A Message From The CEO - 1-7

The Arc New York Scholarship Recipients - 8-10


Introducing Steven Drobysh - 11

Chapters Awarded Grants - 12

A Message from CEO Erik Geizer

Liberty ARC Unification Official, Bringing Together Services in Schenectady & Montgomery Counties - 13

As we embark on the second half of 2024, I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and optimism—especially from our Chapters across New York State. Despite the challenges we've faced and continue to face in the intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) field, your unwavering commitment and resilience have propelled us forward.

Cuomo Bridge Lights Up Orange For The Arc Westchester - 14 Chapter Fundraisers - 15

Autism Acceptance Across NYS - 16

Assistive Technology At Chapters - 17

Volunteerism At The Arc Greater Hudson Valley - 18

Arc GLOW’s LIVES Program - 19, 20

In April, the passing of the New York state budget brought with it some disappointment. While we fought tirelessly for months, advocating for a 3.2% COLA to adequately meet escalating costs and ensure the continuity of our programs, along with a $4,000 Direct Support Wage Enhancement to address the critical workforce crisis gripping our industry, the Health and Mental Hygiene budget bill came up short. We only received a 2.84% COLA, stipulating that agencies use some of those funds to provide at least a 1.7% wage increase to most staff. While this is something, it is far from enough. We need more. (Continued on page 2)

AHRC Suffolk Paves The Way For Play - 23

Leadership Recognition - 24

Albany Firebirds Play For a Day - 25

Meeting The Fonz - 25

Totality - 26

Celebrating The Arts - 27

Honoring Nurses - 28 A Day of Beauty - 29

Chapters In The Classroom - 30

A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued)

Although the road ahead may seem daunting, I'm reminded of our collective strength and determination. Together, we've navigated turbulent waters, adapting and evolving in the face of adversity. Our resolve remains unshakable, fueled by the belief in our mission and the impact we strive to make in the lives of those we serve. We must use the momentum we’ve gained to our advantage and continue to advocate for what New Yorkers with I/DD need!

We also discussed the possibility of transitioning The Arc New York's historic archive collection to a permanent home in the CSI archives to ensure this valuable history is preserved and available to the public.

Top Workplace

Earlier this spring, the Times Union named The Arc New York State Office and Trust Services a Top Workplace for the second year in a row. This recognition was of significant importance as only 57 Capital Region companies made this year’s list.

The Arc Rockland’s Mural Unveiled

We are particularly thrilled by this acknowledgment, given that our own employees served as the judges. The award is a testament to the feedback provided in an employee survey we conducted just a few months ago. We are actively utilizing the insights from this survey to enhance our workplace policies and atmosphere. I extend heartfelt gratitude to our leadership team and our exceptional staff for their continual efforts in shaping our workplace culture, and for their unwavering dedication, passion, and enthusiasm in advancing our noble mission.

Cyndi and I also visited The Arc Rockland to celebrate the unveiling of a powerful new mural at The Nyack Day Habilitation Program. Individuals in the program created the mural to recognize and remember the work of Judy Heumann, the “Mother of the Disabilities Rights Movement,” with the help of artist and arts educator Lauren Rudolph. Judy Heumann, who passed away a year ago, was recognized internationally as a leader in the disability community. She was a lifelong civil rights advocate for people with disabilities. Since the 1970s, her work produced significant contributions to the development of human rights legislation and policies benefiting children and adults with disabilities. Through her work, she led the mainstreaming of disability rights into international development. Her contributions extended the international reach of the independent living movement.

College of Staten Island Visit

A few months ago, CFO Cyndi Borozny and I met with The Arc of the United States President and AHRC New York City representative Laura Kennedy and her husband Hal at the College of Staten Island, the former grounds of the infamous Willowbrook State School. We spoke to college administrators and toured the Willowbrook Mile, where The Arc New York has a milestone bench commemorating our pivotal role in the closure of Willowbrook.

(Continued on page 3)


A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued)

Honoring Jack Kowalczyk & A Trip to Oneida-Lewis

NYSID’s CREATE Symposium

I also had the pleasure of attending the New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc.’s (NYSID) CREATE Symposium. The symposium showcases technologies designed by today’s young minds to allow individuals with disabilities to be more successful at work. This year, six academic institutions and eight NYSID Member Agencies displayed their assistive technology inventions designed to enhance inclusivity for people with disabilities in the workplace. Four of the eight agencies were Chapters of The Arc New York; they included: ·AHRC Nassau partnered with New York Institute of Technology AHRC New York City partnered with The City College of New York The Arc, Oneida-Lewis partnered with SUNY Polytechnic Institute The Arc Otsego partnered with Otsego Northern Catskills B.O.C.E.S. What an amazing collaboration between technology students and the I/DD field – proving once again that we are stronger together.

In late April, I was invited to attend The Arc, Oneida- Lewis’ 70th Anniversary Gala, where The Arc New York's immediate past president, Dr. Jack Kowalczyk, was honored—and what a well- deserved honor it was! I was also given the opportunity to tour The Arc, Oneida-Lewis’ Progress Industries business enterprise in Marcy, a renovation of a new Respite Care Home that is nearing completion, and Chef's Express bakeshop. I had lunch with the executive and leadership teams at their headquarters in downtown Utica, and I met with staff and people the supported by the Chapter along the way.

(Continued on page 4)


A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued)

ACHIEVE’s New Day Hab

The program began in 2023 and is part of SPAC's mission to provide free access to the arts and inclusive programs for people of all ages and abilities. The final performance is the culmination of 10 weeks of music, dance and improvisational theater classes that were specifically curated for these students at the SPAC School of the Arts. This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our mission to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the transformative power of the performing arts, participants embark on a journey of self-discovery, community-building, and personal growth. We extend our deepest gratitude to SPAC for spearheading this initiative and their commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in the arts.

I was excited to visit ACHIEVE (Broome, Chenango, Tioga) for the official ribbon- cutting celebration for their newly renovated downtown Norwich Day Habilitation facility lovingly named 'Envisions.'

Budget Testimony

16th Annual Compliance & Quality Connections Conference

SPAC’s Access The Arts

IIn May, I had the honor of attending Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s (SPAC) “Access the Arts” educational program at Spa Little Theater, where I saw more than 100 students of all ages and abilities perform. Of the 100 students, several were from Saratoga Bridges, Warren, Washington & Albany Counties ARC, and Liberty ARC (Montgomery, Schenectady).

We recently hosted the 16th annual Compliance and Quality Connections Conference with Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, which brought roughly 200 attendees from across the state. This year we had an experienced and knowledgeable group of professionals to help us tackle the challenges and risks ahead of us, including a group of leaders from the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities’ (OPWDD) Division of Quality Improvement. We had a panel discussion with Robert Hussar of Rivkin Radler, Paul Mayer of The Bonadio Group and Melissa Zambri of Barclay Damon. We also had Ben Wilkinson of Barclay Damon address employment compliance concerns, and Brian Tuttle, a HIPAA consultant, discuss HIPAA changes.

(Continued on page 5)


A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued)

AHRC NYC’s 75th Anniversary

In May, I went down to celebrate AHRC New York City’s 75th anniversary with everyone!

Coarc Palooza

In late May I also attended the annual Coarc (Columbia) Palooza at Claverack Town Park, where Coarc’s CEO Ken Stall celebrated his official retirement after 40 years of service! Thank you, Ken for four decades of dedication to this field!

NADSP Celebration

In late May, I attended a celebration at The Arc Ontario for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who completed their National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals - NADSP E-Badge training. The celebration was hosted by the Collaborative of NY and the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

(Continued on page 6)


A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued)

2024 Membership

75 Acts of Service

To celebrate The Arc New York’s 75th anniversary, we organized a Week of Service across the state from June 1-8. This initiative served as both a tribute to the organization's historic achievements for people with I/DD and a celebration of inclusion, encouraging ongoing community engagement throughout New York. Our ambitious goal was to engage all our Chapters in 75 service projects within a single week, aimed at enhancing parks, neighborhoods, and communities statewide. We are thrilled to report that we surpassed this target, completing more than 75 projects! Several Chapters are even continuing their service activities into the summer months! The State Office and NYSARC Trust Services got in on the action too! A group volunteered at Patroon Land Farm, operated by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, where they spent a rewarding day weeding onion fields to support efforts in combating hunger across 23 counties. In addition, two crews dedicated a full day to digging holes and constructing fences for Habitat for Humanity Capital District. Moreover, our teams donated over $1,300 worth of cleaning and building supplies to assist future Habitat homeowners. Look out for more highlights from the Week of Service in the upcoming edition of CONNECTIONS, our special 75th-anniversary issue! Stay tuned!

We are in the midst of our 2024 membership season, and our Chapter membership recruitment efforts are well underway. As a membership organization, our annual campaigns are critical to ensuring that The Arc New York and our Chapters' work and mission remain strong so we can continue to provide quality programs and services. The Membership Committee and State Office staff have been hard at work creating videos and graphics that chapters can use to promote membership. These will be showcased on social media every Monday until August during our #MembershipMonday campaign. If you aren't a member yet, can we count you in? Click here find your local Chapter and sign up to become one today!

(Continued on page 7)


A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued) Susan Brandt Retirement

Earlier this month, Susan Brandt, Director of Member Services and Special Projects, announced her retirement. Susan has dedicated more than 40 years to fulfilling the mission and sustaining the history of The Arc New York. During that time, she has made tremendous

She played a vital role in coordinating our annual conventions, ensuring their success and meaningful impact year after year. She organized and facilitated celebrations of the organization's milestone anniversaries, including NYSARC's 50th, "Laurel Run Across NYS" and the 60th & 65th "Journey Along the Erie Canal" and "Together to Albany," which culminated at the steps of the NYS Capitol. Susan has an invaluable understanding of The Arc New York's rich history. She has worked tirelessly to ensure the stories that shaped our organization and the system of supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not forgotten. She took on the immense responsibility of preserving our organization's legacy as the staff liaison to the Historic Archives Workgroup, embodying our commitment to honoring our past as we shape our future. Over the course of her career, she worked under eight presidents and created and facilitated their President's Projects, including "NYSARC Gives Back" and "The Legacy Project," along with many other special projects for the organization. Additionally, Susan was the staff liaison to the Prevention Committee for 30 years, successfully advocated for important legislation like the Booster Seat Law, and developed a prevention program to raise awareness about critical issues such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and childhood lead poisoning. Again, this only begins to capture Susan's impact on the organization and the people and families we support. Susan was not just a tremendous asset to the organization but someone I proudly call my friend. I am sure many of you share the same sentiments. As Susan embarks on her well-deserved retirement, we all at The Arc New York express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for her extraordinary contributions. Please join me in celebrating Susan's career and wishing her happiness and fulfillment in this next chapter of her life.

contributions to our organization and our Chapters. She has left an indelible mark on our organization and community, and her legacy will endure long beyond her departure. Susan's contributions are truly too numerous to capture fully, but I want to share a snapshot of her career and her impact over the past 44 years. Susan began her career with the organization in 1980 as the Director of Children's Services for The Arc Lexington (Fulton, Schoharie). She transitioned to the State Office in 1984 as the Assistant Executive Director for Public Information and today serves as the Director of Membership and Special Projects. Susan's work and impact covered an incredible scope and variety of projects. Still, she always focused on celebrating and sharing the essence of our organization – our history and the families and people we support. She worked closely with our founder, Ann Greenberg, on membership recruitment and has continued to support membership efforts for decades, expanding our connections with our communities and enhancing the power of our collective voice. Susan served as a pivotal link between our organization and various committees, Chapters, and partners as the organization evolved. She led negotiations with The Arc on our rebranding and spearheaded statewide public awareness campaigns, including "Disabilities Don't Discriminate," "Legacy of Love," and "It Matters to Me," which resonated deeply with our mission and values.



Fidelia Telfort worked as a Residential Habilitation Counselor, then as an activity specialist, and later as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) and Employment & Community Service Coordinator (ECSC) at

Each year, The Arc New York presents scholarships to students pursuing degrees in special education, physical or occupational therapy, and other fields related to intellectual or other developmental disabilities. This year, the majority of the scholarship recipients are affiliated with our local Chapters. While we are delighted to provide support to those of the general public looking to continue their education and work the I/DD field, we are especially proud to be able to support those currently working beside us. We wish everyone success as they continue their education and careers in the field. Congratulations to all of The Arc New York 2024 Scholarship Recipients! JONATHAN WEINGOLD SCHOLARSHIP This scholarship is exclusive to The Arc New York Chapter employees, and honors the memory of Jonathan Weingold, son of Joseph T. Weingold, The Arc New York’s first President and Executive Director. Four scholarships are presented annually to full-time Chapter employees who wish to further their education with the intention of contributing to the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

AHRC NYC. She approaches her work with compassion, patience, and respect. Being a mother of a child with a disability, she has a personal understanding of the support needed for program participants. She is currently pursuing a Sociology degree and has been selected for the NADSP E-Badge Academy. Being a DSP is Fidelia’s passion, driving her to profoundly and positively impact the lives of those she serves.

Kira Guercio is a Behavior Technician at The Arc of Monroe. She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree in Psychology at SUNY Brockport and plans to continue her

2024 Recipients:

education to get a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and a BCBA certification. Kira is passionate about working with people with developmental disabilities and helping the people she supports achieve the best quality of life. She strongly advocates for person-centered care and the protection of human rights. Her goal is to become a Behavior Specialist for the agency and further her career in helping people in the field of I/DD.

Andia Bernard started her journey in the business world, however, after working at AHRC NYC, she was inspired to return to school to become a clinical social worker. She is currently finishing her last year at Indiana Wesleyan University and plans to continue

her career with AHRC NYC in the clinical department. She says her experience with AHRC NYC will be a solid foundation for her future endeavors, by creating a community where advocacy, justice, unity, joy, trust, peace, and happiness are at the forefront and she can positively impact the world.

(Continued on page 9)



JAMES F. REVILLE SCHOLARSHIP This scholarship is intended for full-time college students in a program related to the intellectual and developmental disability field such as behavioral sciences, social work, nursing, healthcare administration and management, or psychology. This scholarship honors James F. Reville, in recognition of his dedication to bettering the lives of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Mr. Reville was one of The Arc New York’s most respected Presidents, serving the Association from 1965 to 1969.

Sabrina Mastropolo is currently wrapping up her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism at Russell Sage College, where she has been studying for the past two years to become a BCBA. She has been working as a Registered

ARTHUR W. PENSE SCHOLARSHIP This scholarship is intended for physical or occupational therapy degree program students, and honors Dr. Arthur W. Pense, who served as NYS Assistant Commissioner of Mental Hygiene from 1944 to 1961. Behavior Technician at The Arc Westchester’s Ann Manzi Youth Connection for three years. With her BCBA credential, Sabrina aims to keep teaching functional living skills to individuals with developmental disabilities, helping them lead independent and fulfilling lives.

2024 Recipients: Beatriz Amorosino works as a Teaching Assistant at The Arc Westchester’s Children’s School for Early Development. She is studying at Teachers College, Columbia University,

2024 Recipient:

Milana Inoyatova Is currently a second-year Occupational Therapy graduate student at Touro University in Midtown, Manhattan. Milana says the program has been an incredible journey filled with numerous learning experiences that have solidified her passion for this field. As she prepares to enter

aiming for a Master’s degree in Developmental Disabilities. Beatriz also plans to get certified in Applied Behavior Analysis (BCBA) at Columbia. Growing up with a vision disability, she has always been passionate about helping people with disabilities. After she graduates, she wants to continue working and doing research in the field of developmental disabilities.

her Level II Fieldwork this Fall, she is excited to put her knowledge into practice and help make a tangible impact on the overall quality of life of those under her care. What drew her to Occupational Therapy was the opportunity to assist individuals in regaining their independence in activities of daily living. Whether it's providing rehabilitation after an injury or supporting those with disabilities, the chance to make a positive impact is what drives her every day.

(Continued on page 10)



Stacy Dynski currently works full-time for Arc GLOW as a Quality Specialist in the Compliance/Quality Assurance department. She first began working for Arc GLOW in

J.T. overcame these obstacles and caught up with his peers during middle school. Throughout high school, he excelled academically, earning high honors and participating in various clubs. Now, he will be attending SUNY Oswego to fulfill his dream of becoming a special education teacher, providing support and guidance to students who are in a similar boat that he was in.

2009 as a DSP, then was promoted to a Medical Appointment Coordinator position upon receiving her Associate degree. Stacy realized her passion is in administrative work and helping individuals in an indirect, but important way. She decided to go back to school and pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Services Administration. Stacy anticipates that Arc GLOW will be her “forever employer” and she looks forward to bringing new skills and knowledge back to the team. JOSEPH T. WEINGOLD SCHOLARSHIP This scholarship is intended for students enrolled in a degree program leading to a special education certification. This scholarship honors Joseph T. Weingold, first President and Executive Director of The Arc New York. Mr. Weingold was a pioneer in the field, significantly shaping the national policies on intellectual and developmental disabilities. Joseph T. Weingold was at the center of policy developments positively affecting the lives of people with I/DD in New York and across the nation for four decades before retiring in 1980.

Yaraima Mercado Colon is almost finished with her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at Hunter College. She is working hard to become a

Board-Certified Behavior Analyst

and is currently working to finish her field hours. Yaraima is a Registered Behavior Technician at Peekskill Day Site at The Arc Westchester, where she helps adults live full and productive lives through enriching and engaging daily activities. Yaraima is excited to keep growing in her career at The Arc Westchester.

2024 Recipients:

Jacob “J.T.” Goss plans to attend SUNY Oswego to become a dual-certified special education and mathematics teacher for adolescents. Growing up on the Autism Spectrum, J.T. faced many challenges in school.

During elementary school, he had difficulties with communication, academics, and social interactions, which led him to struggle keeping pace with his peers. Luckily, thanks to his teachers' unbelievable support,



In the world of finance and

At the heart of Steve's mission lies a commitment to financial transparency and accountability. "I like bringing awareness to all of the Chapters about the need for timely financial reporting," he emphasized. Recognizing the challenges posed by evolving funding streams and financial constraints, he advocates for accurate and timely reporting as a cornerstone for advocacy and sustainability. Steve also believes timely financial reporting can lead to more effective dialogue with legislators. "I think we're in a better position to advocate for ourselves if we have timely, accurate financial reporting at the operational level from each Chapter," he said. "We can make a better case for the problems we're all facing in this industry if we have timely financial reports; we can sit down with our legislators and show them the numbers; we can show them how their funding for us is insufficient and is not sustainable long-term." Moreover, Steve harbors ambitious goals for The Arc New York's future. His vision extends beyond financial stability to tapping into major corporate grants and resources. “If you look at the amount of people we serve and the amount of people we employ, we should be banging on the doors of major corporations for grants,” he said “It may be a lofty goal, but as we become more recognized by major corporations, we’ll have more opportunities.” By leveraging corporate partnerships and grants, Steve envisions expanding The Arc New York's reach and impact, amplifying the organization’s advocacy and policymaking voice. “As we tap into these larger foundations for grants, it will provide us additional political clout; these corporations do have more clout with the politicians, not just in New York State but across the country,” he continued. Steve's journey into the intellectual and developmental disabilities field exemplifies the intersection of finance and compassion, where numbers are not just figures but tools for change.

community service, Steve Drobysh is a beacon of dedication and innovation. With a banking career spanning over two decades, his role as Treasurer of The Arc New York's Board of Governors is not just a position; it's a testament to his commitment to making a difference.

Steve's story, unlike many of his peers, lacks familial or personal ties to disability advocacy. "I’m probably one of the few members on the Board of Governors who has no family members or close friends with disabilities.” His journey began in the early 90s, when he served as the Chief Operation Officer of a local furniture manufacturing company. Approached by the executive director of what was then The Arc of Sullivan County, Steve embarked on a partnership, hiring individuals from the organization's workforce program. It was this experience that ignited his passion for the cause, witnessing firsthand the talent and dedication of individuals with disabilities. Today, Steve serves as the Vice President of Commercial Lending at Ulster Savings Bank, and he seamlessly merges financial expertise with a passion for community service. His involvement with The Arc New York runs deep, especially with the Sullivan County Chapter, now known as The Arc Greater Hudson Valley (Sullivan, Orange, Dutchess). Steve served as their board president until October 2023, and has represented Sullivan County on the Board of Governors for roughly 15 years. His contributions have been instrumental in shaping the organization's trajectory. Steve also serves as Vice President of The People for People Fund, which is an organization that provides emergency grants and financial assistance to working individuals or families that have a sudden emergency, such as medical bills, auto repair, or loss of income.



The New York State Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD) recently tapped AHRC Nassau to lead a coalition of self-advocates, family members and staff across New York State to participate in a Community of Practice (CoP) advisory team on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to improve service outcomes for New Yorkers with I/DD. AHRC Nassau received a five-year grant of $750,000 to lead this coalition, which currently includes WRI Solutions, the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation, and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). Volunteers participating in the CoP will focus on DEI strategy development and implementation tailored to the I/DD community. Their goal will be to elevate care quality and establish DEI best practices individually, within service organizations, and across New York state through trainings and policy development. Together, the coalition will develop a minimum of five regional teams totaling approximately 250 stakeholders. Each team will include the lived experiences, learnings, and goals of people with developmental disabilities, staff from disability service providers and care organizations, as well as family members and guardians. "We welcome the applications of New Yorkers impacted by the I/DD experience, from self- advocates to staff to family members," said Sarah Gonzalez Noveiri, Ph.D., DEI Officer at AHRC Nassau. "Through our engaged coalition, the deliverables of the CoP advisory team will measurably advance equity and inclusion across New York State by deepening understanding of how the I/DD community is intimately connected to the principles of DEI." Applications are now open through Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. AHRC NASSAU TO LEAD STATEWIDE COALTION ON DEI FOCUSING ON DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES


The Arc Allegany-Steuben received a grant of $50,000 from the Golisano Foundation to support its apparel silk-screen and embroidery enterprise, Stitched INK. The Golisano Foundation is one of the nation’s largest foundations dedicated to supporting programs for people with I/DD. “We are grateful for the Golisano Foundation's support of our social enterprise, Stitched INK,” says Christopher Koehler, Director of Business Operations for the Arc Allegany-Steuben. “Their generous grant funding will allow us to upgrade our embroidery equipment to state-of-the-art. This will not only enhance the quality and efficiency of our operation but, most importantly, will create numerous job opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The Golisano Foundation support aligns seamlessly with our mission to promote inclusivity and create a workplace where everyone is valued and celebrated for their unique talents.” “The Golisano Foundation is proud to award Stitched INK a grant to support its social enterprise. This investment will allow Stitched INK to expand production, replace dated equipment, and hiring additional employees with I/DD,” says Erica Dayton, Golisano Foundation Executive Director. “The Foundation sends its wishes for much success with the equipment upgrades and continued growth of Stitched INK.” Located in Bath, New York, Stitched INK is committed to providing high-quality, customized apparel solutions to a diverse clientele, including individuals, businesses, government, and community organizations - while providing career employment opportunities to people who would otherwise face barriers to traditional employment. Its proud legacy stretches over three decades and has touched the lives of countless people with I/DD for the past 33 years. The enterprise’s passion for creativity, unwavering commitment to quality, and dedication to customer service has set them apart as a premier destination for apparel silk-screen and embroidery services.



“We’re leveraging the experience and expertise of our staff members to provide the very best for the people in our programs today and in the decades ahead,” Saunders said. “We know that the heart of this unification is a mutual respect for people with disabilities and a desire to support each person’s hopes, dreams, and ambitions so that everyone can live a quality of life that each person values.”

The Montgomery and Schenectady Chapters of The Arc New York have officially unified under the name Liberty ARC. “We are so pleased to announce that Liberty ARC is now a unified agency, covering both Montgomery and Schenectady Counties, and providing excellent person-centered services to people with disabilities in our communities,” said Jennifer Saunders, CEO of Liberty ARC. The agency now provides services to over 720 people with disabilities and employs over 1,100 full and part-time staff members. For the past nine months, the agencies in both counties have been working hard on the unification, making sure that all of the details are covered. As sister chapters of the Arc New York, the unification helps strengthen programs and services by working together to benefit the people we support. Chapters of The Arc New York have been pursuing opportunities to unify in recent years, and the time was right for Montgomery and Schenectady to look at the benefits of working as one agency.

Plans for unification were first announced last summer, and the agency worked with families and people supported to answer questions and ensure a seamless transition. Services to the people the agency supports transitioned smoothly through the unification, which became effective May 1. The agency will continue to maintain a footprint in both counties.



The orange illumination of The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge serves as a poignant tribute to The Arc Westchester’s unwavering commitment to fostering independence, inclusion, and dignity for all. The Chapter extends heartfelt appreciation to all who joined them at the water’s edge and to the New York State Thruway Authority for recognizing their dedication to enhancing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities in our communities.

On a cool, windy night along the Hudson River, The Arc Westchester marked its 75th Anniversary with a special celebration. The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge lit up in bright orange on the evening of April 13th to honor this significant milestone. Orange is The Arc’s signature color, symbolizing the steadfast commitment to supporting people with developmental disabilities and their families across Westchester County. Family members, staff and people supported by The Arc Westchester gathered at The Hudson RiverWalk Park in Tarrytown. They witnessed the breathtaking sight of the illuminated bridge and came together to honor all who have contributed to the Chapter’s mission over the past 75 years. From humble beginnings of family advocacy, The Arc Westchester has grown into the largest non-profit in the county, serving nearly 2,000 children, teens, and adults with developmental disabilities.

Watch media coverage by News12 Westchester and New York’s PIX11.



“That’s a lot of cookies, and a tremendous amount of community support,” said Lisa Bors, Arc GLOW’s Director of Public Relations. “We researched how much has been raised in this effort since 2019, and came up with an impressive $12,260 for Arc GLOW. We are thankful for Nicole, Mary Lou and Case-Nic’s faithful customers.” Nicole was born with Triple X Syndrome and doctors told her parents at her three-week checkup that she might never walk, talk, read, write or do math. Now in her mid-30s, Nicole has done all of what the doctors said she wouldn’t do and more: dance lessons, baseball, bowling, horse riding, swimming and bicycling. “Because of what the doctor said, we were determined — and she has been determined — she would not be labeled,” Mary Lou said. “Labels are for soup cans, not for people.” Nicole started receiving services from The Arc since she was a baby. Now, as an adult, she attends Arc GLOW’s Washington Street Day Hab program in Albion. Besides helping raise funds for Arc GLOW, the Tuoheys are also big supporters of another charity close to their heart, the Alzheimer’s Association. “We love to give back to organizations that have such personal meaning to our family,” Mary Lou said. Funds raised will benefit programs spanning all areas served by Arc GLOW: Camp Rainbow in Lyndonville, Day Habilitation and Recreation programs in Genesee and Orleans Counties, and Arc GLOW’s KidStart in Mount Morris.

Case-Nic Cookies’ sixth annual Have a Heart Cookie Sale and Window Raffle set a record this year with over $3,200 raised to benefit Arc GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming). Held annually during March, the benefit is in recognition of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Case-Nic Cookies Owner Mary Lou Tuohey and her daughter Nicole are the driving force behind the fundraiser. The Tuoheys started this event in 2019 as a way to give back and support Arc GLOW’s programs and services. It’s their way of recognizing the amazing impact Arc services have had on Nicole’s life, and the lives of so many others across the GLOW region. Cookie sales in 2024 totaled $2,370, the window raffle raised $810, and bracelets made by Nicole brought in an additional $88, resulting in the overall tally of $3,268.

6 15


In mid-April, The Arc Lexington (Fulton, Schoharie) and Saratoga Bridges (Saratoga) hosted the annual Autism 2024 Expo at the Saratoga Springs City Center, including the addition of the “Life After High School Resource Fair.” This was a free event for the whole family to connect with a supportive community, explore resources, and discover new opportunities tailored for families, caregivers, and individuals with Autsim Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This year’s expo included: Free learning sessions with experts Networking opportunities with over 60 exhibitors A Sensory Space designed by Maria College’s Occupational Therapy department Quiet Consultation Lounge for in-depth discussions Engaging children’s activities by the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, CDPHP & C W Hair Design Studio Family activities including Raffles and Photo Booths by The Arc Lexington’s Transitions program Art Show by the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts A learning session with Dr. Gina Cosgrove on “Setting Goals for Independence: Preparing for Life Beyond the School Setting” A learning session with Ed Wilcenski, Esq., of Wilcenski Pleat Law on financial management and advocacy planning A learning session with Dr. Priya Winston and Rhiannon Fralick of Transitions on “Nurturing self- advocacy in young adults with autism and learning differences.” Great job to both Chapters for putting this event together! THE ARC LEXINGTON & SARATOGA BRIDGES HOST ANNUAL EXPO

In late April, The Arc Jefferson-St. Lawrence hosted the 17th annual walk to promote acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorders at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall. There were over 325 people in attendance and thanks to community support as well as sponsorship, the event raised almost $37,000. The event was hosted by WWNY-TV’s Jeff Cole. The top fund-raising teams included: Team Judson Street, Team Ariyonna, and Team Jaxon. The top individual fund raisers were Alex Adel, Greta Bellardini, and Kaitlyn Fredette. This year’s theme was “Lord of the Rings” and there were costume and flag contests. The costume contest winners included: Oliver Borrelli, Adalynn Hewey, Ameila Merchant, Wesley Gayle, Matthew Hewey, Gretta Bellardini, Jonah Basta, Julian Sterns, and Rylie Sterns. The flag contest winning teams were: Team Judson Street and Team Jaxon, with an honorable mention for Team Trory.

6 16



“Through teaching the class, I got to see the kids' creativity in action,” said John. “It was great to see the class working together to accomplish their individual goals. They were sharing helpful tips, giving each other items inside the game, and watching other players’ backs,” he continued. “It was fun to watch the class experience Virtual Reality. In fact, one participant loved playing a VR game that was quite difficult, but he never gave up, and by the end of the six-week class he had gotten so good at that game – it was truly remarkable.” John looks forward to teaching more classes in the future, and he encourages other staff members at the agency to share their talents with the world around them and help make a difference in the lives of others. “I never thought I’d be the type of person who’d teach a class, but now I see it differently,” said John. “We’ve all got talents, interests, and hobbies, and I don't think people realize how valuable it can be to share them with others,” he continued. “There are so many talented and knowledgeable people across our agency who have so much to share. I would encourage everyone to take a moment and ask themselves, ‘Do I know anything worth teaching?’ The answer is almost certainly yes.”

At The Arc Ontario, many employees consider the agency more than just a job. It is a place that celebrates differences and comes together to enrich the lives of those they support, ensuring that they have the resources and supports necessary to blossom and realize their full potential. The agency is always searching for new ways to grow and expand its offerings to the community. The Arc Ontario encourages staff members to share their own unique abilities and talents whenever they can. John DeCicca, a PC Technician at The Arc Ontario’s main facility, answered that call and chose to share his talents after work to teach a Virtual Reality (VR) Gaming class to children and young adults with disabilities. “I’ve made some great memories playing video games with friends, and I wanted to help others make similar memories,” said John. “Video games can be a great way for people to socialize and make new friends while having a ton of fun,” he continued. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities often face challenges with socialization and relating with peers. That is why The Arc Ontario offers a variety of exciting classes and activities to the community for people to learn new hobbies, develop new skills and socialize with like-minded individuals.


Technology is making it possible for different

Day Habilitation Programs at The Resource Center

(Chautauqua) to take part in activities at the same time. Using a device called a

Meeting Owl, an activity taking place at one program can be shared through videoconferencing with our other Day Programs. Here, staff and self-advocates at our Dunkirk Day Program create galaxy sensory bottles by following along via the Meeting Owl.

6 17


The Arc Greater Hudson Valley (Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan) Community Pre Voc (CPV) Volunteers were honored by The Landing of Poughkeepsie – an assisted living facility – for their volunteer work in the memory care unit. President Biden proclaimed April 21 – 27 as National Volunteer Week, a time to remember that one act of service – big or small – can make a difference in the lives of people. To commemorate National Volunteer Week, Charlene Yerkovich, Executive Director of The Landing of Poughkeepsie, presented a plaque to the CPV Volunteers. She quoted Winston Churchill during the presentation: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” And thanked the volunteers, telling them that everyone appreciates all that they do for the residents.

In May, The Arc Greater Hudson Valley was delighted to partner with Keller Williams Realtors - Hudson Valley United for their Red Day! Keller Williams – Hudson Valley United came with plants, shrubs, and lots of eager hands. They raked, dug, planted and even painted The Arc Greater Hudson Valley’s buildings located in Monticello and Campbell Hall. The organization said they were lucky that the rain held up and they now have a great partnership with a great organization who is eager to give back to their community.

6 18


In 2008, leaders of SUNY Geneseo and the local Developmental Disabilities Services Office approached Arc GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming), then The Arc of Livingston- Wyoming, to partner and develop a four-year college experience program for people with disabilities on the SUNY Geneseo campus. Now, 15 years later, alumni and family gathered at SUNY Geneseo on April 10 to celebrate the creation of that program: LIVES.

Tom’s story epitomizes the impact the program has had on many of the people supported through the last 15 years. “Tom was a non-traditional student who achieved his dream of going to college at 51 years old. Tom just wanted to be like everyone else; he wanted to be like his twin brother and other siblings and go to college,” Kennedy said. “Participating in the LIVES program was truly one of the highlights of his life. He never missed a day. He worked hard at being a part of campus, and was able to take a class on meteorology—his passion.” During the LIVES Graduation at the School of Education Convocation in 2012, then SUNY Geneseo President Chris Dahl presented Tom with a special Perseverance Award for his hard work in the program. “This program truly changes lives,” said SUNY Geneseo President Dr. Denise Battles. “I am always inspired when I see LIVES participants on campus, going to classes among the students as vibrant members of our Geneseo community.” One LIVES student who Dr. Battles spoke of was Zachary Mogavero, an artist who produced a sketch of her. The sketch has hung in a place of honor in her kitchen for many years, and since then Mogavero’s art has showed up all around Geneseo. “As a LIVES student, he approached me about using his skills to promote events on campus, and we gratefully accepted his offer,” she said. “This year, he designed the logo for our Geneseo Recognizing Excellence Achievement and Talent celebration, known as GREAT Day. Zach has developed abilities with graphic design and programs like Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for his work creating signs.” “Because of the LIVES program, Zachary and other participants like him are given the opportunity to develop the talents they have and contribute to the communities in which they live,” Dr. Battles continued.

LIVES, which stands for Learning, Independence, Vocational and Educational Skills, provides an inclusive college experience on the SUNY Geneseo campus. Students are engaged in campus activities, clubs, and organizations. They audit classes and get vocational experience through internships in the community. The program supports the development of independent living skills to enhance success in community and family living, vocational and career exploration, and academic and practical skills. “Our first academic year was 2008-2009, and we started with a small group of students and two staff people from The Arc,” said Kellie Kennedy, Vice President of Day and Employment Services at Arc GLOW. “LIVES was headquartered in the Frasier Library, and was affectionally known as the ‘Fish Bowl.’” Genesee Valley BOCES joined the LIVES program partnership in 2009 and offers similar services for school-age students. Three of the four members of the first class were present at the LIVES Reunion: Kaleb King, Hannah Brown and Justine Deluca. However, The fourth member, Tom Ruf, passed away in 2021 at 63.

(Continued on page 19)

6 19



In May, Melissa joined the list of alumni to graduate from Arc GLOW’S LIVES program at SUNY Geneseo. Congratulations, Melissa!

With the success of the LIVES program, at Wednesday’s gala in front of around 100 people, Arc GLOW gave a new announcement. “Since our 2021 merger creating Arc GLOW, we began thinking about developing a similar program for the northern region of our GLOW service area — Genesee and Orleans,” said Martin Miskell, CEO of Arc GLOW. “Well I’m here to share tonight that plans are in place to do just that! Thanks to the hard work and wealth of knowledge of all the Arc GLOW staff connected to LIVES, we are unveiling a new program, partnering with Genesee Community College (GCC)! I am very excited to announce that our new college experience program with GCC is called Genesee IGNITE.”

Genesee IGNITE stands for Inspiring Growth and Nurturing Independence Through Education. It is currently on target to kick off this fall at GCC’s Batavia campus. The two-year program will have an academic and vocational focus, covering areas including: budgeting, health and wellness, financial literacy and money management, relationship building and social skills, career exploration, community engagement, and independent living. Arc GLOW is now accepting applications for Genesee IGNITE. The initial class that starts at the end of August will begin with five students. Download an application here.

6 20


Maria-Mercedes Hubbard, Arc’s Program Coordinator for Northern Westchester, initiated contact with local garden committee member Mike Stern to provide opportunities for The Arc’s Day Program on Highland Avenue to engage in community gardening. Maria shared her appreciation, stating, “What better way to conclude Autism Acceptance Month! The warm welcome from the community exceeded our expectations. Witnessing the generous support from our Ossining neighbors, who eagerly shared their knowledge, plants, and enthusiasm, was truly heartening. Their embrace of our mission to promote community inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities underscores the strength of unity and community partnerships.”

The Arc Westchester recently joined forces with The Ossining Organic Community Garden on Cedar Lane. The collaboration was celebrated with a groundbreaking attended by Ossining Town Supervisor Elizabeth R. Feldman, members of the Garden Committee, Arc Westchester staff and program participants, and representatives from the Ossining Police Department. Avery Valins, Assistant Executive Director of Day Services at The Arc Westchester, expressed gratitude to the Ossining Community for their support in making this endeavor a meaningful activity for the people they serve. The Arc Westchester’s Ossining Day Program will work alongside members of the Ossining community to cultivate a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Nestled within beautiful Cedar Lane Park, the Ossining Organic Community Garden (OOCG) offers residents of the Town and Village of Ossining a sunny and secure (deer-free!) space to engage in organic gardening practices, cultivating everything from vegetables to fruits and flowers.

6 21

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online