My name is Joey. I would like to be famous. I like that everybody loves me. I work at BAB and CVS. I get a paycheck. I love to see Fran at Circle of Love. I buy things at Barnes & Noble and other stores. I love Oprah, baseball, cartoons, Bewitched and Disney. I have a lot of movies. I take pictures of my CD’s and things I like. I listen to music when I’m in my room. Yes, I like the way things are going now. I work with a circle of people who support me. They want to tell you some stories about me.
“Fragile X is hard work” !
That was Joey’s parting quote to the late Lauren Terazzano of Newsday when he and his family were part of the paper’s feature on Inclusion during their extensive series on Special Education on Long Island in 1999.
He had just graduated from Lindenhurst Middle School where he spent both 7th and 8th grades outside the confines of separate “special ed “classes. Certainly this was not the choice of the school and there were many obstacles that Joey had the courage to overcome, but ultimately he continued on into high school. Once there, the challenge of reversing many people’s attitudes about having a student with his “neurological profile” participate ( with support ) in only “regular ed “ classes, continued. However a bit at a time it really became a successful experience for almost everyone. Other students, teachers and administrators all shared in the unique adventure and we think truly benefited from having someone like Joey come into their lives. In fact, several years after he graduated, he returned to Lindenhurst Senior High for several years as an adult volunteer in the school store.
After graduating with his age appropriate class in June 2003 Joey spent three years pursuing his “transition “goals (funded by IDEA). He continued his paid job (with a job coach) at CVS drugs which he began in 12th grade and has now held for 10 years. During this time he also began volunteer positions and was set up with his favorite, being an intern at WBAB LI classic rock radio in the promotions dept.
CSS Self- Determination began in July 2006 and has supported his activities since. Joey lives at home with his parents, brother Matt and Grandpa.
I first met Joey 7 years ago. I was a promotions assistant here at WBAB 102.3 FM and Joey got involved with an internship with us. I was as new to the building as he was. He came in every Friday helping us pack bags with BAB swag, stickering, tickets, etc. I found myself talking to him every Friday, staying with him, enjoying being around him for the hour or so. It wasn’t planned, I didn’t hire him, didn’t need to stay with him, but we just fell into the habit. I looked forward to seeing him each week. Here we are 7 years later and Joey is a staple of the building. He is also a paid employee. Everyone knows him and enjoys seeing him.
One of Joey’s Friends
Joey possesses every characteristic of a gentleman; he makes you feel that you are the only person that matters. We both belong to clubs and social activities that meets once or twice a month. This is where I first got to know Joey 7 years ago. He is so funny, cheerful, and accepting of everyone. I was taken aback when I learned that, even though Joey has a really close family and is very friendly with some of his teachers and staff, he has very few people who he could actually just hang out with.
Joey fancies himself to be quite a rock collector. He occasionally will have a bunch in his pocket. I gave him a stone that I had gotten while on vacation. He looks at it closely and I know he is seeing something that other people do not. He turns it around in his large calloused hand, and pronounces it “beautiful”, “a real find”, and “a treasure”. He sticks it in his pocket; but I know it will not be there for long. He will likely gift it back to me. He is the least possessive person I know. If you give him something and he knows it will make someone else happy, he will pass it on to them. He always has pictures with him of DVD’s and characters he likes. He parts with his treasures as easily as he finds them. On the next occasion I see him, he may take my hand and bow and say something like “A gem for you, my princess.”
Check out Joey’s movie, “Determined Life”.
Joey’s Support Staff
I met Joey Gerardi for the first time in November 2007. From the moment I met him, I liked him instantly. My favorite thing about Joey is his great smile and happy demeanor. Every time we run into someone who knows him, which is quite frequently, he never fails to introduce me. He sweeps his arm towards me and says “this is my friend Tammy.”
He knows everyone’s names, including our pets, and is always asking about them. Joey loves nature and animals. Whenever we are walking outside or are in a pet store and he sees someone with a dog he approaches them. “What’s your dog’s name?” People are usually very nice and will strike up a conversation. Inevitably, there are introductions of “I’m Joey and this is my friend Tammy.” I smile every time. He is so kind and so friendly. He puts fun into everything. Every day that I work with him he greets me with “why hello Princess! How did you find me here?” Then he flashes that big smile. He loves to give hugs and his laugh is infectious.
Joey is a terrific person and I truly enjoy working with him. He has accomplished so much and has great things ahead. He is one of those unforgettable people who you can never quite get off your mind. On my days off I always find myself laughing about something we did or something funny Joey said. He makes a huge impression on everyone he meets. Joey Gerardi is a treasure, so much greater than those pretty stones he carries in his pockets. My life has become so much richer with him in it.
Hi, My name is Marisa. I have been supporting Joey for over a year now. We have a busy week jammed full of paid work, volunteer opportunities and social get- togethers. When I think about my favorite part of the day it is probably the morning when I first see Joey’s amazing smile and hear his great laugh. We start every morning at the local bagel store. When he walks through the door the fun starts! He is like the neighborhood mayor of the shop. All the regulars who are sitting down for their morning coffee greet him. The owner turns on the Rachel Ray Show because he knows Joey loves it. Sometimes one of the girls behind the counter will put aside a Newsday for Joey because they sell out quickly and she knows he likes to read it. In the newspaper Joey will look up who the guests are for all the talk shows for the day. If he does not know someone we will do some research. He looks at the movie section, TV and sports. Once Joey has his bagel and talked to everyone, we are off to start our day. We will go to the Gym, work at CVS or volunteer with animals but this simple part of our day is the best!
As Joey and his family continue on this journey they hope that their values of Inclusion and Dignity for all will help create a life for Joey and others that hold these values paramount and leads to better choices and more real life opportunities for all regardless of their labels.