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,
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!
At our annual Party for PYD on May 10th, 2018 we are honoring four amazing individuals/groups. The first honoree we’d like to introduce is Vibhu Sharma, Co-Chair of the Leadership & Mentoring Taskforce of UNICEF’s Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities & Youth Disability Rights Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Human Rights and Democracy Network.
Vibhu, born and raised in Delhi, India, is currently a Masters student of Inclusive Education at the University of Edinburgh. And she has a Bachelors in English Literature.
Years ago, when she first listened to others with visual impairment discuss their experiences and challenges with education, accessibility and inclusion, she knew she just had to work with them. Specifically, children who are blind or visually impaired. She is most dedicated to equal opportunity and peer inclusion.
Vibhu has a lot of energy and found her voice from an early age. She’s the first student in India to have taken her board exams in an inclusive way through a screen reader. What’s more, she persuaded the Central Board of Secondary Education to provide all students who are visually impaired with exam questions in an accessible format.
Regarding mentoring, Vibhu shared: “proper mentoring enables youth with visual impairments to become aware of what options exist for them, and how best can they achieve in life. It also helps them develop their potential.”
We are excited to highlight Vibhu’s courage as an example for our mentees, mentors and the entire community, locally and globally!
Come celebrate Vibhu and our other honorees at the Party for PYD, May 10th!
On Saturday April 21st, PYD’s Mentor Match and C3 programs collaborated with several youth on how to find the career that’s right for them as well as how to market themselves to employers within those fields. The Career Pathways and Marketing Yourself Workshop combined topics from American psychologist John L. Holland’s RIASEC model, including personality and value assessment guides in finding how our strengths, values, personal self, and interests contribute to how we look for careers that make us happy and ready to make our own individual brands!
The event was graciously hosted by Capital One Cafe in Somerville, the perfect location in terms of helping us talk about marketing and finding careers in a creative and progressive space. presenters Amy Doherty and Jordan Lome shared their career pathways as well as networking and pre-employment pointers for attendees. One theme discussed was how employees have more equity than they think when applying for jobs as they are also observing their interviewers and employees. Finding a job is a two-way street after-all!
The RIASEC model was developed as a theory for careers and vocational choices based upon an individual’s personality, interests, and values as to what type of work would best fit them. Holland created 6 categories that form the basis for the model: Realistic (Doers), Investigative (Thinkers), Artistic (Creators), Social (Helpers), Enterprising (Persuaders), and Conventional (Organizers). You can learn more about these types and the jobs covered by them here!
Once attendees learned where they may fit on the RIASEC model, the workshop then dived into how marketing and branding play a role in aiding individuals to in making themselves noticeable for their career pursuits.
Marketing is a form of communication for promoting a message, idea, or brand to wider networks and/or audiences. Attendees learned how one uses marketing within organizations and as a job. This included how to use social media as both a professional and personal platform to share stories, events, and achievements. Attendees learned what someone in marketing does and the resources they use to help communicate their organization from Canva for graphic design, Constant Contact or MailChimp for email databases, Giphy for making gifs, WordPress for blogging and e-portfolios, and Vistaprint for making business!
Attendees tested how brands can make an impression through various activities during the workshop. This then turned to how social media can help promote personal brands on how Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram each contribute differently to marketing.
One social media platform mentioned was LinkedIn and how as a resource, the website can serve as a professional networking tool and online resume creator. A major point discussed was tracking performance and numbers for your resume to show employers what you have done and can do!
Feel free to share your career pathways or RIASEC results to us using the #illumentors on our social media @PYDBoston!
Are you interested in seeking more career advice and job readiness skills? Join C3 today!
Understanding your interests, strengths, personality, and values will help you find a personally satisfying path.
Interests – Interests are activities that you enjoy doing. You cannot learn interests.
Strengths – Strengths are the areas you are good at, what comes easily to you.
Personality – Personality is characteristics that form your character and can guide behavior. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a common personality assessment that provides a measure of your preferences for 4 traits:
Extroverted/Introverted: how you get energy – being with people or by yourself
Intuitive/Sensing: how you get information – interpret or directly observe
Thinking/Feeling: how you make decisions – logic or feelings
Judging/Perceiving: how you organize information – plan or spontaneous
Preference for each trait results in a 4 letter code (e.g. ISFJ) that has general tendencies and strengths that fit well with certain careers and environments.
Personality Assessment https://www.16personalities.com/
Values – Values are what is important to you.
Common values are:
Achievement: using your abilities, accomplishment
Independence: work on your own & make decisions
Recognition: opportunity for advancement, leadership
Relationships: helping others
Support: supportive boss, training
Working Conditions: job security, good working conditions
Values Assessment https://www.vawizard.org/wizard/assessment-combined
Type Description Value Personality Sample Jobs
Realistic: Doers (autonomy, practical, determined, mechanical, constructors)
Investigative: Thinkers (achievement, analytical, scientists, engineers)
Artistic: Creators (self-expression, artistic, actor)
Social Helpers (altruism, cooperative, teachers, nurses)
Enterprising Persuaders (ambition, assertive, persuasive, lawyers, politicians)
Conventional Organizers (comfort, responsible, bankers, librarians)
O*NET Interest Profiler https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip
Answer questions about your likes and dislikes to determine your RIASEC type and explore careers based on the results
View descriptions of job duties, skills, knowledge, education, tasks for over 1,000 occupations
PYD had the first ever opportunity to present an original panel at Anime Boston 2018 on March 30th! Our Highland Street Ambassador of Mentoring & Recruitment Specialist Jordan Lome, Steve Slowinski from our National Inclusion Center, and Mentor Match Specialist Mike Haydu (all of whom are major anime/manga fanatics) collaborated together with PYD youth in the program, writers on twitter, and students who have autism/autistic students on anime/manga characters who they can identify with as being coded or represented with having ASD, providing their own experiences with how anime and manga has empowered them!
Over 120 people were in attendance, including some PYD youth, in what was a packed house that eventual became standing room! Youth started enthusiastically sharing accessibility resources at the convention with our PYD hashtag even before the panel got started! Audience in attendance includes special education teachers, YMCA employees, youth and adults with autism/autistic youth and adults, and many more!
Topics discussed included understanding what Autism/ASD can look like and the Neurodviersity Paradigm, which “refers to the idea that neurodiversity is a natural & valuable form of diversity” and how “we should view [ASD] as simply another way of being. It’s not abnormal, which carries negative connotations.”-ASAN
The panel then talked about anime and manga (Japanese animation and graphic novels) that feature representation of ASD, including a webcomic by Japanese cosplayer Akagi Kuro on living with Asperger’s and the series With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child by Keiko Tobe! The former is not licensed but can be found online while With the Light has 8 volumes licensed and can be found in the Boston Public Library!
Akagi Kuro: “Some good personality traits of having Asperger’s are: intense focus, excellent memory, and more.”
- We can focus on completing a project.
- We can become super knowledgeable on a certain subject.
“Rather than just being able to do ‘normal things,’ I think it’s much more amazing to make use of those skills and do something no one else can do.”
(translation by Louise from Goboiano)
The panel explored how autism or ASD can be visually represented in anime/manga, from character headcanons (theories about a character not shown or stated in the material), to seeing how those traits could be coded in certain characters. We looked at both positive and negative examples of how autism could be coded or represented. Our panelists not only shared their experiences working with or having ASD in relation to this project, but opened the discussion to a standing room and packed audience to share their stories using the #PYDatAB2018!
Audience participants then got to share their own characters they identified with! Anime Boston staff writer Lauren Orsini wrote on some of the characters mentioned during the panel here!
You can also watch the full panel on our Youtube channel here!
This April, join PYD in celebrating Autism Acceptance instead of Autism Awareness!