Sunrise Successes


UCP Sarasota Performs under the BIG Top

The heart of Circus Sarasota . . . UCP Circus with Laughter Unlimited. It’s all fun and games at the circus!

See the Herald Tribune’s picture gallery here >>

My Special Friend

Lisa was placed in a respite home on an emergency basis due to family issues and has now moved into a Supported Living home with the assistance of her in-home caretaker. She lives with a roommate and loves every minute of it.

Lisa has had an awesome time being able to pick out her own furniture for her room. It’s white and pink which are her two favorite colors. She has two poodles and enjoys taking care of them, making sure they are well fed, and have plenty of water and exercise. Lisa has been able to go on outings, something she had not been able to experience before coming to Sunrise.

Recently, she went to the flea market and made the decision to buy a bird that she has named "Lil Tracie". She has taken a four day weekend to Sanibel Island, again, something she was not able to do before. And her in-home caretaker just took her to get a passport so she can take her first cruise vacation later this year. Lisa has been working in the Housekeeping Department at the Cape Coral Cluster and has her eye on another position! Her determination and love of life has allowed her to make great strides over this past year, and we’ll be cheering her on as we watch her blossom.

I hope you have enjoyed Lisa’s story, and if there is ever an opportunity for you to meet her, it will be your pleasure. She is a loving, caring, individual and I have the opportunity to be a part of her life.

by Tracie Miller | Cape Coral, FL

Camille Creating Cards

This very talented young lady, has been creating beautiful holiday cards at our Adult Day Training Center in Miami Beach.

To order holiday cards designed and hand-made by people with developmental disabilities at Sunrise Community Adult Day Training Center, please contact us at (305)275-5370 or email us at

Horsing Around in Sarasota

Erick grew up around horses at his parents’ home. When he was a young boy, his mother would take him to local horse shows where he would compete in lead line. Children of a very young who are not able to control a horse on their own get the opportunity to have a parent or other such adult lead them around on a horse where they can compete against their peers. Erick loves horse riding or simply just being around them. Erick has been part of Sunrise/UCP Sarasota since July of 1998 and now lives in an In-Home Supports apartment with one of his peers along with a staff member. Luckily, he still visits his parents’ home where he can see the horses.

While volunteering for the Equestrian Special Olympics in 1995, I realized the way a horse could impact a person’s life. Since Erick has such a passion for horses, I started looking into therapeutic riding opportunities for him as well as other individuals who attend our Day Program and decided to contact the Sarasota-Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART). Erick was very excited when I told him he would be able to learn how to drive a horse carriage. SMART has a carriage that has a special lift which raises the wheelchair and locks it into place at the front, so that the individual receiving the lesson can take the reins. After his first lesson, Erick was able to feed the horse grain out of a bucket. At first attempt, he placed the bucket in his lap so he could wrap his arms around the horse;s face! Erick is not able to hear, so the sensation of touch and feeling the motion of the carriage means a great deal to him. Erick loves to touch, smell and use all his other senses to get the full effect of everything hi does When I printed this picture and gave it to Erick, he look at it for a moment and then took it from me smiling, while nodding his head in approval. Seeing the joy this simple gesture brought to his face was a reminder of the "real" reason I love my job!

Milena Park, ADT Director | Sarasota, Florida

A Family Reunion in Connecticut

Catherine Tortorice was one of our first Sunrise Northeast consumers. She has recently passed away (just this past summer) at the young age of 90. About 5 years ago her nephew Ron(plenary guardian) had become very ill and was no longer able to attend to Catherine’s guardianship needs. A few members of Catherine’s family had met to discuss the need to assign Catherine a new guardian. During their meeting it was brought up that Catherine had a son that had been put up for adoption immediately after his birth. Over the years Catherine has talked about "a baby" and she would always get excited if someone brought an infant into the house for a visit but we were never aware that she had actually given birth to a son. The family had decided that they wanted to contact Catherine’s son to see if he wanted to meet his biological mother. The family knew Catherine’s son’s name and made contact with him. He was very excited to know that his biological mother lived right here in the state in which he lived. Both Catherine and her son wanted to meet each other. Their first meeting went exceptionally well and before we knew it, her son’s family was visiting Catherine on a regular basis. Her son ended up becoming her legal guardian, and they had a wonderful relationship with each other.

Knowing that Catherine had this experience somewhere in her mind and couldn’t quite find a way to tell us must have been so very hard for her. It gave us peace knowing that before she left this world, she was able to open up her heart to her son and was able release the burden of "knowing" but not being able to relay what she had been through so many years earlier.

Watch Video Here >>

The Sugar Shack

Arrington Miller had been attending the day Program for many years. He always wanted to work and earn money to help his sister out with the household bills. In 2009, an opportunity became available for Arrington to open up his own business, a “micro enterprise”. Arrington was excited for the opportunity and that is when Arrington’s Sugar Shack was born. He now sells drinks and snacks to staff and consumers at the George Spelios Center. People love visiting his snack shop because they are guaranteed “service with a smile” and a variety of tasty treats to keep the hunger away till the end of the day.

Working in Miami

There are several stories throughout the years working at Sunrise of the achievements that the individuals have made. I especially love the one of Magaly Gomez.

Magaly began attending our Day Program around 2000. During the time she attended the program, her wish was to work in an office setting. We began assisting Magaly with that goal by instructing her on the proper use of the phone and the importance of taking messages correctly. As the years went by, Magaly continued to answer phones as part of her training; she worked in the reception area greeting visitors, having them sign in and then calling the appropriate person to meet the visitor. An employment opportunity became available at the Sunrise Adult Day Training Center in Homestead, and Magaly was ready and eager to apply for a full time position. Magaly lives with her mother who was initially opposed to the idea of employment for her daughter. However, Magaly, never gave up and insisted that she was going for the position anyway! Magaly has been working for over a year in the Sunrise Adult Day Training Center (South Dade Station) as a full time employee. Her perseverance has allowed her to reach one of her life goals – to work in an office!

St. Pete’s Flag Project

The St. Petersburg Adult Day Training Center is a wonderful tapestry of people from all over the world. We decided to start a flag project to celebrate our rich diversity. Staff and consumers worked together in creating our "international flag station" by displaying small fabric and paper flags from every country, honoring each and everyone who either attends or works at the center. Visitors really enjoy the flags and they are a great ice breaker.

The flag project has now taken another turn; next month, we are planning a Heritage Festival where consumers, staff and their families will share music, food, and stories about their heritage. We are having great fun learning from each other about each other!

Following Dreams in Collier County

Linda has utilized our services since 1979 and personifies a person who is living her chosen dreams. She was one of the first persons in Florida to graduate from residential group home living to the independence of Supported Living in the mid 1980s. Since 1989, she has been working in the community and continues to hold a job today, 21 years later! And, last summer, she accomplished another dream. For the first time, she was invited to go to the Special Olympics in Nebraska.

Brian has ultilized our Supported Living and Supported Employment services since 1988. He Came to Tech-Sunrise with a diagnosis, family information and mannerisms that suggested very limited abilities. In the manner of so many of our excellent employees, his Supported Living Coach saw something in him that even Brian did not see – a desire to experience new things and grow. Frequently, these two characteristics are never found with his diagnosis. But as Brian continued to experience and try new things, his desire did as well. His Supported Living Coach began to inquire about his possible interest in computers. One thing let to another and now Brian attends an Adult Education computer course at the local technica school and has developed new skills and new friendz. To heck with diagnosis and labels!