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Don Wins! Council elects new president.

Don Wins! Council elects new president.

In a stunning upset victory on Monday November 9, candidate Don R. of Hibernian Housed edged out Meagen R. of Joyce Warner House to take the Presidency of the Camp Venture Council of Advocates. Sitting President Jen A. was eliminated earlier in the contest when she did not garner enough votes in the primary in September to be on the November ballot.

An exuberant Don addressed the crowd at the Town Meeting on his announced victory. “This is a victory for democracy and the democratic process,” Don said. “It is the power of the people and it is that power that will move us ahead in the days to come. I want to thank Meagen my opponent and all the candidates who were a part of this race,” he continued. “The election is over and now it is time for all of us to move ahead together and to do great things.”

With these very brief but poignantly delivery words the crowd burst into a roaring ovation as Don yielded the floor to his opponent.

“I too want to congratulate all the candidates and also all of you who voted for me and offered your support,” Meagen said. “Most especially I want to congratulate Don on a well-run race. Thank you!”

It was an exciting ending to the Special Election Town meeting, which began, as most meetings do, with an opening statement from the President. The excited anticipation of the members of the Camp Venture Council of Advocates was unassuaged by the darkness of this Autumn evening as members arrived at the Coleman/Gromack auditorium of the Venture Center ready for business. And, though few of the members were actually there on time, electricity was, nonetheless, in the air. This was a special night.

The Council of Advocates met on November 9, 2015 for a Special Election Town Meeting. Seventyeight voting members were present and would cast ballots in the election.

Jen, the President struck the opening gavel at just after 7:00 PM and offered a brief opening statement. “This is an exciting day,” she began. “We are here to vote and to usher in new leadership. And, though I would have liked to have been re-elected, we have some very worthy candidates,” she added.  “And, the Giants won on Sunday too.”

As is customary with a Special Election Town Meeting, Jen then turned the floor over to Executive Director, Dan Lukens. “This is our election meeting and your opportunity to make your voice heard,” Lukens announced.  “From a field of candidates we have narrowed the race down to two; Meagen and Don. And, after a few words from each of them we will open the polls.”

Meagen and Don then took their places on the stage and addressed the crowd in turn. “Things have changed here,” Don said. “Each of us should honor all the candidates for their service and especially our President, Jen for the job she has done. But, this is a new day and we need new leadership,” he added. “I need your vote to move forward.”

Meagen began with an introduction. “My name is Meagen and I am running for President,” she said. “Vote for me and I will bring new and amazing things to this group. I will get the staff the raise that they deserve and I will bring famous sports figures here to meet you and to sign autographs. Vote for me and I will be there for you,” she said.

The assembled responded warmly to each candidate in turn and with equal apparent enthusiasm.

With the conclusion of the candidate’s statements, the polls were opened and Council members took their turns, row by row, casting their ballots. In the meantime, the meeting continued as the floor was opened up to members of the President’s cabinet. Lee was the one cabinet member who was not a candidate, and so he was the first speaker.

Lee used his time to throw his enthusiastic support to Meagen.

Jen then opened the regular session of the Town Meeting.   David W. was the first speaker. “The house on Orchard Street in Nanuet where candidate Meagen R. lives is named after my mother,” David explained.  “I would like to extend an open invitation to Meagen and to Don too to visit the Bader House in Hillcrest to get to know us.”

Amanda asked Dan Lukens whether cabinet members like the Treasurer and Secretary of the Council were elected or appointed.  The question opened the floor to a response from the Executive Director.  Lukens explained that the sitting president could appoint up to four cabinet members, including a Treasurer, a Recording Secretary, a Vice President and a Delegate. 

Vincent said that next Summer, he was going to move and said Jennifer could take his room.

Jeff K. stepped to the front of the room with his usual exuberance, and shouted out to the crowd that the Giants had won by two touchdowns.  “I’m doing great in my job at Toys-R-Us”, he said. Ayal told the group he was doing his best.  “Next week is my 42nd birthday,” he added. 

The room burst into applause. 

Patrick from Thomas House addressed the room and discussed some of the events at his residence.

Tom B. introduced himself and announced he was a 34-year employee of Macy’s and a resident of the Kathleen Lukens Independent Living Center.  “Macy’s is hiring for the holidays, there is a lot of work, and I’m hoping that other people from Camp Venture will be hired there.”

Merlin told the group he was playing guitar with the Rockademy band. 

Pradeep announced gleefully that the holidays were coming, and he was so excited. “I am living independently at the Kathleen Lukens Living Center, and I’m doing very well.”

David L. used his time to ask the Executive Director about driving him around the block.

Mike C. expressed concern that his job was ending.  “I work at Pathmark at Ramsey,” he explained,  “The store is closing soon, so I will have to look for another job,” he added.

“I am going to vote for Meagan”, Joel said.  “I hope she will win this election”, he added. 

Brian used his time to talk about his family.

“The Giants won”, Mike S. offered triumphantly.  But those Rangers, I don’t know what happened to them,” he added.

Steven announced he was voting for Meagan.  He expressed concern that Ariana was leaving Rockademy, but was hoping A.C. Black would return to the band.  Steven then, offered some insight ……

Dennis signed, and recreation staff, Sarah L. interpreted for him to the group.  “I went to North Carolina to see my sister, and had a wonderful time.  I’m going back there for Christmas,” he added.

Gary bounded to the front of the room with his usual enthusiasm.  “The Ladies Man is back”, he announced.  He discussed several of his love interests and spoke about getting together with Dan Lukens for lunch.

“I’m going to vote for Meagen and I hope she wins,” Roger expressed.

Judy L. had a few kind words for her friends at Mellucci House. 

Fred K. was all smiles as he came to the microphone for the first time ever. He offered warm greetings to the assembly, and they responded with enthusiastic applause. 

Peter C. talked about his friends at both Rogers House and at Venture West where he had lived for many years, and offered a few warm memories.

“We are going to rally in Albany,” proclaimed Peter M.  “We are going to speak to the Governor and the Legislature, and tell them to keep the promised, and that our staff need a raise.”  Peter’s words drew applause from the room, and most especially of the staff.

John F. offered greetings to the President, the Executive Director, the Cabinet members, and most especially, Meagen, the candidate for President.  “Giants won, 32 to 15, go Giants,” he said.  “I also had a great time in Florida.”

Tasin was next up. “I am looking forward to the holidays very much,” she offered.

Suzie T. used her time to offer and endorsement to Meagen.  She was the last speaker of the evening, before the election results were announced.

The meeting’s conversation was all about Meagen, but the votes went to Don, or at least enough of them did.  It was an exciting night, one that ultimately resulted in an unexpected win for the former President.  For the Council, it was a turning point- a moment of promise for a new and better future. 

Jen struck the closing gavel at around 8:00PM and as this family of friends departed into the night air of a beautiful early November evening they did so embracing oneanother and engaging in the banter of warm and friendly conversation. Indeed, it was their night and they were all winners!

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2008 Rockland County Autism Symposium Venture Foundation Address
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