ELIJA holds ribbon cutting for new farm marketplace in South Huntington

ELIJA holds ribbon cutting for new farm marketplace in South Huntington

ELIJA (Empowering Long Island’s Journey through Autism) officially opened its marketplace at ELIJA Farm, paving the way to employment and a pathway to adulthood for individuals with autism.

The marketplace will be staffed by individuals with autism, that ELIJA hires from funds raised during its Pave the Way to Employment campaign, which will continue through Mother’s Day. This exciting new venture will increase and enrich vocational training beyond current farming operations. Employees will learn how to prepare and store food, develop customer service and learn other skills that will get them ready for future work opportunities and assist them with living independently.

ELIJA Founder and CEO Deb Thivierge led the ribbon cutting, and was joined by ELIJA Board President Joann Scanlon, Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine, Sheriff Dr. Errol D. Toulon, Jr., New York State Senator Mario Mattera and Assemblyman Steve Stern, Suffolk County Legislators Steve Flotteron, Rebecca Sanin and Tom Donnelly, Huntington Town Clerk Andrew Raia, Highway Superintendent Andre Sorrentino, Huntington Deputy Town Supervisor John McCarron, and Kelly Smith on behalf of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. Also in attendance were representatives from the offices of District Attorney Ray Tierney, Congressmen Nick LaLota and Andrew Garbarino, and Huntington Councilwoman Theresa Mari.

A press conference to recognize and celebrate April as Autism Acceptance, Awareness and Action month, immediately followed, with remarks delivered from Thivierge and her son Jason, a 25-year old with autism that inspired ELIJA, County Executive Romaine, Sheriff Toulon and Legislator Donnelly.

In addition to creating meaningful employment opportunities, ELIJA prides itself on supporting individuals with autism throughout their lifespan and educating persons responsible for their care.

The ELIJA Foundation and ELIJA’s Transitional Programs and Services (TPS) will be hosting an inaugural conference on pathways to independence for individuals with autism, at Hofstra University on Saturday, May 11, 2024 from 8:00am to 5:00pm. A network of experts will connect families for housing and employment initiatives, and talk about a variety of topics, including but not limited to transition processes, self-direction, housing, special needs trusts, and guardianship.

If you are an advocate, educator, agency, school professional, family member or other individual, navigating the pathway from school services to adulthood, then this conference is for you!

To register now or to learn more about the conference presenters, please visit: https://www.elija.org/events/view/A-Pathway-To-Adulthood-Using-Self-Direction-Transitioning-To-Independence-2024-05-11/.

“We are chipping away at the estimated 80% unemployment rate amongst individuals with autism, one person at a time,” said Debora Thivierge, Founder and CEO of ELIJA. “We all play a vital role throughout their lifespan, helping them to develop skills and preparing them for adulthood, so they can live independently.”

ELIJA Farm is located at 43 Foxhurst Road in South Huntington. For more information, call (631) 423-2379 or visit www.elijafarm.org.