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My name is Jill Werfelman. My younger sister Kristy Baumer is a young woman with Down syndrome. I remember being five, almost six years old and my mother going into labor in the middle of the night. I was so excited to have a sibling after so many years as an only child. I distinctly remember my parents bringing my sister home from the hospital and having something important to tell me. They sat me down on the couch and told me Kristy had Down syndrome. At this age all I knew was my sister would soon start going to a school in Bellmore called ACDS. I used to go visit her at school for sibling’s day, go see her perform in holiday concerts, and attended a support group for siblings of children with Down syndrome. I quickly became an advocate for children in my school who had physical or developmental disabilities. I constantly argued with people over the use of the “R word” and only surrounded myself with those who understood the reason it was inappropriate to use such language. From a young age I knew my sister’s disability would forever impact my life in the most positive ways.

Growing up my family spent a lot of time with other families from ACDS, I grew up around other families very similar to ours. We all talked about volunteering at Camp Anchor where our siblings attended for summer camp. Most of us did follow this dream, as well as the dream of becoming special education teachers. I knew I wanted to work with this population in another way so I became a social worker. I now currently work at a nonprofit agency in Garden City called Life’s WORC where I am the Coordinator of Vocational Innovations for our newly formed employment department. I work each day with individuals with developmental disabilities who were told they would never work, would never achieve their dreams. We are helping them break those stereotypes and achieve their employment dreams. My sister inspires me daily to believe anything is possible if you just work hard.

ACDS Personal Stories

She always dreamt of returning to her roots and working at ACDS. She is 23 years old and is currently employed at ACDS in both daycare and the school setting. Of course I needed no convincing to have my son Logan attend the school’s day care. There is nowhere else he could go where I would have 100% confidence in it being a loving, educational, and open minded environment. My sister always works on day per week at an office and helps me with Logan anytime she can. She participates in many afternoon/evening activities and is the most social person I know.

I want to thank everyone who has given my sister the opportunities she has had, but more importantly thank her for being the strongest, smartest, most beautiful person I know. Without her dedication to her dreams she would never be where she is today. She is so good with kids, she has a talent for working with children and I’m so glad she is employed at such a wonderful place!

Jill Werfelman


If you have a personal story about ACDS that you would like to share, please contact

Laurie Schaefer
lschaefer@acds.org

With your support, we can continue to assist children and adults with Down syndrome, Autism and other developmental disabilities and their families.
Your contribution can make a difference to a child and family, just like those families in the stories above.

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