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50 years of enriching the lives of people with disabilities

The Story of Cora 

Cora Ronk was born June 13, 1955 in Ft. Dix, NJ. She has 2 sisters and a brother. Her father was in the Army and Cora was the only child born in the U.S.

In 1962, when Cora was 6 years old, she lived on Hooker Ave., Poughkeepsie across from Krieger School. Her mom, Dina, would walk her to the Little Red School House, an educational program operated by the newly established Rehabilitation Programs.

In 1969, Rehabilitation Programs moved into their new location at 230 North Road. Cora continued her education at Ellsworth School, and went on to Dutchess County BOCES where they held classes in a church on New Hackensack Road. Cora’s favorite teacher was Ms. Nelson. Her sister, Gloria, who was just 11 months older, often helped her with her homework.

In 1973, at the age of 18, Cora finished school at DC BOCES and began receiving vocational services from Rehabilitation Programs. This is when she truly flourished and began to be independent. She worked on a cleaning team at North Road and remembers that there was a laundry room there where one of her jobs was folding the towels. She worked at BOCES serving lunches, did piece work in Rehabilitation Program’s Work Training Center, and then began working in its Clinic doing administrative filing in 1984. During this time, she went to Dutchess Community College to learn computer skills. In 2003, Cora began working in - what was now called - REHAB Program’s fiscal department.

Cora participated in Special Olympics where she competed in swimming, basketball, volleyball, bowling, track & field, and powerlifting. Swimming and bowling are her favorite sports.

Cora says her sister, Gloria, is “her best friend”. Gloria has been working at Abilities First for 35 years and is now a teacher at the Preschool. Cora and Gloria enjoy playing Wii, going bowling and knitting together. But, their very favorite interest and activity is the NY Yankees! Last year alone, they went to four Yankees games. They each own more Yankees gear than they can count!

Cora continues to live in the house she grew up in. She walks to Jazzercise classes and sometimes attends Yoga classes. She often does her grocery shopping and runs her errands with her sister and brother-in-law. Cora has many friends in the community that she has made throughout her life. She loves dogs and will sometimes dog sit for her neighbors.

For the past 9 years, Cora has worked in Abilities First’s Accounts Payable and Payroll offices. Cora is a bright spot in everyone’s day in the Administrative Building. She always has something to say to make you smile and never misses an opportunity to ‘dress colorfully and playfully for an occasion’!

Cora welcomes the opportunity to tell everyone the one wish she feels very strongly about: She feels “it’s very important that people with disabilities be treated just like everyone else.”