Samsung employees volunteer to help Autistic children in Douglaston

By Shanna Fuld

Samsung Electronic America employees, headquartered in Richfield Park, N. J. did their part to help Autistic students at a Douglaston preschool last week.

As part of what the smart phone company calls the Samsung Day of Service, the employees came by bus from the their New Jersey headquarters June 11 to the preschool, which is run by Quality Services for the Autism Community, a non-profit that supports children and adults with autism. Based out of Marathon Jewish Community Center, the preschool was happy to have the volunteers.

Volunteers performed a variety of tasks to aid the teachers, such as putting up bulletin boards and creating art for classrooms.

“Teaching special ed is non-stop,” Trae Collins, a teacher at the preschool, said . “There’s always something that needs to be done,.”

Collins had one volunteer, Susan Becker, help cut the laminated papers, which are a part of the Picture Exchange Communication Systems. PECS is a well-known mechanism in the autism community for helping students express themselves. Each of the laminated pieces has a picture and word on it. For example, one would have the word “toy” along with a picture of a toy. The squares have Velcro attached to the back and are put onto a receiving Velcro board where students string the words together to express emotion and requests. A student asked for and received his xylophone using the PECS system after Becker finished the new parts.

“She gave words to our student. She gave him a voice,” Collins said.

“We got a choice between a number of initiatives,” Becker said. “This is something that connects and that I didn’t know a lot about. It adds a different component to what we do at Samsung, getting us out of that everyday routine to build a stronger community. It’s more than just selling stuff.”

Samsung CEO Gregory Lee came to the volunteer site.

“If Gregory Lee is here,” Becker said, “there’s definitely support at the highest level.”

Intern tax analyst Sheneva Merrin read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle to a classroom of wide-eyed students. The kids came up to touch the cardboard pages at the end.

“I have been interacting with disabled individuals for 16 years of my life, so I have a passion for this,” Merrin said.

The event garnered smiles from everyone involved. Two other interns sat before the class while Merrin read.

“It’s been an excellent day. I’m glad to get some hands-on experience with my co-workers and students in the community,” said Jamie Warner, a corporate communication intern.