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Q & A With Kristina Gargano Community Services Coordinator

Kristina Gargano

What is your role at Greystone Programs? I am a Community Services Coordinator. I oversee Community Habilitation and Respite programs for families living in the Orange County area as well as provide support to families in need of services.

Why do you choose to work with individuals living with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities? When I was in college I took an elective class called "Working with the Exceptional Child" where I was introduced to individuals living with developmental disabilities. At the time of my college internship, I found the Club Aspire Afterschool Program run by Greystone Programs and was immediately interested in taking this career path. After my internship, I moved on to another agency but came back in 2008 to run the Club Aspire program I once interned for. 
 
What are the different types of community services and respite programs Greystone offers? Community Habilitation provides the opportunity to acquire or improve skills needed to work toward achieving a person’s life goals. Some skills a community habilitation mentor teaches may include: community integration, socialization, communication skills, money management, personal hygiene, personal safety, and problem-solving skills. All programs are customized to the needs of each participant. Services are provided in the home, in the community and in locales requested by the Individual. 
In-Home Respite allows family members a break from the sometimes-overwhelming demands of caring for people with disabilities by providing in-home supervision. This service is provided in an individual's home.

How did Greystone adapt our programs during the COVID-19 pandemic? The community services department was affected by COVID-19 as were many others. In March of 2020, we put a pause on most community services to ensure family and individual safety. Community Habilitation and Respite services restarted late April 2020. At that time, mentors and individuals worked within the individual homes. We implemented a strong COVID-19 protocol for the staff to follow during times of services to ensure safety of providing the service as well as safety for the families with whom they worked. They found safe and socially distant activities. The community services team worked together to think outside of the box to come up with fun and meaningful activities that were in areas to continue to build on the person's goals, while being socially responsible. Greystone is committed to the health and safety of their staff and individuals.

How do our staff and mentors impact the lives of the individuals we serve?  Our mentors are able to establish and develop a trusting relationship with the person they support. Mentors are able to adopt a person-centered approach by assisting the person in attaining their person goals in a meaningful way. 
 
What career opportunities are available at Greystone? We have several opportunities for employment with in our community services department. We are currently hiring for mentors and respite staff for individuals living in Orange County. 

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