For more than 70 years the ADAPT Community Network has been helping kids and adults with disabilities in New York thrive. The non-profit changed their name a few years back, but their mission has always remained the same, providing cutting edge programs and services for men, women and children they support across the five boroughs.
The ADAPT Community Network was founded back in 1946 by the Hausman family and originally called United Cerebral Palsy Of New York City. The organization raised money and awareness with an annual telethon, but over the years, the reach and mission of the non-profit has expanded.
“We were known as United Cerebral Palsy of New York City,” explained Ed Matthew, longtime CEO of ADAPT Community Network, “and we always had to explain to people that we serve more people than just people with Cerebral Palsy.”
The ADAPT Community Network helps people with disabilities through a variety of programs ranging from educational to recreational, while also helping to bring the latest in health and technology benefits to the people they support.
For years we’ve shared ADAPT’s change-making stories here on PIX11, featuring their programs, staff, and people with disabilities they support. ADAPT has dozens of schools, day centers and residential programs across the city supporting thousands of adults and kids. Now instead of telethons, ADAPT raises money and awareness through events and galas. The annual ADAPT Leadership Awards Gala is just around the corner.
“This year’s theme is all about growth,” said Matthews, “the growth of the agency, the growth of the individuals we support, and the growth of our sense of community and the things that we can do.”
Ed Matthews has been the CEO of ADAPT for more than 30 years.
“I think the fact that people are out in the community doing things, people are having jobs, people are living the lives that they want to live,” explained Matthews, “the fact that not only our agency, but the industry itself has been able to grow to have people live at home, group homes, and partake as a sense of community has been the greatest accomplishment for us and for all the agencies on our field, but it the things that’s given me the most satisfaction personally.”
Matthews says while a lot has changed over the years, ADAPT still faces challenges.
“It’s always a question of how much help the government is going to be able to do, we’re primarily government funded,” explained Matthews, “you know there are so many needy causes and needy people, the homelessness here in the city… so you have a lot of competing interest for a certain amount of government funds. So that’s always an issue, and now… we face challenges in hiring people who really want to do the jobs and work with people directly.”
But those challenges pale in comparison to the opportunities ahead in the future for ADAPT and the people they serve.
“Over the next several years I think we’re going to see more people living independently, I think that’s something the government has a great need to do,” Matthews added, “but I think the advance of technology will allow us to bring services and programs to smaller places, people’s houses, be able to have them spend their days the way they want to, and not getting on a bus and coming to a center all the time… and I see that as a wave of the future as well as people living in housing with everyone else.”
It’s a future that ADAPT has been working towards for decades. Helping New Yorkers with disabilities live more independent and productive lives.
The 2023 ADAPT Leadership Awards Gala will take place on Thursday, March 9 at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan.
This year’s honorees include journalist Willie Geist.