Main Street News

In Flight Hosts Annual Holiday Formal For People With Disabilities

By Published On: December 4th, 2023

In Flight, Inc. is an organization located in Red Hook, NY, whose mission is to empower people with developmental disabilities to “achieve their life goals and aspirations in order to lead richer, fuller lives within their communities.” In Flight was also the recipient of the Think Dutchess Alliance for Business Non-Profit of the Year Award this past November. 

Serving Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, and Greene Counties, In Flight will be hosting their annual holiday formal on Sunday, December 17 at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Holiday Formal 

Jennifer Wells, the Director of Day & Community Services at In Flight, started the holiday formal back in 2005. “There had been a formal dance held for people with disabilities locally, but voluntary agencies were no longer invited. I heard from many people I supported that they really wanted an occasion to dress up and celebrate with their co-workers, friends, and housemates,” she explained.

She started the formal in the small program that she worked in, and it grew steadily year after year. They were briefly unable to host the formal in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but they have continued to hold it every year since. 

This year, the formal will be attended by 512 people. “I have brought this event with me through three agencies that I’ve worked for. I run it as a cost neutral event, which means that it’s not a fundraiser, but it also doesn’t cost the agency any money to run it,” she explained. “The money I collect goes directly into the event.” 

In Flight has also received grants from their sponsors (Bob’s Discount Furniture, Salisbury/NBT Bank, Rhinebeck Bank, Key Bank, and Paraco Gas), to help offset the cost per person for the formal this year. 

Jenn shared that the event is her favorite day of the year, as she enjoys watching everyone have a good time with their friends and family. “Some may view the event as segregated, as it is open to people with disabilities and their staff and families, but I would advocate that people with disabilities are often not invited to formal events like this within the general public,” she said. “What is more normal than attending events with people you live with, work with, and who are already your friends?” 

Jenn also ensures that the venue is always accessible to all, including space for wheelchairs and accommodations for diets. “We just want everyone to come and have a great time.” 

The event is open to all local agencies, as well as community members. This year, In Flight has seven other local agencies attending as well as people from the community. 

In Flight services 

In Flight has a variety of services that includes residential and day habilitation services, as well as community habilitation and their signature I-SAIL program. All of their services work to empower those with disabilities to “reach for hopes and dreams to support a meaningful quality of life.”

Their residential service programs for adults include supportive apartments and group homes within Columbia and Ulster counties. The goal with residential services is to encourage adults with disabilities to be as independent as possible. 

In Flight, “fully supports our residents in pursuing their own quality of life. Our residents cook, play sports, go to movies, pursue hobbies, and live their lives based on their own choices.”

Their residential services come in two forms; the first being a group home where they learn household skills in an environment with roommates; the second being supportive apartments, in which individuals live independently and receive less direct support. 

In Flight, “uses innovation to address the barriers to independence. Studies report these barriers as personal safety, lack of household skills, and medication management. These barriers become elevated as people age, making providing support essential to keeping individuals independent as long as possible.” 

Their Day Habilitation services are described as a “person-centered” program and operates in Catskill and Ghent. “Person-centered services create a plan for each individual based on their goals to be as independent as desired. These goals can be increasing communication skills, mobility, or learning basic household skills.” 

Day Habilitation services include activities such as visiting museums, apple picking, and attending other local fairs and markets. The services also allow individuals to explore hobbies and are conducted via community partnerships. 

Their I-SAIL Academy Without Walls is a “sequence of training programs designed for young adults in their 20s and 30s with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have aged out of school and are ready to transition to independent living.”

The curriculum addresses potential barriers to independent living including housekeeping, communication, cooking, bill paying, and personal safety, among many others. 

I-SAIL also provides additional sub-set programs including pre-vocation and supported employment. Pre-vocational services aid in preparing individuals for employment and also provide work experience, including volunteer work, to address the barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment. In the supported employment program, individuals work with a job coach to identify potential areas of interest for jobs, establish a plan to obtain and maintain employment, and have support for on-the-job tasks.

If you’d like to learn more about In Flight, visit their website

In Flight, Inc.
7537 N Broadway, Red Hook, NY
(845) 835-6060