Legacy Fund 2020 - Inspired by Love, Fueled by Community

Legacy Fund 2020 - Inspired by Love, Fueled by Community


I ask for your help in making the world a better place for those who are affected by Autism. Today, I am announcing the Legacy Fund, setting our goal at $100,000 to carry us into the next decade of success and growth.

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"Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. 

So, love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you get the chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.

Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

-Dr. Seuss

When people ask what it’s like having a child with special needs, I respond, “it’s like my favorite chocolate, bittersweet; it represents the end of some dreams, but the beginning of new ones.”

Ten years ago, on June 7, 2010, my husband, Paul Kitsos, died suddenly. In an instant, I was the sole parent to our son, Nicholas. Profoundly affected by Autism, Nicholas could not even understand that his father had passed away.

What would you do if given a chance to make the world a better place for your child and others affected by Autism? Create an organization that taught vocational and life-skills? Establish a business to support, employ, and empower those on the Autism Spectrum?

Not wanting my husband’s brief life to go unrecognized, I sold his business, our home, and anything else I could and in February 2011, co-founded Nicholas Center and Spectrum Designs Foundation.

Nicholas Center helps individuals with Autism lead full and productive lives in the community. Nicholas Center also supports employees and trainees at all three Spectrum Designs Enterprises ; businesses with a mission to help individuals with Autism lead full and productive lives through the world of work.

In the last decade we formed Spectrum Designs (a customized apparel and promotional product company), Spectrum Bakes (gourmet treats) and Spectrum Suds (a boutique laundry service). All 3 social enterprises offer the opportunity for socialization, vocational training, employment, a fair wage, and hope.

Today, these social enterprises employ 28 individuals with autism. Nicholas Center provides over 50 individuals over 25 hours a week of meaningful vocational training or employment support within them each year . 

Nicholas Center has forged relationships with other businesses in our Port Washington Community and delivers its award winning community-based model to more than 50 individuals with autism each year.

By the numbers - both organizations have accomplished much since 2011. Nicholas Center has supported over 120 individuals, delivering over 59,000+ hours of support services each year and has gained 22 community partners. Spectrum Designs Enterprises are leading the industry in disabilities employment as one of the fastest growing of it's kind in the nation. It caters to clients such as Google, Metro North Transit Authority and NYU Langone, and partners with 1-800-Flowers. 

This year, Spectrum Designs and Nicholas Center will expand to Westchester County, NY. They will bring with them 10 years of learned innovation to serve the unmet needs of their autism community - for many years to come.

In the last few months, although greatly affected by Covid-19 PAUSE, I am proud to report that both organizations successfully pivoted and found creative ways to support the team and propel us forward: 

  • Nicholas Center’s small team of 35 support staff shifted from working face to face to creating an online platform and operating entirely at a distance. Nicholas Center’s essential workforce ensured its 83 participants with autism, had access to  a continuum of service  with the routine and comfort of seeing familiar faces. It offered four remote ZOOM classes per hour every day - over 35 hours of instruction per week. Topics included: communication and social skills, personal health skills , pre-vocational training , virtual field trips, foreign languages,fitness regimens and dance parties! 
  • Spectrum Bakes donated 2,000 Better Bars (gourmet granola) to LIJ Medical Center/ Northwell Health & NY Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst Hospital.
  • Spectrum Bakes designed the Snack-in-Place gift box to connect family & colleagues during this time apart.
  • Spectrum Suds offered FREE laundry to 1st Responders and Healthcare Professionals - laundering 500+ lbs. and washed and pressed 1,200 hand-sewn face masks for the local community. 

  • Spectrum Designs procured over 150,000 vital PPE for business & personal use from trusted vendors.

The success of these “pivots” have meant the world to our organizations – providing stability and opportunity for growth and socialization, income during these uncertain times, created positive, press- worthy stories to share and secured a place for our team to return to once the “stay-home” ban was lifted.

As a result of the pandemic, it was necessary to cancel two of our largest fundraising events. We rely on these funds to enable us to ensure quality programming, a well-trained staff and opportunities for our participants to learn and work.

Today, I am announcing the Legacy Fund, setting our goal at $100,000 to carry us into the next decade of success and growth.

Your tax-deductible donation will benefit Nicholas Center & Spectrum Designs of Port Washington.

The Legacy Fund offers sponsor levels and includes a host of gifts to show our appreciation and gratitude. All donors (who wish to be recognized), will be acknowledged on our Legacy Fund Honor Roll featured on the Nicholas Center and Spectrum Enterprises websites. Your generosity will also be on permanent display upon a commemorative plaque at our physical location.

Thank you all - our loyal supporters, our families, our fans! 

God Bless you and your families during this very challenging time. Please stay healthy and safe – you are important to us!

In gratitude,

Stella L. Spanakos, Co-Founder

You may also make your tax deductible donation by mail: 

Payable to "Nicholas Center"

Mail to: Nicholas Center 


382 Main Street Port Washington NY 11050


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