Inaugural Winter Ball Raises Funds For Nonprofit Integrated Preschool

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L. to R.: Jay Silverstein, Executive Director of NIS, Susan Cali, Director of Development at NIS, Ellen Sullivan, NIS Woman of the Year, Gregory Colichio, NIS Man of the Year. (Photo by Ed Shin)

The New Interdisciplinary School held its inaugural Winter Ball at Windows on the Lake in Ronkonkoma on Feb. 13 celebrating the integration of children with and without disabilities.

The event honored two longstanding volunteers at this nonprofit preschool – Gregory Colichio, Man of the Year, and Ellen Sullivan, Woman of the Year. Both of these volunteers received awards and made heartfelt speeches explaining why they dedicated so many years of service to this school, years after their children graduated.

One of the school’s founders, Chris Petersen, the school’s librarian who just recently retired, spoke of her experiences at the school since its inception in 1976, and spoke of Ellen’s years of volunteerism throughout her tenure there. Jay Silverstein, Executive Director, and Susan Cali, Director of Development explained how despite the school’s immense growth, the school of nearly 400 students, still maintained its “family feel” and stood apart from similar schools because of the integration opportunities it offers to children with and without disabilities.

This fundraiser, which drew a crowd of over 100 guests, featured a variety of raffle prizes, music, dancing and dinner. There were a variety of individual and corporate sponsors, whose names were scrolled on a slideshow on the many television screens surrounding the dance floor. The money raised will help benefit the students and families at the New Interdisciplinary School, whose main site is in Yaphank, but also has programs in the Patchogue-Medford, South Country and Longwood School Districts.

Susan Cali, Director of Development, explained that programs such as their integrated sports and fitness program, respite, swimming and buddy programs would not be possible without fundraising dollars. Personalized bricks were also sold to add to the school’s new sensory garden, also built with fundraising dollars. They also recently built a playground and a sensory pathway in their school. She explained that all of the unique services that make NIS stand apart from other similar schools are those that are made possible through fundraising dollars.

This event is one of many held by the school. Coming up next are the Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner they hold with their affiliate IGHL on March 13, the ABC Autism Fundraiser at the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Babylon on April 25, and their largest fundraiser of
the year, their golf outing, taking place on June 1 at the Port Jefferson Country Club. All guests were encouraged to attend.

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NIS employees, retirees, and volunteers. Top row L. to R.: Betsy Kaplan, Lori Grady, Donna Burns, Ellen Sullivan, Jill Stewart, Melody Colichio, Gregory Colichio, Susan Cali, Christine Petersen, Margaret Delboy. Bottom row L. to R.: Jenna Fitzgerald, Linda McCarthy, Samantha Boutis, Jay Silverstein, Maureen Rockwood, Kristen Moran. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Jay Silverstein and Ellen Sullivan. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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L. to R.: Anthony & Ellen Pellegrino, Owners of Windows on the Lake, Gregory Colichio, NIS Man of the Year. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Jay Silverstein, Executive Director of NIS. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Ellen Sullivan, NIS Woman of the Year, Susan Cali, Director of Development at NIS. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Awards for Ellen Sullivan and Gregory Colichio. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Ellen Sullivan and her family. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Gregory Colichio and his family. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Those who attended and won raffles at the NIS Winter Ball. (Photo by Ed Shin)
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Bob Policastro from Angela’s House. (Photo by Ed Shin)