By: Jennifer Korn
Randi Rios-Castro clearly cares about people. With more than 20 years of experience in the disability services field, it was no surprise when the Jawonio Board of Directors unanimously chose Rios-Castro to succeed the organization’s former CEO, Jill Warner.
Rios-Castro began her tenure in October 2020 and was quickly impressed by the strides her colleagues have made in improving the lives of the individuals they support. “From the moment that I got here, I’ve heard stories of children that have come here when they first started not being able to talk and now they’re singing in our summer program,” said Rios-Castro. “Those are the things that I want the community to know.”
Jawonio has served the community for over 73 years and Rios-Castro has made it her goal to continue the facility’s mission of improving the lives of Rockland’s most vulnerable. “I’m hoping to continue to grow those services and to help people to live better lives and engage them as much as possible in our community,” said Rios-Castro.
For nearly a century Jawonio has provided unique and compassionate services in the areas of employment, mental health, early childhood, residential and day services, and improving quality of life.
“I think the goal of every department here is to just keep maximizing people’s potential and to provide services the community needs,” said Rios-Castro.
Jawonio opened a new building in October and all the organization’s Rockland services are now being offered in that location. Jawonio also has a main service location in Yonkers for individuals in Westchester. “Now we can take pride in where we are delivering our services in a brand new state-of-the-art facility,” said Rios-Castro. Jawonio previously operated in trailer-style buildings.
Rios-Castro also expressed her appreciation for the staff at Jawonio, many of whom have worked with the organization for decades. “I think it’s important for people to know how dedicated the staff are here and how much they truly care about the people that we’re serving, and it’s more than just a job,” said Rios-Castro.
Of course, all that good work hasn’t been easy and the Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges for Jawonio. To be able to continue providing the services their community needs and expand, Jawonio has to raise $2.9 million for its capital campaign in support of the new building.
“Particularly now, it’s really critical that we’re able to fundraise because we have seen reductions in our rates, we’ve had issues with both the state and the county government withholding funds because of what’s happening with Covid and a decrease in revenue because we’re not delivering as many services as we were before but we still have the same expenses,” said Rios-Castro.
With the limitations brought on by the pandemic, Jawonio is exploring other avenues for raising money, such as virtual galas and Facebook fundraisers.
Rios-Castro described how the community assisted Jawonio during the pandemic. Many donated personal protective equipment and meals for staff.
“The supports that we get from the community are so valuable and I think that’s the one thing that always amazes me about Rockland County,” said Rios-Castro. “It’s a small community, but so tight-knit and everybody wants to help.”
Direct donations can be made to Jawonio at https://jawonio.org/get-involved/donate/.
“We are a great resource for you, for your loved ones, for future generations and we’re here for you if you need us and now we need you and we hope you’ll be here for us,” said Rios-Castro.
To find out more about how you can help Jawonio and the Capital Campaign, please contact Diana Hess, Chief Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org