ELIJA featured in The Atlantic (February 20, 2019) - Why Are There So Few Services for Autistic Adults
"...In truth, they’ve already found an ideal fit for Anthony, at a nonprofit called Empowering Long Island’s Journey Through Autism (ELIJA). Anthony began receiving services there about a decade ago, with programs that included speech and behavioral instruction, part-time internships at three local businesses, and work on an organic farm, where he gleefully planted vegetables. Working with the organization, Anthony made some small yet meaningful advances, such as learning how to brush his teeth and tie his shoelaces..."
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ELIJA Farm featured in Newsday (August 24, 2017): Deal keeps farmland free from development
Robyn Schneider has seen a shift in her 27-year-old autistic son since he began working on a South Huntington farm dedicated to serving children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
“He comes home and he’s just happy,” she said.
The Levittown-based ELIJA Foundation owns the farm where Schneider’s son, Jamie, and others with autism help with planting, growing, picking, weighing and distributing organic produce.
The 6.3-acre farmland now will be protected from future development after Huntington Town and Suffolk County agreed to purchase the development rights from the nonprofit for nearly $1 million to preserve the agricultural space in perpetuity.
“What makes this purchase special is how it helps The ELIJA Farm continue its important work supporting children with autism and their families,” Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said in a statement. “Not only are they using environmentally responsible practices to raise high quality, organically grown produce, they are providing valuable work experience for autistic youth and young adults.”
The town board voted unanimously Aug. 15 to purchase the agricultural development rights of two of the parcels for about $966,000, with Huntington paying for half and Suffolk County paying the other half.
The foundation initially bought 6.3 acres from the Foglia family in December 2016 — 3.6 acres of which were eligible to have their development rights sold to the town and county, said Debora Thivierge, executive director of ELIJA.
As part of the rights purchase deal, ELIJA will buy an additional 2.5 acres from the Foglias, and sell the development rights on that land to the town and county. The money will be used to pay down debt from the nonprofit’s initial land purchase, and help it pay for the new parcel, Thivierge said.
The Suffolk County Legislature voted to approve the deal in June.
Thivierge said the deal also will help protect the nonprofit from future economic pressures to sell or develop the land — as well as guarantee to the Foglia family that the land will always be farmed.
“Being able to make sure that no one ever builds anything on this property that’s not for the use of farming and community involvement was a very important part of our mission to be able to maintain that value of a family,” Thivierge said. “We also want to be sure to preserve open spaces . . . for the community at large.”
Larry Foglia and his wife, Heather Forest, continue to work as consultants on the farm since the initial sale to ELIJA, which stands for Empowering Long Island’s Journey Through Autism.
“There seems to be an intrinsic value that people get from being in open space, being in nature,” Foglia said.
The children and adults at the ELIJA Farm are trained to raise and sell produce through a community-supported agriculture program to customers in the region. For families like Schneider’s, having a place where their children can feel comfortable and experience nature is critical.
“It’s a very comfortable setting,” Schneider, of Great Neck, said. “They’re teaching real functional skills, productive skills, and it’s in a very peaceful environment.”
ELIJA Farm featured in Newsday (July 30, 2017) - South Huntington farm now gives special ed. students room to grow
Gina Foglia can still recall riding in the backseat of her parents’ silver Plymouth station wagon and gazing at the Mimosa trees that used to line the Meadowbrook and Wantagh parkways.
“There are our trees!” she would say, as the brilliant pink blooms whipped past her window.
Foglia’s family left an imprint on the Long Island landscape in the late 1950s when her parents sold 200 trees from their agricultural and horticultural side business — then in North Bellmore — to the state for planting along the two Long Island parkways.
“There are trees in many places that my parents have donated or sold, so one can see them in a lot of different places.” said Foglia, of Boston. “Going back to the trees, that’s the family connection. As children, seeing them lining the parkway . . . we were so proud of that.”
Foglia and her brother, Larry, of South Huntington, recently sold 6.5 acres of their parents’ former home and farm in South Huntington to the ELIJA Foundation, a Levittown-based nonprofit and school that serves children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.
The sale was a bittersweet parting, but Larry Foglia said they were happy to see the land preserved and used for special education purposes.
“The alternative was to sell it to developers to put up houses,” Larry Foglia said. “The concept of preserving land is very important . . . We modified our asking price to make it happen with ELIJA because it was that important to us.”
Now it’s ELIJA students who grow the organic produce, which is then sold through a Community Supported Agriculture program to customers in the region, said Debora Thivierge, executive director for ELIJA, which is an acronym for Empowering Long Island’s Journey Through Autism.
ELIJA Farm featured on Verizon FiOS1
South Huntington, NY (May 17, 2017): ELIJA Farm was featured on Verizon FiOS1 - Long Island's Push Pause program in May 2017! Click here for the video and get an inside look at how ELIJA Farm is growing and living out its mission to provide sustainably grown produce to our communities and agricultural opportunities to transitioning adults with autism and other differently abled populations.
ELIJA to hold 2nd Annual 5-Mile Run and 1.5 Mile Fun Walk Journey for Autism
ELIJA welcomes all runners/walkers on a journey through Huntington, NY to promote health, wellness, and effective services for children and adults with Autism
Huntington Bay, NY (April 24, 2017): The ELIJA Foundation is hosting its 2nd annual “just cAUse We Run for Autism 5 mile run” on Sunday, June 11 and all levels of runners, walkers, families and friends are invited. The fundraiser features a beautiful 5-mile race course through the scenic hills, water views and neighborhoods of Huntington Bay as well as a family-friendly 1.5 Mile Fun Walk. The course is a sanctioned USA Track & Field event, and is being managed and staged by the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC). All levels are welcome and families and friends are encouraged to participate. A picnic will close out the run and walk, featuring music, children’s activities, ice cream, sliders from Texas Roadhouse, bagels and more.
All runners and walkers are automatically entered to win dozens of raffles and some amazing grand prizes. Registration is open here: https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/Huntington/ELIJA5MileRunand15MileFunWalk.
Autism Spectrum Disorders affects an estimated one out of sixty-eight children and their families nationwide, and guesstimates on Long Island are higher. The ELIJA Foundation and School is a not-for-profit organization supporting children with Autism, their families, educators, and professionals in and around Long Island. We provide children with severe Autism an individualized, intensive, scientifically validated education. Our mission is to facilitate independent growth and personal achievement by creating appropriate opportunities to learn and become contributing, interactive members of communities. Unfortunately, effective programs are cost-prohibitive for many families, and young adults with Autism face a lack of services and lack of meaningful life and work opportunities.
Funds raised from the Run for ELIJA will support ELIJA Farm, a non-profit farm committed to using environmentally responsible practices to raise high quality, organically grown produce. ELIJA Farm is dedicated to enriching the health and wellness of our community through its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and by offering dynamic learning opportunities to its diverse membership.
We thank our generous sponsors of the Run for ELIJA: Capital One Merchant Services; SCARAN; Air Design Inc; Thivierge & Rothberg, PC; Panera Bread Café; Honest Tea; Texas Roadhouse, All Round Foods and EJ Autism Foundation, Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo LLP.
ELIJA Founder and Executive Director to be honored at 14th Annual Woodbury Ball for Autism
Levittown, NY (March 21, 2017): The North Shore Autism Circle will honor Debora Thivierge, founder and executive director of the ELIJA School, Foundation and Farm, at the 14th Annual Woodbury Ball for Autism on April 20, 2017. Thivierge, a resident of Roslyn and a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst, has been a visionary, advocate and leader in the autism community on Long Island for over 16 years.
A mother of an 18-year-old son with Autism, Thivierge founded the ELIJA Foundation in 2002, which provides families and professionals with educational opportunities that focus on improving programs and services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In 2006 she opened the ELIJA School in Levittown, an individualized 12-month educational and treatment program that currently serves more than 30 school-aged children and young adults with ASD.
Thivierge embarked on a new mission in 2016 when ELIJA purchased 6-acres of a farm in South Huntington to start ELIJA Farm. ELIJA Farm offers a community supported agriculture (CSA) program where differently-abled children and adults play a role in the productivity of the farm. Thivierge saw the farm as a unique opportunity to build a sustainable future for transitioning adults with Autism who age out of traditional school programs at 21 and are faced with a shortage of adult-focused services. Many of these individuals still need intensive instruction and support to develop essential work and life skills, and the availability of quality programs is often limited.
An ongoing capital campaign for ELIJA will enable the acquisition of the second 4-acre parcel on the grounds of the farm, construction of a state-of-the-art greenhouse, and conversion of the property’s barn into a learning annex and workspace. Ultimately, it is the mission of ELIJA Farm to offer farm-based learning and vocational programming for transitioning adults with Autism and develop a creative residential option for these individuals to live in a safe and supported community.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to keynote ELIJA 2nd Annual Autism Community Breakfast
Levittown, NY (April 5, 2017): Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will keynote the ELIJA Foundation 2nd Annual Autism Community Breakfast on April 20, 2017 at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale from 7:30-9:30 am. The breakfast will highlight the impact Autism has on families and communities on Long Island. The ELIJA Foundation is a not-for-profit organization in Levittown, NY serving parents, educators, professionals, and caregivers of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
The theme for this year’s breakfast “Today, Tomorrow, Forever”, is a campaign to create a brighter future for individuals with autism and their families. Public officials, parents and service providers will share insights and developments in the public and private sector aimed at improving the quality of life for young adults on the autism spectrum.
Directly following the breakfast, ELIJA will be hosting a full-day conference on adult transition services entitled, “Dignity of Risk: Developing Competencies and Promoting Independence.” Self-advocates, parents and professionals will lead discussions on how adults with autism can develop competencies and independence. Topics will include benefits advisement, the use of technology, job creation and employment, independent living, and safety and risk.
Admission to the Community Breakfast is open to everyone and includes a $15 suggested donation. There is a separate entry fee for the conference and registration for both can be made online at www.ELIJA.org.
About The ELIJA Foundation, School and Farm: The ELIJA Foundation is a not-for-profit organization serving parents, educators, professionals, and caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by providing the community with educational opportunities that focus on improving the quality of programs and services available to children ASD. In 2006, the ELIJA School opened, enrolling children with ASD aged 3-21 who cannot be served in their available public school settings. In 2016, ELIJA purchased 6-acres of a farm in South Huntington to create a sustainable future for transitioning adults with autism. In 2017, ELIJA launched its community supported agriculture (CSA) program where students and adults with autism will play a daily role in the productivity of the farm.
NEW ADULT PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS WITH AUTISM SEEKS FUNDS FOR PURCHASE OF SOUTH HUNTINGTON FARM
The ELIJA School plans to launch a Community Supported Agriculture program
Levittown, NY (December 13, 2016): ELIJA, a not-for-profit school and organization serving families and caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), has launched a capital campaign to create a sustainable future for transitioning adults with autism. Funds will support the creation of a community supported agriculture (CSA) program where students and adults with autism will have a daily role in the productivity of their very own local, organic farm.
At the close of 2016, ELIJA plans to purchase a portion of the Fox Hollow Farm, a 10-acre organic farm in South Huntington. ELIJA is seeking public and private support towards the multi phased capital campaign and is offering a number of branding sponsorship opportunities on the farm itself.
Phase I of the campaign is aimed at raising funds to acquire the first six acres of land that will house the ELIJA CSA. Phase II of the campaign will include acquisition of the second four-acre parcel, construction of a state-of-the-art greenhouse and conversion of the property’s barn into a classroom and workspace.
ELIJA Farm’s unique CSA model presents program opportunities for diverse populations that will integrate adults with ASD into the life and community of the farm. Once established, the CSA will offer an abundance of share options and a farm immersion program open to all Long Islanders.
The impetus for the CSA arose when young adults with ASD aged out of traditional school programs at 21 and were faced with a shortage of adult-focused services. Debora Thivierge, founder and executive director of The ELIJA Foundation and School states, “as individuals with ASD age, many still need intensive instruction to learn essential work and life skills. In order for ELIJA’s quality services to grow and to support our families, we needed to develop a program for this demographic. We feel the ELIJA Farm CSA satisfies this need.”
In the spring of 2016, current Fox Hollow Farm owners, Larry and Heather Foglia, helped ELIJA pilot a small-scale CSA on the grounds of the Levittown school by assisting the building and maintenance of garden beds. ELIJA students took an active role in the CSA by planting, nurturing, packaging and distributing fruits and vegetables grown from the garden. Following the purchase of the property, the Foglias will serve as the farm’s primary agricultural consultants.
About The ELIJA Foundation and The ELIJA School: The ELIJA Foundation is a not-for-profit organization serving parents, educators, professionals, and caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by providing the community with educational opportunities that focus on improving the quality of programs and services available to children ASD. In 2006, the ELIJA School opened, enrolling children with ASD aged 3-21 who cannot be served in their available public school settings.
Autism Diagnoses May Decrease With New Criteria - January 25, 2014
Lost & Tired: Confessions of an Autism Dad - July 31, 2013 - ELIJA's Summer Travel Tips for Parents of Children with Autism
Newsday - June 21, 2013: Autism Bill Pushed
News 12 Brooklyn - April 3, 2013
am NY - April 3, 2013: Cookies for a good cause
Metro NY - April 1, 2013
NY Metro Parents - March 29, 2013: A Sweet Show of Support for Autism
NY Sports Day - March 28, 2013
Carroll Gardens Patch - March 24, 2013: Support Autism Awareness
New York Magazine's Grub Street - March 22, 2013: Autism Awareness Cookies
Bellmore Life, Merrick & Watagh Seaford Citizen, The Leader, The Citizen - December 2012
ELIJA Halloween Gala honoring Senator Fuschillo featured in Anton Newspapers
Levittown Patch - November 2, 2012: ELIJA's Halloween Gala
Autism Resource Center Newsletter - August 2012 - Back to school tips
NY Post August 21, 2012: Handle with care. Parents of autistic children can help ease the transition back to school
ABC News May 24, 2012: ELIJA Founder, Debora Harris-Thivierge discusses proposed Autism diagnosis revisions in the DSM
Autism Spectrum News Spring 2012: Article by ELIJA Clinical Director, Justin DiScalfani Early Intervention is Key: Focus on Transition From the Start
Levittown Patch April 3, 2012: ELIJA to Host Autism Awareness Event
News 12 April 2, 2012: ELIJA Director & Co-Founder Debora Harris-Thivierge and Clinical Director, Justin DiScalfani - Live on-air interview
Real Mom Media April 2012: ELIJA School Radio Mention
HealingThresholds.com November 25, 2011: ELIJA School Provides Tips for Holiday Travelling with Children with Autism
Levittown Patch October 31, 2011: Halloween Bash Benefits ELIJA School for Autism
Love That Max - October 22, 2011: Tips on trick-or-treating with kids who have Autism or other sensitivity issues
NY Metro Parents - October 20, 2011: 5 Halloween Tips for Parents of Children with Autism
Levittown Patch - April 11, 2011: The ELIJA School: Making Progress with Autism
Manhasset Press - June 10, 2010: Long Island's ELIJA School Celebrates Autism Awareness Week
Levittown Tribune - April 16, 2010: The ELIJA School: Empowering Long Island's Journey Through Autism
Long Island Parent Magazine April/May 2010: The ELIJA School Autism Awareness Week 2010
Newsday November 2, 2007: Options shrink as autism spikes
Different Roads to Learning - April 1, 2014: Our Autism Journey: One Family’s Story
Newsday - April 27. 2022: New Suffolk park signs lends expression to people who are nonverbal
PATCH - December 12, 2011: ELIJA Foundation Works to Expand Autism Knowledge
Long Island News - June 14, 2019: Elija Farm To Be Farmland Forever
Levittown Tribune - May 26, 2016: ELIJA Changes Lives One Day At A Time
Levittown Tribune - August 8, 2016: Local Autistic Runner Wins Five-Mile Slog