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Earning Their Wings: Summer Town Meeting Includes A Special Celebration

Earning Their Wings: Summer Town Meeting Includes A Special Celebration

The Wings pinning ceremony at the Summer Town meeting culminated a months-long exploration into new life possibilities for a pioneering group of Venture people. As Dante Giordano explains, “Our task was to engage people in a person-centered process to ask them some direct questions and to maybe get them to tell us things about them that we never knew.”

“We’re interviewing every person who lives in a Camp Venture residence, we’re speaking with their families and all the people close to them in a kind of journey of discovery, or rediscovery as the case may be, to try to find those things that are most important to them,” said Teresa Bachanas, Camp Venture’s Wings Coordinator”. And, we are working with them on that list to try to see if we can help them do those things that they’ve always wanted to do but maybe never had the chance. It’s very exciting,” she said.

Honored on June 29, were: John, Don, Philip, Kathleen, Fred, Phillis, Zachary, Lisa, Merlin and Susan. Each participant had an opportunity to share their story and receive their pin. “I’ve known John for 39 years,” said Executive Director, Dan Lukens. “I never knew that he loved bridges and photography and that he could create these great pictures.”

The Town Meeting group embraced the Wings Ceremony with great enthusiasm.

June Town Meeting:

The group assembled more promptly than usual. With some apparent anxious anticipation, Council Members arrived in high spirits and ready to conduct the business at hand. And, there were a few faces that, though familiar, were not generally present for the Town Meeting and this added to the excitement. 

The June Town Meeting was held at the Coleman/Gromack Auditorium of the Venture Center on Monday June 29, 2015. Present was Jennifer, the President, Meagen the VP, and cabinet members, Lee and Ryan. Approximately 90 voting members of the Council would be in attendance though some arrived late.

The call to order from the President came at 6:50PM and after greeting everyone, Jen made a brief opening statement. “ It’s a beautiful day, the birds are singing and it could not be a more perfect night,” she said.  She offered warm regards to all and then yielded the floor to Executive Director, Dan Lukens who had asked to make some announcements.

Lukens explained to the group that this meeting would include the Wings Ceremony. He also said that the election was coming and reminded the members of the election process as prescribed in the Council bylaws. “Candidates for President need to announce soon in order to ensure their place on the ballot for the September primary,” said Lukens. “All announced candidates will be on the primary ballots that go to the residences in late September,” he continued. “The top two vote-getters then run-off in the Presidential election held at the November Town Meeting. You must be at the November Meeting to cast a ballot in the Presidential election and winner takes office at the start of the new year.”

With the conclusion of Lukens’ announcements, Jen opened the regular Session of the Town Meeting.

Jennel was the first speaker.

Speaking in a tone not unlike a preacher at a revival meeting, Jennel told the group: “I love all the staff and my friends too.” She named them in turn and the group responded with applause.

Tom B. introduced himself and talked about his 32 year career with the retailer, Macy’s. On another note, Tom asked about the Venture Center pool and when it would be reopening and also advocated for a summer pool party at the camp.


Pardeep introduced himself as a resident of the Kathleen Lukens Independent Living Center and said that he lived independently in an apartment. “We talked about Yoga and nothing has happened,” he said. “Can we have Yoga”?

Theresa used her time to plug her candidacy. “I can’t wait for the election. I hope I win,” said the former President. “I am also looking forward to the talent show.”

Susie T, talked about wanting to see Peter Pan.

Tammy expressed concern for the future of the workshop (in her case, she was referring to the Rockland ARC workshop).

“I went to the Bahamas,” Tasin announced proudly. “I had such a good time. It was hot but it was beautiful.”

The group applauded for Tasin.

Don offered good luck to the candidates and suggested that he may throw his hat in the ring.

Roger said that he too had just returned from vacation.

Vincent asked that everyone say a prayer for his mom whom he said was ill and that he was very concerned for her.

At around 7:10 PM, Jen adjourned the Regular Session of the Town Meeting for the Wings Ceremony.

Jen reopened the Regular Session of the Town Meeting at around 7:30 PM. “The butterfly pins are so beautiful,” she said. “This is so exciting.”

Randi spoke very highly of her house staff and of Tom, her friend.

Speaking out of order Tom replied, “I love you too.”

Jack said that he enjoyed the Tanglewood House and said that life was good there. “We go places, play games and we do a lot of things together. It’s a good home,” he said.

Vincent said he wanted Theresa Bachanas to come to the house and buy him a new hat.

Michael C. offered congratulations to the Wings Honorees. “You did a great job,” he said.
Miked talk about a trip with his family to Manhattan. He said that they had a great time and that he had gotten a new cell phone. He said that family from out west were visiting but returning to California soon.

Jeff bounded to the front of the room with his usual zeal. “Hello everybody,” he said in resounding voice. “I spent time with my family. I am working hard at my outside job and I am doing really well,” he said to the applause of the room.

Robert also offered his congratulations to the Wings people. “I will be going to California this summer with my family and then we will be on to Maryland for a family wedding,” he announced.

Jeff B. charged to the front of the room and with great enthusiasm he announced that there was a new resident at his house.

Peter M. greeted the group and lamented that he had not seen everyone in a while. He wished all the candidates success and asserted that the staff needed a raise and a bonus and said that that should be an agency priority.

Trisha said that she missed her staff Claudia.

Quinton used his time to announce his candidacy for the Presidency. He also said that he wanted a butterfly and suggested to Executive Director that he should come to Lauber House.

Marie said that she wished everyone well. She was the last speaker for the Regular Session of the Town Meeting and with the conclusion of her statement, The meeting was turned over to the announced candidates as is customary during the election season.

As of June 2015, the announced candidates for the Presidency of the Camp Venture Council of Advocates were: Jennifer, who has announced that she will seek re-election, Meagen, Theresa, Amanda, Ryan, Pardeep, Quinton and Don.

Jen greeted the group and told the group that she was running for reelection. She congratulated Meagen on her new job at Just-A-Buck.

Meagen, also a former President, said that, if elected, she would try to get a raise for the staff . And, again, the mention of a staff raise inspired a rousing ovation from the room.

Theresa, in her statement, asserted that she would make sure that the staff got a raise and that poor people would have food.

Pradeep said that he was running so that there would be Yoga and so that the pool would be open. “What about the pool?” Why isn’t it open?” he asked rhetorically.

Quinton said that he was running to end what he felt were unfair restrictions and so that people would have more money.

Don, another former President, said that he was running to bring back a more responsible discourse to the group. “We have a Democracy here!” he said emphatically. “We have to use it to make our lives better.”

Ryan offered a very heart-felt oration on some personal life-lessons learned in love and loss. “Over the years I have learned the hard way about joy and happiness but also disappointment and loss and I have come to understand the challenges of my house and living there,”he said. “Words can not express my feeling for this special person and how they have inspired to me to seek higher office to live and to serve with honor and distinction for her sake. Always with me and in my life I can do more because I care for her,” Ryan said as he wove a story worthy of a Victorian novel. He might have gone on but they were out of time and so this impassioned saga would have to wait for another day.

It was a fitting end to an eventful Town meeting and Jen hit the closing gavel at round 8:10 PM.

The Wings celebration made it a special event. The honorees beamed as they stood before their peers to receive their wings.  And, as well, a measure of pride was evident in the Town Meeting regulars as the visitors were there to witness the inner workings of their self-governance activities.

It was a great night and the place was abuzz as the group departed the hall into the light of a perfect early summer evening. In the company of their fellows, they had spoken their piece, celebrated their triumphs and bared their souls.

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2008 Rockland County Autism Symposium Venture Foundation Address
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