Pathfinder Village announces Community Heroes and Programs of Excellence Awards
October 12, 2023 … Pathfinder Village honored its Community Heroes and Programs of Excellence during its Family Day on Saturday, October 7. The staff of the Bassett Health Center Edmeston-Burlington, Pathfinder School, and Pastor Douglas Burleigh were recognized before gathered families, board members, and other stakeholders.
The awards acknowledge how individuals and programs have improved the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through sustained and relevant person-centered services. Pathfinder Village, a livable residential community and services provider, founded in 1980, has been a leader in defining best practices in the Down syndrome field for decades.
In making the Community Heroes presentation, Mr. Landers recalled how Donald Pollock, MD and Van Ness Robinson of NYCM worked to open Bassett Healthcare Network’s first-ever community clinic in Edmeston in 1973. When it outgrew its South Street facility, the community clinic relocated to Pathfinder’s Butler House in 1990. It moved again in 2015 after Pathfinder raised funds to build a contemporary and larger facility, the William F. Streck Community Health Center. This building is named for Bassett’s past president and CEO, William F. Streck, MD, who also serves as chair of Pathfinder’s Board of Directors.
In presenting the award to Bassett staff members Theresa Scrivener, Pamela Simmons, and Bonnie Conrow, LPN, Mr. Landers said, “It's hard to describe how important it is to have the clinic here given the complex needs of our individuals: Healthcare is best administered when there is familiarity between the clinician and the patient.”
“Having this clinic here has given us a deep connection between the clinician and the patient,” he continued. “It’s the way medicine is meant to be delivered. Simply put, the health center is another tangible asset at Pathfinder that creates an environment where ‘each life may find meaning’.”
A Program Excellence award was given to the staff of Pathfinder School, a K-12 program that offers academic instruction, therapies, and other services to children with diverse physical and behavioral needs from 15 regional school districts. Mr. Landers said the school is Pathfinder’s “most-enduring program” and continues the affirming legacy of the Otsego School, an Edmeston-based home-school that was founded in 1922 to educate children with Down syndrome by Florence Chesebrough, RN.
Mr. Landers said the decades-long operation of the Otsego School set the inclusive tone for the entire community, and that long-standing acceptance encouraged the expansion of Pathfinder’s educational services in 2014 through its post-secondary program, Otsego Academy. He praised current Sr. Director of Education Maura Iorio for steering the educational program through some of its greatest changes and challenges.
“The children in our school are very different today, they have different needs than when Pathfinder opened,” he said. “With Maura’s leadership, and our dedicated faculty, therapists, and staff, Pathfinder School has redefined itself as a more diverse educational setting, delivering credible, creative services to a more complex student population. But the story is still the same … today families can find a place where their loved ones can grow, learn, and mature. Pathfinder School continues to be a place of hope, a reminder to all of us of the human potential.”
Mr. Landers also presented Pastor Douglas Burleigh a Program Excellence Award for his 14 years of providing spiritual and faith services to residents and families as part of the Village’s Enrichment program. The Rev. Burleigh, who also serves Community Hospice of Albany, will retire from his position at the end of the year.
“Pastor Doug has served through some really challenging times,” said Mr. Landers, referencing Rev. Burleigh’s counseling during the pandemic and in helping residents who have experienced the passing of friends through aging and dementia.
“Doug is always available in times of need and is deeply connected to this place. If you spend time with him, you understand that he cares about you, he cares about our community members, and he cares about Pathfinder’s mission,” concluded Mr. Landers.
The awards were announced during October, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, to underscore the roles and contributions that people with Trisomy 21 make in their communities.