Community Spotlight: How NYCM Insurance Employees and The Pathfinder Village Community Come Together and Stay Connected - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Mar 24, 2021

Community Spotlight: How NYCM Insurance Employees and The Pathfinder Village Community Come Together and Stay Connected

Embracing community is a large part of who NYCM Insurance is at the core. While we extend our roots throughout New York state, we are lucky to have local friends up the road from our Edmeston, NY headquarters at Pathfinder Village. Known as “an internationally renowned open-access neighborhood where individuals with Down syndrome and developmental disabilities make lasting friendships, learn about community, and gain independence,” NYCM employees and the Pathfinder community have come together for various events throughout the years. To learn more about our relationship with our next-door neighbors, continue reading below.


A Nearly 100-Year-Old Friendship

Pathfinder Village is a place where those who have Down syndrome, as well as other developmental differences are able to live, discover their own talents, values, and interests while being a part of a large community. Pathfinder’s mission is to promote a healthy, progressive environment that respects each individual by supporting a life of value and independence.


Pathfinder President and CEO, Paul Landers, described the long standing relationship between NYCM Insurance and Pathfinder Village, “The story actually dates back to the Otsego School in 1922. The school operated in the Village of Edmeston, NY from 1922 to 1980 and many NYCM employees who lived in Edmeston interacted with the students on a regular basis.  In 1980, the school relocated to its current location and became Pathfinder Village, an expanded model of education and care for the Down syndrome community.” Paul continued, “The model became an international success quickly attracting students, residents and professionals from over 20 US States and 23 Countries.”


Communities Coming Together

In years past, the NYCM and Pathfinder communities have teamed up in many ways. For the last several years, NYCM has hosted antique car shows, helped decorate the Pathfinder gym for their annual prom, thrown Halloween haunted house parties, and have been able to interact with the community on a daily basis by visiting the Pathfinder Bakery and Produce Market. “In my 35 years of working in the disability community, I have never witnessed such a genuine and sustainable relationship between a business and a disability provider agency.” shares Pathfinder CEO Paul Landers. “Our communities happen to be in the same town, but we are true neighbors.”


Our annual “3/21 Blackjack Event” typically takes place at NYCM’s Edmeston headquarters and has been held at NYCM’s Sherburne, NY office as well. The event’s purpose is to get creative in celebrating the number 21 on World Down Syndrome Day, recognized on March 21st (as the goal of Blackjack is to get to “21”). This created an additional opportunity for the Pathfinder and NYCM communities to come together and have some fun. “I think the Pathfinder residents look forward to it as much as we do,” shares NYCM Casualty Team Member, Pete Smith, when asked about participating as a blackjack dealer for the event. Inspired after a very successful 3/21 event, Pete later reached out to Pathfinder CEO Paul Landers, to see what more he and the rest of the Casualty Team could do to engage with residents. Paul and Pathfinder team member Kelly Meyers mentioned that the Pathfinder annual prom was quickly approaching. Without a moment’s hesitation, the Casualty team was able to assemble a group of NYCM employees to help decorate the entire Pathfinder Gym in time for prom! Since then, they have gone back each year to help decorate. One year, they were able to raise enough money ahead of time to bring in horse drawn carriages to escort residents off to a dreamy prom night.


Shortly thereafter, the idea to host an antique car show rose to fruition. These car shows have been an annual event with the exception of 2020 due to COVID-19. “The car shows usually include DJs, ice-cream stands and dance parties” shares Pete. “Anything we can do to bring smiles to their faces and continue the beautiful connection that we have is worth it.”


In 2019, Pathfinder Village was able to help one NYCM employee’s dream come true by providing campus space for their Hot-Air Balloon to launch as the employee was in need of a wide open field. The relationship between NYCM Insurance and Pathfinder Village truly grows stronger with each passing year.


How We Are Staying Connected

Today, NYCM Insurance and Pathfinder Village are truly a part of each other’s day-to-day lives. Although this past year has looked different than we originally expected, there are several ways in which we are working to stay connected. For example, much of the NYCM community is participating in Pathfinder’s 21 Day Challenge, where people are encouraged to share photos online participating each day while wearing the assigned colors.


This year, NYCM Insurance was excited to recognize World Down Syndrome Day like never before. Inspired by the global #LotsOfSocks Campaign which raises awareness around Down syndrome, unique and fun-colored socks were sold amongst both NYCM employees and the Pathfinder Village community. With 739 pairs of socks being sold between the two communities, a total of $2,097 was raised to be donated back to our local Pathfinder Village.


Another way in which we are staying connected while apart is through the NYCM Causality Department’s new pen-pal program. Monica Clark of Pathfinder reached out the Pete Smith and the Casualty team to create a pen-pal program where each Pathfinder Village participant is paired with an NYCM employee to exchange letters, birthday and holiday cards, or anything they feel like sharing with each other to keep in touch. Over the years, strong relationships have been formed between NYCM employees and the Pathfinder residents which has made this time apart especially difficult and sometimes emotional. When asked what inspired the pen pal program, Pete says, “While we are looking forward to future events with our friends, we knew we needed a way to get connected and stay connected during these uncertain times. The pen pal project felt like the perfect way to bridge the gap in the meantime.”


To learn more about Pathfinder Village or for more information about how you can donate, click here.