Hi, I'm Diana Stolfo.
I am happy to be here to represent NDSS and our NY/NJ community at this historic UN celebration for World Down Syndrome Day!
Let me tell you a little about myself and how I have overcome obstacles to become more independent.
I am blessed to have been born to Salvatore and Joanne Stolfo. I'm the oldest of 3. I'm 30 years old, and in case you weren't sure, I have Down syndrome.
When parents have children like me they always worry about their future. Well, I am MAKING my future NOW.
Even though I am differently-abled, nothing has ever held me back from making my dreams come true.
After over 28 years of living at home in Ridgewood, I am now living independently in my own apartment in Allendale Orchard Commons, along with 11 other differently-abled adults, including my boyfriend, Matthew Arnold. In SEPARATE apartments, of course. Orchard Commons is NOT a group home; it is a GROUP of homes. We have become a community as well as a part of the Allendale community. We have formed a Tenant's Association. Twice a week some of us exercise with the Allendale Women's Club. We've made it a point to shop at local stores and support the business community. And, when we have a great recipe to share, we invite the town Mayor over for dinner.
I also work; I work hard! Right now I have 4 part-time jobs. I view this as a blessing, but my dad has a different point of view when HE's preparing my tax returns. (Thanks, Dad)
- I work as a Clerical Assistant at ECLC in Ho-Ho-Kus, a school for students with Disabilities.
- I am employed as a teacher's assistant at Meaningful Movements Dance Studio, where I work with children and Adults who are Differently-Abled.
- I am also a Receptionist in the rectory at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ridgewood, NJ.
- My longest job is at Baby and Kids Gap as a Sales Associate. I've been working there for 11 years now! I originally got this job through a Transition program at Ridgewood High School.
I use a Google calendar to keep all this straight and keep my family up- to-date on my schedule. My biggest challenge now is arranging transportation to my various jobs. Transportation has been very complicated. I am also learning to strategize and to make my own decisions.
I am living proof that we can all grow and develop no matter how differently – abled we are. Let's put our minds TOGETHER and build even more INDEPENDENT futures- WORLDWIDE!