The Millstone Times May 2022

An Organization Whose Mission Is to Become a ‘Provider of Choice’ and to Create a ‘Haven of Support’ for Adults with Developmental Disabilities Friends of Cyrus

Turning nothing into everything describes the next big step for Friends of Cyrus. With this readily accessible property in Millstone Township opening as a new Day Habilitation for Adults with intellectual and developmental disabil

“Our individuals have so much to contribute. We’d love to work with local businesses to create integrated employment or volunteer opportu nities in the community where they can work, learn and live purposeful lives,” Kameli explained. These skills include basic life skills such as practicing hygiene, cooking, laundry etc. and range all the way to pre-vocational training and sup ported employment. The program will offer community-based activities and outings to area parks, restaurants, malls, zoo, library and museums. “We are filled with gratitude for being able to serve more individuals with developmental disabilities and thrilled to be in such a beautiful town with an incredibly supportive community,” says Kamelia Kameli, Founder & CEO of Friends of Cyrus II. “Friends of Cyrus is strongly committed to meeting the needs of adults with developmental disabil ities, ensuring quality of community-based services and full inclusion and participation in community life.” With over 10,500 square feet, there is more than enough space for growth and progression. “One of the most intriguing characteristics at the Millstone facility, is the large room right when you walk into the front door. This room has a few steps facing an open area. This set up could open an option up for a theatrical style activity, another activity for self-expression and creativity,” says Alix Van Sciver. Friends of Cyrus plans to continue expansion to ensure we afford endless possibilities for our individuals to learn, contribute, and succeed. According to Kameli, the program follows “individual plan of care” for each participant and provides “very intensive training” to its staff, with direct support professionals given the responsibility of getting to know specific individuals to whom they’re assigned and know how to address whatever behavioral challenges they may present. That way, she contend ed, “we can adjust staff ratios accordingly to accommodate the needs of every single person in the program”—an especially important consider ation on outings. One point on which she wanted to be very clear is that the staff is not qualified to diagnose any medical or psychiatric illnesses or prescribe any sort of medication, as it does not include a doctor or nurse. “However, if the individuals are on medications that have to be administered during service hours, we’ll be happy to do so.” “No one is going to be disqualified because they’re on medication,” she emphasized. Friends of Cyrus also provides transportation to and from home on a case- by- case basis. Statewide, there are over 237,000 students under Special Education en rollment, with nearly 24,000 students specifically classified in the Autism category. Friends of Cyrus seeks to provide broader access to disability support services for adults seeking Day Habilitation services and individ uals aging out of their Special Education programs. FOC currently operates an Adult Day Program in Medford, Tabernacle and has plans to open its 3rd Day Habilitation facility in Middlesex Coun ty by October of 2022. In addition to Day Habilitation services, FOC op erates 24 Community Residences across Burlington, Camden, & Middle sex Counties. The agency also provides In-Home Supports services for adults throughout the state. "What makes our programs successful, is our well trained and dedicated team. Every resident and every participant become a family member and a friend of Cyrus." Kamelia Kameli, CEO The new Millstone Day Habilitation program will be located at, 36 Tren ton Lakewood Road, Millstone, NJ 08510. If you need support for an adult with disabilities who is approved for DDD services, please reach out to the FOC Admissions Team at For further assistance please reach out to and/or Friends of Cyrus II is a Human Services agency that provides communi ty-based residential programs, in-home support services, and day habili tation services to New Jersey’s intellectually and developmentally disabled adults. Since its inception, Friends of Cyrus II has operated with an un wavering mission in mind: to create a haven of lifetime support options for individuals with disabilities. Friends of Cyrus II currently supports over 120 adults throughout Burlington and Middlesex Counties with a focus on fos tering independence, dignity, privacy, choice, and individuality.

ities, Friends of Cyrus continues their due diligence to provide above and beyond care for adults with I/DD. With more programs like the Millstone property, Friends of Cyrus helps their participants surface and hone their talents and capabilities. “We started the agency about 10 years ago because of the urgent need for quality services for adults with developmental disabilities,” says its CEO, Ka melia Kameli, who cofounded it with a partner, Daren Singhani, who serves as the organization’s board chairman. Kameli became “intimately aware” of the lack of what she considered an “appropriate” program to address the problems that her own autistic and nonverbal son Cyrus faced once having reached maturity. The Millstone facility is Friends of Cyrus’ third day habilitation program, she said, which is scheduled to have a formal opening in September, will op erate five days a week from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. It will be overseen by an expe rienced director, supervisor, clinical coordinator, administrative and direct support professionals. After being properly equipped and getting clearance from the state, it is expected to bring another 50 participants into the pro gram who will receive training in various disciplines ranging from basic self-sufficiency skills to more advanced vocational proficiency to prepare them for employment in the wider community. The participants who will be enrolled either live in group homes that are also maintained by the organization or reside with their families, where they are offered in-home support services, and are accepted into the pro gram based on individual assessments “if we feel we can serve them prop erly,” Kameli Kameli, CEO. The participants also include some individuals who are prone to “really challenging behaviors,” which can be complicated by the inability to ver bally communicate, and whom other programs for the developmentally disabled may decline to accept for that reason, according to Alix Van Sciver, the organization’s Community Relations Coordinator. “One of the things we specialize in is behavior management,” Van Sciver explained. “We have a director of clinical services, who is a board-certified behavior analyst, and who runs a team of clinicians that work to develop a behavior plan in individual cases with the goal of mitigating those challeng ing behaviors as best they can.” Friends of Cyrus describes its mission as being “to create a haven of life time support options for individuals with developmental disabilities,” with a focus on “fostering independence, dignity, privacy, choice, and individu ality.” Kameli’s adopted son Harley, 27, with whom Cyrus now lives and who also has a developmental disability, is one example she cites of how the program can help its participants achieve a measure of independence. Harley, who unlike Cyrus, possesses verbal skills, has shown himself to be “quite capable of going out with his coach to a job site, and is currently in FOC’s prevoca tional program,” she said. With Friends of Cyrus, the participants are provided, not only with the proper care they need, but with the ability to make choices. The individu als are given all the necessary tools to become independent, contributing members of society. Our staff are highly trained, nurturing, and charismatic people that develop personal relationships not only with our individuals but with their families. This fosters that welcoming and inclusive feeling for everyone involved. Our Executive Director, Sam Abdallah, is not your typical director. He is a very hands-on employee and forward thinker. Sam frequently visits our Day programs and Group Homes. With the new Millstone facility, Sam has expressed his excitement and already has new ideas to incorporate. “There are multiple rooms, both small and large to properly assess the needs of each individual that will be attending.” The Millstone Adult Day program will involve activities structured around the Assessment of Functional Living Skills approach. AFLS is an evidence-based skills assessment tool and curriculum guide, designed to assist our individuals with I/DD learn and maintain crucial skills they need to achieve independence.

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