In the News....
June 2018


What a magnificent celebration!  Vanderheyden's Graduation Day 2018 was held on Friday, June 22nd.   
Our Seniors from the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center walked the stage for their diplomas, while our 8th Graders took the stage as they moved up to high school.   
Thank you to all who made this celebration one to remember for our individuals!
Playing the drums is much more to Joseph B. than just playing a musical instrument.
"Drumming makes me happy. I want to do it constantly, and just let it flow," he said. "It keeps me focused. It keeps me calm. It gets all the tension out."  
Joseph has been at Vanderheyden for almost a year, and is a high school student at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center.  
The New York City native loves to play the drums. He said his Uncle is in a band, and hopes to join him one day in a few songs. Joseph said it's like a habit to drum.  
"I never took a lesson. I just learned it naturally," Joseph said. "It just happened."
He said when he leaves Vanderheyden, he wants to become a famous musician, and, go in the U.S. Marines.
Joseph said he likes to write music, and attributes his drumming success to Dr. Peter Taormina, our Director of Student Services.
"He's a good teacher, and without him and Safety Team Member Aggie Sanon, I would have never gotten this far with drumming," he said.
Taormina said Joseph is a natural drummer and musician.
"Joseph has evolved in his playing from simply drumming to becoming more and more aware of how he fits into the music or the ensemble," he said. "He practices constantly, and it shows in his playing."
"It is rare to see a young person so dedicated to his instrument, and so willing to put in the time to constantly grow," Taormina said.
Joseph, Taormina and Sanon take the stage with Vanderheyden's President and CEO Karen Carpenter Palumbo and Cap Com's Amanda Goyer  
Joseph has played the drums at several events on campus, and in the Capital Region.  He was part of the ensemble at the Cap Com Cares Foundations' fundraiser on June 4th, 2018 at Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs.  Thank you to Cap Com's Amanda Goyer for having us be a part of your special day!  
"Drumming is not only a way for Joseph to be part of music, but it is a way in which he claims a vital part of our social community and our academic community as well," Taormina said. "Drumming for Joseph is, in a sense, a pathway to all of the successes he experiences at Vanderheyden, as well as means for him to manage the demands of being a successful student and resident."
The New York Giants is Joseph's favorite NFL team, and has faith in his team. He's extremely knowledgeable about his team and the game.
"I think the Giants will make it to the NFC Championship," he said. "It's about a new linebacker, a left tackle, a new running back. It's going to happen."
His favorite player is Odell Beckham, Jr, but, he can't wait for former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley to take the field for the Giants.
Besides playing football in the past, Joseph likes to play Madden video games, and read about NFL history.
"I find it very interesting," he said.
Joseph also likes the New York Yankees, and playing pool.
At Vanderheyden, Joseph said it's been a good experience.
"I get to ride my skateboard, and to do drumming with Peter (Taomina)" he said. "I like to hang out with friends and cottage staff."
Recreational activities are high on Joseph's list of favorites. Fun Plex is one of his favorite places, and a place where he would eventually love to work.
"I love go karts," he said. "I always think and concentrate when riding them."
Doing construction-type jobs interests Joseph. He said he wants to get a job at our Wynantskill campus where he can fix anything. Watching his father as a superintendent of a building for eleven years, piqued his interest.  
Joseph also had good thoughts about Vanderheyden.
"It's a good place for me to change up my life, and focus on what I have to do to get back home," he said.
Thank you, Joseph, for letting us experience your drumming talent at Vanderheyden!
One day, maybe we will see Joseph as a member of the New York Giants G-Line!
Our campus and school individuals and Team Members had so much fun as our gym was transformed into an under water spectacular!

      Thank you to all our Team Members who made this night a special one  
                                              for our campus individuals.                                           

Vanderheyden individuals not only go to the Albany Empire games, they get to go on the field and participate!  Thank you to our ticket donor!  We can't thank you enough!  


Brenda Iwaneczko has been an integral part of Vanderheyden since she walked in the doors of our Administration building in Wynantskill in 1985.
Iwaneczko, from Rensselaer County, began her career as the school secretary, after she said she saw an ad in the West Sand Lake Advertiser, now called the Advertiser.
"I was a stay-at-home Mom, got dressed up, and interviewed with Steve Abelson, the director of education. An hour after the interview, I got a call and he offered me the job," Iwaneczko said.  
After leaving Vanderheyden for a few years to raise her grandchildren, Iwaneczko came back as a consultant, and also worked in Quality and Assurance for a number of years.
Her current position is Office Manager for our Health Services department, where Iwaneczko's duties include making sure medical appointments and medical treatment plans for our campus individuals are in place, billing, and making sure the office runs smoothly.
Iwaneczko said she has been at Vanderheyden for years for a few reasons.
"I'm giving back to the community, and I love it," she said. "I love the people I work with. I told Mary Ellen (Pace, Director of Health Services) that as long as she makes me laugh once a day, I'll stay."
She also has high praise for her fellow Team Members.
"It's a good team to work with. They all care about the children, and that's the main reason we're here," Iwaneczko said.
Iwaneczko said she has one of the best reasons why she likes working at Vanderheyden.
"Knowing that at the end of the day, I have done something for one or more residents for their health," she said.
The agency's growth and the many new programs, such as Health Homes, MSC, and the opening of more IRA's are some of the great changes she has seen over the years.
Iwaneczko has been married to Mike Iwaneczko, our Director of Information Technology for 48 years. She said they met when they both worked in the same building on State Street in Albany. Brenda was employed at New York Tel Engineering, and Mike worked at AT&T.
Together, they have two daughters and a son, and five grandchildren ages 11 to 19.
The Iwaneczko family has given back to Vanderheyden in so many ways. That includes organizing, preparing and serving Vanderheyden's annual Thanksgiving Dinner which is in its 34th year.
Iwaneczko said the dinner is her passion, and is a lot of fun to be involved in. Her daughter bakes the pies, and her grandchildren do the pre-prep work and whatever else that needs to be done.
"This will be the biggest thing I am going to miss when I retire," she said.
In her spare time, Iwaneczko said she loves to read and to watch old movies, especially sci-fi.  
Traveling is a big part of her spare time as well. Her favorite trips include cruises to the Caribbean. Her goal is to go on a Mediterranean cruise.
Day trips to Vermont and elsewhere where "we get in the car and head-out" are a big part of the Iwaneczko's days off.  
"There are a lot of things to do," Iwaneczko said. "People don't realize the beautiful places to see."
Thank you, Brenda, for giving back in spectacular fashion to the Vanderheyden community!
Vanderheyden's first Paint and Sip Fundraiser was held in Castleton in June.  Our most popular event was sold out!  
All donations go to our Community Services Summer Bash Dance for our individuals in group homes, which is coming up in August.


Thank you LeverPoint volunteers for helping us create a tribute at our Wynantskill campus to a devoted Team Member, Joseph Kevlin, who passed away last year.    
Thank you Stewart's Shops and the Capital Region community!  

Vanderheyden was one of 1,800 local children's charities chosen to receive a grant from their Holiday Match Program!  The grant will go towards our therapeutic recreation programs for the children and youth we serve. 

Vanderheyden's Annual Student Council School Festival was held Graduation Week 2018.
Our hard-working students participated in several amusing and entertaining games, and also were eligible to win a variety of cool prizes and the best fun foods around.  
Thank you to our Team Members  
who made the day a great one for our Vanderheyden individuals!

Thank you LeverPoint in Clifton Park for your continued support with your volunteer efforts!  What a great job cleaning up our Sanctuary and Ropes Trail and our Main Campus in Wynantskill!  
Thank you again for your help to change lives to save lives! 

When Vanderheyden's President and CEO Karen Carpenter Palumbo recently went on an animal rescue in Lincoln, Massachusetts, she knew the two lovable English Sheepdogs were meant to join her family.
"When I looked at their records, and their combined weight was 185 pounds, just like our 185th Anniversary year, I knew it was a sign to adopt them," Carpenter Palumbo said.
Carpenter Palumbo said she always wanted sheepdogs because they were featured as the family's pet in the 1960s movie and television show "Please Don't Eat the Daisies."
After her beloved dogs Watson and Macy passed away, who were a hit on campus, Carpenter Palumbo knew her family was ready to adopt.
8-year-old Oliver and 4-year-old Heidi may be following in the paw prints of Watson and Macy at our Vanderheyden campus in the near future!

Stay tuned to our social media sites to find out about upcoming celebrations for our 185th year!

This year, Vanderheyden will commemorate 185 years of providing services to thousands of youth, individuals and families.   
Vanderheyden is searching for Alumni and descendants with ties to the agency's long history, to relate their memories and inspirational stories of healing and growth.  We are also looking for pictures, or any related items from Vanderheyden, the Troy Orphan Asylum and the Fairview Home for Friendless Children.  Please reach out and leave a message at (518) 874-4964 or email us at:
We are also inviting 185 individuals to kick-off our celebration by becoming a member of the "1833 Society" with a donation of $1,833, to honor the year our organization was formed.
Our hope is that you will join in as someone that makes a future impact in the Vanderheyden legacy to change lives to save lives.  
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller .
For more information contact Cathy Yudzevich at , or call (518) 874-4901.  


October 13 - Annual Fall Festival at our Wynantskill campus.
October 25 - Vanderheyden 185th Anniversary Exhibit & Cocktail Reception at the Rensselaer History Society in Troy from 6 pm to 9 pm    
  More details to come.... Keep following us on Facebook!

                                             As always, thank you for your support!


Time to clean out your closets for the season!  We will accept any unwanted clothing item!  Bring them to our campus at 614 Cooper Hill Road in Wynantskill, and look for the "Blue Box" at the entrance to our parking lot.  Thank you so much for your help!                         
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