Staten Island’s North Shore Rotary makes charitable donations to many local schools and organizations. This year, the group focused on helping individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). As the Center for Student Accessibility (CSA) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) serves approximately 80 students with ASDs, Rotary Club President Anthony Diodato awarded the CSA a check for $500 after learning about the challenges that the Center faces.
“I am extremely grateful to the Rotary members for this donation and for all the work they do. This organization models what it means to work civically and collaboratively in a community,” noted Chris Cruz Cullari, Director of the CSA.
The collaboration began in the spring when CSI Communications Director Ken Bach, a long-time Rotary member, invited representatives from the CSA as guest speakers at a Rotary meeting to discuss the Center’s work with students with Asperger’s Syndrome. CSI graduate student Marybeth Melendez and CSA Assistant Director Sara Paul attended and formally detailed the Center’s efforts in working with these students; the Center’s efforts include faculty collaboration, tutoring, academic counseling, campus-wide workshops, and technology support.
“North Shore Rotary is honored to assist the students and staff of the Center for Student Accessibility,” commented Diodato, who now serves as immediate past president of the club. “The Center is an asset to our community and I commend them on the many valuable services they provide to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as the hundreds of other students that benefit from their comprehensive services.”
“When students on the Autism Spectrum enter college, they typically require a substantial level of support. At the Center for Student Accessibility, they receive that support by staff members who are trained to work closely with this population,” noted Sara Paul, adding that the CSA is currently experiencing an increased enrollment of students with more complex accommodation needs.
Melendez, a graduate student at CSI in the Mental Health Counseling Program, an alumna of the College, and a student who is blind, commented on the Center’s services and accommodations that benefit students with ASDs as well as all students registered there. “If it were not for the Center for Student Accessibility, I would not have graduated. The staff there assisted me in technology training, they worked with my professors, and they provided me with the tools I needed to succeed. With the growing number of students with Asperger’s Syndrome, for example, the staff continues to work hard and learn more about how to best serve these wonderful and challenging students,” said Melendez, who worked in the Center as an Events Coordinator when she was an undergraduate student. She is currently participating in an internship in the Department of Sociology.
The Center will use the donated funds to expand its initiatives to improve outcomes for students with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The Center for Student Accessibility is a part of the Division of Student Affairs.