Stephen Kennedy


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Sombo and her team

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Alison selling produce at the Farmer's Market

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Stephen Kennedy

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Jenny and Nick talking in the greenhouse.

Steven Kennedy’s story is one of hope and inspiration, and ends with Steven following his dreams at Riverside.

When Steven was 27 months old, he suffered a near-drowning accident. He was taken to the ER and was pronounced dead on arrival.

Fortunately, the shot of adrenaline administered into his heart revived him. However, Steven remained in a coma for many months following the accident, supported by feeding tubes, but suffering from seizures. She was advised to place him in a pediatric nursing facility, as many children with disabilities were in the 1970s. Defying the doctor’s advice and the social norms, Rose chose instead to work with Steven, at home, every day to learn and grow. With the unwavering support of her husband and son, Rose slowly taught Steven to support his own head, learn letters, and regain bodily movement. Rose and Steven went everywhere together, informing the community as they went about their daily lives. Sometimes people would stare, other times they would ask questions. All the time, Rose and Steven answered any inquiries brought forward by adults and children alike. When Steven was able to start his education, Rose and his family continued to voice their support and opinions on how Steven could learn as there were very few supports in the schools, at that time.

After he left the school system in the early 1990’s, Steven started his career at Riverside. At Riverside, Steven learned to work. Employment Specialist assisted him in trying a variety of work opportunities, such as washing tables and piecework. He participated in the contract work that was available using adapted jigs and earned a paycheck from his hard work. In 2006, the Riverside Arts program was created by director, Denise Herzog, and Steven really found his passion. In the beginning, there was a period of exploration while Steven found the medium best suited for his movement style. That’s when he discovered oil sticks, concentrated oil paints in stick form. From then on, Steven created masterpieces! He colored, blended, and scratched away paint to express his thoughts, emotions, and dreams. Steven’s art has become very popular among those who know him. Other artists love to work with him and share in his creative energy. Steven has truly found his life’s passion through art, and in the past two years, he has begun to make it his career. With the help of Riverside’s Art Therapist, Halley Philips, Steven applies to shows throughout Massachusetts and beyond. He has hung solo shows and entered pieces into juried shows. He won an Honorable Mention award from the Cape Cod Art Association.

Your donation to Riverside on Valley Gives Day helps support Steven and others like him in finding employment and joy through community based experiences.

Riverside is committed to serving adults with developmental disabilities in the Pioneer Valley area through Employment Services, Community Based Day Services, and Life Enrichment Programs. Every donation allows us to continue our commitment to providing the best services possible. Thank you for your donation today, and for sharing our story with others.


Char Gentes

President & CEO

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(413) 527-2711



Steven Kennedy’s story is one of hope and inspiration, and ends with Steven following his dreams at Riverside.

EIN: 042438444

Reports: Guidestar


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