United Spinal Hudson Valley Chapter

March 9, 2015

Pioneers in SCI Empowerment

Helen Hayes Hospital is happy to announce we have started the Hudson Valley Chapter of The United Spinal Association. The Hudson Valley Chapter is a united effort of dedicated individuals dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with spinal cord injury/disease, their families and those who provide their care. The Association is a non-profit (501c3) organization in conjunction with the Helen Hayes Hospital Foundation.

United Spinal Chapters are self-dependent organizations that share the goals of United Spinal Association and support them within a specified geographical region. They support the spinal cord injury/disease community in many different ways – by promoting health and wellbeing, promoting inclusion and independence, organizing local events and projects, advocating for rights and accessibility and offering information and support to their chapter communities.

United Spinal was founded in 1946 by a determined group of paralyzed WWII veterans in New York City who advocated for greater civil rights and independence for themselves and their fellow veterans. Rejecting the poor treatment they received at their local VA hospital, they decided to form a support group. From these modest beginnings, United Spinal was born. Since then, United Spinal’s core belief has remained unchanged. Despite living with SCI/D, a full, productive, and rewarding life is within the reach of anyone with the strength to believe it and the courage to make it happen.

Today, United Spinal is the largest non-profit organization dedicated to helping people living with SCI/D.

Helen Hayes Hospital has been working closely with United Spinal Association for the past 15 years and we are extremely proud to now be an official chapter of this organization.

Our Mission
The Hudson Valley Chapter’s Mission is HOPE:
H – Health & Wellness after SCI/D
O – Opportunity to fulfill goals and dreams
P – Peer Support
E – Empowering individuals to achieve independence

We are committed to providing active-lifestyle information, peer support and advocacy that empower individuals to achieve their highest potential in all facets of life. Whether leaving rehab after sustaining a spinal cord injury, learning to live with symptoms of a spinal cord disorder, or having spent years of frustration coping with disability; we provide members guidance and resources on a variety of topics such as employment, affordable housing, transportation, health care, home and community-based independent living, education, peer support, and leisure and recreation.

The Chapter’s home base is at Helen Hayes Hospital, therefore once you become a member of the Hudson Valley Chapter you will have access to all that HHH has to offer to our SCI/D/ community: including our adaptive sports and recreation program. This program includes introductory clinics to such sports as: hand cycling, sailing, rowing, skiing, softball, golfing, rock climbing, adapted yoga and gardening and many more. We offer access to our peer mentoring program and our monthly SCI support groups. A peer mentor can make a tremendous difference in how successfully someone adjusts to spinal cord injury, effectively helping to restore a person’s self-confidence and coping skills and providing a new social network. Please see our website for more details about these and other great programs available at www.helenhayeshospital.org.

Executive Board:
Matthew Castelluccio, President
Elaine Castelluccio, Vice President
Lori Meszler, Treasurer
Ashley Manzano, Secretary

Board of Directors:
Mary Creagh
Yvonne Evans
Peter Gagliardo
Keith Gurgui
Hilda Kogut
Kathleen Martucci
Dr. Ferne Pomerantz

– Elaine DeFrancesco, PT
Program Director, Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation