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Mickey Mouse Trip Anything but Shabby for Hamaspik of Orange’s Bakertown Residence

September 7, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Residents of Hamaspik’s Only Supportive Group Home Thrill to Five-day Orlando Trip

In the annals of Disneyworld’s history is the non-verbal child with autism visiting the Magic Kingdom and exclaiming, “Mickey!” upon seeing the iconic mouse character live before him.

No big deal—until you realize, as goosebumps rise, that it’s the first time in his life he’s uttered a word.

While the experience of a Hamaspik contingent this past September was not quite that dramatic, one member of that group did burst into tears of joy upon meeting and greeting Mickey Mouse.

But the excitement that peaked with that moment of ecstasy had hardly begun moments earlier, and didn’t throttle down for a good few days afterward, either.

The trip to Orlando, Florida was the first major vacation for the residents of the Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) since its December 2012 opening.  No wonder they were thrilled!

Since becoming Hamaspik’s first Supportive IRA, so dubbed for its step down in supervision for its residents (and step up in independence), Bakertown has built lives.

Residents reside in the thick of the Hudson Valley’s Kiryas Joel, a bustling village brimming with mercantile and communal life that surrounds them with friendly neighbors 24/7.

And with the increasingly independent lives that Bakertown’s residents continue to live with minimal support, the “well-deserved vacation,” as Mrs. Appel describes it, was all but inevitable.

Sunday, August 28 was marked by an excited flurry of last-minute shopping and packing, taking the anticipation of the past several weeks to a new level.

Needless to say, the flight to Florida that afternoon was “fun,” Mrs. Appel reports.  For some of the “girls,” it was not only their first Orlando trip but their first flight ever, too.  (Talk about liftoff!)

After landing and collecting their suitcases at baggage claim, itself a thrilling experience, the group made their way to a secluded private house complete with private backyard pool.

The young ladies settled in and stowed away a good box or two of perishables in the rental’s fridge and freezer, gearing up mentally for the exciting day ahead.

The morning of Monday, September 29 saw the vacationers enjoying a fresh breakfast, and by 11:00 a.m., their rental van was en route to the EPCOT Center.

The first of three days soaking up Orlando’s sights and sounds was spent enjoying that futuristic venue’s numerous rides, shows and other exhilarating attractions.

Dinner back at the rental home capped a wonderful first day out with freshly barbecued chicken and meat on a portable grill that they had brought along.

The outdoor barbecue in the temperate Florida evening weather was made all the better with the prim new matching sweatshirts that all the young travelers were wearing, courtesy of Hamaspik Special Events Coordinator Mrs. Brenda Katina, who had assisted with some savvy shopping.

The trip’s second day, and second all-day outing, was downright magical, being at Disney’s Magic Kingdom as it was.  Besides the standard memory-forming oohs and aahs enjoyed by all the Hamaspik visitors, it was at the “Happiest Place on Earth” that the abovementioned visitor had her happiest of meltdowns.

That day came to a head with the park’s nightfall fireworks spectacular, which the visitors especially enjoyed.

Disney may have mastered the science of magic, but for their third and final daylong out, the Hamaspik group opted for the magic of science, taking in the Wonderworks hands-on children’s science museum.

For a full day, the guests enjoyed the wonders of this world’s physics, trying their hands at any number of the facility’s fascinating and interactive exhibits on sight, sound, gravity and more.

Of course, nobody could leave Orlando without hitting gift shops, Mrs. Appel adds.

That wonderful Wednesday evening wound down with dinner at Milk and Honey, a local kosher pizza parlor whose proprietor was all too happy to fire up his oven and whip up a fresh pie or two for his hungry guests—who ordered the healthy vegetable pizza on the menu.

“No one wanted to leave on Thursday,” reports Mrs. Appel.  But with departure day now here, “everyone had great memories” as they otherwise somberly packed up and returned to the airport for the flight back to New York.  “They loved each and every minute.”

Close to one month later, the residents are still happily talking about the trip of their choice, and how they love the pictures, Mrs. Appel tells the Gazette.

Vacations, of course, are good for one’s overall morale, relaxation and spirit, with the ripple effects of a good vacation felt weeks or even months afterward. 

Asked about said benefits, Mrs. Appel notes that Bakertown’s residents have been friendlier to each other since they got back from Florida.

Was it the glorious weather that put them in a still-persisting “sunshine state”?

Or is there something about Disney, or any vacation, that goes beyond the borders of the Magic Kingdom?