Stress Management and Self-Care Tools

The PYD’s stress management workshop was a youth focused benefited, toward reducing youth stress. Between PYD’s Eli Wolff, Jordan Lome, and Nicole Malo, attendees learned great tactics and tools on stress management. During the workshop, PYD and the attendees shared great tips of self-care, such as listening to music, recreational activities, hanging out with friends, and, most importantly,  yoga.

The important takeaway is to manage your stress and have self-care tools,; Firstly: To manage your time, and secondly, to give yourself the ability to be flexible and have self care of your personal needs. These methods go a long way in reducing your stress and building a management toolkit framework toward achieving a stress-free lifestyle.

I really enjoyed my brother Andrew who accompanied me to the event and the event was enjoyable and fun! Thanks to Eli, Jordan and Nicole!

What are your self-care tips and tricks?

Emma Kahn

Emma Kahn joined PYD as a Mentoring Specialist in April 2018. Prior to working with PYD, she served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Boston, working at the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She served in a third grade classroom for English Language Learners. Through the Sheltered English Immersion Program, she worked with youth in both English and Spanish with a focus on English Language Arts skills.

A graduate of Brandeis University ’17, Emma double-majored in Anthropology and International & Global Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese and loves using language skills to empower and inspire youth. She feels language is an important tool for expression and loved growing up in a bilingual, bi-cultural household. She is pursuing a Masters degree in Public Policy at Simmons College.

Emma hopes to bring her language skills, experience with youth advocacy, and love of volunteering to her role in PYD. She will primarily be responsible for facilitating matches of youth ages 11-17 and mentors. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with amazing youth and their mentors, and to help build strong community!

Party for PYD Planning Committee

A moment of silence fell over the PYD office as a brilliant idea filled Nicole’s brain after listening to ‘In the Afternoon with Austin’ on Radio Perkins. Nicole strung up from her desk and turned to me with an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm as she spilled her idea, “Austin, do you think Kennedy would like to host PYD’s annual benefit fundraiser as the Master of Ceremonies?”

I replied, “It doesn’t hurt to ask. But, if we have any hope we have to write up the proposal opportunity email tonight!”

The email was in Kennedy’s inbox by the following morning, to which she replied almost immediately with a resounding, “YES!”

Following this new addition to Party for PYD, Nicole asked if I would be interested in joining the Party Planning Committee. I, of course, could not turn down such a valuable opportunity! I then began attending meetings twice a month until May 10th, 2018.

The planning committee meetings were a place for communication of ideas related to goals, details and logistics. Topics discussed include everything from sponsor and guest engagement, venue design, invitations, social media strategies, auction items, donors, catering, volunteers, youth performers, etc. Although being apart of the planning committee was a tedious role to fill, it was one that came with a great deal of fulfillment. Every planning committee member brought a unique set of skills and resources that contributed to the growing passion. Overall, this was a very empowering and incredible opportunity that will live on in my memory for a great deal of time.

Party for PYD day, on May 10th, 2018, began with a light breakfast and delicious lunch. Following lunch, PYD staff members and volunteers carried all the supplies and auction material to their cars. Once the cars were filled, it was off to the races! We caravanned to PwC, who generously hosted the event, jamming out along the way with my friend, who graciously donated her entire day to PYD party prep! I was updating social media periodically throughout the day and happened to be doing so as we drove down multiple stories into the parking garage. I instantly became very dizzy and needed to pause to regroup. After I felt better, I made my way into PwC where Allyson Schiller from PwC greeted me. She gracefully escorted my friend and I to the futuristic elevators. As we made our way up the elevators we quickly discovered the speed at which they traveled, contributing to yet another headache and I nearly fainted…. But, you know what they say, the show must go on!

Allyson, thankfully, paused with us as we got off the elevator, as she got me ginger ale and pretzels to ease my dizziness. From then on out, Allyson hung out by my side a majority of the day, which allowed us to bond! She showed me around the venue, helped me update my social media throughout the set up process, and graciously offered treats! Our PYD team members made a much needed caffeine run to Starbucks!

Suspense was building as the event was drawing closer to the 6pm start, putting on last minute touches. The PYD family could barely contain their excitement! We all gathered towards the nearest restrooms to change out of our set-up clothes and freshen up for the distinguished guests and stellar night. We were so happy and humbled to welcome our guests into the breath-taking venue.

As 5:30 hit, we knew it was nearly show time! Elegantly dressed Party for PYD guests filled the atrium at PwC, admiring the Boston harbor view! We mingled, took photos, ate delicious food, told stories, while awaiting Kennedy’s arrival. Kennedy’s presence immediately brought about laughs, compliments, and stories that lasted until the speaking portion of the event.

At 6:50, PYD youth leaders and volunteers, with fairy wands, rapidly ushered all guests into place for the speaking portion of the night. Guest quickly filled their seats, since the party agenda was tighter than your grandmother’s jeans!

Neil Leonard, Vice President of the PYD Board of Directors and Chair of the Planning Committee gave the crowd a formal welcome followed by a passionate introduction to me, which nearly brought me to tears. I then had the opportunity to execute the script I had spent countless hours writing and perfecting for Kennedy and me. I was given the opportunity to introduce Kennedy to the crowd and share a segment of our journey together. This was really meaningful, for it allowed us to share our passionate and spontaneous connection with the audience, demonstrating how deeply I care for her as my mentor. Following the outstanding youth performance by our 2017 Rayleen Lescay awardee, Sophia Rose Kelley, Kennedy moved into the auction portion of the event. This brought upon many jokes and high-value bids, which helped PYD to exceed their fundraising efforts! Thanks to generous guests and Kennedy helming the live auction, we raised just short of $30,000 the night of Party for PYD. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EVER!

It was a heartfelt privilege and honor to serve with the PYD family and alongside the facilitator, Nicole Malo (Director of Development and Community Engagement), in Party for PYD 2018. Nicole was an absolute joy to work alongside, as her passion radiates and warms the hearts of many. She worked countless hours that were truly seen in the execution of Party for PYD 2018. Anybody who encounters Nicole’s presence will immediate feel her passion, warmth, and utmost drive to do an incredible job each and everyday. She is a unique asset to the team, along with each and every member of the PYD staff, who worked many hours to put on such an amazing event! The PYD family works everyday to provide our community with safe, valuable, and fulfilling opportunities. They care about all details, no matter how small!

Thank you to each and every one of you for truly helping make it a memorable night!

All the best,
Austin Carr

From Role Model to Role Mentor: How a Typo can Re-Frame the Impact of Mentoring Relationships

When preparing for an upcoming event, I made what at first glance was as a typo. I wanted to say “adult role model” when referring to mentors but instead role “adult role mentor”. I starting panicking since it was sent to VIPs; however, I recollected my thoughts and looked at my mistake only to see it become a mentoring epiphany.

It quickly dawned on how this mistake makes more sense in PYD’s line of work that the former, especially when we associate of the term “role model” as someone to be idolized or even as inspiration porn. The common talk today is to see fewer role models and more motivators. A role mentor, in my interpretation, takes the essence of illustrating guidance and support that others find influential and mimic that in their own work, adapting to that passion for forming durable and consistent mentoring relationships inter-generationally even.

The key aspect of mentoring has become more critical in forming healthy relationships with a young person whose experiences may be different or similar to yours and how you can support them on their journey. At PYD, our mentors are trained to help set goals, serve as a resource broker, aid in educational or job readiness skills, and be an open, consistent, reliable, and active listener (a term which we nickname as ORCA). For youth with disabilities, have a mentor who can manifest those skills is what helps illuminate their power and potential. It becomes a transferable skill to the mentee who is aiming to become more involved in their community and their personal growth.

If I were to create a definition for it, a role mentor is someone who volunteers their time and willingness to pass on these traits in training mentees to be role mentors in their community. I think of Reverse Mentoring, where the mentee teaches their mentor a skill that’s valuable to them. This was, for me, an example of having a role mentor as the sense of mentoring was passed on to the mentee. Critical mentoring, a term defined by Torie Weiston-Serdan (2017) that “places youth at the center of the process”, makes it so that those learning experiences are felt between the mentor and the mentee, maybe turning the mentee into a mentor is multiple capacities.  

It feels weird crediting a typo, something that is my ultimate vice as a writer, for sparking this cathartic realization as we rethink and re-frame mentoring in a global scope. As you have seen in our social media campaigns, we have been using #illumentors to refer mentors and mentees who have achieved the goals they have set through being driven and motivated by mentorship relationship. They illuminate the room as mentors in their own way, whether they be a parent, a youth, or a volunteer. Rather than putting those accomplishments on a peddle stool, let’s see if we can learn those skills actively and retroactively to promote an inclusive and equitable brave space! 

Tag @PYDBoston with an example of a role mentor in your life who inspired you to be a #illumentor? How was that impacted your goal setting and overall growth as an individual? 


Weiston-Serdan, T. (2017). Critical mentoring: A practical guide. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

The Puzzos, PYD Legends Honorees 2018

The Puzzo Family

It is our joy to honor Steve and Nicole Puzzo at Party for PYD 2018 this May 10th! Steve and Nicole are raising two thriving daughters, Chloe and Stella. Stella has Spastic Quadrapalegia Cerebral Palsy. The entire family enjoys the great outdoors, whether skiing or at the beach.

Both Chloe and Stella have been a driving force behind their parents’ work towards inclusion. Nicole shared with us, “Inclusion is important to me because it’s about education and removing stereotypes of individuals with disabilities.” Inclusion is “educating people that we are in this together. Supporting each other is truly the best gift you can give.”

As parents, Steve and Nicole bring their energy, focus and firsthand knowledge to PYD and the community.

Some years ago, Nicole founded Stepping Stones for Stella, a non-profit that provides buggies to children with disabilities. More recently, she co-founded befree, LLC, an accessible clothing line. Check them out here!

Steve is Partner in Mergers and Acquisitions tax at PwC and has been Treasurer of the Board of Directors of PYD for the past 6 years. Through his service, he continues the loyal partnership between PwC and PYD. A PwC Partner has been in a leadership role at PYD from our very beginnings. Back in 1985, John O’Connor, then-Managing Partner at PwC helped PYD obtain our 501 (c)(3) status as a non-profit organization. We are incredibly grateful to Steve for continuing the strong legacy.

The Puzzos emphasize that there “is always more than one way to do something.” Stepping Stones for Stella and befree are prime examples of that! We at PYD feel extremely fortunate that the Puzzos lead in the work to illuminate the potential of all youth with disabilities and grow more inclusive communities. Please join us in celebrating them this May 10th at our annual Party for PYD! You’ll meet the entire Puzzo family there. And at the event, you’ll even get to check out a Stepping Stones for Stella buggy and befree zipOns that are part of our auction thanks to the Puzzos!

Making a snowman!
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