- by Mount Saint Mary College

Mount Saint Mary College’s Center on Aging and Disability Policy (CADP) was recently awarded a pair of grants totaling $70,000, which will be used to expand two key offerings: the Proactive Caring Program for families of individuals with disabilities, and the Elder Abuse Awareness Virtual Coalition. 

CADP recently received a one-year grant for $50,000 from the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council’s (DDPC) COVID Response Small Grant initiative. It will be used to continue and grow the Proactive Caring Program. 

The stress of caregiving can negatively impact caregiver health and wellbeing, and caregivers often have limited access to information about how to cope with stress and how to care for themselves while caring for their family members. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional stress on these caregivers. The Proactive Caring Program, developed by Mount Saint Mary College’s CADP in 2017 and funded by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, helps to combat this by providing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) strategies and training to individuals, families, and caregiving staff.   

With the aid of the DDPC grant, CADP will also continue providing the Proactive Caring-School Exchange program, which began as a series of webcasts to support parents of children living and learning at home due to the pandemic. In the coming year, School Exchange will expand to a new area: creating tools and resources for families regarding life transitions. 

In addition, a key partner of CADP, Parent Network of Western New York (PNWNY), will use the DDPC grant to help support individuals and families via video-based support groups. The “Got Stress? Get Mindful” programs will be aimed at individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as they envision their lives beyond high school and college. 

Funds will also underwrite a national, virtual public policy forum on transitions, held in partnership with the American Congress of Community Supports and Employment Services (ACCSES) in Washington, D.C. 

The Mount’s CADP also received a $20,000 grant from Orange County to underwrite season 2 of Elder Abuse Awareness: Virtual Coalition. This initiative was designed to bring awareness to elder abuse and the remedies available for all those affected. It covers topics including exercise, finances, neglect, self-awareness, and more. 

This second season consists of 10 videocasts with a specific focus on elder abuse concerns for veterans, nursing home residents, and families with special needs individuals. All episodes can be found at

The conversations are moderated by Elisa Gwilliam, founder of the Hudson Valley Healing Center, and hosted and facilitated by Lawrence T. Force, a Psychology professor at Mount Saint Mary College and director of the college’s Center on Aging and Disability Policy; and AnnMarie Maglione, director of Orange County Office for the Aging.

CADP is directed by Force and Jeffery Kahana, associate professor of History at Mount Saint Mary College. 

“These are unprecedented times, and increases in stress and social isolation are being felt across this nation,” said Force. “We are pleased that our partners and collaborators have provided us the opportunity to be present for many, with tools, resources, and strategies that can be of help.”

Kahana added, “We are grateful for the support of the New York DDPC and Orange County at this critical time. We are honored to be able to assist elders and caregivers in a holistic manner that values their humanity and individuality."

 Force, a gerontologist, has worked in the field of aging and disabilities for more than three decades as an administrator, clinician, and educator.Kahana, in addition to teaching at the Mount and working with the Center on Aging and Disability Policy, is a prolific author on subjects ranging from academics to social issues in the United States.

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