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Art By: George Ortiz

Operation Sleigh Bells At Arc of Westchester

Posted on : 12/23/2013

Dear Friends and Families,

I'm taking a moment away from my family to send you one more important message about the true spirit of the holidays. I want you to know that it is alive and well at Arc of Westchester.

Last Friday we brought a holiday surprise to our community. As part of an event co-sponsored by the U.S. Secret Service and the Westchester County Police Department, we gave the gift of an amazing experience to our students at our Children's School for Early Development and to our self-advocates at our Gleeson-Israel Gateway Center.

It's hard to even put into words the joy in our student's faces when the Presidential motorcade arrived in front of their school. They were so excited to get a close up look at the motorcycles and helicopter that hovered overhead. Back inside, the children all received gifts from Santa and had time to talk to the officers and pet the police dogs.

At our Gleeson-Israel Gateway Center, nearly 80 self-advocates awaited our guests with holiday songs and merriment. The crowd cheered when two of our self-advocates exited the Presidential limousine. We then went inside for an informational chat about personal safety during the holiday season and throughout the year. Our self-advocates were thrilled to meet real-life crime fighters and had lots of great questions to ask the officers.

I want you to know about this event, which the Secret Service named Operation Sleigh Bells, because it represents the kind of programs and experiences we strive to give our people every day. We are proud of the work that we do but we are always thinking about how we can do more, give more and help our people experience more.

This event was conceived by a Secret Service officer who has a family member with a disability. He told me that his friends in law enforcement wanted to do something different this holiday season to give back. We are very thankful to them for dreaming big and making this event a reality. I know it will be something our students, self-advocates and staff will be talking abut for a long time.

You can read more about Operation Sleigh Bells on Daily Voice and also on The Patch. We've also included below a link to our photos from the events.


Like Operation Sleigh Bells, so much of what we do is only possible with support from outstanding members of our community -- like you. Everyone that gives to Arc of Westchester is making a difference in someone's life.

Before I go back to my own holiday celebration, let me make one more appeal to you. Please make a year-end gift to Arc of Westchester. Your gift will go toward creating memorable events and life-changing experiences for the thousands of people in our community with developmental disabilities and autism.

With my deepest thanks and best wishes for a wonderful holiday,

Richard P. Swierat
Executive Director


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