ELIJA Farm Opens Marketplace, Expanding Efforts for Those With Autism

The Elija Foundation officially opened its marketplace Thursday at its farm in South Huntington, focusing on sustainable farmland and ways to assist those with autism.

Deb Thivierge, who heads ELIJA, led the ribbon cutting with help from several state, local and county officials, including Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine.

“This is an exciting new venture and will allow for additional vocational opportunities and integration with the community,” Thivierge said.

The farm, at 43 Foxhurst Road, provides training as well as opportunity for those with autism to develop job skils and interact with the public, It offers classes, volunteer opportunities and supports sustainable farming as a nonprofit and has a  community-supported agricultural program.

Elija–which stands for Empowering Long Island’s Journey through Autism–also launched its “Pave the Way to Employment” campaign, to increase employment for those with autism. Employees hired through the pave the way campaign will staff the marketplace.

Thursday’s event was also timed to support Autism Acceptance and Action Month.

Romaine noted the importance of maintaining farmland and Suffolk County’s history of preservation. Just the day beore, he visted a farm to sign legislation to appropriate $1 million in new funds for farmland preservation.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon, Jr., talked about the benefits of cards created to help people on the autism spectrum or other disorder that have visual aids and tips to help foster communication during an interaction with law enforcement or emergency personnel.

Suffolk Legislators Rebecca Sanin, Tom Donnelly and Steve Flotteron, State Sen. Mario Mattera, and State Assemblyman Mario Mattera, Town CLerk Andrew Raia and Highway Superintendent Andre Sorrentino were also on hand for the event.



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