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Ann Faraone EdD Biography

Director of Education Services

American Association of Caregiving Youth

Ann FaraoneWith over four decades of experience in the field of education, Ann Faraone, EdD began her career as a teacher in NYC. She has also been the Program Director for the NYS Department of Education, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education & Human Services at St. John’s University, and as a Principal in NY & FL. When The School District of Palm Beach County created the Department of Student Intervention Services to provide programs and support for the most vulnerable students, Ann was appointed as Director. This extra level of support targeted homeless, foster, caregiving youth, pregnant/parenting teens and those in the juvenile justice and/or the alternative education system. Recognizing the logical link of health related issues, Ann supervised all health, wellness & nursing services in the schools. Raising awareness of the trauma and its ripple effects on these students, as well as collaborating with a multitude of agencies, created opportunities for students, many without parental advocacy, thus mitigating the barriers they were facing daily.  Ann believes in “leaving no stone unturned for students” and has created a culture of cooperation and collaboration between agencies, who share a common client—the student & their families. Understanding that no one group can eradicate the multiple barriers faced by many students, particularly those of color and those living in poverty, the common sense approach was one of  leveraging resources, & joining forces to “invest in the human infrastructure” in our community. Ann continues the work of advocating for the most vulnerable youth through consulting on educational issues for national and local non-profits, school districts & parent organizations. 

Marissa Gart Biography

Marissa B. Gart, Esq. is an Associate Attorney with Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. in Boca Raton, Florida.  Her area of practice is Family Law, including dissolution of marriage, alimony, child custody, child support, property settlement agreements, post and pre-nuptial agreements, and paternity.  Prior to joining Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L., she served as an Assistant Public Defender for Broward County, Florida where she defended indigent clients against state prosecution.  In 2010, she graduated from the University of Miami, School of Law where she received her Juris Doctorate; and in 2005, she graduated from the University of Michigan where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English.    Marissa is a Boca Raton native and is actively involved in the South Palm Beach County Chapter of Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the South Palm Beach County Bar Association. 

Jay Van Vechten Biography

Jay Van Vechten small bio pic

Communications Practitioner, Disability Advocate, Activist and Educator

Jay is a recognized international authority whose career has spanned four decades and 34 nations. He was one of the founding members of the Public Relations Global Network (aka: PRGN), an international networking organization of leading, independent public relations agencies. Jay resides in Boca Raton, FL, where he serves as Chairman for the City of Boca Raton’s Advisory Board for People with Disabilities.

In that capacity, Van Vechten created the first annual, Boca Raton-based Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities in 2009. The event was designed to be a free, celebration of diversity in South Florida. In its first year, it drew 350 people with physical and intellectual challenges for a daylong picnic in the park complete with live entertainment and boat rides on the Intracoastal Waterway.

By 2013, the ‘Bash’ drew 5,500 registered guests and 500 volunteers. Thirty yachts, donated for the day by their owners, offered 2,000 boat rides. Over 6,000 barbeque lunches were served while live, nonstop entertainment rocked the park. Dubbed by the media as the “Miracle on the Intracoastal”, the event serves as a model program for community awareness and solidarity.

Van Vechten first entered the national disability arena in 1995, when his firm was retained by Johnson & Johnson to launch Independence Technology and its array of cutting-edge, assistive-technology devices. As the national spokesperson for the company, Jay generated over $10 million in global publicity coverage, including segments on Dateline NBC, the Today show, 60 Minutes, the ESPY Awards, Oprah and dozens more.

Jay joined the ranks of people with disabilities after he was injured in an accident in 2001. That same year he helped create Avis Access for Avis Rent a Car, providing a service in over 80 airport locations across the nation that would rapidly convert any car on the Avis lot to an accessible vehicle.

In Palm Beach County Jay has served as advisor for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation for children who suffer from autism and other learning disabilities as well as Shake A Leg Miami, the nation’s foremost sailing and water sports facility for people with special needs. In 2011, he helped launch a benefit for Stand Among Friends at Florida Atlantic University. While on the national stage, Jay was named to the National Advisory Board for VeteransAid Foundation in November of 2012. VeteransAid is chaired by Admiral Mike Mullen, (Ret), Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Jay was honored with a Presidential Citation for his work for the American Dental Association, in educating America about AIDS and the transmittal of the HIV virus. He was also honored by the American Marketing Association with the Edison AMA Award for the Best Marketing Campaign of the Year for his work on behalf of his client the Arthritis Foundation of America and Tylenol Brand Pain Relievers.




Bill Carter Biography

William F. Carter Jr. (Bill) Bill is Sr. VP of Sales for Antennas Direct, Inc. Antennas Direct designs, manufactures, markets and sells high definition TV Antennas. Bill has spent his 30 year career in Sales and Marketing positions in the Consumer Products industry, including assignments with Proctor & Gamble, PepsiCo, NewellRubbermaid and Jarden Corporation. He is based in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Bill found out about the AACY, and the Caregiving Youth Project, as an employee at Jarden. Jarden was supporting the CYP with funding. Bill was facing significant challenges as his wife’s Early Onset Alzheimers progressed rapidly. He wanted to find ways to support his 12 year old daughter, as she was taking more Caregiving duties. His daughter benefited with the support and activities that CYP provided.

Having experienced the benefits of the programs and support of AACY and CYP, Bill desires to help give back by assisting AACY expand and growth, and to help more children and families in need.

Abbi Bentz Biography

Abbi Bentz, RN, BS, CRRN, QRP

Abbi was born and raised in Connecticut. Shortly after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1992, she relocated to south Florida. Abbi has focused her nursing career in the area of home care, and has a specialty certification in rehabilitation nursing with over 20 years of experience working with patients and their caregivers. Abbi is currently employed as the Client Services Manager at Visiting Angels of SE Florida.  She has a long standing history with AACY having been a valued employee during its time of serving people who were homebound or caregiving families. Abbi currently serves as the Co-chair for the Interfaith Health and Wellness Association, and is the president of the American Parkinsons Disease Association, South Florida Chapter. She served two terms on the board of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton as the social action chair where she also initiated an annual caregiver recognition event called "Cookies for Caregivers". Abbi enjoys time with her husband, Stephen, and her two children Hannah and Evan. .


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<P>The Caregiving Youth Project began in Palm Beach County, FL at Boca Raton Community Middle School located in Boca Raton in 2006.  It identifies, recognizes and supports middle school students who are caring for ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members.  From its inception, it has worked to integrate systems of healthcare, education and the community (body, mind and spirit) in order to form a firm foundation from which to deliver a comprehensive support system.  The youth caregiver is our client and strengthening the family can reduce the burden on the child.  The issues that caregiving youth face are beyond the purview of any one system.  The Project's variety of needs-driven solutions and focused services are delivered in-school, out-of-school and at home.  Examples of each include:  In-school > caregiver identification process, 6-8 week skills building/support groups, lunch and learn sessions throughout the year; Out-of-school > Camp Treasure or Reunion Camp, fishing trip, YMCA-wellness day, Holiday Celebration; and, At home > home consultation by a social worker with community linkages, tutoring/mentoring with community volunteers, and respite.
<P>While we would like for all of our affiliates to be able to replicate the Caregiving Youth Project in its entirety, we realize that it is not always practical.  All affiliates participate in reaching, supporting and strengthening caregiving youth so they can achieve success in school and in life.  We have developed three types of affiliations with the American Association of Caregiving Youth that embody the colors of our logo and reflect its symbolism:
<P><FONT COLOR="#FF0000">RED AFFILIATE</FONT> - represents strength, love, energy, the heart of our work and it implements all foundational aspects of the Project utilizing a collaboration between healthcare, education and community partners and delivering services in-school, out-of-school and at home.
<P><FONT COLOR="#008000">GREEN AFFILIATE</FONT> - represents growth, renewal, harmony and it implements collaboration between at least two of the foundation systems and delivers support services through at least two of the categories.
<P><FONT COLOR="#0000FF">BLUE AFFILIATE</FONT> - represents importance, peace, steadfastness and its implementation focuses on the core of the Project - caregiving youth with specific services delivered to the youth through any one of the foundational systems.

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