With Focus on Person, a Hidden Talent is Revealed

Thu, June 02, 2016

Danielle Angiolillo kept it hidden under her bed at YAI’s Rye Brook Residence. Her artwork was private; she just did not think it was special.

For years, she would share her drawings only with family. That is, until a YAI staff member took interest in Danielle’s talent. While seeking certification as a Person-Centered Planner, YAI’s Betsy Williams had a conversation with Danielle to develop a person-centered plan.

Betsy, a Psychology Coordinator in Residential Services and one of only eight Person-Centered Thinking Trainers in New York State, learned about Danielle’s interest in art. “She mentioned she liked drawing but was quick to say that it’s nothing I’d be interested in. So I didn’t pursue this any further,” Betsy said.

A few weeks later, during Rye Brook’s annual barbecue at Betsy’s home in Connecticut, Danielle showed Betsy her box of original cartoon and still-life sketches. “I was in awe,” Betsy said. “Everyone was just amazed.”

Mary Angiolillo, Danielle’s mother, said her daughter began drawing as a 5-year-old. “She’s starting to believe her art is so good,” Mary said.

Danielle’s pieces have gained attention. She was among four winners of Broadview Networks 2015 Holiday Card Contest.

“We value Broadview’s partnership with YAI that goes beyond our premier sponsorship of the Central Park Challenge (on Saturday, June 4, 2016),” said Broadview Networks’  Kristen DeGothseir, Senior Manager, Marketing and Events. “One of our favorite ways that we partner with YAI is through our Holiday Cards Contest. Every year, dozens of people of all ages and abilities, supported by YAI, create and submit artwork for Broadview employees to vote on their favorite designs. The four winning masterpieces are printed on our holiday cards, along with the artist’s bio, which are sent to thousands of our customers.”

The recognition increased Danielle’s confidence.

One of her watercolor paintings of a garden was recently presented to  Armand D’Amour as thanks for donating his time and materials at YAI’s Tarrytown Day Services garden, during YAI’s recent Westchester Spring Ball.

During a groundbreaking conversation with Betsy, Danielle expressed why art was so important to her.

“I assumed that Danielle might want to sell her work and that would make her happy,” Betsy said. “But she said the money wasn’t that important to her. For Danielle, it was more important that people were happy when they viewed her work.”

Betsy, who joined YAI nearly 30 years ago, became aware of person-centered planning in the early 1990s. “The field wasn’t ready to make the change back then,” she said. “Today, I don’t accept the status quo any longer. I have to be a better listener, ask better questions and respect the response that comes back, as opposed to trying to direct a person’s answer.”

Danielle, with support from Betsy and other staff, is beginning to explore options to possibly show her work or sell it.

For now, the box containing her work, has moved from under her bed. “I keep it in my drawer now,” Danielle said.

Who knows where we may find it next.