need to return with a negative COVID test prior to returning to the home. For any individual who has recently had COVID – they will not need to test prior to their return as positive results can linger. This will be for anyone in the last 90 days who tested positive and recovered and is doing well.

Please be assured we are doing everything possible to be safe and to provide quality care and oversight as we move through this holiday season. This continues to be a challenging time for all of us and we appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation. Please feel free to reach out to your NHC point person with any questions.

As we bid adieu to another tough year, I trust you will have moments that make you smile and bring you peace. My prayer for 2022 is to find ourselves in a higher place of health and safety that allows greater connection within our New Hope family and beyond. We have all been through so much, but I believe, and I hope you do too, that it will get better!

Be well, stay warm and may you have a happy holiday!

My very best,



An Update Message 



As I’m sure everyone knows, on November 4th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) rolled out a vaccination mandate that was applicable to New Hope Community. Clearly, the mandate pushed us into high gear and in the last few weeks we have ramped up efforts on every front to meet a deadline that required all staff to have (at least) their 1st vaccination dose by December 5th.  Most fortunately, we have made major strides in our number of vaccinated staff (our organization has surpassed the 90% mark for staff that are either fully vaccinated or have had their first vaccination dose and staff are continuing to get vaccinated). This is amazing, as prior to November 4th we were sitting closer to a 40% staff vaccination level. So before I move on to say anything else, I just have to express my thanks to all the staff working to support this vaccination process and to all the staff that are either fully vaccinated or have started the vaccination process. Thank you!!

However, as I’m also sure everyone knows, a nationwide federal injunction was placed on this mandate on December 1st. This injunction now puts us in a holding pattern as we wait for final resolution of this case. That means staff that would not have met the original December 5th deadline, are now not required to leave our employ at this time. However, we will continue to strongly advocate for all staff to be vaccinated (unless they have an approved exemption or deferment). The mandate could be re-instated at any time and our guidance to staff is to continue with all vaccination plans as soon as possible. It’s not a matter of “if”, but we believe rather, a matter of “when”. Our goal to have a fully vaccinated workforce still stands – it’s just the timeline that has now changed.

New Hope Community has extended incredible efforts to educate, encourage and support our staff to become vaccinated. We know it is our responsibility to ensure our work, program and residential home environments support the highest level of health and safety, possible. And being vaccinated against COVID is critical to our ability to uphold these standards and to be true to a mission that seeks to enhance the lives of people with I/DD – every day.

I will post another update when there is movement on this front to ensure we are keeping our extended New Hope family in the loop, as we move forward.

Please be well and stay safe!

My warmest regards,



An Update Message 



As we enter into the holiday season, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks and best wishes to our entire New Hope family. It has been wonderful to see our extended family sticking together, expressing support, and standing by our side during yet another most challenging year.

I know we all closed out 2020 with hopes that 2021 would provide healing and relief. Lo’ and behold, the pandemic continued, a workforce crisis ensued, and changes on a state and federal level brought new challenges to our door. The most recent challenge to come our way was the early November vaccination mandate handed down by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). I am happy to report we are making great strides to reach this mandate but will have a more specific update for everyone in early December. Bottom line – we’re getting there.

Despite all we are collectively grappling with, I am feeling both grateful and thankful. Grateful to all our staff that have stayed the course and thankful for all our stakeholders that continue to trust us, appreciate us and care about keeping our mission on its rightful path.

So, amidst the noise and shuffle, I need to take this moment to say “thank you”. We may all feel like a bit of a muddied bunch right now but we are hanging in there and it will get better. I don’t think New Hope Community (or any of us for that matter) has faced these types of crises in our lifetime. They are life changing. But amazingly I see strength, kindness, commitment and hope. And those are incredible blessings to count as we center on thankfulness.

So to everyone – we appreciate you and we need you. Your involvement and support means the world to us. May you and yours have a peaceful, joyful and very happy Thanksgiving!

Warmest regards,




An Update Message 


On September 9th, President Biden announced sweeping COVID-19 vaccine requirements which will affect between 80-100 million Americans. The requirements will be imposed by the Department of Labor and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is drafting an emergency temporary standard to carry out the mandate. This standard will require all employers with at least 100 employees to make sure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require unvaccinated workers to get a negative test at least once a week. The president also announced vaccination requirements for health care providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid.

As it pertains to new vaccination requirements, OPWDD voluntary provider agencies, such as New Hope Community, continue to seek clarification from DOH and OPWDD – our direct regulatory bodies. To date we have not received any guidance to indicate whether vaccination mandates may – or may not – apply to our service sector.  As I’ve noted previously, we are pro-vaccination but do not support an employer mandate as the impact of such could prove devastating to our workforce status as our staff continue to stand at less than a 50% vaccination level. This, clearly, is a most uncomfortable position to find ourselves in as a human services provider.

I understand these COVID-related dynamics are concerning and somewhat confusing. I want to assure everyone that we will provide full updates in real time if any movement occurs that represents vaccination requirement changes within our OPWDD service sector. In the meanwhile, please know we continue to do our best to support our New Hope family.

In times like these, I believe it is critically important for all of us to carefully practice self-care that quiets our hearts and minds. I also believe, as always, that lifting one another up and staying unified as we travel over bumps and navigate curves in the road, will keep us strong and keep us moving forward.

Be well.

My best,




An Update Message 


Hello all-

Monday, the FDA gave its full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. As per the FDA, this approval means the public can be very confident the vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality required of any product approved by the FDA.

I know some staff (and possibly others within our New Hope family) held back from getting vaccinated because of the emergency use authorization status of vaccines.  If that is the case, I am here to celebrate the full approval now in place and encourage you to – please – get vaccinated!!

Here’s to health!

My best,


An Update Message 


Greetings! It’s been a while since we’ve posted a COVID update and in light of vaccination mandates that are emerging, I wanted to touch base with everyone.

As you know, last Monday, Governor Cuomo announced that all healthcare workers in New York State, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities (LTCF), including nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, September 27. The State Department of Health will issue Section 16 Orders requiring all hospital, LTCF, and nursing homes to develop and implement a policy mandating employee vaccinations, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons.

We, of course, have our eyes on this as we wait to receive guidance from DOH and OPWDD as to whether this will be applicable to our certified settings. Many conversations are occurring behind the scenes with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), as our professional organizations speak with them about the inability of our field to tolerate this requirement. Although we continue our best efforts to support staff in choosing to be vaccinated, we continue to be below a 50% staff vaccination rate. We also continue to address a workforce crisis. Clearly, two factors that would present challenges on the vaccination mandate front. We are hoping to receive information in the next couple of weeks and will immediately provide an update post to all, when required positioning is confirmed.

Additionally, last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will be issuing an emergency regulation requiring staff of nursing homes funded by Medicaid and Medicare to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We have an excellent national professional organization representing our sector regarding legislative actions and much more – American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) www.ancor.org . Last Friday they sent out the communication noted below regarding vaccination status within our field. They also spoke to a couple of other key legislative issues at hand that I thought would be good to share:

Our understanding of HHS’ intent for the emergency regulation is that it will not apply in settings beyond nursing homes at this time. That said, we are staying connected with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) throughout its process of drafting the regulation to ensure the language remains consistent with our understanding.

The language of this regulation is essential because although we would never discourage those who care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to get vaccinated, we are acutely aware of the state of America’s direct support workforce crisis and remain cautious in our approach to policy changes that have the potential to further exacerbate this crisis.

In particular, ANCOR is concerned by policy standards that would withhold federal funding as punitive measures for noncompliance. The inability to recruit and retain qualified direct support professionals was endemic long before COVID-19, and the pandemic has exposed the extreme fragility of the workforce that carries out the mission of our national network of community I/DD providers. For far too many in our country, access to community-based I/DD services remains elusive; introducing regulations that deter people from joining or remaining in our workforce risks pushing that access farther out of reach.

The next few months will be critical to the future of I/DD services. Beyond the impact of COVID-19 as it rears its ugly head once again in the form of the Delta variant, Congress will soon take up Senate Democrats’ proposed budget resolution, which operationalizes the $400 billion Better Care Better Jobs Act. On each of these fronts, we remain as committed as ever to advocating for policies and resources that address our most pressing challenges one of which is the direct support workforce crisis.

In that spirit, ANCOR will meet on Monday (8/23) with CMS officials to discuss in more detail its forthcoming regulation and our ongoing concerns about the workforce crisis.

So as we “hold” in place, waiting for further direction and updates as noted above, I would like to confirm that we continue to maintain essential COVID protocols. Currently, both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff must wear masks in our residences and other programs and staff in our administration building must follow suit when in common spaces. All staff must attest to being asymptomatic when reporting for work and take a digital temperature that must be below 100 degrees. We continue to have an excellent PPE supply, are environmentally prepared to implement quarantine or isolation status if needed, and also continue to report COVID data to OPWDD on a regular basis.

I appreciate everyone’s patience as we grapple with a changing environment still actively shaped by a pandemic that has us in its grip. Please be assured we are doing everything within our power to keep our New Hope family safe and to build stronger and better recruitment and retention efforts to fuel the stability of our workforce.

Also please be sure to read our Community Insider newsletter this Friday, to include my “Debbie’s Desk” column. I share facts about the Delta variant and its spread throughout our country and also address the rise in positive cases in our area – all points that continue to support how essential it is to be vaccinated as we strive together, to get to a healthier, safer place.

Lastly, we were fully prepared for Tropical Storm Henri and are grateful we did not sustain any damage or experience any storm-related complications – thanks to an excellent effort by all staff.

I will continue to share all updates as we move forward.

Warm regards,



An Update Message 


Hi everyone!

As I’m sure you know, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated Tuesday that 70% of adults in New York have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a threshold that would allow the state to ease many of its remaining social distancing rules.

However, New Yorkers for now will still need to wear masks in schools, subways, large sports arenas, homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, jails and prisons. Unvaccinated New Yorkers will still be subject to a mask mandate while indoors in public places.

This gives much cause for celebration. The ability to reconnect on so many levels is beyond welcome and very much needed. But I need to temper this with a reminder that New Hope Community’s protocols and practices are driven by OPWDD and DOH and that we are not able to mirror the opening now occurring within our state. We were thrilled to lift visitation restrictions recently and are allowing visitors to our main building for meeting purposes, but other than that, life has not dramatically changed – yet.

One thing we are grappling with is the fact that we are sitting at a vaccination rate of approximately 41% among our residential staff. This status will greatly impact opening movement going forward. We are continuing to encourage staff (and facilitating appointments, as needed) to get vaccinated but little progress is being made at this time. So, we will move forward in compliance with all OPWDD/DOH guidelines and ensure state, regional, county and town data is considered along with our own data when making decisions that represent changed COVID-related practices. I should also note that we have determined it is premature to return to our on-campus Family Barbecue this September, but we will be happy to support any of our residences that would like to host a small get-together with their families.

It is very nice to note that it has been several weeks since we have had a COVID-positive staff and even longer for those that reside in our (their) homes. In addition, and again on a positive note, our folks will be heading to Bethel Woods for outdoor concerts this summer, trekking to local parks, taking planned vacations, and checking out some local fairs. Also, our Supported Employment (SEMP) department has picked up a new contract with Cornell Cooperative, has finalized two hires with the Forestburgh Playhouse, will be providing services to the Emerald Green HOA in Rock Hill and has developed a relationship with The Boy Scout Association to provide services to their Forestburgh camp for the 2022 season.

Hope you’re enjoying our beautiful weather! Please stay well and may you be able to make the very most of our summer season!



An Update Message 



As spring continues to warm and bloom and COVID-related restrictions increasingly ease, there is true hope in the air as we wrap up the month of May. COVID statistics are consistently dropping throughout our country, state, county and town and it is amazing to experience life each day that feels a bit more “like it was” pre-COVID. That said, in our service world of OPWDD, we continue many careful protocols that are stricter than that of the CDC and New York State to ensure the optimal and continued health and safety of all those we support. But – we HAVE arrived at a place where our one-hour visitation policy in our residences can now be lifted – cause for celebration, indeed!

So – effective today, visitation hours are between the hours of 9am – 7pm and are not limited by an hourly cap. We do request that, if you are visiting for longer than one hour, you do your best to spend time outside the home (i.e., take fun treks into the community, take walks on our campus or find a place to just gather in the great outdoors). This will help us keep the flow of people in each home to a steady, manageable rhythm and allow you and your family member to enjoy life beyond the residence. All visits still need to be pre-arranged at least 24 hours in advance and OPWDD COVID protocols will still be followed (i.e., temps taken, questions answered, etc.).

I trust this change will enable many of you to arrange a long-awaited visit and we are so thrilled to see these connections happen!

On another note, as we head into Memorial Day weekend, I would like to take a moment to honor all the men and women in the U.S. military, who gave their lives in service to our country. What a gift and true blessing to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Be well and we look forward to seeing you at our door!



An Update Message 



I am happy to share some updates as per OPWDD released guidance of 05/17/2021. This is very good news and a positive step forward.

Effective as of 05/17/2021:

  • As of May 2021, over 85% of individuals with I/DD who reside in certified facilities throughout NYS have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Fully vaccinated is defined as being 2 or more weeks after the final dose of the vaccine.
  • Individuals who have been fully vaccinated will not be prohibited from visiting their loved ones on or offsite as a result of exposure, so long as they remain asymptomatic.
  • Restrictions for community outings from certified residential facilities will only be for unvaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated individuals shall not participate in community outings if any individual or staff member working in the home is suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, individuals with exposure to COVID-19 and who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must isolate themselves and should be clinically evaluated for COVID-19.
  • Irrespective of quarantine statues, all individuals will continue to have daily health screening checks and follow all precautions- frequent hand washing, sanitizing, etc. Homes will continue to be sanitized as we have been doing since the start. All staff are required to wear a facemask at all times while at work, regardless of their vaccination status and will continue to undergo daily health screening checks.

Please reach out to your family member’s House Manager if you need any clarification.

I trust everyone is enjoying the warm weather and appreciating the widening of our world as many businesses, venues and activities begin to open up and expand their hours and/or capacity. It’s truly wonderful to begin experiencing a greater sense of connection!

Be well!



An Update Message 



Spring is here and we are all enjoying the warming temperatures and the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. Last year at this time we were grappling with a pandemic caused by a new, and little understood, coronavirus. Fast forward to Spring 2021. We know a lot more, have responded by implementing an incredible array of life changes, and are moving through a nationwide vaccination process with the availability of several different vaccines. We are hopeful as our world carefully reopens and eager to regain so much of the direct human contact that has been lost. But – we remain mindful that COVID-19 is still in our midst and we are not out of the woods – yet. With this in mind, please note the following COVID-19 related updates:

Family Visits

While we continue to discourage visits for the safety of our individuals, we do recognize the importance of relationships and the value of spending time together. Please continue to work closely with your family member’s House Manager to ensure the following visit protocols are followed:

  • Visits must be scheduled no less than 24 hours in advance with the residence
  • Visitors are limited to two (2) and must be over the age of 18
  • Visits will be limited to one hour
  • Outdoor visits are encouraged (now that the weather is nicer feel free to take a walk or sit on the benches) if this is not possible, visits may occur in an individual’s bedroom
  • Visits may only occur if the residence is not under quarantine or isolation


We have enjoyed a very positive partnership with Garnet Health Medical Center and Walgreens and held several vaccine clinics on our main campus, January – March. Currently, 94% of our residents have received their vaccination. We continue to work with the remaining families and individuals to complete this necessary medical vaccination for the safety of both individuals and staff. Likewise, we continue to encourage all staff to complete the vaccination process and have initiated multiple incentive programs to support their participation and to say a very sincere “thank you”.  We understand there is vaccine hesitancy and we are working hard to speak to this concern in a meaningful way, while also noting that until we reach our own herd immunity, we will continue to move through the cycle of quarantines and/or isolation and remain limited in our ability to come together as a New Hope family.

Here’s some data as of 3.20.2021:

Overall staff vaccinated (Residential and Administrative staff)

First dose             29.5%

Second dose       24.3%

Direct Support Professionals (DSP’s):

First dose             26%

Second dose       21%

NOTE: More than 30 additional DSPs have scheduled a vaccination post 3.20. We have assigned one of our nurses as a vaccination point-person to assist with staff vaccination scheduling. But clearly, as these numbers indicate, much more progress is needed on this front.


I cannot end this update without, once again, extending my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our staff who continue to extend dedicated efforts each day, to providing caring, quality supports within a safe environment. This has been a long haul for all of us and many are beyond weary. But our purpose is not forgotten and our commitment to all those we have the privilege to support remains strong. Please consider sharing a word of thanks to our staff the next time you call. I know it will mean the world to them!

Be well – stay safe,


An Update Message 


I trust this update finds all our very dear readers, healthy and safe. As we come to the close of 2020 we are processing both the continued ravages of COVID-19 throughout our country and region while simultaneously sensing a feeling of hope as vaccinations are administered to priority groups of essential workers and vulnerable populations (our service sector is included in Phase 1A of this roll-out).

Since mid-December, New Hope Community has been working with Walgreens and Catskill Regional Medical Center (now known as Garnet Health Medical Center – Catskills [our Medical Director]) to set up a vaccination schedule for our residents and our direct support staff. Thanks to an incredible, collaborative effort spearheaded by our Health Services Director, Karen Kerendian and our COO, Karen Russell, we have just commenced a vaccination clinic schedule through Garnet.

We had our first group of individuals from our ICF’s and IRA’s along with a small group of staff and nurses receive their vaccinations at Garnet, today (look for some great pics on our FB page – www.facebook.com/newhope1975 . Garnet has also carved out two additional all-day clinics and one partial-day clinic set up for early next week (it is expected that 100+ people will be vaccinated each full clinic day). We will also be broadening our vaccination efforts with Walgreens which will be providing dates and times for vaccinations at New Hope in the very near future. These combined efforts should place us within a robust process that optimizes resident and staff access to a vaccination in a very timely manner. All those vaccinated at this point in time, will be receiving the Moderna vaccine.

All related notifications, protocols, etc. will be communicated to all involved family members via our Health Care Services (nursing) department and in conjunction with our Residential program. All necessary details will flow through this chain. We highly encourage all families and staff to learn more about the benefits of receiving the vaccination. You may find information here: https://forward.ny.gov/covid-19-vaccine-distribution.

Research data is documenting a vaccine efficacy of approximately 95%. This is truly amazing when you look at the average efficacy of our flu vaccines (about 67%). It also eclipses the gold standard previously set by our measles vaccine at an 83% efficacy rate. It is believed the approved vaccines will also prove effective against the newest strain of the virus most recently identified.

This is an important step in building our state of “protective health” and I am thrilled our vaccinations are underway. For anyone in our New Hope family reading this that has been vaccinated – “congratulations”!

May we all enter 2021 in a higher state of peace, health and wellbeing. It is simply wonderful to feel hopeful for our future, once again!

Happy New Year!

Warmest regards,



An Update Message 


We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 status on a daily basis.  As per NYS Regional Dashboard, within Sullivan County, we currently have a 7-day positivity rate of 8.1%, with a 9.1% positivity rate yesterday. As was predicted, we have all seen a spike in positive cases post-Thanksgiving.  Within New Hope, we currently have 4 homes on quarantine and 1 home on isolation.  We have experienced both staff and individuals testing positive.  Thankfully, each one is recovering.

The most positive news this week is the availability of a vaccine.  NY State has determined that people living in any type of OPWDD residence, as well as the staff that support them, will be included in “Phase 1A” of the distribution plan. We have been in contact with our distributing pharmacy and are awaiting our date to start the vaccination process. We expect this to be within the next few weeks.

Please continue to visit the New Hope Community website for information regarding the vaccine. We will be sending out notifications when updates are available.  To ensure accurate information dissemination, we ask that you speak with the nursing department directly for any questions you may have or obtain your information and known facts from reputable sites such as the CDC, FDA and NYS Department of Health.

The vaccines are given in two doses, generally 3 – 4 weeks apart. Side effects that may occur include the following:

  • Soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Tiredness, headache or muscle/joint pain
  • Chills or fever
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • General illness

These side effects can occur and it lets a person know their body is building up immunity to the COVID-19 virus. You do not get the Corona Virus from the vaccines.

We will require consent in order to administer the vaccine, so our nurses will be reaching out to you.  We also ask that you download the consent forms below and provide us your written consent.  These should be mailed back to your family member’s nurse.

You can find more information about the phased-in approach to vaccine distribution here. https://forward.ny.gov/covid-19-vaccine-distribution

At this time, I’d like to alert you to some materials we have made available to help you understand the vaccine distribution process and what it means for you. These include a video explaining the vaccine and a plain language document. All the materials about the COVID-19 vaccine will be found on the OPWDD COVID-19 webpage.

We encourage families, individuals and staff to consider taking the vaccine to help put an end to this pandemic. Protect yourself and others, and let’s all move forward together.

Stay well, and may you find peace in this holiday season.

Karen Russell, MSW, MJ, CHC
Vice President of Clinical and Regulatory Operations.

CONSENT FORM – Walgreens COVID-19 Vaccine LTCF / VAR

FINAL Dec 13 Information for Healthcare Providers

An Update Message 


While the holidays are a time for gathering and celebrating, this year is different.  We are all still grateful, but perhaps good health tops the list this year when we express our thanks.   At New Hope Community, we have created extensive protocols to see us through until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all continuing to face this crisis together.  Individuals we support, staff and families are all at risk if we allow ourselves to give in to pandemic fatigue.  We know this is a difficult and trying time.

We ask our staff to limit their holiday gatherings, in accordance with NYS guidelines.  We also ask our families to reconsider home visits, until a safer time.  If you must bring your family member to your home, there will be a safety process that must be followed upon their return to NHC.  This process will be discussed with family members by House Managers prior to pick-up.

Unfortunately, a gentleman we support tested positive for COVID-19 this week.  This has been our first case since May.  Isolation protocols are in place, and he is doing well.  We are awaiting the results for another individual, in a separate home. Over the last few weeks, several staff members have tested positive in various locations.  Like the rest of New York State, Sullivan County has been experiencing an increase in positive cases. The Governor and the NYS Department of Health (DOH) have begun to identify geographic areas with higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission, referred to as “hot spots,” “clusters,” and “micro clusters.” The risk of transmission is characterized by three colors (red, orange and yellow) and the level of mitigation management is increased as geographic areas demonstrate higher rates of infection and move along the continuum from yellow to orange to red. Programs and facilities certified or operated by OPWDD, located within such designated geographic areas, will immediately be subject to additional mitigation and oversight measures. These restrictions would include suspension of programs and no visitation.

Finally, let’s be kind to one another and have patience.  Our staff are working tirelessly to continue to provide support and are planning wonderful holiday celebrations in every program.  COVID is not over, but we are an NHC family and continue to be strong.

Wishing you a very healthy and safe Thanksgiving.




An Update Message 


At New Hope Community, we remain vigilant against the pandemic health crisis we all face.  It is vital that we continue to collaborate and work together for the safety of the individuals we support, our staff, and all of our families.   While we battle this virus, we also continue to move forward.  Our services are strong, we have some exciting new initiatives and our Sensory Garden is moving from a vision to a reality.

There is some new guidance that has been issued by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) regarding certified facilities located within certain geographic zones designated as high COVID-19 positivity clusters. The mitigation measures outlined in each became effective Sunday, October 25th at 3pm, and are part of Governor Cuomo’s data-based strategy of aggressively responding to micro-clusters in order to limit COVID-19 spread via the Cluster Action Initiative (links below).  At this time, NHC is not in a designated cluster.  However, we are poised to respond should the need arise.

As of this writing, home visits and community outings are still allowable to the extent they may be exercised safely and in compliance with all previously issued guidance. Should our geographic area become a designated red or orange cluster area, we would then be required to limit in-person visits once again.  We are hopeful that these additional restrictions will be extremely time-limited and will help ensure the health and safety of all individuals who live within these areas, as well as their families and the staff who support them.  There is a link to this information below as well.

Sullivan County has experienced an increase in COVID-19 this month, and so has New Hope Community.  Two staff members have tested positive, the first positive cases since May.  All protocols are in place and we are confident in our containment measures.  As we approach the Holiday season,   we ask everyone to be mindful of their health and safety practices.  Limit the size of social gatherings and avoid unnecessary exposure through travel and social visits.  Don’t let pandemic fatigue place yourself, your families and others at risk.  This is a team effort and we value each and every person in the New Hope Family.

Finally, thank you.  Your continued support and advocacy is so important.  Stay well and enjoy our beautiful fall season.

Karen Russell

Vice President of Clinical and Regulatory Operations

Interim COVID-19 Guidance: Designated Cluster Mitigation and Oversight

Health Advisory: All Residential Congregate Facilities

New York Forward Cluster Action Initiative


A Weekly Update Message 



I am happy to introduce our Art Coordinator, Sue Petry, as our guest author today. Sue has been incredibly creative in supporting our New Hope family with a myriad of fun, engaging projects and activities throughout these many COVID-19 months.

On another note, today’s update will mark the last, specific to an “every Friday” website update. Moving forward we will be posting updates in real-time that represent key changes or other news of note. Notification of new updates will always be posted on our FB page and I hope you will continue to stay tuned to all that is going on within our vibrant community. We so appreciate that you care about us and support us!

Also, even though New Hope Community has been COVID-19 negative since early May, Sullivan County has had a handful of cases scattered throughout the summer. To stay on top of the bigger picture, remember you can always visit: https://forward.ny.gov/percentage-positive-results-county-dashboard to see the latest regional and county data. Be assured, we continue to be very diligent in our safety protocols when going into the community and are confident we are upholding optimal health and safety levels.

As always, please continue to stay safe and be well!


I remember the last day that we had programming here at New Hope. It was Friday, March 13; I saved the daily memo as a reminder. I was both worried and sad, not knowing when I could work with our group again; hear them laugh, watch them create and enjoy their company. My name is Susan Petry and I am the Art Coordinator at New Hope Community.

After the dust settled a bit, I decided to use this opportunity to get everything organized and taken care of in the studio. With help from the maintenance crew, they got the classroom painted and the floors stripped and waxed, while I got every nook and cranny cleaned and organized. During this time we had received a large donation of craft supplies. The items were cleaned, separated and distributed to all the houses based on individual preferences. I also included instructions on how to use the raw materials, like how to arrange silk flowers, make jewelry with beads and pipe cleaners and many other ideas. The LAC and WOW supervisors were wonderful and delivered all of the bags to the designated houses. Once all of this went out to the homes, I wondered how we were going to keep this momentum going.

I spoke with Debbie McGinness, CEO, and I wrote up an order for basic art supplies that would go out to each of the houses. This included paper, paint, wreath blanks, scratch art paper, oil pastels, construction paper, collage materials and yarn. Debbie presented it to the NHC Foundation and they approved the proposal and agreed to supply funding for the supplies. Each house on campus got a big bag of art supplies a short time later.

Once again, trying to keep the momentum going and presenting options for daily activities, I sought out Pinterest. Now let me explain that I’m a bit of an art snob and Pinterest is not a place that I would normally go to for ideas, but I must say that I found wonderful games and projects that I was able to share daily with the homes. Another option, also not on my list of favorites, was sending coloring sheets out daily – the residents loved them. I had to laugh every time someone would email and ask for native coloring pages, or animals, Star Wars, Harry Potter. I would then find them online and email them out.

To further get everyone involved, we started having contests. The first contest was to create a fairy garden. Every day I sent out new ideas on how to build and decorate. After about 4 weeks, a group of us went out to the homes to judge. The first prize winner got a pizza party. But each group did such a wonderful job that Sam, Day Services Coordinator, thought they should all get a prize and every participating house got a big plate of cookies. Our second contest was creating birdhouses. That was also well received and beautifully done.

Shortly after the last contest, we got word that LAC and WOW would begin having program again within COVID guidelines. It is wonderful to be working with everyone again. We’ve discovered new interests and new talent within the current groups.  While many things were left unfinished when this pandemic started, many more things were born, illuminating our strength and creativity.




A Weekly Update Message 


Good morning!

This week I have the pleasure of introducing our Facility Manager, Brian McPhillips.  He and his maintenance team are excellent examples of flexibility, expertise, commitment, teamwork and support as they remained steadfast during the pandemic.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!


Here is to hoping this article finds everyone in the best of health. These past few months have been ever-changing, testing each department and personnel to rise to the occasion of fully performing our duties. Utilizing our abilities and overstepping obstacles no one saw coming, we complete our responsibilities seamlessly and it is an accomplishment everyone in this agency should be proud of.

As the Facility Manager with a crew of 17, we are the support system to the agency. We may not always be seen or heard, but our fingerprints are engraved into the agency in order to make it run as smoothly as possible. We take pride in being the foundation of a system that relies on our performance in assisting others and we have all given of ourselves to obtain these goals.

We faced many obstacles during the outbreak. Our department went from shifting our workload from daily work orders to preparations of safety for the people we support and staff. We created quarantine zones in the homes with potential exposures, creating temporary zones for staff to safely enter, don protective equipment before entering the homes. We created a COVID ward in the main building in case the people we support needed to be monitored in a single location. Thankfully this was never used.

We shifted out of the homes and would only enter on extreme safety needs only. We focused on exterior issues or preventative maintenance cycles that sometimes take a back seat due to the daily demands. Cleaning staff shifted from homes to more hands on deck in the main building. Our goal was to provide disinfecting actions for all that still reported to work in Maxie’s Place. The crew circled the building daily cleaning bathrooms, door handles, light switches and anything else that could harbor this unknown virus.

We worked closely with residential staff to stem off the panic of not finding paper towels and toilet paper. Keeping a close eye on what was happening around the world in December with the virus in Europe, we started buying paper towels and toilet paper in bulk just in case. When the panic hit our local shelves we had well over 3,000 rolls of paper product. We would do weekly inventory with the homes and ration out product.

We had to stop many projects mid-construction in order to prevent outside people from entering and potentially exposing our individuals to the virus. The Sensory Garden project was put on hold as the contractors themselves weren’t working in order to stay safe. Bathrooms and kitchens under construction stopped mid-work and the houses had to adjust to those conditions.

Since the pandemic has seemly been better understood with efforts at containment, our jobs are still ever-shifting. Finding materials for projects, from appliances to lumber, have been pushed so far out of production cycle or are so severely back-ordered, our timelines for completion are constantly being adjusted. We are adjusting projects depending on what product we can actually obtain for the workweek.

Although these were scary times with unknowns everywhere, I am proud to lead a team that showed up each and every day, ready to assist and perform whatever was asked of us, with no complaints just the desire to support.  This was a time that teamwork was the only way we would prevail. We not only prevailed, but I think we all became better people, better departments and better co-workers closely knit in the fabric that is New Hope.

Brian McPhillips

Facility Manager


A Weekly Update Message 



I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe and well!

This week I am happy to introduce Donna Fischer, Director of Marketing & Communications as this week’s website update author.  Read how she and her team remained creative and flexible while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic journey.


The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated change for so many.  How we choose to navigate these changes fosters learning, growth and the realization of positive outcomes.  The Marketing & Communications Department had to pivot on daily routines, meetings, planned events and communications.  We were tasked with creating a new “normal” for what is typically a well-oiled machine. Small, but mighty, the department is led by myself as Director.  Christina Seti is our Communications Coordinator and Rohan Patrick is our Marketing & Digital Strategist.   A deadline-driven department, we are responsible for both external and internal communications, but a lot of what we do is “behind the scenes”.

As a team, we knew that the months facing us were not going to be business as usual.

It was evident that outward-facing communication would become more critical as we kept friends and families informed with the most up-to-date New Hope information conveying new protocols, processes and regulations that were put in place by OPWDD.  A well thought out execution plan was put in place to distribute the weekly website update, authored by Debbie McGinness, CEO.

Keeping the people we support busy and engaged during quarantine warrants much creativity. Our Direct Support Professionals were amazing by documenting the creative ways in which they were spending their time and sharing those photos with us.  While families were unable to visit their loved ones, collecting, categorizing and sharing these photos became a priority.  Facebook and the Community Insider newsletter became a critical vehicle to communicate and share with families and friends.

Acknowledging the dedication, commitment and tireless work of our Direct Support Professionals and staff was a priority.  Through the generosity of the NHC Foundation, our department took the lead on sourcing gifts for the staff that would show both appreciation and recognition of their hard work.  A large “Heroes Work Here” banner was designed by Rohan, produced and placed roadside in front of the main building.  In addition, individual Hero lawn signs were produced and delivered to each of our homes.  To ease the drying hands that were continually sanitized and washed, over 450 bottles of hand lotion were sourced and purchased, including the gift packaging.  Each individual gift package was delivered to each staff member in every home and program.  We also sourced, designed and purchased specialty New Hope Community branded window decals that read: Not All Heroes Wear Capes.  In fact, we have proven that they don’t!  Again, once packaged, all decals were delivered to every staff member.  Lastly, through the generosity and coordination of our Farm/Greenhouse staff Megan, Sophia and Anthony, flowering plants were donated and distributed to each of our residences.

The planning of all New Hope Community events lies within our department and is led by Christina.  It became evident early on that our Employee Recognition Brunch that was scheduled for April 26th would not be able to take place.  This was the first event where we were forced to reimagine while still honoring and recognizing our staff who are so well deserving.  Although we couldn’t all meet in one location, hand out awards, distribute gifts and peruse the bios of honored staff in the journal, Christina ensured that gifts, awards and journals were delivered to each individual, honored staff.

One of our most recognized community events, the Annual Wallace Berkowitz Golf Outing, originally scheduled for May 18 was the second event that would be affected by the pandemic.  Our largest fundraising event of the year, we were faced with rescheduling to October 5th.  With restrictions on social gathering numbers, golf cart sharing and food service, this event also needed to be completely reimagined.  We began planning for a smaller number of golfers, ensured golf cart ridership would be in-line with regulations. We reworked the lunch BBQ so that the venue staff were serving and were the only ones touching utensils. And we had to cancel the award ceremony dinner.  Although the outing will be different this year, it’s still going to be a great day benefiting the needed improvements to our Stables at McCoy Meadow.

As many of you are aware, we made the difficult decision to not hold our beloved Annual Family BBQ this year.  It was an especially difficult realization that we could not hold this event, considering this is our 45th anniversary year.  We executed a plan and reached out to friends, families, staff, board members and people we support to contribute to the compilation of photos and favorites memories of past Family BBQs in what will be a Collection of Family BBQ Memories book.  It is a way to stay connected while taking a look back at how our friends and families have shared, grown and changed.  It will be a wonderful way to celebrate together while we’re apart.

The perseverance and resilience of this amazing community continues to serve as a bright spot throughout it all.  We’re in this together, serving as a support system to lift each other while embarking on unchartered ground.

Best of health,

Donna Fischer


A Weekly Update Message 



This week I am happy to introduce Taylor Van Keuren our Athletics Coordinator as the author of today’s website update.  He will share with you creative and fun ways in which he remained flexible and adapted his programming to keep the people we support active during the past several months.

Hope everyone is remaining safe and well.



My name is Taylor Van Keuren, Athletics Coordinator here at New Hope Community. I am writing this letter with an optimistic view toward the coming months. Early on in this global crisis, there was a sense of uncertainty as information changed seemingly day to day. However, as we tend to do at New Hope, we pulled together to bring stability to the people we support.

As the pandemic drew on, a group from the Recreation and Maintenance Departments helped to deliver exercise bikes to the homes. We thought it was important to give the people we support easy access to indoor exercise equipment, with quarantine in effect and the weather being less than cooperative. Other activities offered in the early months included “Movie Club” (a weekly Zoom meeting where DSPs and the people we support would explore each other’s favorite films) and an at-home Special Olympics competition. The competition spanned three months from May to July. From a selection of a dozen athletic events including push-ups to vertical jump to a twenty-five step sprint, athletes were able to choose four.   Athletes from all over the state, including a handful from our very own NHC Knights, worked hard each week to improve their scores in their chosen events. As anyone who has worked out from home should know, it can be difficult to find motivation when stuck inside, but these athletes pushed on. Eventually, the competition concluded with a massive Zoom celebration and a display of the final results.

As of late, our on-campus pool has been a popular place for programs to utilize for movement and relaxation. Groups from on and off-campus have been by nearly every day to swim and catch some sun, but not without strict social distancing and sanitizing protocols in place. Along with the pool, groups have also been hitting the driving range at Swan Lake.  While the Special Olympics of New York gears back up for limited competition, the Knights are back to having one-on-one lessons at the golf course. The golfers are ecstatic to be back, showing so much willingness to take their work home with them and improve on their own time.

In a final bit of good news, New York State has announced that gyms will be allowed to open next week, Monday, August 24th. We are currently working on a viable set of guidelines for which we can use to open our fitness facilities here on campus. Employees and the people we support will soon have a safe place to exercise again, which I’m sure is both necessary and overdue for the devoted members of our NHC team. I am heartened by the steady progress that is being made and cannot wait for what is to come!




A Weekly Update Message 



Another week continues to find our New Hope family safe, well and actively involved in visitation and phased-in programmatic activities. We are so thankful to be maintaining our COVID-19 free environment within New Hope Community and our residents and program participants, all staff, and all family and friends of New Hope deserve a big “thank you” for being so steadfast, so flexible and so strong! This week I have the pleasure of announcing another guest author. Lisa Merritt-Smith is our Director of Human Resources and I know you will enjoy an update that shares information from another important corner of our New Hope world.

Stay safe and be well!

Many have heard encouraging adages such as “when life throws you lemons, you take them and make lemonade” or “one cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs”.  Both of these point out that sometimes things may not work the way we want them to or sometimes things seem like a negative, but you should seek the opportunity to turn it into a positive.  However, in March, globally we all were faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, which would cause such notable proverbs to become a distant memory.  The pandemic would cause the Human Resources Department to strategize innovative means to not only maintain its primary roles of staffing, benefits, compensation and labor law compliance; but to now create new employee relations and resources.   I would not have been able to make these significant strides without such an awesome HR Team; Deb, Tasha and Ariella!

We had to step out of our comfort zone and shift recruitment from the normal in-person onboarding processing and adopt a virtual system to meet all of the needs for New Hope and the applicants. Because the face-to-face review of the onboarding paperwork with the applicant would no longer be an option, each field to be completed would be highlighted, signature pages would be flagged with “Sign Here” post-it flags and the use of emails and telephone calls would increase to ensure all steps were efficiently completed in a designated time period.  This new way of virtual recruiting and onboarding could not proficiently happen without “the Team”.  During this health crisis, we were able to hire 38 staff between April and August.

The Training Department revamped the new hire orientation, the Nursing Department demonstrated relentless support to administer PPDs and the numerous committed managers and devoted administrators all moved collectively in one accord with virtual interviews, continued candidate communications and non-stop processing until each candidate transitioned into a new hire employee.  It was so amazing to see individual departments come together as a united company.

Little did we know, this was only the beginning of higher hurdles to overcome.  A series of executive orders, regulations, compliance mandates all came requiring interpretation and understanding to proceed.  This would lead to new policies and protocols to be developed, implemented and communicated to all staff.  Human Resources has maintained a physical presence in the Administrative Building (5) days a week, without interruption due to the pandemic,  diligently tracking all employee COVID-19 activity and working with the Corporate Compliance and Nursing Departments consistently, as they work without ceasing to process all of the information that HR provided to them.  Together we achieved not only making sure that systems on all sides were in sync, but that all 600+ staff were knowledgeable of the steps that they had to take accordingly.   To do this, all up-to-date information was distributed via e-mail and via the splash page and S-comm in Therap (both are our internal electronic forms of communication for staff), with the assistance of Robyn from the Training Department and informative inserts placed in the Community Insider newsletter published by the  Marketing Department.  I truly am unable to emphasize enough that teamwork really does make the dream work!

While the virtual changes were successful, there was yet another hurdle that stood before us.  This was not just the physical aspect of the valuable, dedicated staff to report to work to provide the essential supports to the individuals that reside at New Hope, but the healthy emotional and mental well-being of the staff to perform once they did arrive to work.  I immediately reached out to the brokers of the NHC Health Plans and the Executive of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, who stepped up to the plate with a number of services and resources available to NHC employees.  Grief/bereavement and stress management are a couple of the highly utilized support services.  Both entities hit the ball out of the park with countless 24/7 virtual accommodations free of charge to obtain!  I just recently received an EAP report that showed a total of 137 employees utilized these services for the 2020 year through July 31, 2020.  Lastly, I mailed letters of encouragement to impacted employees as an added measure of support.

We are currently recruiting for available positions that provide flexible schedules, paid training and premium benefits.  If our purpose speaks to you, please connect with us, we’d love to have you join our team.  View all of our openings and apply today.

Eventually, we were all able to get over each hurdle and exhale long enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The lemonade from the lemons and the omelets from the broken eggs mentioned above is that we are not just New York Tough, but we are New Hope Strong!


Lisa M. Merritt-Smith
Director of Human Resources


A Weekly Update Message 



We’re continuing this week with another staff’s interesting details and updates regarding New Hope Community’s COVID-19 journey. Amy LeRoy is our Director of Staff Training and Development and I know all our readers will enjoy what she has to share! Hope everyone is continuing to be safe and well!

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get so consumed with the negative outcomes of our circumstances that we miss the silver lining. I will confess that I was one of those people as the realities of a COVID-19 shutdown closed in around me. The dilemma of ensuring training continued for 620 employees and the continuation of orientation for new staff was just a few of the training department’s concerns. As luck would have it, we were just a few weeks away from rolling out a new training platform that would allow staff to complete a variety of essential trainings through an on-line training platform. I am blessed to work with two very wonderful people, so Robyn, Muriel and I immediately got busy developing training tools that would introduce Relias to the organization. What was projected to take us up to 60 days to complete was successfully done in 3 weeks. As an agency, over the past five months, we have added 20 trainings (and still counting) to the Relias learning platform.  These trainings provide staff with the New Hope Community foundation for services.

Bringing new staff into the agency is always a priority and Relias has also assisted us with the new employee orientation process. We were able to take two days a month, with 8 new staff each day to allow for social distancing, provide them an overview, and send them to the homes and programs where they would have the benefit of both on-line and hands-on training. In the very near future, we will be meeting with them again to discuss their experiences and provide them additional tools to foster a successful career with the agency. To date, this has added 43 new staff to the agency that might not otherwise have been possible.

Although I have mentioned that the training department is comprised of fantastic people, I must also acknowledge the fact that everyone within the agency worked hard to come up with creative ways to adapt to “hands-off” training. Although we have a CPR module on Relias, it still didn’t cover someone’s ability to practice their skills using a mannequin. For two days we occupied the Multi-Purpose Room. We had a mannequin in each corner with an instructor who demonstrated and then observed the staff perform compressions. We had another instructor demonstrate breaths and then another instructor assist staff in performing the Heimlich on the “Choking Charlie” mannequin, ensuring that the mannequins were sanitized after each staff completed the training.  Medical services provided us with drape clothes that were modified to fit over “Choking Charlie” so that they could easily be thrown away after each use. This ingenuity and flexibility allowed the instructors to train over 100 staff who will be ready to assist in an emergency situation with the necessary skills to save a life.

The clinicians used Relias and Zoom to provide Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention training and then suited up to demonstrate and teach physical interventions to new staff who may find themselves in a situation where it would be needed. Respectfully supporting people who are in crisis is critically important to what we do.

Van testing too had modifications. Disposable steering wheel covers, gear shift covers and seat covers were purchased. After each driver completed the training, these items were disposed and the driver side of the vehicle was completely sanitized. The SUNY Sullivan campus provided a prime location for drivers to be put to the test.

When Relias wasn’t an option we looked to technology such as Zoom to provide essential training to new staff, assist with certification of medication pours, host self-advocate meetings, check-in with staff to provide encouragement and support, etc.

The silver lining mentioned earlier is witnessing the willingness of everyone in the agency to come together and create viable alternatives when it seemed impossible. Breaking out of the “we’ve always done it like this” mentality to discover new tools to educate and enhance learning that we had not considered before. But most importantly, we never lost sight of our mission statement. We rose to the challenge despite the obstacles the pandemic put before us, and with the efforts of all, we continue to strive to enhance the lives of the people we support.

Warm Regards,

Many of you received an e-mail yesterday with the details of our way to honor and celebrate our 45-year history.  Despite cancelling our Annual Family BBQ this year, a Collection of Family BBQ Memories will be compiled.

Please support and share copies of photos and stories from past Family BBQ’s.

Submit your photos, memories and stories via e-mail to the Marketing Department at marketing@newhopecommunity.org. If you should have any questions or need assistance, please contact Donna Fischer, Director of Marketing & Communications at 845-434-8300, ext. 244 or dfischer@newhopecommunity.org

Submission Deadline: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Accepted Image Formats: JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF, BITMAP

A Weekly Update Message 


This week I have the pleasure of introducing our Director of Clinical Services, Erin Rion as the author of today’s website update. She and her clinical team have been steadfast and flexible in supporting the needs of our residents and program participants over the last several months. They consistently adapt, in real-time, to ensure the highest level of clinical supports are still realized during these dynamically changing times.  ~ Debbie

American psychologist and researcher Al Siebert wrote: “When you are hit with life-disrupting events, you will never be the same again.  You either cope or you crumble; you become better or bitter; you emerge stronger or weaker.”  Our New Hope family has been a shining example of strength in the face of adversity and uncertainty.  Unshakable teamwork and limitless adaptability have given us an advantage in facing this new, unknown, and seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  As slivers of hope begin to emerge, we look inward to see how this worldwide pandemic has impacted staff and the individuals we support.

The nation’s collective mental health has reached a crisis point over the past several months, and our microcosm has certainly reflected this shift.  However, no matter how bleak the outlook, hope has continued to prevail in our community.  As a team, we have learned to cope with these massive worldwide changes by relying on each other, focusing on the positive, demonstrating flexibility, and practicing compassion.

We wouldn’t be where we are without the courage and leadership of our Direct Support staff.  From the first signs of alarm, DSPs reacted with compassion, bravery, and empathy.  They reassured the individuals we support, listened to their fears, and refocused their attention on fun household activities, all while dealing with their own personal struggles.  Medical staff never shied away from placing themselves on the front lines in order to provide excellent healthcare, while other support staff dealt with the confusion of being thrown into a work-from-home environment in a field that relies heavily on in-person interactions.  Our Clinical Department came together to develop a system of providing mental health services by using creative technologies and worked diligently to reach each individual for frequent check-ins during even the most stressful times.  We know that a feeling of uncertainty is one of the hardest emotions to process, so clinicians provided extra support to those individuals who have had a difficult time coping with recent events.

Each member of our New Hope team worked hard to make sudden changes and adapt to a crisis that was evolving by the day.  We often think of the impact of disrupted routines on folks with disabilities; however, all of us have been impacted by the uncertainty of the past several months.  It is a testament to the leadership of New Hope that we have remained as one united force in the face of unprecedented change.

In these most recent days, we have once again been hit by a new wave of changes as day programs have reopened, supported work has resumed, and visits have been permitted.  These developments are all positive signs that our diligence in practicing safety measures has been paying off, but even positive change can be difficult to acclimate to.  At first glance it may seem like “getting back to normal” is going to bring about a sense of relief and calm to the folks we support, but those of us in direct care can attest that all transition times are challenging, even those transitions that are intended to restore normalcy.

With the future in limbo, the upcoming weeks and months are sure to introduce more changes and challenges.  Many things are uncertain, but I am sure that if we continue to work together as a team, we truly can make it through any hardships that may arise.


Many of you received an e-mail yesterday with the details of our way to honor and celebrate our 45-year history.  Despite cancelling our Annual Family BBQ this year, a Collection of Family BBQ Memories will be compiled.

Please support and share copies of photos and stories from past Family BBQ’s.

Submit your photos, memories and stories via e-mail to the Marketing Department at marketing@newhopecommunity.org. If you should have any questions or need assistance, please contact Donna Fischer, Director of Marketing & Communications at 845-434-8300, ext. 244 or dfischer@newhopecommunity.org

Submission Deadline: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Accepted Image Formats: JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF, BITMAP


A Weekly Update Message 


Greetings! We have had another productive week here at New Hope Community as everyone adjusts to our recent programmatic changes. I thought it would be a nice change for all our readers this week, to receive a message from Terence Duncan, our Assist. VP of Program Operations in charge of Residential, Day Services/Day Habilitation and Supported Employment (SEMP). He and his team are doing a fantastic job navigating a multitude of changes and supporting our New Hope family.

Enjoy the updates – stay safe – stay well! Debbie

Hello, my name is Terence Duncan and I am the Assistant Vice President of Program Operations.  I first would like to thank my entire team of Directors, Coordinators, all levels of front line management, and most importantly our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).  We have fought this pandemic head-on and have experienced incredible results in every department due to their first-class professionalism and leadership.  I have never been more proud of the teams I represent today then in my entire 25 year career in this amazing field.

This week marked an extremely challenging, yet well-coordinated, soft opening for our Day Services. Site-based and non-site based groups began to reshape, in accordance with our guidance from OPWDD, to keep homes together and in small groups.  Our campus lends itself to wonderful spaces that we took full advantage of to use for programming. We are able to keep people distant and provide meaningful activities to people who were craving to get back.  Our WithOut Walls group began on the same path, taking advantage of visiting local parks and all the beautiful Catskill Mountains have to offer.  They even got to have a drive-through experience at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY (near Binghamton). They are also making deliveries of fresh produce from Hope Farm to our homes. We continue to be very mindful of the activities we choose in the community to avoid large crowded areas. As we progress through our next steps and plan more activities, we should be back to serving all the people we support, in these programs, in the very near future.

This week also marked the first full week of offsite family visits.  We have to date a total of 209 scheduled visits. When given the guidance from OPWDD, our residential team jumped into action to develop very diligent safety protocols.  Our goal was to have this initiative executed on time and to have all management trained with the knowledge and tools to help families make the safest decisions with their loved ones. With only a few days to put this in place, the residential team again rose to the occasion. In addition, we had to work in new guidance to our existing community outing protocols.  While Sullivan County’s seven day rolling average for COVID-19 positive test results are less than 1%, we continue to work our way back into our community slowly and adhere to strict health monitoring to ensure everyone’s safety.

Supported Employment took its next steps as well.  We have returned to 90% of our janitorial contracts and the people we support are happy to be making money again.  In addition, we have begun to re-open our car wash for our vast fleet of vehicles.  Two people were very excited to return to their work at Hope Farm this week. Our Head Farmer, Megan, says she has never seen them more focused on their tasks and they are having a blast.   I would like to note that when our contracts and other jobs were closed down, our Employment Specialists kept in contact with their SEMP employees through weekly Zoom meetings that consisted of watching and discussing work-related videos.  In addition, other Employment Specialists began working in our homes alongside our day program DSPs.  Their willingness to switch roles and adapt their responsibilities was so helpful to many.

This whole experience really shows how New Hope’s resolve weaves through all of its programs, staff, and people served.  I am thankful to be part of this team and I look forward to more growth and development in the future.



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


This has been a very busy week for everyone at New Hope Community! Each day has been filled with interdepartmental meetings, leadership meetings, team meetings, creation and completion of new protocols, documentation, environmental modification installs and residential and Day Hab/Day Services staff training. I just have to give a huge round of applause to our New Hope team. A team that consistently has a “can do” attitude, a collaborative spirit and a zeal for positive progress. It could not be more evident – together we can do just about anything!

This past Thursday (7/16) we rolled out a soft opening of Day Hab/Day Services. We are blessed to have physical spaces that lend themselves to spreading out among many wings of the main building, our barn, our re-purposed art studio cottage and much more. We have everything in place (right down to the arrows on our floors directing a singular flow of foot traffic) to support a safe, organized process that follows OPWDD guidelines, to date. It’s only the second day – but so far so good – and everyone is truly happy to re-start a rhythm that ceased several months ago.  Hats off to:  Sam, Bethany, Danielle, Shiniqua, Jess and Ginette.  Terence and many of his residential staff were also key to making this happen.

Families have also begun home visitations. We are cheering on this front as well, but also adhering to strict safety and health protocols within this broadened landscape. We are doing everything possible to keep our New Hope family in a negative COVID-19 space and ask that our families stay diligent in practicing self-care and consistent in upholding practices that include: social distancing, use of masks, limiting of community trips (open, outdoor spaces best) and limited interactions with others outside your family unit (no parties, social gatherings, etc.). If during a home visit your family member shows signs of illness, please notify us immediately so that we may develop a plan, prior to a return to the residence. We need to seamlessly work as a team and so appreciate your cooperation. Clearly, progress is being experienced, but by no means are we on the other side of COVID-19 and it’s important for all of us to stay mindful of that fact.

Our Community Insider newsletter was distributed today and I hope you have a chance to read it. In particular, I trust you will read my column that speaks to the value of family advocacy and our need to join together as we responsibly respond to proposed changes within our sector. I will be sharing more information on this front in the coming weeks and months and look forward to hearing from you. As always, your voice matters!

Have a great weekend. Stay safe – stay well!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


As some may already be aware, OPWDD Commissioner Kastner distributed updated guidance this past Friday evening specific to: a) interim guidance regarding the reopening of day services certified by OPWDD, b) home visits for individuals residing in OPWDD certified residential facilities, c) reintroduction of individuals to certified residences after extended home visits, and d) interim guidance regarding community outings for individuals residing in OPWDD certified residential facilities*.

New Hope Community leadership immediately communicated Friday evening and are currently moving through a series of inter-departmental meetings to create all necessary protocols, environmental modifications and related staff trainings.

Welcome news but news that carries with it a high level of planning and a very careful eye to implementation that fully supports optimal health and safety.



*Guidance can be referenced through:






A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


This past weekend was filled with more fun and positive family visits. To date, we have had a total of 156 visits scheduled and staff are loving their role in supporting this F2F connection. Present protocols for visitation will continue to remain in place for the present time. This decision is based on three key factors: 1) OPWDD/DOH have not provided any new guidance that would allow changes to visitation, 2) our summer population in the town of Fallsburg and surrounding areas has swelled to a number approximately six times greater than that of our year-round residential population and density of people in public places and the inconsistency of safe practices (adherence to social distancing and use of face masks) indicates the need to maintain strict outing guidelines, and 3) COVID-19 statistics nationwide are continuously reminding us that we are still in the first COVID wave and the virus is still very much in our midst. New Hope Community has maintained a COVID-19 free status since 5.10.20 and we are committed to doing our very best to keep it that way!

On this note, I need to share that we have determined it would not be safe for New Hope Community to hold its Annual Family BBQ this year.

Although Sullivan County and our Mid-Hudson region is holding strong with low COVID-19 stats, COVID-driven data nationwide is proving this pandemic is far from over. The resurgence in many states is demonstrating that group gatherings and a break in adherence to social distancing and/or mask-wearing, continues to fuel a dangerously high level of exposure/transmission risk. We do not believe it is realistic for us to be able to confirm the health status of all attendees, inter-state travel paths of attendees pre-barbecue, maintain consistent social distancing, and ensure the wearing of masks as needed, for and during this type of event.

Despite cancelling our BBQ and in light of the fact that this is our 45th anniversary year, we do want to take the opportunity to celebrate our history with a stroll down memory lane. In the next few weeks we will be asking board members, family members, and staff to share copies of photos, as well as stories, from past Family BBQ’s which we’ll creatively curate and post on our website, September 13th (which is when we would have held this year’s BBQ). Taking a look back at how our friends and families have shared, grown and changed will be a wonderful way to celebrate together while we’re apart. Please stay tuned for more info and know we will be putting lots of positive energy into this important project.

Also, please note, we all realize how much everyone looks forward to this get-together and we will ensure our staff are prepared to support our residents as they respond to this news. We will be encouraging each residence to discover their own special way to celebrate this day (short of having a F2F family gathering). I encourage everyone to get those creative juices flowing!

I’m sure this news doesn’t come as a big surprise, but I know it still represents a deep disappointment as this has always been a much-loved event. Bottom line, this decision speaks to putting emotions to the side and staying true to a data-driven decision making process. We will always put the health and safety of our New Hope family first!

I have consistently shared that New Hope is strong, resilient, creative, committed and very much connected as a family. This will be different – but we will still make it special.

Be well – stay safe!

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community is enjoying a livelier hum these days! There is still much more we look forward to resuming, but that’s not stopping us from celebrating each step of progress along the way. It gives me great pleasure to share that since visitation began on June 19th, families have scheduled 125 visits (and counting) with their loved ones – and we are so very happy to both support and witness many beautiful reunions. One of our families was highlighted in a recent news article at: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/new-york/2020/07/01/new-york-program-cuts-developmental-disabilities/3244131001/. With this article there’s a great short video interview and photos of New Hope resident Amara Morgulas (photos 8 & 9) visiting with her mom and brother. And these are the important things in life that make us smile and feel thankful!

Although New Hope Community has maintained a negative COVID-19 presence since May 10th, this virus is still wreaking havoc throughout the country. Many states that were late or lax in responding to necessary safety protocols are now paying the price with COVID-19 spikes. Thankfully, New York continues to stay stable. Our Mid-Hudson region currently has a 1.1% rate of positive test results. As of July 2nd, Sullivan County had 1 positive out of 158 tests (.6%). So current trending is consistently very low and we are celebrating that fact, as well!

With all this good news, it’s easy to forget that we’re not out of the woods yet and the remainder of this year is still an untold story. COVID-19 surges experienced nationwide are most often resulting from group get-togethers and we are watching this closely as we work to project forward on our own New Hope events for 2020.

Also, our “mask brigade” at New Hope has never ceased making masks as it is recommended we have at least a three month supply of PPE on hand at all times. So as we all continue to wear masks and stock up for the future, our dedicated team continues to sew away!  And if you can believe – to date – they’ve made close to 5,000 masks!  So – I just have to give a tip of the hat to: Robyn, Pat, Muriel, Alicia, Melissa, Christina, Kushana, Karen K. and Amy! Thank you for helping keep your New Hope family safe and for doing it with such cheerful and willing spirits!

In closing, I wish everyone a very safe, fun and healthy July 4th weekend. And as an FYI, we will be holding to the present visitation protocols throughout this weekend.

Happy 244th anniversary of the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


As everyone knows, the Mid-Hudson region entered Phase 3 of our state’s re-opening plan this past Tuesday (6/23). This was cause for celebration for many local businesses and we are happy to see data-driven progress that supports the livelihood of so many. Although we are not mirroring New York’s phases, we are continuing to take steps that celebrate a gradual and safe re-opening and I am happy to provide another positive update, today.

Last weekend we were thrilled to have more than 30 families trek our way to spend time with their loved ones and have many more families coming to visit this weekend. Thank you to everyone for working so patiently and so positively with our House Managers in following our protocols when scheduling your visit and when visiting your loved one.

As we now enter our second visitation weekend*, we will be making the following changes to our visit protocols:

  • Outdoor visits may be scheduled for up to 2 hours
  • Families may leave the premises of the home but need to confirm with residential staff that visits to indoor spaces will not occur. We recommend trips to a local park, outdoor walking trails, outdoor ice cream/food stands, etc. (places that lend themselves to social distancing at all times). We request everyone wear a mask if exiting your vehicle

*All other visitation protocols remain the same as listed in my website update below (6/17)*

Other good news to share regarding re-opening progress throughout the organization (everything noted below will be guided by very careful, specific protocols):

  • A handful of individual Supported Employment placements commenced this week
  • New Hope Community activities will begin the week of 6/29 at our Hope Farm, stables, Community Center in Liberty and greenhouses
  • Our Supported Employment campus car wash will resume activity the week of 6/29
  • Supported Employment janitorial crews will begin returning to select janitorial sites the week of 7/6
  • Our campus pool will be opening the week of 7/6

On another positive note; there’s already an abundance of fresh, delicious veggies growing in our farm fields and our residences are picking up healthy bundles, twice a week.

So as you can see, positive change is being realized as we increasingly provide a connection to our families, to New Hope staff and programs and to our community at large. Our steps are measured but represent welcome progress. We will continue to carefully assess the impact of every change and remain committed to putting the health and safety of our New Hope family at the forefront of all decisions made and actions taken.

Thank you for staying the course with us!

Be well – stay safe,


*Please review Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 205 regarding out-of-state visitation. If you have travelled from within one of the designated states with significant community spread, you must quarantine when you re-enter New York, for 14 days. Please take personal responsibility for complying with this advisory in the best interests of public health and safety.


A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Finally!! Great news as per Governor Cuomo’s press conference this morning – we can begin visitation – at our discretion – effective this Friday, 6/19. This is the most welcome news and we are so excited to invite our families back into our New Hope midst!

Starting at 2 pm today, House Managers will be prepared to receive your call to schedule your family visit. House Managers will also be prepared to answer your questions and provide more detailed information on your call, but for starters allow me to state some protocol basics:

  • No less than 24 hour call-ahead required for visits
  • Limit of two family members per visit
  • Health screening protocols and health safety practices will be in place
  • Limited physical contact between family members is requested
  • Visits will take place outdoors* – seating will be provided – shelter will be arranged in case of inclement weather

Thank you everyone for your patience and understanding as we awaited this update!

So here we go!  Let the visits begin and may you and your loved one have a wonderful, warm, fun time together!

Welcome back!


*We have chosen to start with outdoor visitation in order to support the highest, safest level of a careful re-opening. We will be assessing the status of this visitation level over the next couple of weeks and will keep you informed of any changes in visitation levels, in real time! Enjoy!


A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Since my update yesterday there have been several family responses pertaining to our invitation to consider a “window visit” with your loved one (if an appropriate choice). I hear and feel your frustration and exasperation – truly I do – and please know we are fully prepared to roll-out outdoor visitation…. but we simply cannot do so without an official green light from DOH and OPWDD.

We are reaching out directly to multiple OPWDD leaders on a daily basis to seek guidance on this front and continue (as of today) to be told that anything beyond what we have presently offered, is not allowed. Therefore, as eager as we are to move forward, we know at this point in time, it would be irresponsible to do so.

I would like to invite everyone to speak out on this issue and let the “powers that be” at OPWDD hear what you have to say. Your voice matters and this matter is important!! You can email your thoughts and concerns to: info@opwdd.ny.gov or call their information line at: #866-946-9733. You can also find additional contact information on the OPWDD website: www.opwdd.ny.gov

We believe that outdoor visitation, at this time, could be conducted safely and prove hugely beneficial to the health and wellbeing of our residents and families alike. So please join us in making this position known!

Lastly, our current crisis has worn many of us quite thin. But, I believe we are still a committed, compassionate New Hope family that believes in our common purpose and celebrates our caring bonds. May we all do our best to show kindness and patience in the face of adversity. It takes courage, strength, empathy, and a loving heart – and that’s perfect – because that’s us – that’s New Hope Community!

We are in this together!

Warmest regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Effective June 15th, New Hope Community will commence with Step 1 of our Re-Opening Action Plan.

We are all acutely aware of everyone’s need and desire to visit with their loved one(s) but need to continue with our No Visitor policy for the safety of everyone we support. We understand how difficult this is for families to be away – for so long – from those they care so deeply about. However, the potential risk involved with visitation, could impact many. Progress has been made, but COVID is not over. As Governor Cuomo stated in his daily briefing earlier today, the reward must outweigh the risk. Once guidance on the visitation front has been made available from DOH and OPWDD, we will promptly communicate this welcome change and be fully prepared to initiate in-person visits*.

In the meantime, effective Monday, June 15, we will facilitate families seeing their loved ones through “window visits” outside the home. You may also drop off care packages at the home’s entrance. You will not be permitted in the home nor can you have direct contact. The window visits are to be pre-scheduled at least 24 hours in advance with the House Manager (each HM will be happy to discuss these details in greater depth with you). Please carefully consider whether this type of visit will be a positive experience for all involved. I know emotions are running high (and I understand that) but please allow good judgment and the wellbeing of your loved one, to drive your decision.

Before I continue with additional details I just have to pause and share some wonderful news. Our one resident that was seriously ill from COVID-19 and who has recently been receiving PT in the hospital, returned to his New Hope home today!! His staff drove him by the front of our building so he could be greeted by waving, smiling and cheering staff (he was waving and smiling from ear to ear, too!). So, as we continue to make progress but feel our impatience growing with the slow pace of change, I trust we can still take precious moments to celebrate the positives and do our very best to handle the ongoing challenges.

Other logistics to review and/or update as part of Step 1:

A Family Service Specialist will be in the main building up to 3 days a week if needed.

Day Programs – LAC/WOW – status unchanged – staff will begin and end their shift working in an assigned IRA or ICF home alongside residential staff.

SEMP (Supported Employment) – janitorial, recycling, vending, shredding and lawn care services will commence the week of 6/15 with all necessary safety precautions and practices in place.

Health Services – temperature monitoring in administration building will continue.

Clinical Services – a) phone and zoom counseling sessions continue, b) clinicians may go to home if necessary, c) clinicians will focus on assisting individuals with transition back to routines, d) clinicians will be on-site on a frequency as determined by their Supervisor, alternating use of their shared spaces.

All enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures continue.

Outside visitors – status unchanged – not allowed in the main administrative building or in the homes.

Implementation of a slow careful return of staff to the administrative building will begin.

There will be signage posted throughout the building indicating the need for social distancing and the usage of masks, where appropriate.

We’re hoping for guidelines to come our way in the very near future that will support our continued re-opening progress. In the meanwhile, be well, stay safe and please accept my deepest thanks for your continued support of New Hope Community!



*Current DOH communication specific to OPWDD’s status with guidance to provider agencies’ regarding visitation status:

Visitation at all OPWDD certified residential facilities was temporarily suspended at the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic response to ensure the health and safety of the people they support.  With reopening starting across the state, we know that families are eager to resume visitation and participation in day services for their loved ones who live in group homes. We are working closely with OPWDD to ensure that visitation and programming is reopened safely for this vulnerable population and is in line with New York’s broader reopening plans. Currently, OPWDD is working on guidance on re-opening and there are efforts to coordinate and align recommendations across vulnerable settings.


A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Our New Hope team is still finalizing some important details for Step 1 of our Re-opening Action Plan. To ensure our careful planning process is not compromised due to time constraints, I will be posting all details for Step 1 this Friday, 6/12.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. We are learning as we create our steps that this is a very complex and sensitive process that truly takes a lot of collaborative thinking and efforts.

Please know, our commitment to the highest levels of safety and health for all involved is driving this initiative.




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


It’s wonderful to report that our running record of no new positive COVID-19 cases continues (26 days)! We are celebrating our path of progress! Although guidance from OPWDD and DOH has yet to come our way (to our surprise) we have designed a flexible, conservative three-step “re-opening” plan for the areas of organizational life that can begin to experience change based on our region’s re-opening phase status. Our agency-specific plan has a tentative start date of 6/15/20. Our three-step plan will allow us to slowly introduce interactions and engagements that optimally support everyone’s state of well-being while also teaching and supporting safety skills and practices.

PLEASE NOTE: No action step has been given a pre-determined/contained timeframe, as progression from one step to another will be based on the levels of safety, health and wellbeing demonstrated within each step. It will be critical for us to accurately track and interpret both quantitative and qualitative data to make an informed decision within this process. Feedback from all involved will also drive our movement. We do expect this process to continue through our summer months and very possibly into the months beyond. So, patience and commitment to a careful process will be most important and appreciated. Simply put, we need to get this right!


PLEASE NOTE: In creating resources, tools, plans, etc. for this process our Action Plan Team realized that changes specific to our residential life would be largely shaped by OPWDD and DOH guidance. Therefore, one online survey was created which is specific to our Day Services/Day Habilitation programs. This is being distributed to our stakeholders today (6/05) via Survey Monkey. Please respond and return within the next week (thank you!). A similar survey for all Day Service/Day Habilitation participants has also been created and will be completed with staff assistance, as needed. Please remember, all stakeholders may also share additional input at: feedback@newhopecommunity.org. And don’t forget to call for monthly COVID-19 updates at: # 845-434-8300 ext. 440 and catch updates in our Community Insider newsletter.

We have already traveled through so much these last 3 ½ months and I couldn’t be more thankful or proud of our entire New Hope family. Everyone has – and is – persevering and rising above. Now we look forward to a steady, safe journey with our new normal in sight. As we all know, crisis can become opportunity and that is what we are determined to experience. So – please – join us in reimagining our future.

Thank you!

Be well – stay safe,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


I am happy to report we have not had any positive COVID-19 diagnoses in the last 19 days! Most fortunately, all those that were affected are doing well, including our resident who is currently receiving rehabilitation. Although we know we have a long road ahead as we gradually and carefully reimagine our new normal; there is a keener sense of relief and hope.

Although DOH and OPWDD have yet to provide re-opening guidance (which means we continue to maintain programmatic and in-home visitation status); we are actively developing a three-phase re-opening plan that addresses other practices within agency life that can begin to change. This is an inter-departmental plan that will have a targeted start date of mid-June. It is important to note that this critical process must comprehensively and holistically support the highest levels of health and safety possible, for everyone within our New Hope family. Clearly, everyone is eager to resume many activities that have been suspended over these last few months, but we must keep a keen and responsible eye to doing this right and doing it safely.

In support of this process, we are creating two online surveys for stakeholder input that should be distributed via Survey Monkey, within the next week. One survey will center on our Day Habilitation services and the other will center on our Residential services. I encourage everyone to participate in this survey process, as stakeholder input is most valuable to informed and sensitive decision making. More information on this front will be forthcoming. I would also like to note that all are welcome to email us at: feedback@newhopecommunity.org to share thoughts, concerns, questions, etc. This email is checked each weekday and all emails will receive a timely response. Also, the first of each month we will be recording COVID-related update messages 6/01 and moving forward at (845-434-8300 ext. 440). Our Community Insider newsletter and our FB page will continue to be informational resources for COVID-19 updates and I will also send out email blasts as appropriate to ensure a robust climate of clear, transparent and time-sensitive communication. And of course, please, frequently check our website in the coming days and weeks for detailed updates, as well.

On another note, this week our wonderful Hope Farm team (Megan, Sophia and Anthony) potted beautiful plants grown in our greenhouses for delivery to each of our residences. Plants were delivered on Wednesday by our Residential Coordinators and brought smiles to many faces as they received this live gift. In the midst of this crisis a group activity that speaks to life and growth, is surely a welcome thing!

We are most certainly on the brink of multi-phase change and in many ways this is exciting. But, the challenges associated with safely re-opening are many and we are committed to moving forward carefully and responsibly. I am confident all those involved will support this positioning and I thank you for your deep commitment to New Hope Community. As stated before, we are indeed, stronger together and I know we will collectively move through steps that bring us to a new day!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO



In the news today, Governor Cuomo stated that he expects our Hudson Valley Region to begin Phase 1 re-opening this Tuesday 5/26/20. The Mid-Hudson met the sixth of the state’s seven benchmarks Saturday when its average daily number of COVID deaths dipped to five. Our region benefited from the state recently making a key change to the way it calculates this metric. Prior to this change, a region had to have 14 consecutive days of declining deaths. This metric now only requires five or fewer average daily deaths over the most recent three day period. Mid-Hudson met this metric on Saturday. This makes Mid-Hudson eligible for re-opening a few days earlier than it would have been eligible under the prior rules. In addition, the governor stated that the right number of contact-tracers have been identified and will receive training over the holiday weekend online. The projected satisfaction of all seven benchmarks brings us to our new starting point.

Phase 1 includes: construction, manufacturing, wholesale supply chains and select retail (with mainly curbside pick-up). County Executives within our region welcomed this news but state it is now more important than ever to do our part in wearing masks, maintaining social-distancing and washing our hands. Progression through the remaining three phases will be based on metrics data that interprets the status and impact of the virus’ spread in the coming weeks and days.

This leaves just Long Island and New York City as the only places in the state not slated to enter phase one of the reopening process. As this is new information post my 5/22 website update, I wanted to provide this today in real time. It is important to note, that although this represents progress, we have yet to receive any new guidance from either OPWDD or DOH. Ultimately the changing or lifting of any protocols and practices within our New Hope Community must be based on their directives.

I will continue to provide website updates as frequently as needed to ensure all readers remain in the New Hope Community loop, at all times. As noted on Friday, in the near future, we will also be sharing information specific to the engagement of our stakeholders as we move forward. Please be sure to actively check our website and feel free to call or email me if you would like to communicate directly.




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


With pleasure, I continue to share positive news. New Hope Community is coming up on the two-week mark representing no new active cases of COVID-19 for either a person supported or a staff.  In addition, isolation for the two remaining homes noted in last week’s update, have been lifted effective today. Also, the one person hospitalized, as noted last week, is now focusing on rehabilitation. So, on all fronts, we are making progress and feeling thankful.

In terms of our Mid-Hudson region re-opening status; we continue to meet 5/7 required benchmarks. For metric two, we need to show a reduction in hospitalization deaths for another eight days and achieve fewer than five deaths over a three-day average (we’re currently at seven). We also have yet to meet the contact tracer number required of benchmark seven (30 contact tracers per 100K residents or per infection rate). Therefore, we continue to uphold all protocols as has been the case since mid-March. To date, OPWDD and DOH have not issued any new guidance. To stay current with our regional re-opening status please visit: https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard

We certainly look forward to fully meeting all metrics for re-opening in the near future and will communicate all changes to our New Hope family in a responsible, time-sensitive manner. As noted previously, stakeholder input is essential to our planning moving forward and we are currently exploring the best communication pathways to support a meaningful exchange. Expect information on this front within the next 7-10 days.

On another “good news” front; all New Hope residences were provided with a wonderful pizza dinner delivery by Anthony Perito of Colonial Family of Funeral Homes, this week. Anthony is such a wonderful, generous friend of New Hope Community and everyone loved this surprise (after all, who doesn’t love pizza?). All New Hope staff also received white circular car window decals this week stating “Not all Heroes Wear Capes”. It’s a perfect way to broadly message our staff’s value.

And on that note – I would like to give a special shout-out to our fabulous maintenance staff this week. They needed to be largely re-purposed outside of our residences during COVID-19 and the entire crew has seamlessly stepped up and adapted to an altered work schedule in an incredible way. Our main building is continuously disinfected from top to bottom, environmental modifications have been put in place, grounds are actively groomed and improved and multiple renovation projects (exterior to our residences) have been tackled with zeal. They are integral to keeping us safe and functional and they are deeply appreciated!

In closing, I’ve been speaking to the chronicity of this crisis and I know that it is only felt more deeply as time wears on. In our Community Insider newsletter today, I speak about ways one can support their best state of mental health (May is Mental Health month). I hope you get a chance to read the column and also take every opportunity to practice good self-care. We all need to feed a healthy rhythm and capture every moment of positivity possible as we push through to better days (and there will be better days!).

Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. Stay safe – stay well. And please accept my thanks for your ongoing kindness and support.




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


It is with pleasure, I begin this message with positive news. New Hope has not had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for either a resident or a staff since last weekend. Currently we have totaled 16 COVID-19 positive residents and 22 COVID-19 positive staff. Most fortunately, all are stable and almost all are fully recovered. As of this morning, only two New Hope residences are in isolation and only one resident remains hospitalized. Thankfully, the resident is not critical and is recovering nicely. In addition, our hardworking HR and training teams have managed to create a flexible, online hiring and orientation process that allowed us to hire seven new staff in April and has positioned us to complete the hire of 11 new staff in May. Also, our nursing and QI departments have worked diligently to continuously identify PPE resources and are actively keeping New Hope staff supplied with all needed masks, face shields, gloves and gowns. Ordering quantities are taking into consideration projected need during the remainder of this year and beyond.

I am also happy to report that our new division, Select Human Services, is faring well throughout this crisis. This is wonderful to see as they are located in Westchester County – an area hard hit by the coronavirus. Despite this, they have been able to steadfastly provide supports and services within their service catchment area. In-person programming in their well-loved Judy Voron Life Skills Studio is now being offered via Zoom and a wide variety of creative classes and activities are being enjoyed by many. Amazingly, to date, there have been minimal positive COVID-19 diagnoses for staff and those they support.

In the midst of positive news and change as noted above, some things do remain the same. New Hope Community continues to uphold all regulations, protocols and practices as set forth by NYS, the CDC, DOH and OPWDD. On May 14th, Governor Cuomo extended an executive order to continue the “New York State on PAUSE” policy, until June 13th – unless regions meet reopening criteria. Currently, Sullivan County (which is part of the Mid-Hudson region) has only met five of the seven benchmarks required to meet the reopening criteria. Please see: https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard to review all data, to date, and to track our region’s progress moving forward.

Additionally, guidance issued from DOH and OPWDD remains unchanged. This all means that New Hope Community – for now – continues with all present protocols and practices. However, our planning process to support a safe, smooth and multi-phased reopening, has begun. As I noted last week, we want to hear from our stakeholders as we know such feedback will help inform a plan that is clear, comprehensive and holistic. Although we all look forward to resuming on-site programming, opening our doors to visitation and much more – the navigation of such must optimize health and safety while being sensitive to the impact of multi-level change. We have much to navigate but we will be equipped and are committed to doing it right! Please stay tuned for more information on this front, moving forward.

This week, I’d also like to share some additional resources with everyone. I trust they will prove both informative and helpful as we all continue to do our best to move through this very challenging time.

The first website provides detailed COVID-19 data that is Sullivan County specific. Good to know and understand the hard data for our own backyard: http://www.sullivanny.us/departments/publichealth/coronavirus

This next website provides detailed COVID-19 statewide data. It is an excellent tracker that breaks down information by county in list, table and chart forms: https://covid19tracker.health.ny.gov/views/NYS-COVID19-Tracker/NYSDOHCOVID-19Tracker-DailyTracker?%3Aembed=yes&%3Atoolbar=no&%3Atabs=n

NY Alliance continues to be an excellent COVID-19 resource – information can be accessed here: https://nyalliance.org/coronavirus

The final website contains free mental health supports during this crisis (the specific collection is entitled “Weathering the Storm”). It includes meditations, sleep and movement exercises. You can access a collection of science-backed, evidence-based guided meditations, along with at-home mindful workouts, sleep exercises and children’s content to help address rising stress and anxiety: https://www.headspace.com/covid-19

Lastly, OMH has set up an emotional support helpline at #1-844-863-9314. This hotline provides free and confidential support, helping callers experiencing increased anxiety due to the coronavirus emergency and is staffed by volunteers including mental health professionals who have received training in crisis counseling.

In an email to staff and board members, yesterday, I stated that the positive in all of this speaks to the opportunity to not just build back to what was, but rather, to build back better than before. To quote from the recently released New York Forward plan “today, we have another chance to make ourselves better for having gone through hell”. It’s time for us to reexamine, reimagine and rebuild – in smart and meaningful ways. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can and we will!

Please stay safe and well!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO

5/8/2020 – updated 4:30pm

New Hope Community remains stable and strong. To date, only eight of our 42 programs have been affected by the coronavirus. In each instance, all family members associated with an affected home were contacted by phone. Fortunately, the vast majority of those affected experienced mild symptoms and many have already reached full recovery. As of today, Sullivan County has 1,039 confirmed cases and New Hope Community (both residents and staff) accounts for only 3% of all cases.

It’s been approximately two months since our life as we knew it – changed. And now we are moving through the “sameness” of policies and protocols that have been put into place and need to be upheld, as we continue to safeguard the health and safety of our New Hope family. As we move past a state of crisis acuity and are given clear guidance on re-opening steps and dates (as per NYS, DOH, OPWDD and Sullivan County), we will be reaching out to our stakeholders to receive your valued input as we strive to optimally support everyone within our New Hope family. And as we wait for this transition phase to be announced, I encourage you to reach out to me and/or other members of our New Hope leadership team to share your thoughts, concerns and recommendations.  After all, we are in this together!

Through all of this, I deeply appreciate everyone’s patience, understanding and perseverance. I also appreciate the constant creative flow of resources and activities as we do our best to stay engaged and connected. Please don’t forget to visit our Facebook page to enjoy pictures and posts of all the fun New Hope happenings despite the present challenges. Our staff and all those we support continue to be amazing!

On an entirely different note – this Sunday is Mother’s Day and I can’t end this message without wishing all the moms reading this, a very “Happy Mother’s Day”. I’m sure for many, it will be different than years past, but I trust families will find special ways to celebrate another hero among us – our moms!

Stay safe, be well and hold onto hope. It will get better and we will prevail.

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community continues to be strong and steady during COVID-19. Recoveries have been celebrated and recovery paths are positive. For this, we are deeply thankful. We look forward to confirming that we have flattened as the viral status in the metropolitan area seems to indicate this downward viral trending. I know we all have fingers crossed!

Although I do this every week, I can’t miss the opportunity to give ongoing applause to our staff and also thank our families and board members. New Hope exists within the embrace of overflowing support, compassion and deep dedication. I am so thankful to be part of such a wonderful team.

As always – my wish to all reading this – be well, stay safe!




A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community continues to be stable, strong and actively moving through this COVID-19 crisis. Sullivan County has not yet peaked and the timeframe for the impact of this pandemic is still not fully known but our ongoing demonstration of creativity and acts of kindness, constantly speak to our unbreakable bonds and deep human connection. And it is awesome! Please take the time to visit our Facebook page to see all we are up to as we push forward and persevere. The fun projects keep changing as our art coordinator, Sue Petry and our wonderfully dedicated residential team, share fabulous ways to have fun and show appreciation.

Our talented staff sewing team has added face shields to their production and are wowing us all with their topnotch skills! It’s amazing what one can accomplish in response to real need. They’ve made well over 500 face masks (and the count continues) and provided our new division, Select Human Services with 136 masks for their administrative and field staff.

As we all continue to celebrate the meaning that drives all we do within and for, our New Hope family, I’d like to close this short update with these words:

“In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path – the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love”.  Amit Ray

Be safe and well,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


It has been more than a month since our world has been turned upside down by COVID-19. New Hope Community continues to stand strong and work hard to support everyone within our New Hope family.

All required practices and protocols continue to be in place and staff are demonstrating incredible flexibility as they re-adjust, in real time, to all changes occurring. Last Friday evening we put up a large sign by our main campus entranceway that reads “Heroes Work Here”. We say this with heartfelt pride and find it our privilege to make such a statement.

As we continue to push through this crisis, I trust you are doing your best to care for your mind, body and spirit. As so many of us commit efforts to supporting others we must not forget to take care of ourselves.

Please continue to stay safe and well and know that our thanks for your support grows stronger with each passing week.

We will prevail.

Warm regards,



A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


This has been an active week for our New Hope family as we do now have a very small number of COVID-19 confirmed cases (less than 2%). Please understand only parties directly impacted can have specific information shared as it is essential that confidentiality be upheld in accordance with all HIPAA required standards. That said, I am happy to report that everyone impacted is doing well and presenting with minimal associated symptoms.

This is not unexpected as the coronavirus has had a widespread impact throughout our state, our country and our world. The good news is, we thoroughly prepared for this possibility and were – and will continue to be – maintaining the highest level of health and safety, possible.

We continue to uphold all CDC, NYS DOH and OPWDD practice standards. Guidance is changing on a daily basis but rest assured, we are staying current to all changes, at all times. I would also like to note that we are fortunate to be maintaining stable staffing patterns and have a good supply of all necessary PPE. In addition, our incredible staff are soldiering forward in their commitment to the many tasks at hand and the wellbeing of all those we support. They also continue to create and share a vast array of engaging and fun activities that can be enjoyed by our entire New Hope family.

It is hard to believe how much all our lives have changed in just the last four weeks. Our rhythm is so different but our purpose and passion are intact. We realize there is much yet ahead, but I believe we have risen to the challenge in the most responsible way and will continue to persevere and rise above. When we finally arrive at a more stable, healthy place I am confident our New Hope family will be a shining example of true resiliency.

To all those reading this message – thank you for your support, your kind words and please continue to stay safe and well!




The Power of Community
A Message from Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community continues to stand strong as we push through the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, we do not have any diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Agency-wide we continue to uphold all health and safety protocols as required by our NYS and Federal regulatory bodies to support everyone’s highest levels of health and safety. And – our staff continue to utterly amaze me as they demonstrate stamina, flexibility, creativity and caring in simply wondrous and beautiful ways!

We know changes in our viral status could occur at any time, so we are continuing to build our supply of hand sanitizer, masks and gloves through a myriad of resources. Our resourceful staff have stitched together 350 cloth medical masks thus far (180 more to go) for residential distribution. We also purchased 1000 cloth masks from a New York tailor and have several hundred surgical masks and N95 masks (and will be getting more). As we still have many weeks in front of us before peaking and climbing back to a stable and clear state of health, we know it is important to maintain the highest level of readiness, possible.

As we all strive to stay informed and be positioned to share essential support to one another, I would like to share some valuable resources available through our professional organization – NY Alliance. They recently removed their website firewall to allow non-members to access all their COVID-19 information and they’re building a great library of resources (www.nyalliance.org/coronavirus).

On this page you will find sections to include: Statewide Resources, Recorded Webinars, National Resources and Additional Resources. I hope you are able to visit the site and tap into some excellent information. I particularly would point you to the “Additional Resources” section. It has a sub-section for families and self-advocates and one for DSPs. Under the DSPs subsection there are links to: a) a recorded webinar on “The Role of the DSP and Coronavirus”, b) a COVID-19 Toolkit for DSPs, c) a recorded webinar on “Self-Care for DSPs in a Crisis”, and d) a video on “The Coronavirus Explained and What You Should Do”. There is something on this site for everyone!

I’ve likened our staff to “heroes”. I feel they are also “warriors”. Strong, determined, undeterred as they strive to defend and uphold our most important purpose. And I trust our families, friends and community partners are staying strong as well as we all do our best to not just survive, but to thrive as we move through and past this life-changing experience.

I will close by sharing that our traditional Seder dinner in our main building cannot occur this year. But we will still come together. Recipes have been shared and our house manager, Brina Cohen from 20 Aster Road, will be virtually (via Skype) hosting this sacred start of Passover the evening of April 8th (if you would like to join in, please add asterroad20@gmail.com into your Skype account and shoot an email to Brina).

Please stay safe, be well and in the spirit of freedom and liberation for all people “Happy Passover”.



Debra J. McGinness, CEO

A Message to our Staff and Families from Debbie McGinness, CEO


With so much uncertainty around us, there are things that are very clear to me:  NHC staff is amazing.  I am so thankful and proud of all of our staff.  To our DSP’s who are continuing to provide services and keep things as normal as possible; to our nurses, who are keeping us informed and maintaining a healthy environment; to our maintenance and cleaning crews who are constantly sanitizing and maintaining environmental controls.  And our Finance department, who makes sure business is running, and our clinical staff who are mindful of our mental wellness.  Each and every person is SO important.

The safety and well-being of people we support and our employees remain our highest priority, as the potential for community spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus continues. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus at New Hope Community. We are actively in contact with and monitoring websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NYS Department of Health (DOH), County Health Departments and the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

During this crisis, we are thankful for our teams who are working together seamlessly and are in constant communication.

NHC has a number of measures in place, including

  • Suspending community outings and on site operation of our Day Programs, and reassigning those staff members to augment our teams at residential sites. Our staff has been extremely flexible and has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to our mission in light of unprecedented circumstances.
  • Implementing a NO Visitors Policy to protect the well-being of those we support and our staff.
  • Utilizing Skype and Face time to keep families connected and provide emotional support and social interactions.
  • Integrating limited time outdoors, while maintain social distancing rules.
  • Utilizing Telemedicine for appointments as available.
  • Increasing training on cleaning protocols and product use, and practicing beyond Universal Precautions.
  • Assessing critical supplies of PPE and exploring alternatives, including developing our own (please visit our Facebook page to see fun pics of our staff making facemasks together – incredible!).

*We will continue to send out regular updates through our website, Facebook page and email blasts. Thank you for staying tuned and be well*


An update from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Dear Families and Friends –

During this time, things are changing dramatically hour by hour. I didn’t want to wrap up this work week without reaching out with some important updates.

First, as of this email, I am happy to share that we continue to have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our New Hope family. In addition, Sullivan County continues to be vastly lower in confirmed cases compared to all surrounding counties (currently standing at 6). In addition, we continue to have a very steady staffing structure in place that is comprehensively covering all staffing needs throughout our 41 homes.

Other important information:

Governor Cuomo announced mid-day (3/20) that a state-wide lockdown will go into effect on Sunday, 3/22 at 8 pm. Although our organization is granted an exception to this order due to our essential 24/7 services to a vulnerable population, we are still responding in a manner that demonstrates our commitment to the highest level of safety and sensitivity for all those we sup

  •           Our HR department emailed letters this afternoon to all programmatic and leadership staff. The letter will confirm their employment as a designated essential employee of a human service agency providing 24/7 services to people with I/DD. Staff will be keeping this in their vehicle for all work-related travels starting Sunday evening at 8 pm

Other information to note:

  •           Our front desk will continue to be covered Monday – Friday, 8am – 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 9 pm
  •           Agency nurses will be remaining on site to ensure everyone’s health and safety
  •           Our HR department will have staff from 8am – 4pm, Monday – Friday to assist with all HR-related needs
  •           We have developed flexible departmental scheduling to ensure a minimum number of staff present to effectively run and oversee all operations
  •           Myself, as well as all other senior leadership, will maintain a continuous presence during this time. We understand the importance of providing consistent, ongoing guidance and support and as things change will respond and communicate swiftly and appropriately

I continue to be so thrilled at the incredible evidence of dedication, collaboration, caring, creativity and strength within our New Hope family. I am seeing random acts of kindness take place all around me and have staff actively brainstorming on ways to keep all those we support (as well as themselves) engaged in fun, meaningful activities to combat the potential negative effects of unexpected change and isolation*.  Also, I am happy to share that everyone is excited that our NHC Foundation board is generously providing pizza delivery to all of our homes over the next few days (and pizza is a big hit around here). So please know – despite the presenting challenges – we are doing okay and truly hanging in there!

I am happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have. I will be checking my email each hour over the weekend and will respond promptly to all that reach out to me.

Stay safe and well!



*We’ve shared: free Sproutflix films http://sproutflix.org/virtual-sprout-film-festival/, “blast from the past” New Hope you tube videos https://www.youtube.com/user/newhopecommunity1, a free stream of a 3/13/20 Live Performance of BeethovenNOW: Symphonies 5 & 6 https://www.philorch.org/live and much, much more (hope you have the chance to check these out). And please – feel free to share other resources with us!


An Update From Debbie McGinness, CEO


New Hope Community leadership has been closely tracking every new development related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and continues to immediately respond to all updates, guidance and programmatic mandates in an informed and comprehensive manner. Without question, our top priority has been the health and wellbeing of all those we support and all New Hope employees. We also are making decisions that speak to our need to support the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we provide services. After all, we are all in this together and the actions of each one of us can ultimately impact many others.

As we continue our efforts to maintain a healthy environment for all, I am writing to make you aware of temporary changes that will be put into effect today:

  •           For all homes, programs and buildings, we will no longer be allowing any visitors.  This includes Care Managers and families. All locations will receive signage tomorrow to place in their locations.
  •           We are suspending all day program operations.
  •           We asking staff to not participate in any external meetings.  Internal meetings should be accomplished via teleconferencing, unless otherwise approved.
  •           We will be implementing basic wellness checks of our staff in homes to support a healthy environment.
  •           Our ICF homes are going to have additional guidelines that must be followed as mandated by OPWDD.

As of this writing, there are still no confirmed cases in Sullivan County. However, we believe that these measures are necessary to be as proactive as possible.

As previously stated, please reach out to your Caseload Nurses with any questions you may have regarding COVID-19.  And while we are focusing on temporary limitations, I encourage you to focus on what you CAN do to support healthy positioning during this challenging time. Though we may be uncomfortable for a while, we will learn from this and it will get better. Let’s all remember to take a moment to enjoy the fresh air and may we all hang onto the hope that spring is around the corner.

We will get through this with the support of our families and our dedicated staff.



Debra J. McGinness

Chief Executive Officer


An Update on COVID-19 from Debbie McGinness, CEO


Dear Families and Friends,

We recognize you, or members of your family, may have some questions or concerns about COVID-19 (coronavirus).  New Hope Community leadership and our Health Services team are actively monitoring and aggressively implementing precautionary measures to protect individuals and staff. As of this writing, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sullivan County.

We want to assure you that as a healthcare provider we follow stringent infectious disease policies and procedures. At this time, all activities and meetings outside of the facility are suspended.  In addition, all visitors must be pre-screened prior to entering the facility. It is mandatory that all families and friends call the home to complete this prescreening prior to arriving.

Please know this is a rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to adjust our planning and actions as developments warrant. Our efforts are informed by the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OPWDD on all such incidents regarding health care facilities.

Should you have any questions, please reach out to the caseload nurse assigned to your family member, or email us at healthinfo@newhopecommunity.org.




Debra J. McGinness

Chief Executive Officer

Additional Resources
CDC’s dedicated 2019-nCoV website at https://www.cdc.gov/nCoV


An Update on COVID-19


New Hope Community leadership and our Health Services team are actively monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and are currently coordinating our planning with all state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on best practices for safeguarding our facility.  The safety and well-being of our staff and individuals we support are our primary concerns.  We know this is a rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to adjust our planning and actions as developments warrant. Our efforts are informed by the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on such incidents regarding health care facilities.

New Hope Community already has stringent infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking additional steps to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses.

There are a number of steps that families and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the State Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • * DO NOT VISIT if you have traveled or been exposed to someone who has traveled to an area that has been deemed an area of outbreak or of heightened concern in the U.S. or other country. Please give us a call before visiting.

New Hope Community is committed to the safety and well being of the individuals we support and those who work for us. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, so that we are fully prepared to take action, and to keep you informed.

Should you have any questions, please reach out to the caseload nurse assigned to your family member, or email us at  healthinfo@newhopecommunity.org.

For the Centers for Disease Control’s latest updates on coronavirus, visit the CDC website.