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May 25, 2016

Amid Stars and Stripes, NYSID Honors Military Past and Present

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:59 pm

In honor of our fallen soldiers, NYSID has proudly donated thousands of American flags that will be distributed to dignitaries at the Albany Memorial Day Parade and placed in a dozen cemeteries across Albany County over Memorial Day weekend.

NYSID provided the American flags and Battle Buddy Center lapel pins to the City of Albany’s Joint Veterans Committee via the Wm F. Wigand Memorial VFW Post 8444.

Among the dozens of dignitaries expected to march in the Memorial Day Parade: U.S. Rep. Paul Tonkoformer U.S. Rep. Michael McNultyNYS Senator Neil Breslin; NYS Assemblymember Patricia Fahy; NYS Assemblymember Phil Steckformer NYS Assemblyman Jack McEnenyAlbany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; former Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings; and Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy.

More than 40 Gold Star Families who have lost loved ones in war also will participate in the parade.

Flags donated by NYSID also will be placed in a dozen cemeteries across Albany county over Memorial Day weekend, including: Albany Rural Cemetery; Calvary; Memory Gardens; St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery; Holy Spirit Cemetery; St. Agnes Cemetery; Graceland Cemetery; Hebrew Cemeteries; Hurtsville; Our Lady Help of Christians Cemetery; Our Lady of Angels; and St. Paul’s Eagle Hill Cemetery.

As we celebrate Memorial Day on May 30 and National Military Appreciation Month in May, we thank our veterans and their families who have made untold sacrifices in serving to improve the lives of all Americans and safeguard the freedoms we enjoy today.

May 24, 2016

Ronald McBride is All Smiles and No Regrets #mentalillnessfeelslike

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:05 pm

Ronald McBride is yet another Joslin Outstanding Performer we're highlighting during Mental Health Awareness Month

Ronald McBride, known as “Smiley” among his co-workers, clearly lives up to his nickname. Always in a good mood, Ronald comes to work with a smile and the drive to always push forth and work hard.

He considers his co-workers a “brotherhood,” as he has worked with them on several other jobs over the years.

When Ronald joined Terranova Fine Landscapes, he immediately discovered his interest in the landscaping field. He currently works on the New York City Travel Crew, which services Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Glen Oaks School District, as well as other locations in New York City and Queens.

NYSID has given Ronald the opportunity to find great placement in the workforce. He came from a tough life and suffered severe depression, but you would never know it from speaking with him. “I have a good head on my shoulders. I got my life back together,” he said. “My bosses are great, my co-workers are family, and I truly feel appreciated on the job.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month 2016. This year’s theme, “Life with a Mental Illness,” calls upon individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and videos, using the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike

Several of our 2015 William B. Joslin Award recipients, including Ronald, have overcome mental health issues to become successful, satisfied workers on NYSID Preferred Source contracts.

Posting with the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike allows people to speak up about their own experiences, to share their point of view with individuals who may be struggling to explain what they are going through –– and help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness.

For over 65 years, Mental Health America (MHA) and its affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings.

NYSID celebrates the efforts of MHA and our member agencies and private sector business partners to help create more inclusive communities for individuals with mental health issues.

May 23, 2016

Preferred Source Employment Impact on Full Display at OGS Expo

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:50 pm

Rehabilitation Support Services joined nearly 40 NYSID member agencies as exhibitors at the NYS Purchasing Forum & Trade Show

Thank you to all attendees and vendors who participated in the 2016 NYS Purchasing Forum & Trade Show, in support of NYSID’s message that “Your Purchases Create Preferred Source Jobs.”

Nearly 40 NYSID member agencies and private sector business partners exhibited their products and services May 18 and 19 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

What’s more, Preferred Source workers on NYSID contracts were on hand to greet customers and illustrate the employment impact of government procurement.

At the NYSID, Preferred Source Solutions booth, videos were shown highlighting Preferred Source workers from AHRC New York CitySchenectady Arc and WWAARC.

The OGS Purchasing Forum & Trade Show brings government purchasing professionals from across the state together to learn about the newest contracts, hear about best practices and see many of the goods, services and technologies available on centralized contracts.

During the NYS Purchasing Forum & Trade Show, NYSID showed videos highlighting Preferred Source workers from AHRC New York City, Schenectady Arc and WWAARC, because "Your Purchases Create Preferred Source Jobs”

Purchases from NYSID member agencies and private sector business partners employed 7,052 New Yorkers with disabilities on NYSID Preferred Source contracts in 2015 and provided $59.7 million in wages.

NYSID member agencies and private sector business partners that participated in the NYS Purchasing Forum & Trade Show included:

Association of Vision Rehabilitation & Employment - A.V.R.E.Access: Supports for Living; ACHIEVE; AHRC Business Services and AHRC Workforce; Alphapointe/New York City Industries for the Blind (NYCIB); American Maintenance; Arc of Rensselaer; Bates Troy;

CASO, Inc.; Center for Disability Services; Challenge Workforce Solutions; Coarc Manufacturing; CWI: Community, Work and Independence, Inc.; eBizDocs; Fedcap; Focused Technologies; Gateway Community Industries; Goodwill IndustriesHerkimer Area Resource Center; Human Technologies;

Progress Industries LCI /Oneida-Lewis Chapter Arc highlighted the value of Preferred Source employment during the NYS Purchasing Forum & Trade Show

Image Data, Inc.; J M Murray Center; Janitronics; Jefferson Rehabilitation Center; Liberty Enterprises, Montgomery County Arc; Maryhaven; Northeast Career Planning; Northeastern Association of the Blind at AlbanyPaper Alternatives; Progress Industries LCI/Oneida Lewis Chapter Arc; PSCH Clean Corp.Rehabilitation Support Services; Schenectady Arc/Pine Ridge Industries; Schoharie County Arc; Seneca Cayuga Industries; Spectrum Designs Foundation; Steuben County Arc; The Osborne Association; TRI Business & Career CenterUlster-Greene Arc

May 16, 2016

NYSID Salutes Veterans During National Military Appreciation Month

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:26 pm

NYSID has dedicated 11 Battle Buddy Centers across New York State, including The College of Saint Rose in Albany

National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) provides a period encompassing both the history and recognition of our armed services with an in-depth look at the diversity of its individuals and achievements.

This very important month honors, remembers, recognizes and appreciates all military personnel, past and present, and their families as well as those Americans who have given their lives in defense of our freedoms we all enjoy today.

NMAM 2016 includes Loyalty Day (May 1), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (May 6) VE Day (May 8), Armed Forces Day (May 21), and Memorial Day (May 30).

NYSID supports job creation efforts for veterans through its member agencies and assists other veterans’ support programs, promoting quality of life for veterans as they reconnect to the New York State workforce. Our statewide network of community rehabilitation agencies employs skilled veterans and civilians with disabilities in production facilities and community-based jobs which make connections to better lives.

Among the veterans’ initiatives NYSID supports:

NYSID Veterans' Summit participants include NYS government agencies, not-for-profits, veterans’ service organizations, institutions of higher learning, and rehabilitation organizations, including NYSID members

Battle Buddy Centers: safe havens for veterans to socialize with their fellow veterans and receive services they need

Veterans’ Summits: quarterly meetings among individuals and organizations supporting veterans with disabilities in New York State; our next Summit is Wednesday, June 22 from 9:30am – noon at our Albany office, 11 Columbia Circle Drive

Veterans Contact Directory: an online resource listing veterans’ service provider government agencies and not-for-profit organizations available in New York State counties

Preferred Source Program: NYSID employs 97 veterans on Preferred Source contracts (as of March 31, 2016); of those, 74 are service-disabled veterans

We’ve also launched a new NYSID Veterans’ Resources & News Facebook page, with information and photos on NYSID’s Battle Buddy Centers, Veterans’ Summits, veterans’ initiatives and more.

We thank our member agencies and private sector business partners for helping us expand veterans’ outreach, employment opportunities and education initiatives, and we salute our veterans for their patriotism and valor.

May 10, 2016

Mental Health and Meaningful Work Make for a Wonderful Life

Category: General — NYSID @ 2:16 pm

Richard Sullivan feels valued in his work with Human Technologies while overcoming mental illness

Richard Sullivan understands that hard work and perseverance are the keys to success. He is among several William B. Joslin Award recipients who have overcome mental health issues to become successful, satisfied workers on NYSID Preferred Source contracts.

In April 2014, Richard’s name was sent to Human Technologies from his mental health provider, Mental Health Connections, as a potential employee. He was hired by Human Technologies as a janitor to fulfill the NYSID contract at the Frankfort DDSO.

Richard felt that his life had taken a wonderful turn and, since the beginning of his time with Human Technologies, he feels that he can contribute and be appreciated for the work that he does. Additionally, he strives to be an invaluable employee through his willingness to help with other NYSID cleaning contracts.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month 2016, and this year’s theme, “Life with a Mental Illness,” calls upon individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and videos, using the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike

Posting with the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike allows people to speak up about their own experiences, to share their point of view with individuals who may be struggling to explain what they are going through –– and help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness.

Sharing is the key to breaking down the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.

For over 65 years, Mental Health America (MHA) and its affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings.

NYSID celebrates the efforts of MHA and our member agencies and private sector business partners to help create more inclusive communities for individuals with mental health issues.

May 3, 2016

“Life with a Mental Illness” Promotes Dialogue, Spreads Awareness

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:28 pm

Gerry "Ace" Acer has overcome mental illness to become a dedicated, trustworthy custodian with Jawonio

May is Mental Health Awareness Month 2016, and this year’s theme, “Life with a Mental Illness,” calls upon individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and videos, using the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike

Several of our 2015 William B. Joslin Award recipients have overcome mental health issues to become successful, satisfied workers on NYSID Preferred Source contracts.

Gerry “Ace” Acer from Jawonio is one of these success stories.

He has learned how to live with his mental illness and has been successfully employed by the Jawonio Cleaning Company for 16 years. Gerry likes being part of an encouraging, supportive team environment.

Maintaining his job performance has not always been easy. “Because of my illness, things that may seem little to other people can make me become very anxious,” Gerry said. “Navigating all the challenges relating to a job can be hard for most people, but for people with disabilities like mine, it can be overwhelming. The job coaching helps me tremendously, and the job has helped me with all aspects of my life.”

Posting with the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike allows people to speak up about their own experiences, to share their point of view with individuals who may be struggling to explain what they are going through –– and help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness.

Sharing is the key to breaking down the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.

For over 65 years, Mental Health America (MHA) and its affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings.

NYSID celebrates the efforts of MHA and our member agencies and private sector business partners to help create more inclusive communities for individuals with mental health issues.

May 2, 2016

NYSID Supports Veterans’ Education, Employment at SUNY Canton

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:32 pm

Through this Battle Buddy Center, NYSID, St. Lawrence NYSARC and SUNY Canton provide a space for more than 120 veteran students, National Guard/Reserve Students, active duty students and their dependents

NYSID proudly dedicated its 11th Battle Buddy Center at SUNY Canton — its northernmost location in New York State — in collaboration with St. Lawrence NYSARC.

The event coincides with the start of National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), which provides a period encompassing both the history and recognition of our armed services with an in-depth look at the diversity of its individuals and achievements.

Battle Buddy Centers are safe havens for veterans to socialize with their fellow veterans and receive services they need. Based on the military concept of a “Battle Buddy,” which partners soldiers to assist each other both in and out of combat, Battle Buddy Centers offer activities to encourage camaraderie and foster veterans to give and receive mutual support.

Through this Battle Buddy Center, NYSID, St. Lawrence NYSARC and SUNY Canton will provide a space for more than 120 veteran students, National Guard/Reserve Students, active duty students and their dependents to study, socialize with one another, and receive services they need.

Among those who participated in the April 28 Battle Buddy Center dedication ceremony:

NYS Assemblymember Addie Russell (D-Theresa) addresses attendees during the NYSID Battle Buddy Center dedication ceremony at SUNY Canton

Paul Quirini, NYSID outreach & communications specialist, on behalf of Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO

Dr. Zvi Szafran, SUNY Canton president

Daphne Pickert, St. Lawrence NYSARC CEO and executive director

NYS Assemblymember Addie Russell (D-Theresa)

James Reagan, on behalf of NYS Senator Patty Ritchie (R,C,I-Watertown)

Student veterans from SUNY Canton

Members of the Canton VFW

With an active Student Veterans Association, a full-time Military & Veterans Student Services Coordinator, and two VA funded work-study students, the SUNY Canton Battle Buddy Center will provide a much-needed space for student veterans to call their own, while remaining an integral component of the student population on campus.

The College’s Military & Veterans Services Office is adjacent to the Battle Buddy Center, increasing the office’s visibility and enabling students to utilize the services provided.

7 News/Fox 28 and the Watertown Daily Times both provided great coverage of the dedication ceremony.

April 25, 2016

Pioneer Knows What Promotion Feels Like While Living With Autism

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:00 pm

Francis Burke of Monarch perfectly embodies what National Autism Awareness Month is all about

Meet Francis Burke.

He has been an Arc of Onondaga/Monarch employee for two years and has proven to both staff and coworkers that he is an invaluable member of the Enclaves team, while living on the autism spectrum.

Francis currently works weekday evenings at the West Genesee day habilitation site on a NYSID contract.

After his first year on the job, he was asked if he would consider managing his own site. The first person ever to be asked to take on such a task, Francis would be required to not only work independently with minimal supervision, he would also have many additional responsibilities, including keeping the keys for the building, using proper time management skills, and maintaining and monitoring inventory, such as cleaning supplies and building necessities.

“We never even toyed with the idea of having an individual maintain their own site until Francis came to work for us,” said Jim Pitts, manager for Enclaves. “The more we worked with him, the more we began to realize how much we could streamline our productivity and efficiency if we were able to do more with less. Francis was the first person to demonstrate all the necessary skills that would be needed for someone to work independently at their own site, including having his own transportation.

“Today, we’re looking into other individuals being able to maintain their own sites. Francis was the pioneer for this new line of thinking, and we achieved such great success that we were able to slowly introduce other candidates to having their own sites. Francis proved to us that, with the right people and training, we could help individuals integrate into an inclusive and independent workforce type setting with minimal supervision.”

“It was such a confidence boost,” Francis said. “I just kept thinking, I bet this is what a promotion feels like. There are terrific people over there at the day hab. They deserve the cleanest and safest environment possible. I’m happy to be able to work for them.”

As we enter the final week of National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM16), we thank our member agencies for your continued support during NAAM16 and throughout the year. #AutismFriendly #NAAM16

Francis is also a Joslin Outstanding Performer. In its 13th year, NYSID’s Joslin Awards Program has recognized nearly 600 Outstanding Performers, and awarded 15 of those individuals with the final William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award.

Learn more information about the Joslin Outstanding Performance Award, including nomination materials, guidelines and important dates.

April 18, 2016

AHRC Nassau Worker Changes Landscape of Autism Awareness

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:08 pm

Daniel Zinke is a hard-working landscaper and a true success story as National Autism Awareness Month continues

Daniel Zinke had a dream to become a professional landscaper and has always been fascinated with big trucks and power machines.

He applied for an AHRC Nassau landscaping position and has been working for AHRC Nassau since June 2013 as a dedicated, hardworking, self-motivated employee, while living on the autism spectrum.

When Dan first started working as a landscaper, he needed full attention and direction from his supervisor. He steadily increased the quality and speed of his work. Dan has learned how to use a 36-inch walk-behind lawn mower, back pack blowers, aerators, power rakes, commercial push mowers, snow blowers, and all types of hand tools.

Dan goes above and beyond expectations by helping his co-workers when they are having a hard time using equipment or getting the job done. He is a true leader who sets a high standard and is a great example for his co-workers.

Dan’s independence has improved greatly. He travels to and from work by train. He arrives at work and sets up for the day by cleaning the machines, setting up tools and preparing all the equipment in the landscaping truck and trailer.

His hard work and determination have helped AHRC Nassau’s program renew the New York Power Authority and NYS Department of Labor NYSID Preferred Source Contracts. He has been maintaining these properties by cutting grass, raking leaves, weeding flower beds, picking up garbage, planting flowers, and shoveling snow.

Dan’s landscaping skills and excellent personality have made AHRC Nassau’s customers very happy. The opportunities provided by NYSID Preferred Source contracts have been instrumental in helping Dan become an outstanding landscaper and a very sociable person in the community.

During National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM16), join NYSID as we increase awareness of member agencies which provide employment for this workforce population and the ways in which we collectively turn business opportunities into jobs for New Yorkers in the autism community. #AutismFriendly #NAAM16

Dan is also a Joslin Outstanding Performer. In its 13th year, NYSID’s Joslin Awards Program has recognized nearly 600 Outstanding Performers, and awarded 15 of those individuals with the final William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award.

Learn more information about the Joslin Outstanding Performance Award, including nomination materials, guidelines and important dates.

April 12, 2016

CREATE Symposium Showcases Assistive Technology for Workers With Disabilities

Category: General — NYSID @ 8:36 pm

Diana Temple, Union College engineering student, discusses her team's assistive technology for Schenectady Arc workers with disabilities during NYSID's CREATE Symposium

Union College engineering student Diana Temple and her professor, James Hedrick, are part of a team that created an invention designed to help individuals with disabilities at Schenectady Arc work more efficiently in a greenhouse.

They couldn’t be prouder to see their project evolve from concept to reality while creating greater work opportunities for Schenectady Arc workers.

“When I found out that I could complete a senior project that would benefit a real end user, I was excited to take this opportunity,” Temple said. “After visiting the Arc facility, I really got a sense of the importance of this facility in the community. I better understood how the facility helps not only the individuals, but also their families. I wanted to create something that the individuals would be proud of and excited to be able to use.”

Union College and Schenectady Arc joined New York colleges and NYSID member agencies in showcasing their assistive technologies on April 12 during NYSID’s second CREATE Symposium at the Legislative Office Building in Albany. The event featured prototypes of technology inventions designed to increase productivity and improve the livelihoods of New Yorkers with disabilities.

City College of New York students display CuraWatch, an Android smartwatch app that assists individuals living on the autism spectrum

CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology) is an initiative sponsored by NYSID that brings undergraduate and graduate student engineers and professors from colleges and universities across New York State together with NYSID organizations that employ individuals with disabilities.

Participating colleges and NYSID member agencies for 2016 included: Union College/Schenectady Arc; City College of New York/Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New Jersey; Manhattan College/Lifespire; and Alfred State College/Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.

Students and professors demonstrated their CREATE inventions to New York State legislators and staff, including Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I-62), chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara (D-111), Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism Retention.

NYS Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I-62) addresses NYSID's CREATE Symposium attendees

Assemblymember Santabarbara graciously invited CREATE participants and NYSID staff to be formally recognized on the Assembly floor.

This year’s CREATE inventions also included:

Curawatch, an Android wear application that provides services for people on the autism spectrum and helps users stay focused and on-task.

A QR Code-Based Navigation that enables people on the autism spectrum to determine their location in a complex indoor environment.

Project BrightLife, an inventory management system that helps workers with developmental disabilities fulfill orders and replenish inventory accurately and efficiently, using a system of colored LED lights, run by customized software.

NYS Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara (D-111) poses with NYSID staff members and CREATE participants after formally recognizing them on the Assembly floor

News 10 ABC/Fox 23, CBS6 News and Time Warner Cable News all provided coverage of the CREATE Symposium.

The Union College team worked with Maple Ridge, a campus of Schenectady Arc, to develop the user-friendly products. Overall, students have found the work to be creative and extremely meaningful, as these inventions have the ability to improve livelihoods and increase productivity for individuals with disabilities.

“I really enjoy working with students on projects that help benefit people and help to solve human problems,” Union College Professor Hedrick said. “The CREATE project was designed to help people with developmental disabilities learn horticulture, and thus provides for a human need. I frequently tell students that individually we can’t do much, but together there isn’t much we can’t do.”

Valerie Andreoli, business development leader for Schenectady Arc, is very pleased with the outcome of the project. “The rotating board and acrylic tools developed by the college students boosted both quality and quantity for our clients on the product side. Employees that were once unsuccessful in completing the job are now provided equal access,” she said.

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