One day in April, 2020, CP Nassau’s Dina Granados was looking at the Instagram Explore Page.  According to Dina, “ I saw one of the pictures from CP Bayville shared by the account “A Special Community.” The account is run by Dr. Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and author on the autism spectrum. As an autism self-advocate, he wanted to bring light to the topic of group homes for those with disabilities and the difficulties that poses when those individuals are away from their loved ones and the people who can best communicate their needs. As I read the comments I saw some people asked how they can help. The clothing brand Alivia had inquired about donations on the post and I answered them directly. “

Dina and Pat Quinn connected with Jovana Mullens, the co-founder and CCO (Chief Creative Officer) of  Alivia, a social-impact womenswear brand inspired by the artistic expressions of people with developmental disabilities.  All of their prints are created by young adults with Autism and for every mask sold the company said they would love to donate one to CP Nassau. Alivia’s masks are non medical grade, but they are washable and reusable. They had just done a first round of orders and donations for another care facility in NYC, and offered their next round to us.

The designers at Alivia also created coloring sheets of their prints as a therapeutic activity for the frontline staff during their break time, and for the residents to do as an activity.  We invited Jovana to be a guest speaker at a ZOOM distance learning session for our Adult Day program participants and she accepted!  Jovana did such a fun and informative session in May, everyone loved it!  Participants discussed how most of the masks available didn’t fit quite right and Jovana offered to make some custom masks made to order for the participants as a gift!

As the session continued, Jovana drew caricatures of well known people for all watching to guess the identity.  Her drawings were done in less than a minute and were so good that each time someone was able to name the person.  One of the most impressive correct answers was from resident, Joe Gilbert who named Frida Kahlo – Sam Hasher, our Art Therapist had to be proud about that one!  The first drawing was of President Obama and the last one was of one of the participants viewing the session, Kevin Christman, President of our Self-Advocacy Group.  So Jovana said, “Wow, we started and ended with a President today!”

Life Options once again enjoyed the company of our new friend, Jovana Mullins in June. This time she visited with participants on the zoom channel and showed all how to tie-dye face masks. Melissa Whidden, Life Options Coordinator comments, “Not only did we enjoy the process but Jovan customized many of the tie-dyed masks for the individuals in Life Options that she again donated. We could not be more thankful for all she has donated to us and shared with us.”

Pat Quinn, Community Outreach manager at CP Nassau said, “Jovana is such a beautiful person inside and out and all involved thoroughly loved being part of the sessions and are thrilled she has promised to do future sessions and more unique projects with us!  We are so very grateful that this chance connection has turned out to be so wonderful!”

Check out the Alivia website: <http://www.shopalivia.com>