Posted: May 26, 2018 in Community, Equality, In the News

Officials vow to foster inclusive and supportive environments for residents with special needs

(Left to right) Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Putnam County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra offered remarks in support of the region’s commitment to the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative at a community forum on Friday, May, 25.


Today, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne and Putnam County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra announced the region’s commitment to Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro’s ThinkDIFFERENTLY program at a community forum in Carmel. The event, offered in partnership with Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, brought together local stakeholders, including community members, law enforcement representatives, first responders and members of the local business community, to discuss ways the region can support our family, friends and neighbors with special needs.


The event, co-hosted by Byrne and Scuccimarra, featured a presentation by Molinaro detailing the positive impacts the ThinkDIFFERENTLY program has had for the special needs community, not only in Dutchess County, but across the state. The well-attended forum also featured a productive dialogue from participants including the New York State Comptroller’s Office, officials from local and county offices, business and chambers of commerce members, as well as representatives from various school districts and Putnam County BOCES. In addition, several local organizations and interest groups, including Green Chimneys and the ARC of Putnam, participated in the dialogue to foster an inclusive environment for our local special needs community.


Launched by Molinaro in 2014, the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative seeks to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations and communities relate to residents of all abilities. Since July 2016, more than 60 communities around New York State have adopted ThinkDIFFERENTLY resolutions, promoting a supportive environment for residents with special needs.


“The great turnout we saw at today’s forum clearly illustrates that our community is ready to ThinkDIFFERENTLY about how we can support our local residents with special needs,” said Byrne. “I’d like to thank our partners and residents who made this event such a success, especially County Executive Molinaro for taking the time to share this fantastic program with us. Watching ThinkDIFFERENTLY resolutions continue to have an impact in communities across the state has been inspiring, and I look forward to seeing our region join the many other communities who have already embraced this initiative.”


Putnam County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra added, “The ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative speaks to caring, helping, and embracing those with special needs in our community. Since the implementation of the initiative in 2014, it is having a positive impact in communities and people’s lives. Sincerely, I believe that every person has their own special purpose and bring value to our world. I support working to develop a program and thought process that will be accepting to all.”


To learn more about the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative, or to share your ideas on ways our community can better serve its residents with special needs, please visit