Earlier this year, we interviewed Heather Rogoff Angstreich, Founder/Partner, Special Needs Expos about the upcoming year and events they are holding in 2015. Here’s what she had to say:
- Why did you create special needs expos?
All I wanted to do was help other parents and children who were in my shoes. My son, (who is now 10 years old), was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. I attended a small special needs resource fair when he was first diagnosed and found it incredibly helpful. I love helping people so, when I got laid off, I started Special Needs for Special Kids, a printed special needs resource guide that I distributed across Long Island. I met my partners (Scott and Jamie) through this publication; they became clients. They knew I started the publication because I wanted to help other parents who needed guidance and resources to navigate the world of special needs here in Long Island. Scott suggested that I should take the publication to another level and we thought we would do a small resource fair at a local JCC to bring some special needs resources together for a one-time event. Scott and Jamie were no strangers to the special needs community either; they had a close family member who inspired them to get involved.
- How did you begin this endeavor?
We looked for a venue to hold this little resource fair and ended up booking a much larger space at a local hotel. We went from one end of the spectrum to the other and kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to fill the space. Our first expo was geared more towards children with special needs, but we did have resources that catered to the adult population too. Our goal was to have each person that entered the doors to walk out with at least one piece of useful information that day. We estimated that 2500 to 3000 people walked through the doors that day.
- What locations are you expanding to in 2015?
Long Island is our “flagship” expo and will be held on April 26th at the Long Island Hilton. The Special Needs Expo – Westchester will be back on November 8, 2015 at the Westchester Marriott and the Special Needs Expo – New Jersey (northern) will also be back on September 27, 2015 at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck. We hope to expand to Philadelphia in 2016.
- How does your expo help educate people to advocate for themselves and their family members?
Our expos have a variety of special needs resources, products, services, presentations and demonstrations. We want people to take advantage of all the exhibitors that have come out. They are there to answer questions, give support and ideas. If a person meets the right connection, it can change things for them and/or their loved one.
- What makes your expo different from other special needs resource fairs in the area?
Our expos are always free to attend and child-friendly (games and/or inflatables and face painting are provided at no cost to the attendee). We offer a wide variety of resources, presentations and demonstrations. We have a quiet room for those that might need to take a break, if they are too overwhelmed. We want to connect these amazing resources with the individuals, families, caregivers and professionals to help make the journey a little less difficult. Our Long Island events have connected over 300 exhibitors to 5000 attendees in the last two years. Westchester and NJ events are also growing and we have heard from many of our FB and website followers that the need is there for this service.
- How do can people find more info about your expos? How do vendors register for an exhibit?
We have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsExpos and our official website URL is www.specialneedsexpos.com.There is a tab for attendees to register and a separate one for exhibitors to register and receive more information. To contact us directly, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 516-279-3727.
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