Fifteen years ago, Felecia Rozansky, a North Bellmore resident and East Meadow business owner, was looking at storefronts to open a new cookie shop, but when her son, Eric, was diagnosed with autism, everything came to a halt.
"I shut everything down," Rozansky said. "I ended it.”
Rozansky realized that while her passion for baking cookies was strong, her commitment lied with her son.
According to Web MD, autism is defined as "a mental disorder characterized by severely abnormal development of social interaction and of verbal and nonverbal communication skills," so Rozansky's plate was full. In a time when the Internet was at its infancy, Rozansky made sure to learn as much as she could about Eric's condition, which was later confirmed to be Asperger's Syndrome.
"People really didn’t know what was going on and I really had to educate myself," she said.
Rozansky went to Hofstra University to learn about special education, but she ended up getting a Master's Degree and becoming a teacher. After one year of working in a pre-school and four years working in New York City, Rozansky was rewarded with tenure.
But then she quit.
"Baking cookies is what I really wanted to do," Rozansky said. "Eric is doing so much better."
Rozansky knew she had excellent baking skills, because before Eric was born, she gave cookies to the clients at her husband's gas station. When customers asked if they could buy some, a business was born. She then sold to local stores and the potential for a cookie shop was on the rise.
"It just had to be put on hold," she added.
After Rozansky helped her son through elementary school at Park Avenue and middle school at he landed at Nassau BOCES Seaman Neck Middle School in Seaford, which is where Eric finally found himself at home.
"The people who work there walk on water," Rozansky said "They took a kid who was antisocial, disconnected and never could make any headway with anything in school, and now he is popular."
Eric is also a part of student council, and he recently co-founded a new chapter of SADD.
Rozansky fulfilled a lifelong dream of her own by opening Felecia's Fabulous Cookies on Sept. 15, 2011 at 347 Newbridge Rd. in East Meadow, and a portion of her cookie proceeds go to the Autism Society. She even established a fund called the "Eric Rozansky Fund for Accepting People with Autism," which has raised almost $500 thus far.
"I use the word accepting because I don’t want to be tolerated," Rozansky said. "The money will be used to help educate the public on autism."
Rozansky also prides her business as being a place where people can come and talk about autism and share stories, questions or concerns.
"People can have a place where they have someone they can talk to," she said. "I meet people every single day who know somebody or teach somebody who has autism.”
The goal is to reach $1,000 for the fund, and Rozansky said she could hardly put into words what it means to her to be working to support her son.
"I almost cry when I think about it," she said. "It means everything to me."