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P.R.OM. For A Cause: An Inside Look at Durand, Inc: Serving South Jersey’s Autism and Developmentally Disabled Community

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Dear Readers of Social The Lifestyle Magazine

 I am honored to share a perspective via writing in collaboration with Social, a perspective that many families may have a connection to, but also one that may be unfamiliar territory for other readers. I often openly share that I  have a disability myself…. Empathy is very very important to me. Not only is it important for myself to practice empathy, but I am also drawn to  teaching others about the disability and healthcare community. I feel It is also important to continue to be an advocate for people with disabilities, and other populations that need support. Did you know for instance, that April is Autism Awareness and Autism Acceptance Month? Therefore, I am honored to write about Durand Inc, Services, which provides enrolled clients, significant services to its special needs population, and for people with various health needs or disabilities, particularly in the New Jersey area. I had the privilege to speak with Rae Pastore, Director of Marketing and Development, at Durand Inc, and Anthony Mongeluzo, Durand’s 2024,  PROM King. This year’s 2024 Prom King and Queen honors were held by Anthony Mongeluz, and Mindie Barnett, of MB and Associates.   The event is also called P.R.O.M., with another meaning, “ People Rallying Our Mission.” Durand Inc, staff members and their supporters provided during this interview, their perspectives and  specialized insight: 

 

Meghan Forte: What are the important educational factors of Durand that make the services and school stand out to the families in the community who utilize this program?

Anthony Mongeluzo : One of the most important educational factors that I see is Durand teaches real world skills. Many things that we take for granted, not everyone has the opportunity or ability to receive and Durand is able to help folks manage things they need to function and live a normal life. 

Rae Pastore: Durand has a 51 year history of success in providing learning opportunities to those with special needs in a safe environment. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, no one person with autism has the exact same need, therefore it is imperative that we customize our service provisions. Whether in our school, adult training programs or residential placement, all of our educational programs and individualized support is person-centered and directly focused on the client or student. In doing so, we are of better service to the communities we are fortunate enough to assist. 

 

Meghan Forte: In what ways does a Durand Prom bring the students together, and benefit the school/organization?

Anthony Mongeluzo: I believe that the P.R.O.M will be able to connect folks in all areas and all walks of life to unite and understand how important Durand is to the community and how they make our communities better with the services they provide. 

Rae Pastore: The Durand P.R.O.M is an opportunity for us to not only highlight the amazing work our organization has done over the last five decades, but it is also a wonderful chance to recognize two amazing business leaders who are so very generous and are devoted to our mission of helping those with special needs learn and grow in a safe environment. 

 

Meghan Forte: Why is inclusion of people with special needs important to Durand?

Anthony Mongeluzo:This is a soft spot for me as my wife was a special education teacher, and I saw her care and how she changed lives. By having special needs people with Durand, it showcases how together by supporting such a great organization how we can showcase how special these folks truly are and help them to learn, grow and thrive in our community.

Rae Pastore: Inclusion is what we are all about at Durand. We are often the voice for those who are unable to communicate on their own so it is very important that we are able to advocate for our clients and students. Inclusion is a human right and frankly we have all seen the societal benefit from welcoming those who see the world from a different lens. Durand gives individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities the skills and support to thrive. With life-long services from early childhood through adulthood, Durand allows for our clients to achieve their highest potential.

 

Meghan Forte: Can you share some historical background information about Durand?

Anthony Mongeluzo: I can share my history which was learned from Executive Director, Ray Cristofoletti, about what a special organization Durand is. We have worked and supported Durand for over a decade and I’m so proud that one of my business partners, Steve Greenawalt, helped to support and work with this amazing organization. From a leadership perspective, they are guided by one of the best in Ray. I was humbled to be able to work with him when we started and learn from him and I’ve even more proud now to call him my friend. 

Rae Pastore: Durand began as the Sunny Day School, a special needs school in 1972; from there it was renamed the Durand Academy and eventually Durand, Inc. For 51 years we have been providing educational based programming in the Tri-county area to those with autism and other developmental disabilities. In the following years, we have expanded our services to include adult day programs with an educational focus, along with numerous residential homes where our clients live happy, healthy and productive lives. Surrounded by their peers, our participants receive the psycho-social reinforcement they need in addition to continued opportunities to learn life skills; all of which foster greater independence. 

 

Meghan Forte: Why are solid residential and vocational training programs important for the families that Durand serves ?

Anthony Mongeluzo: These programs help struggling families. With limited resources and time, families benefit and are able to succeed and grow thanks to the support of Durand. It’s tough enough in these times when everything is in your favor to grow and prosper. Some folks aren’t always blessed with everything they need; and without the support of these programs and the heroes at Durand, they wouldn’t have the same opportunities. Durand helps families which ultimately helps the communities that we live and work in. Every team member at Durand is a hero that helps our community.

Rae Pastore: Our adult training and residential programs assist in fostering the independence of our clients while they have an opportunity to continue to learn and grow in a safe environment. Supported by expert staff, individuals learn to cook, shop, build social skills and solidify personal relationships, while also participating in a variety of outings, sporting events, holiday celebrations and other activities. Because we use crafted individualized support, our clients have strengthened skills and increased autonomy.

 

Do you have a child or an adult aged child with autism and other special needs? Know that the caring and dedicated experts and dedicated team at Durand, will provide the life-long care specialized care that your loved one may need. Thank you , to the team at Durand, for all that you do for people with disabiltities, including children and adults with autism. The Durand Inc. School, is located in Woodbury, New Jersey, and the Durand, Inc, Executive Offices, are located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Durand serves various developmentally disabled populations,  with additionally,  an emphasis or specialization in autism. There are board certified behavior analysts on staff at Durand, Inc. Resources for families with autism, and additional special needs can be found here. This year’s P.R.O.M., will be held at The Supper Club, in Turnersville, New Jersey. The event will be held May 4th, 2024. Thank you, Durand Inc. and supporters,  for your time to speak to Social The Lifestyle Magazine

 

Durand, Inc, Professional Website 

Contact Durand, Inc. 

Make a Donation to Durand, Inc. 

Tickets to P.R.O.M 

Related Services at Durand, Inc. 

Careers /Open Positions  at Durand, Inc. 

Potential-Employee Hiring Steps

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Social Media Platforms to Follow Durand Inc: 

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Meghan is a content writer. She loves entertainment news and screenwriting. She is a Hallmark Channel fan. In her spare time, she still writes hand written letters to friends and family.

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