A Year In Review!
8 ESS Highlights from 2019

In 2002, we set out on a journey to work out how to best serve and support individuals and families with developmental or other disabilities. We found it unjust that families with developmental disabilities in low socio-economic communities were largely undeserved. we wanted to do something about it!

"We got started because no one wanted to serve this community, and right now we are one of the only agencies that are in this community providing services," said Chief Operating Officer, Ray Knights.

Today, Elmy’s Special Service provides service to over 650 individuals. The ESS community has grown from its humble beginnings in the Bedford Stuyvesant Community of Brooklyn, NY to include the greater New York City Area. Our services have expanded, and we have developed more efficient facilities to better serve the needs of our individuals.  Community means a lot to us here at Elmy’s Special Services! Let us continue to expand and provide exceptional services and support to individuals and families with developmental or other disabilities in the Greater New York City Area in 2020!

1. ESS New Day Habilitation Center! 

In September,  ESS opened a new Day Habilitation Center at 1007 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. The new facility includes a game room with up to date systems; an expanded library with more computers, learning stations, and literary resources; a modernized gym with sensory equipment; an arts and craft room; a nurse station; showers in the bathroom; a locker room for individuals and staff; and a performance stage. 

The Day Habilitation With/Without Walls is a program that provides individuals with an environment that enhances their academic and prevocational skills. Our new facility will provide individuals with more resources, space, and opportunities to further academic enrichment and personal growth. 

The Day Habilitation center is an integral part of programming at Elmy’s Special Services. We strive to be an incubator for academic enrichment, personal growth, community involvement and socialization for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Greater New York City Area. A new center that expands upon these core principles means that we are on track to reaching new heights. 

We are currently scheduling tours of the new facility for parents, Care Managers, and potential enrollees. Interested in visiting the new site? Please visit us online or contact the Day Habilitation Supervisor, Ms. Campbell or Ms. Green at 929-460-5860 for dates.

2. Weekend Respite Enrollment Grows in Brooklyn and Queens!

Elmy’s Special Services Respite is a combination program that provides temporary relief for families or other caregivers of people with developmental disabilities who reside in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. Through grassroots campaigning and dedicated commitment from staff and volunteers, we have witnessed a record increase in enrollment in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. 

"Enrollment is growing and the Individuals are having fun," says Outreach Coordinator, Michelle Barker. "They are going places they have never been before, and they are engaging with the community in ways that they have never done before." 

This year, participants visited White Post Farms (Melville, NY); Modern Pinball NYC (New York, NY); County Coram Lanes (Long Island, NY); and the Museum of Food and Drink (New York, NY) among others.  Enrollment in Elmy’s Special Services weekend respite is currently ongoing. For more information on our Respite services, please visit us at

3. Brooklyn DD Council Recognition Awards!

ESS Day Habilitation Individual, Mykal Jones, was nominated for the Brooklyn DD Council Recognition Awards. Jones is an active volunteer and participant of the Day Habilitation With/Without Walls program. He is fully integrated within his community and helps staff with other individuals within the program.

The Brooklyn Developmental Disabilities Council is a group of family members, people with disabilities and professionals working together to improve the lives of people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities living in Brooklyn. Each year the council recognizes outstanding developmentally disabled individuals who exemplify growth, citizenship, and dedication within their respective fields. We are so proud of Jones for his nomination and accomplishments as an active participant in our program! 

4. ESS Chief Executive Officer Facilitates Workshop at the 48th Annual Legislative Conference! 

In February, ESS Chief Executive Officer, Ray Knights facilitated a panel discussion sponsored by New York State Senator Kevin S. Parker on "Managed Care and its Impact on Low-Economic Communities,” at The 48th Annual Legislative Conference in Albany. The panel was part of a series of socially engaged workshops aimed at raising awareness on the many issues faced in New York State today. The weekend conference ran by the State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, attracts thousands of New Yorkers, of African-American, Caribbean-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American descent.

This year's theme was:  "We Are The Agents of Change: Strong, Resilient, Unified." It was especially rewarding to see some of the most influential leaders of color within New York State gather to discuss the most pressing issues facing New York residents today.  The panel facilitated by ESS Chief Executive Officer, Ray Knights, raised questions on accountability in managed care organizations, access to quality care in underserved communities and impact. Panelists included: Kate Marlay, Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Person-Centered Support, OPWDD; Mary Grace Giuliano, MSW, Metro NY Director of Region 4, OPWDD; Joanne Fortune, PHD LMMC, Regional Director, SCO Family of Services; and Luis Mota, Eprine Community Services Inc, CEO.

June marked the 14th annual national celebration of Caribbean Heritage. In celebration of all the Caribbean immigrants that have come to these shores in pursuit of the “American Dream,” ESS facilitated an “International Day Celebration” in our Day Habilitation program. At the “International Day Celebration,” Individuals and staff alike celebrated the different cultures represented in our organization.

Celebrants, dressed in their cultural attire, brought in flags and gear representing their cultural background. They sampled different foods from different Caribbean countries and listened to many genres of Caribbean music.

Caribbean heritage is a source of great pride here at ESS. Our staff and individuals represent an array of different Caribbean countries and cultures. It is with great honor that we recognize the achievements and contributions Caribbean immigrants and their descendants have made in this country. 

6. Summer Vacation at The Villa Roma Resort!

In July, Individuals from our Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) program enjoyed a fun weekend of exploration and relaxation at the Villa Roma Resort in Catskills, NY. 

We believe that vacation is essential to one’s mental health, fitness, and state of being. Studies show that people who take vacations have lower stress, good health, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. At ESS we want to foster a safe environment and facilitate engaging activities that build upon health and wellness, community, diversity and inclusion for our individuals; key tenets of our philosophy. 

The Villa Roma Resort offers Indoor & outdoor heated pools, a fun park, fishing pond, go-carts, bumper boats, fitness center, nightly entertainment, 3 year-round dining outlets, and so much more! Theme weekends and year-round activities at the Villa Roma Resort makes it the perfect spot for an ESS weekend adventure. 

The ESS Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) are certified homes that provide room, board, and individualized service options. The homes are licensed by OPWDD to provide housing and related services. At Elmy’s Special Services, our homes foster independence, community integration, individualization, and productivity. Individuals residing in Elmy’s residences are provided with opportunities to participate in meaningful interactions in order to develop social skills while at the same time emphasizing individual choice.

To find out more about Elmy’s Special Services Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) visit us online:

7. ESS Summer Camp Fun!

There is a sweet nostalgia for many of the fun activities and trips we experienced with our individuals in our Summer program! 

This year, we facilitated a host of socially engaging activities that built upon the key tenets of our philosophy: health and wellness, creative expression, academic enrichment, community, diversity, and inclusion. 

Our Summer Camp Program provides individuals with opportunities to make friends in a fun and safe environment. Individuals are picked up early in the morning and returned home in the afternoon. They visit the pool, local beaches, zoos, amusement parks, and museums among others. Summer camp starts as soon as individuals are out of school and continue until they go back to school.

Interested in enrolling your child in our 2020 Summer program? Visit us online!

8. National Night Out at Restoration Plaza! 

In August, representatives from ESS attended the 79th Precinct Council National Night Out at Restoration Plaza located at 1368 Fulton Street near Applebee’s. The event included a talent showcase, free massage therapy, health and wellness resources, food and vendor tables among others. 

National Night Out is an “annual” family fun day” in the community.  It is a day when the Police in every borough spend time with youth and families in every community. The objective is to strengthen the police-community partnership and improve the quality of living. Representatives from ESS were on site to provide useful information to qualified candidates seeking employment opportunities and services.

We are thrilled to have taken part in this year's festivities. We look forward, with much enthusiasm, to next year’s event!


Ray Knights is the Chief Executive Director of Elmy’s Special Services, Inc. (ESS). ESS is a not-for-profit organization operating under the auspices of the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office for Children and Family Services, and the New York State Department of Health. 
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