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David Tifeld – Senior Champions Day Habilitation Retirement Program

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After working for many years at Goodwill NYNJ, David Tifeld, a Queens man in his sixties with a moderate intellectual disability, decided to retire and enrolled in Goodwill’s Senior Champions, a Day Habilitation program, in October 2021. The Senior Champions program helps people 50+ with intellectual disabilities to remain engaged in the community and provides life-improving skills.

Prior to coming to Goodwill in 2013, David worked as a foot messenger in Manhattan. At Goodwill, he worked as production team member at our original warehouse in Astoria, Queens, near his home. Then he worked for five years at one of our Goodwill stores until he retired in June 2020. Like many workers ear the retiring age, he decided to stop working during the pandemic.

As a Willowbrook class member, David has a guardian who protects all facets of his life. In 1972, TV news journalist Geraldo Rivera wrote and narrated a television documentary that revealed the deplorable living conditions at New York’s Willowbrook State School. The documentary brought widespread mainstream awareness of the institution’s overcrowding, deplorable conditions, and physical and sexual abuse of residents. An estimated 12,000 residents died at Willowbrook from 1950-1980, approximately 400 a year. Many children with intellectual disabilities who went to Willowbrook lived a short, brutal existence. They died because of neglect, violence, lack of nutrition, and medical mismanagement or experimentation.

At Goodwill’s Senior Champions program, David participates in health and wellness group discussions to learn how to maintain an active healthy lifestyle. He joins low-impact exercises like chair Zumba and light walks in the community. He shops healthy food items in his local supermarkets to prepare new recipes in his favorite cooking classes. Using technology including his smartphone, tablets, smartboards, and other smart gadgets, David is learning how to improve his communication skills. In a hands-on computer class, he learned how to use the keyboard and how to research topics of interest on the internet. David also attends money management group sessions to learn how to budget his money and perform mock and real purchase transactions.

Goodwill NYNJ launched the Senior Champions Day habilitation retirement program as participants with disabilities from different programs aged and expressed a desire to retire from traditional Day/employment services, but wanted to remain connected to their friends & community. The program offers fun and interactive activities to help people 50+ with intellectual disabilities remain engaged in the community at their own pace. The program supports people in pursuing their interests and hobbies while learning important safety, self-advocacy, self-care, money management, and communication skills. Learning is built into everyday experiences to support safety needs while helping participants to remain as independent as possible.

For information or to register to receive Goodwill NYNJ services, please email

Story submitted by Goodwill’s Day habilitation program:
Josephine Quaye, Program Manager.
Celina Cavalluzzi, Assistant Vice President of Day Services.