CONNECTIONS NEWSLETTER ISSUE 9 - final

CONNECTIONS ISSUE 9 OUR MISSION. YOUR STORIES.

STRONGER TOGETHER IN THIS ISSUE

A Message from CEO Erik Geizer REMEMBERING OUR PAST & DRIVING OUR FUTURE

A Message From The CEO -1-3

Willowbrook Matters - 4,5

Exploring The Autism Nature Trail - 6

As we enter the final quarter of 2022, we've been reminded lately of our roots, our history in this field, and the great strides we've made to transform supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Reflecting on this progress gives us hope for the future and inspires us in the work ahead. Our history motivates us every day in fulfilling our mission, and in advocating for the people we serve and the staff who support them.

Advocacy & Resource Center Celebrates Jenny Bryan - 8 The Arc Westchester Honored by County, Gives Back to DSPs - 7

Parents Show Appreciation to DSPs at AHRC Nassau - 9

The Arc Otsego Brings Treats & Assistance to On-Duty DSPs - 9

Recognizing Dedication at The Arc Oneida-Lewis - 10 Highlighting DSP Chris Croney of AHRC Nassau - 11

AHRC NYC & NY Alliance Recognize DSP - 12 Liberty ARC Honored by County - 12

Celebrating DSPs Across NYS - 13,14

The Arc Greater Hudson Valley Publishes New Book - 15

The Adirondack Arc Celebrates More Than Two Decades of CQL Accreditation - 16 2022 Employer Recognition Awards - 17,18 Chapters Make Memories With NYSARC Trust Recreational Grants - 19,20 CollegeWorks Graduates 6, Promotes 12 - 21 Awards & Recognitions Across The State - 22 Erie County Unveils New Training Center - 23

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A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued) FIGHTING FOR STAFF & INDIVIDUALS

In mid-September, I presented oral testimony to The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on People with Disabilities at a public hearing concerning OPWDD's five year strategic plan. In The Arc New York written testimony, which can be read here, we stressed the urgent need to address our workforce crisis, improve access to supports and services, and implement regulatory reform. Today more than ever, we need to be fighting for our workforce. Our entire system of supports, the quality of our services and the continuity of our care depends on having sufficient. skilled and dedicated staff.

This week of recognition is valuable and well deserved, but DSPs need more than a week of celebration. They need our advocacy and support. We are in the midst of a true workforce crisis. DSPs are underpaid and agencies are understaffed. Addressing this crisis is a top priority of The Arc New York’s Strategic Plan. Advocacy plays a critical role in this effort. As a member of New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) we are working with providers throughout the state to advocate for the inclusion of a sustainability funding and additional salary enhancements in the Executive Budget. In no small thanks to these advocacy efforts, the 2022 State Budget included a $2.2B increase in funding for OPWDD, comprised of a 5.4% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), bonuses for DSPs, and funding for minimum wage increases. In addition, our advocacy and influence resulted in the use of historic enhanced Federal matching funds (eFMAP) to provide vaccine incentive bonuses and longevity and retention payments for DSPs. We are hopeful these accomplishments are only the beginning of a critical realization by the state that continued investment must be made in our workforce. HONORING OUR HISTORY As we advocate for the future, we are inspired by the past. September 17, 2022 marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the day the last resident of Willowbrook State School left the horrific conditions of the institution to begin a life in their community.

CELEBRATING DSPS ACROSS NYS DSPs across the state, dedicate their time supporting independence, delivering essential care, and ensuring a rich, full life for the people we support. We appreciate them every day. We honor DSPs in September with a week-long observance recognizing their critical work. This year, we saw Chapters across the state celebrate Direct Support Professional Recognition Week with picnics, raffles, t-shirts, games, and all sorts of unique ideas.

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A Message from CEO Erik Geizer (Continued)

The Willowbrook State School opened in Staten Island in 1948. Willowbrook was the largest institution in the world for the treatment of people with developmental disabilities, separating them from mainstream society. From its opening, the Willowbrook State School was presented to the public as an ideal place for residents. In reality, Willowbrook was an overcrowded, understaffed institution that provided little interaction or stimulation. Conditions only grew worse over time, becoming crowded far beyond its capacity, unsanitary and abusive. Willowbrook became an inhumane warehouse for people with disabilities. In the early 1970s, Jane Kurtin, a journalist for Staten Island Advance, published a series of articles revealing the appalling conditions at Willowbrook. Kurtin’s ground-breaking journalism, along with parent protests, shed some light on what was happening inside the walls of Willowbrook. In 1972, Doctors William Bronston and Michael Wilkins, who were on staff at Willowbrook brought ABC reporter Geraldo Rivera onto the grounds to film the conditions. Rivera’s televised exposé brought national attention to the institution. In 1975, a Consent Judgement in the lawsuit required Willowbrook residents to receive humane treatment and adequate clinical and educational services. Advocates celebrated the anniversary with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Willowbrook Mile at the College of Staten Island, the former grounds of Willowbrook. The walking trail guides visitors through 12 stations that explore the painful history of Willowbrook and the power of advocates to drive change. Benches at each station offer space for reflection.

This judgment helped set in motion the eventual closure of Willowbrook in 1987, the ensuing closure of all of New York's State Schools, and laid the foundation for the system of integrated community supports we know today. The news coverage gave residents and their families the platform they needed to be heard and set in motion a class-action lawsuit establishing that Willowbrook residents had a constitutional right to be protected from harm. The Arc New York, then known as NYSARC, was a key plaintiff in that groundbreaking case.

State office staff and volunteers were honored to celebrate this historic moment. We are proud to be part of the fight that led to a compassionate system of integrated supports for people with I/DD. We are inspired by our past and committed to sustaining our advocacy for the future. And we will continue to learn from the wrongs of history to advance the rights of people with disabilities.

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WILLOWBROOK MATTERS

Laura and Hal read Rotham's book and decided there needed to be more information available about Willowbrook. The history of Willowbrook needed to be learned, shared and remembered. “Right after reading the book in 2000, myself, Hal, and the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council approached the College of Staten Island (CSI) to have a conference on Willowbrook," she said. "We raised our own money for the conference after being granted permission and gave it the title 'Social Justice Has Prevailed.'" On May 2, 2000, CSI and the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council sponsored an all-day conference at the college. Roughly 400 people attended to recognize the twenty- fifth anniversary of the Willowbrook Consent Judgment. Politicians, former residents, families, and journalists were all in attendance. There were panel discussions on what led to Willowbrook's downfall, its eventual closing, and the opportunities that opened for thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities.

Laura J. Kennedy, Past-President of The Arc New York, and current treasurer and soon to be president-elect of The Arc of the United States, has been a key player in keeping the memory of The Willowbrook State School alive. "Willowbrook matters," Laura said. "Willowbrook was the battleground in the struggle for civil and human rights for people with developmental disabilities." In 1999, while Laura was on the AHRC NYC board of directors, the Chapter hosted a symposium featuring a panel discussion on the Willowbrook Consent Judgment. This is when Laura's interest in preserving and sharing Willowbrook's history began. The panelists included David and Sheila Rotham, authors of "The Willowbrook Wars," a detailed account of the injustices that occurred at the Willowbrook State School. “I was just in awe, and my husband, Hal, who’s a lawyer, said ‘my goodness, we live in Staten Island, we have a daughter with a disability, we should know more about this.'"

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In 2005, Laura, Hal, and the rest of the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council formed the Willowbrook Property Planning Committee to help preserve the history of the Willowbrook State School. The committee wanted to create a historic site at CSI (the former grounds of Willowbrook).

With funding from NYS Assemblyman Michael Cusick and CSI, along with support from the CSI Foundation and community donors, the Willowbrook Mile finally came to fruition in September — on the thirty-fifth anniversary of its closure. The Willowbrook Mile consists of 12 milestone stations: Willowbrook Archives, Building 19, Halloran Hospital, Consent Judgement, Isolation to Inclusion, Exposing Conditions at Willowbrook, Baby Unit, Connelly Center, Building 29, Institute for Basic Research, Hepatitis Study, and Gouverneur State School. Each station reminds visiors of the importance of preserving history and maintaining archives.

Committee members and students worked with an architect to brainstorm ideas for the project. They ultimately decided on a mile-long walking trail that promoted the history of Willowbrook. In 2012, the Council partnered with other stakeholders including CSI, the NYS Institute for Basic Research (IBR), and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to establish the walking trail on the former Willowbrook site.

"Archives are important because we learn from our history and the mistakes and wrongdoing of the past," Laura said. "Archives help us learn about why the advocacy was so successful: the combination of strong parents, media and the legal system. We need to realize today what a strong factor advocacy is — we’ve come a long way. Even though we have so much to do, we have accomplished a lot. The history of Willowbrook matters because it reminds us what we can never let happen again."

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EXPLORING THE AUTISM NATURE TRAIL

A year ago, the Autism Nature Trail (ANT) at Letchworth State Park officially opened, and individuals at The Arc GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming) have taken full advantage of everything the park has to offer!

The ANT is the nation's first nature trail specifically designed for the sensory needs of those with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Made possible by the $3.3 million in private fundraising, the ANT features eight sensory stations, providing different experiences in a safe and supportive outdoor environment.

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DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK THE ARC WESTCHESTER HONORED BY COUNTY, GIVES BACK TO DSPS

This year, The Arc Westchester was honored by Westchester County's Executive George Latimer, who declared September 11-17 Direct Support Professionals Week in Westchester County! As detailed in the proclamation, this honor was dedicated to all DSPs who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic as essential frontline workers, and seamlessly pivoted to meet the needs of the individuals they support.

To honor DSPs and express appreciation for their hard work and dedication, leadership staff at The Arc Westchester personally distributed $50 Butterball Gift Checks to DSPs, which were generously provided by The Arc Westchester Foundation. Tibi Guzman, Westchester's CEO, took this opportunity to visit multiple residences and personally thank DSPs for the support and dedication they provide to the people they serve.

”A great community is only as great as those persons who set an exceptional example. whether through participation in voluntary programs, through uniquely personal achievements, or simply through a lifetime of good citizenry." Westchester County Executive George Latimer stated. "History has often taught us that the merit of any society can and will be measured by the actions of those individuals who, by the way of unparalleled exhibitions of diligence and conviction, inspire those fortune enough to bear witness”

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DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK

ADVOCACY & RESOURCE CENTER CELEBRATES JENNY BRYAN

After honing her skills, Jenny spent five years with the Fort Worth Symphony, was a part of a strolling violin group that once played at a surprise birthday party for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and also taught violin herself. Jenny was born in Dallas and moved to Upstate New York in 2017. She has a younger brother with cerebral palsy which has given her teaching tools and perspective. Her roles as teacher, tutor, family member and advocate have been a great asset to her role as a DSP. “With my teaching and tutoring, my main goal is to provide hidden teaching moments," Jenny said. "There’s always purpose in what I say and how I say things.” Working through the pandemic created both challenges and opportunities for Jenny. “When COVID first hit and we moved departments and changed positions, I thought of it as a new position," she said. "I look at it as if we have shifted paradigms and I started out anew at the ARC.” It is that positive attitude that makes Jenny such a great DSP. One of her most inspirational moments working at the agency came when she had the opportunity to take two sisters that receive services to a large family reunion, allowing the sisters to connect, party and dance with cousins and other family members. “It was a memorable experience and one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Jenny. “Some people really struggle and have difficulties in their lives,” she said. “My role is to create a sense of normalcy, provide a light to people and give them hope. I love to entertain and see everyone as a potential friend.”

Jenny Bryan has been working at the Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC) — the Clinton County Chapter of The Arc New York— for three years. She started in June 2019 developing and scheduling activities for senior individuals, and now works in a residence. Prior to working at the ARC, Jenny was a Para- Educator years in Kansas for 11 years, a position that is similar to a Special Education Teaching Assistant. She worked in a classroom setting, tutoring and helping kids with special needs. Jenny is an accomplished violinist. She started playing at age three. As a teenager, she traveled to Westport, NY from Texas each summer to attend the renowned Meadowmount School of Music in the Adirondacks, an intensive summer camp for students studying string instruments. Her summers at Meadowmount brought her to Plattsburgh many times for concerts and other outings.

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PARENTS SHOW APPRECIATION TO DSPS AT AHRC NASSAU THE ARC OTSEGO BRINGS TREATS & ASSISTANCE TO ON-DUTY DSPS DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK

The Broderick Family, parents of an individual who receives supports and services from AHRC Nassau, had kind words of appreciation to share with the DSPs that work in their loved one's home. “Anyone who knows me and is connected to AHRC (and some who are not) know that my tagline is: working with the special needs population is a calling, not a job. Being a part of AHRC over these last 20 or so years, that maxim has never changed. The staff that work tirelessly, both in the residences and the day hab programs, have demonstrated time and again that the value of a human being cannot be measured by anything other than how they treat others. So, thank you to the DSPs and all who work to keep our ladies and gentlemen of AHRC safe, cared for, and loved."

Members of The Arc Otsego's Employee Engagement and Administrative Team visited every agency location during DSP Week to bring lunch bags and treats to staff. Some staff helped out in house kitchens or laundry rooms, caught up with individuals and coworkers across sites, and even hopped on the line at Creekside Industries to see what tasks staff are responsible for in manufacturing and shipping every day.

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RECOGNIZING DEDICATION AT THE ARC ONEIDA-LEWIS DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK

House Manager Dorothy Hungerford has spent a decade working at The Arc Oneida-Lewis. She started her career there because, as she states, she wanted to help people who don't always have family or community supports. "The goal is to do so in a compassionate and meaningful way," Dorothy said. "The people I support are not just individuals with disabilities; they're people who want the opportunity to be more and do more. It's their right." It's those beliefs that drive Dorothy to do more each day. "Every person must be treated with respect, the same care I would want my family members to receive." For Dorothy, the rewards of a job well done are the victories that the people she supports can celebrate and cherish. "It's great to see people reach goals and have fulfilling lives. I love seeing smiling faces and witnessing the happiness of being a part of The Arc family," she said.

Mark Briggs, a Residential Manager at The Arc Oneida-Lewis, is celebrating his 23rd year with the agency. "I needed a full-time job after graduating high school, and little did I know working at The Arc would be my career," Mark said. "After all these years of working for the agency, the people we support have become like family, and I couldn't ask for a better job." While many things have changed at the agency over the years, the mission of enabling persons with disabilities to achieve their potential and Mark's ability to carry out that mission to the fullest extent have remained constant. "I love making people's lives better and seeing a smile on their faces. It happens every single day when I come on shift, and I never get tired of that feeling."

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HIGHLIGHTING DSP CHRIS CRONEY OF AHRC NASSAU DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK

During DSP Recognition Week, staff and people supported at AHRC Nassau wanted to highlight Chris Croney for his exceptional support and ability to connect with others as a Direct Support Professional. “Chris is always willing to rise above the call of duty, no matter what the circumstances. When he can’t personally help, he tries to find alternate solutions to the situation. During the most difficult of times, we can be certain he will be there to offer comfort and support. He is reliable and has proven how dependable and trustworthy he is. He is a kindhearted spirit, who always has a smile on his face. He knows how to conduct himself in a manner that exemplifies his understanding of his roles as support and friend for all the people he works with. Overall, we are truly blessed and honored to have the privilege of working with Chris. Stewart Ave and School Street will be forever grateful for his commitment to us.” – Margaret Occhiogrosso, AHRC Residential Services

Glenn Melling: “I really like Chris. He makes me laugh and I like to make him laugh. He helps me with my laundry every Tuesday.” Russell Jewels: “Chris is one of my best friends. I wish he was here every day. He takes me out all the time and goes for walks with me.” People who receive support from Chris shared why he's so special to them:

Eric Webber: “Chris is a very good man.”

Tim Lettal: “I really like Chris; he always makes me laugh.” Eric Forman: “Chris always takes me and my housemates out on rec activities. He cooks for us and helps us around our home.” Tristan Matuszak: “He is a great DSP. He helps out all the residents that need or ask for help.”

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AHRC NYC & NY ALLIANCE RECOGNIZE DSP DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK

LIBERTY ARC HONORED BY COUNTY Liberty ARC — the Montgomery County Chapter of The Arc New York — was honored with an official proclamation declaring September 11-17, 2022 as Direct Support Professionals Week. The Montgomery County Chairman of the Legislature, Michael Pepe, and County Executive Matthew Ossenfort personally delivered the proclamation and thanked DSPs for their dedication and hard work. Liberty ARC artist Ken Shumaker reciprocated the thoughtful gesture by presenting the county officials with one of his works of art.

Martha “Lidia” Mayen, pictured below with Queens-based artist Sharon Jackson, has been working in direct support at AHRC NYC for more than 33 years. She has been a pioneer in fighting for the inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities, assisting them to express themselves artistically, accompanying them to public events, and teaching them life skills to enhance independence. Holli Flack, a Program Director for Adult Day Services in Queens and Staten Island, says Lidia consistently goes above and beyond, no matter the circumstances. “During the pandemic, Lidia was the first to volunteer to support people in residences, helping people cope with the changes and begin to access their communities safely," Holli said. "After our programs re-opened, she was swiftly able to reestablish connections with community organizations that are important to the people we support.” AHRC NYC is so proud of Lidia for receiving the Annual DSP Award (NYC Region) from the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation. Thank you, Lidia, for demonstrating the skills and commitment necessary to provide exceptional support to people with disabilities!

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DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK

CELEBRATING DSPS ACROSS NEW YORK STATE

The Arc Madison-Cortland celebrated DSP Recognition Week with picnics, spirit week, lots of snacks, corn hole tournaments, raffles and well-deserved awards.

Liberty ARC treated their DSPs to a life- size game of "Hungry, Hungry Hippos," special DSP Week

t-shirts, and ice cream from Stewart's Shops!

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DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION WEEK CELEBRATING DSPS ACROSS NEW YORK STATE

AHRC Nassau celebrated DSPs and staff during their "Staff Appreciation Day." This year's theme was "Family Reunion," and reflected their excitement to reconnect and celebrate family- style. Staff were treated to a variety of fun activities, including a BBQ, ice cream, massages, volleyball, cornhole, yoga, t-shirts, and other surprises.

ACHIEVE — the Broome, Chenango and Tioga County Chapter of The Arc New York — also hosted a staff appreciation picnic to recognize all of their employees and the work they do every day.

At Mozaic — the Seneca,-Cayuga-Yates Counties Chapter of The Arc New York — DSPs are MVPs! Direct Support staff at Mozaic were gifted this awesome baseball-style shirt to thank them for being the MVPs that they are.

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THE ARC GREATER HUDSON VALLEY PUBLISHES NEW BOOK

The Arc Greater Hudson Valley recently announced the publication of “For the Love of Raymond: Between the Laughter and the Tears." The book tells the extraordinary true story of a severely disabled boy, Raymond Dunn, Jr., who received home services, respite and educational services from the agency in Sullivan and Orange Counties (then SullivanArc and Orange AHRC). The story, which begins in 1974, is told by his mother, Carol Dunn, and transcribed by a co- author from a series of taped interviews made shortly before Carol’s death in 2018. The book details the challenges and victories of supporting a child with severe disabilities who needed around-the-clock care. With the help of ‘Raymond’s Girls’, a group of young aids, nurses and special ed teachers, as well as doctors and therapists, Raymond was able to live until the age of 20, despite doctors predicting he would only live a year. He was blind, could not speak, could not use his limbs, had daily seizures and suffered from countless allergies.

The boy gained national attention when the only food that he could tolerate, Gerber Food’s Meat Based Formula, was taken off the market. His mother, Carol, campaigned for five years to get a replacement made or get Gerber to continue producing it. Marc Brandt, executive director of The Arc New York (then NYSARC), stepped in, and Gerber agreed to retool its manufacturing plant in Michigan. Gerber’s employees even volunteered their own time to make the formula for the boy. The story was picked up nationwide and aired on the TV show, Hard Copy. Ric Schwartz, executive director at The Arc Greater Hudson Valley — the brainchild behind the book project — commented that “The book is also Carol and Ray Dunn’s love story.” The couple's bond was strong and remained unbroken after Raymond’s death in 1994. Their life with Raymond was often filled with heartbreaks and emergencies, but they always managed to find humor and laughter in their everyday lives. Many parents and families of children with disabilities will relate to the stories, day-to-day challenges, and unwavering love portrayed in the book. The book is available for purchase on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle e-book. All proceeds from the book sales go The Arc Greater Hudson Valley Foundation.

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THE ADIRONDACK ARC CELEBRATES MORE THAN TWO DECADES OF CQL ACCREDITATION

The Adirondack Arc was recently recognized by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) for achieving CQL accreditation consecutively since the year 2000. The Adirondack Arc has continuously demonstrated a strong commitment to ongoing transformation and a focus on services that are centered on peoples' individual hopes, dreams and desires. CQL Quality Enhancement Specialist Betsy Burns wrote in an article that The Adirondack Arc is "devoted to helping people receiving services live fulfilling and meaningful lives, and take specific steps to make that a reality. Across the organization and at all levels, The Adirondack Arc has strong systems and practices in place. There are so many examples of this." Betsy went on to say, "The Adirondack Arc's Person-Centered Excellence Plans help guide the agency’s services. The investment in CQL Certification has strengthened the organization’s person-centered discovery, and its use of data allows them to track progress and make adjustments along the way. "The Adirondack Arc has made a concerted effort over the course of decades to allocate time, energy, and resources to improving quality, and the benefits of this are so clear. It has become an embedded part of who the organization is and what they’re all about."

Jennifer Stavenhagen, Director of Quality and Incident Management for The Adirondack Arc, said the agency takes pride in its CQL accreditation status and what it stands for. "More than 20 years ago our CEO really pushed CQL Accreditation to improve the quality of life for people we support," Jennifer said. "What CQL Accreditation helped employees ask “Are we doing enough for people? Can we do more?” At the time, this was a huge undertaking for the agency and it transformed The Adirondack Arc into not just an organization that cares for people with intellectual disabilities but an organization that supports people to live their lives their way." "We were the first organization to become accredited by CQL in New York State," Jennifer continued. "This achievement helped develop our agency culture – we were part of something bigger than just our small agency in the Adirondacks. We were part of a movement to support people to have full, amazing lives, driven by the people themselves." Congratulations to The Arc Adirondack on more than two decades of commitment to upholding the standards required for CQL accreditation!

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2022 EMPLOYER RECOGNITION AWARDS The Arc New York Employer Recognition Awards highlight the valuable relationships that Chapters have formed with employers across New York State who provide meaningful work opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

These partnerships have proven to be successful for the individuals employed and a valued source of dependable and motivated workers for the businesses that employ them. The Arc New York honors employers who have invested time, training, and pride in hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Meet the recipients of the 2022 Employer Recognition Awards!

Aramark

Aramark food services at Hartwick College has partnered with The Arc Otsego, maintaining their commitment to hiring a diverse workforce, with 11.5% of their workforce receiving supports and services from Otsego. "As a manager of a team of employees, the most significant feedback comes from my team of Employment Specialists, who work in a wide variety of settings with many different businesses," said Kari Miller, Assistant Director of Employment Services at The Arc Otsego. "My team consistently reports that the Hartwick Aramark team excels at supporting their staff, both with and without disabilities, to develop to their fullest potential. They cross-train their employees in various skill areas to help them gain as many skills as possible, and they consistently promote to new positions from within their current staff."

The handmade soap company is a valued business partner of Pine Ridge Industries — the integrated business division of Schenectady ARC. Pine Ridge Industries RAD Soap Co.

production and manufacturing center partners with businesses to accelerate their goals while employing people with disabilities in meaningful work. "RAD has consistently been a great champion of our mission to employ people with disabilities, recognizing the value and talent individuals of all abilities bring to the workforce," said Nathan Mandsager, COO of Pine Ridge Industries. "They have implemented specific strategies to be inclusive and promote a culture of caring and helping individuals succeed with their job duties."

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2022 EMPLOYER RECOGNITION AWARDS

Tree Town Café This small, family-owned Café in Brighton, NY, focuses on providing locally sourced food and drink that accommodates a variety of dietary needs, preferences and restrictions, including Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan and Allergen Free options. Tree Town Café employs less than 30 people, including numerous individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who receive supports and services from The Arc of Monroe. Café owners, Pete and Jenna Morgante, work in the café daily alongside their staff, assisting them when needed. Pete formerly worked in The Arc of Monroe's Job Path program — the agency's supported employment service — and supported employment is something near and dear to him. He believes all people should have the opportunity to work in their community based on their skills and interests. Pete and Jenna’s philosophy is that all individuals should be treated with dignity and respect, which shows in everything they do. Their café has been a wonderful place for people with disabilities to learn essential work skills, feel included, and thrive in a job they love, and The Arc of Monroe is grateful to have them in their community.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

A leading Biotech company located in Tarrytown, Regeneron is responsible for inventing life-transforming medicines to treat various diseases. They have been a business partner of The Arc Westchester since 2011, and currently employ six people with developmental disabilities. "From office work to lab maintenance and basic cleaning, employees have been given the opportunity to grow in their positions," said Shari Lewitt, Director of Career Development and Supports at The Arc Westchester. "Their staff is so accommodating to each person, and makes sure they feel part of the Regeneron community by including them in many of the staff events and celebrations. Their team works with our job coaches to ensure a happy and productive work experience. It is noteworthy to mention that COVID-19 required the company to furlough many staff, including our employees working there. Some jobs even were even permanently eliminated. However, Regeneron continued to keep our people on staff and paid them during the year-long furlough. They accommodated the workers to explore new positions upon their recent return. "

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CHAPTERS MAKE MEMORIES WITH NYSARC TRUST RECREATIONAL GRANTS

In mid-September, The Arc Erie County hosted their annual picnic using funds from their NYSARC Trust Recreational Grant. Everyone had a great time and there were smiles all around!

The Arc Oneida-Lewis' Guardianship committee closed out Summer with a picnic at Lock 20 in Marcy, NY using funds from Guardianship and Recreation Grants provided through NYSARC Trust Services.

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CHAPTERS MAKE MEMORIES WITH NYSARC TRUST RECREATIONAL GRANTS

Eight students in the Saratoga Bridges Creative Endeavors art class had the opportunity to attend "Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience" with funding from their NYSARC Trust Recreational Grant. "Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience" is a virtual exhibition of work by 19th-century painter Vincent van Gogh. The exhibition includes 360-degree digital projections with atmospheric light and a sound show.

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COLLEGEWORKS GRADUATES 6, PROMOTES 12

"Because of CollegeWorks, I can now express myself better and ask for help when I am struggling," Angelica Rudd said in a program testimonial.

Over the summer, six students graduated from the CollegeWorks program, and 12 students moved up from year one to year two of the course. The CollegeWorks program launched in 2004, when The Arc, Oneida-Lewis began a collaborative project with Mohawk Valley Community College, creating the CollegeWorks program on the MVCC Utica campus. CollegeWorks is a two-year certificate program for people with intellectual and other disabilities that focuses on vocational skills training on the MVCC campus and in the community. In 2010, the program expanded to include instruction on the MVCC Rome campus. In its 18-year history, over 125 students have graduated, with many finding competitive employment or independent living in the community.

"During my time at CollegeWorks, I have become more motivated and have more friends," said Vincent Carchedi.

The 2022 graduating class included:

Liam Behric Vincent Carchedi Michael Gwin Angelica Rudd Miralem Seho Gage Smith

Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) Commissioner Kerri Neifeld was the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony. Also in attendance was Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon, who presented students with certificates of recognition. Assemblymember Brian Miller also sent certificates to each of the graduates.

"Through CollegeWorks, I have become more independent," said Miralem Seho.

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AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS ACROSS THE STATE

Marco Damiani, CEO of AHRC NYC, was announced as a 2022 Empire Whole Health Awards Honoree for his more than four decades in leadership positions promoting social justice for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The awards are presented by Empire BlueCross BlueShield to honor local New York leaders committed to their community’s medical, financial, or social health. Marco and other honorees were recognized at a New York Mets game. Congratulations, Marco!

ACHIEVE’s Chief Executive Officer, Amy Howard, was selected as Senator Fred Akshar’s 2022 New York State Senate Woman of Distinction for her exceptional leadership and commitment to ACHIEVE and the community!

A very well-deserved honor! Congratulations, Amy!

Denise Field Jones, Chief Executive Officer of The Resource Center (Chautauqua County Chapter of The Arc New York), was again named to the list of the most powerful female leaders in Western New York.

Allen Connely, President and CEO of Mozaic, was recently elected chair of the National Council of SourceAmerica Employers Executive Committee! The council is an independent network of executives representing nonprofits that provide services or manufacture products under the AbilityOne program. SourceAmerica is a nonprofit organization with a mission of creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Way to go, Allen!

This marks the eighth straight year she has appeared on the “Power 200 Women” list, compiled by Buffalo Business First. Congratulations, Denise on being recognized for your impact as an influential figure in your region!

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ERIE COUNTY UNVEILS NEW TRAINING CENTER The Arc Erie County recently hosted a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of their Specialized Workforce Training Center at their Buffalo

location. Located in the newly renovated second floor at 2643 Main Street, The Training Center is an extension of the Employment Services department. The center will focus on cultivating skills to ensure a smooth transition to employment for the people supported at The Arc Erie County. The main areas of focus for people enrolled in the The Training Center program will be Hospitality, Janitorial, Culinary, and Job Readiness.

Erik Geizer, CEO of The Arc New York; Assemblywoman Karen McMahon; Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes ; Senator Tim Kennedy and Councilmember Ulysees Wingo were all in attendance for the unveiling. The Arc Erie County thanked the following donors for helping to make this project happen:

The Golisano Foundation Statler Foundation Wegmans First Niagara Foundation Margaret Wendt Foundation

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CONNECTIONS Have a story you'd like to share? Reach out to Casey Croucher,

Communications Specialist croucherc@thearcny.org

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www.thearcny.org

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