Spectrum Designs And Nicholas Center Celebrate A Decade Of Autism Support

Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs Co-Founder Stella Spanakos and, son Nicholas. (Photo courtesy of the Spectrum Designs Foundation)


Spectrum Designs Foundation celebrates a decade of success and looks to the future with the announcement of the Legacy Fund 2020. With a goal of $100,000, funds raised will enable the continuation of quality programming led by a well-trained and experienced staff, meaningful opportunities and paid employment for individuals with Autism. Two major fundraising events were canceled as a result of COVID-19. The Legacy Fund 2020 aims to recoup lost capital from these events, while propelling the two organizations into the next decade. Donor levels include “must-have” sponsor gifts and placement on the Legacy Honor Roll.

The story begins in a small barn in co-founder, Stella Spanakos’ backyard. In 2010, Spanakos’ husband Paul Kitsos, unexpectedly passed away, making Spanakos the sole parent to their son, Nicholas, so profoundly affected by Autism that he could not understand his father had passed away.

“As a result of my husband’s sudden passing, we were able to ask, ‘What would you do if given a chance to make the world a better place for your child and others affected by Autism,’” Spanakos said. Shortly after her husband’s passing, Stella and co-founders, Nicole Sugrue and Patrick Bardsley did just that and founded Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs Foundation—two organizations that help individuals lead full and productive lives through the world of work (via three social enterprise businesses) and in the community, through life-skills and vocational skills. From that small barn, the organizations now occupy three buildings on Main Street in Port Washington, and will expand to Westchester County, in the fall.

The numbers tell an impressive story. In 2019, Nicholas Center supported 99 individuals, delivered more than 59,000 hours of support services and gained 22 community partners. Nineteen participants were offered a job—earning a wage and clocking more than 300,000 hours in the Spectrum Designs production shop, training and working all aspects of screen printing, embroidery and direct to garment processes. In 2015, two businesses were added, Spectrum Bakes and Spectrum Suds. The two organizations offer the opportunity for socialization, vocational training, employment, a fair wage and hope. For more information about the Legacy Fund 2020, visit fundly.com/legacy-fund.

—Submitted by Spectrum Designs

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