AUTISM IS ONE of the biggest worries parents face. Although awareness for the developmental disability has grown, as have the resources to support individuals and families living on the spectrum, many services stop when basic schooling ends at the high school level.
Charlie Massimo, CEO of CJM Wealth Management in Deer Park, is the father to 16-year old triplets, two boys, one girl. And his boys are living with autism. Concerned about his sons’ future, and not one to be idle, Massimo parlayed his business acumen to help fund and ensure prosperity for them and others in the community. He founded Long Island Autism Communities “for young adults with autism to grow, prosper, live somewhat independently…[and] become part of the community so they can have a purposeful life where they can go out and find work,” he said.
The non-profit will build and provide housing in a development of three to five acres where autistic adults can live and be supported by home managers and community directors. The goal is to eradicate the limitations of being restricted to living in parents’ homes and also offer alternatives for those whose parents have passed. The organization is close to the fundraising stage and the residences would be built in cultural hubs and downtown village areas.
But this is not Massimo’s first foray into philanthropy focused on the disorder. He is involved with Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, which provides therapeutic riding programs in Islandia. Massimo was struck by the organization “working with not just children on the spectrum, but with all different disabilities… my boys really enjoyed going to Pal-O-Mine for a number of services that they utilized and that they provided, and I wanted to get more involved.” He became a board member, providing guidance to founder Lisa Gatti and staff. He also leveraged his financial experience to be a part of all aspects of budgeting, planning and fundraising for the charity. Massimo publicly advocates for autism awareness in every aspect of his life, especially as it pertains to long-term support for those afflicted with the disorder. “Even in my wealth management business I really look to provide guidance to those families who have children on the spectrum. On Long Island there are a significant amount of families that have children with autism, and planning—both current and for the future, financially and every other way—is a real challenge.”