Check Out FHF’s New Years Eve Eve Party in the Staten Island Advance

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Check out FHF’s New Years Eve Eve Party coverage in the Staten Island Advance! Everyone had a great time at the party, see some wonderful photos from the event.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — An end-of-year party like no other once again served as a win-win for everyone that attended.

The annual Families Helping Families (FHF) Resource & Recreation Center hosted its pre-New Year’s Eve party Saturday afternoon at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield, drawing at least 85 developmentally disabled children and dozens of their family members.

The gathering, which was scheduled from noon to 4 p.m., included a DJ, carnival games, family photograph sessions, designer cupcake favors, a magician, and an opening performance from the IS 61 Chamber Music Players.

The event’s key component, said organization CEO Andrea Anna Lella of Eltingville, was its 75-plus volunteers assigned to assist special needs children throughout the duration of the party. The on-site volunteers’ purpose was to play games, dance, and enjoy the party with the developmentally disabled attendees.

“In most cases, for families with special needs children, parties are a challenge to them,” she said. “Their special needs child has sensory needs, have meltdowns, have special behavioral issues that interfere with their ability to function well, so parents spend most of their time at parties chasing their special needs child, and the sibling gets totally ignored.”

Ms. Lella stated the party draws plenty of support for each attendee. In addition, no one is there to judge anyone else.

“Parents tell me this is the first time they’re able to sit and relax [in a while],” she added.

FHF is a Staten Island not-for-profit organization based in Eltingville that strives to support families whose children have special needs. Organized in 2008, the agency arranges activities year-round for hundreds of children, according to Ms. Lella.

Sean Cottone, of Great Kills, brought his daughter, 12-year-old Isabella.

“It’s an outlet the parents have that we normally don’t have,” he said, adding parents and children alike are able to enjoy FHF events, primarily because of the volunteers making a “big difference” for both youngsters and adults.

As Maria Lapreta sat at a table with her two children, Adrianna and Christian, both 10, some youngsters partied on the dance floor. Others took aim at a basketball hoop.

“It’s a wonderful event where your kid could express himself and no one is looking,” said Ms. Lapreta, of Annadale.

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