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April 12, 2018

CREATE and Autism Awareness Take Center Stage in April

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:52 pm

Assistive technology and Autism Awareness Month will go hand in hand when NYSID hosts its fourth annual CREATE Symposium on April 25 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

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

The CREATE Symposium showcases prototypes of technology inventions designed to increase productivity and improve the livelihoods of New Yorkers with disabilities.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and one participating college, City College of New York (CCNY), is collaborating with Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New Jersey, Inc. on assistive technology designed specifically to assist individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD):

ASSIST (Assistive Sensor Solution for Independent and Safe Travel) – Assists users with ASD in navigating complex indoor environments without the need for major equipment to gain independence

VAR4ASD – Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VAR) technologies to train individuals with ASD and help them in the workplace

CCNY is one of eight schools competing for prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 for their CREATE inventions in 2018. Other schools include: Alfred University; Binghamton University; Manhattan College; New York Institute of Technology; Rochester Institute of Technology; Union College; and University at Albany.

Goodwill is one of nine member agencies participating in CREATE, including: ABVI-Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester, Inc.; AHRC Nassau; AHRC New York City; Arc of Steuben; AVRE; Lifespire; Living Resources; and Schenectady ARC.

Last year, CCNY also collaborated with Goodwill to create assistive technology for individuals with ASD:

Therapeutic Virtual Environments – a virtual reality system to better train workers with autism. This Virtual Reality tool helps people on the autism spectrum by treating sensitivity to stimuli, training them to be more competitive in the job market.

Workforce Management System for autism spectrum disorder – a communication system for workers with autism. The mobile device software for workers with autism incorporates scheduling, training, reports and tools to help workers communicate with co-workers and managers.

Join us at the fourth CREATE Symposium on Wednesday, April 25 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Albany and see assistive technology for individuals with disabilities at work!

March 26, 2018

Western New York Sees Beyond Disability, Recognizes Individuality

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:33 pm

“See Me for Me!” is the theme for National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March. Richard Warner, a production and assembly worker with Allegany Arc in Wellsville, knows that his colleagues see him for him — and his 2017 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award is further proof.

Richard Warner, a production/assembly worker with Allegany Arc, is NYSID's 2017 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award co-recipient

Born with an intellectual disability in challenging circumstances, Rich works as an assembler at the PWI Witkowski Integrated work place. He also has worked in custodial services on New York State Department of Transportation contracts and as an assembler of New York State DNA Databank collection kits and other products.

Rich enjoys the satisfaction of a hard day’s work with competitive wages and benefits and has built a strong, resilient identity that allows him to deal with the everyday challenges of life. His journey from welfare to employment and the quality of life he aspired to obtain validates the mission of the NYSID Preferred Source Program.

“I am proud to pay my own bills,” he said. “My mother wanted me to get a job, help chip in the family. When I first heard [about receiving the Joslin Award], I was shocked. I said, who wants to pick me? I’ve never received an honor like this before.”

In 2017, NYSID Preferred Source contracts accounted for 6,879 jobs, 4,293,221 employment hours and $65.4 million in wages across New York State.

This includes 473 jobs created in Western New York on Preferred Source contracts with these local-based member agencies and corporate partners:

Allegany County – Allegany ARC

Cattaraugus County – Cattaraugus Rehabilitation Center, Inc.; and The ReHabilitation Center/Cattaraugus County ARC

Chautauqua County – Chautauqua County ARC

Erie County – Heritage Centers; Biel’s Information Technology (in partnership with Heritage Centers); Clarus Linen Services (in partnership with Heritage Centers); Suburban Adult Services, Inc./SASI; Southeast Works, Inc; and 1 Accord Services Inc. (in partnership with Southeast Works, Inc.)

Genesee County – Genesee ARC; Angelica Textile Services, Inc. (in partnership with Genesee ARC)

Livingston County – The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming

Monroe County – CDS Monarch/UNISTEL; Easter Seals New York, Inc.; Lifetime Assistance, Inc./LAICO Industries; ALSCO (in partnership with Lifetime Assistance, Inc.); Sheen and Shine, Inc. (in partnership with Lifetime Assistance, Inc.); and Rochester Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

Ontario County – Ontario ARC

Steuben County – The Arc of Steuben

Wayne County – Wayne ARC

Yates County – The Arc of Yates

Thanks to our member agencies and corporate partners for your assistance and your continued support during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and throughout the year. #DDawareness18

March 21, 2018

Education and Outreach in Capital Region and Beyond Take Center Stage During Vets’ Summit

Category: General — NYSID @ 7:31 pm

Veterans’ initiatives led by SUNY and NYSID, a car donation to needy veterans, and a road race honoring our fallen heroes were among the topics discussed during NYSID’s quarterly Veterans’ Summit on March 21.

Pictured l-r: Stewart Dawes, Dutchess Community College; Daphne Braun and Brittany Horton, H&V Collision Centers; Kevin Hicks, New York Run for the Fallen; Ann Mueller, deputy district director, Congressman John Faso (R-19); Diana Pasterchick, SUNY; and Caitlin Rooney, Albany regional director, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Summit participants included New York State government agencies, not-for-profits, veterans’ service organizations, Wounded Warriors, institutions of higher learning, and rehabilitation organizations, including NYSID members, for camaraderie, networking and mutual support.

Summit presenters included:

Diana Pasterchick (USAF Veteran), coordinator, veteran and military affairs, The State University of New York (SUNY).

Stewart Dawes, veterans resource coordinator, Dutchess Community College, site of NYSID’s newest Battle Buddy Center.

Daphne Braun and Brittany Horton, marketing representatives, H&V Collision Centers, which is partnering with GEICO to give away cars to needy veterans and has successfully organized 21 such car donations previously.

Col. Kevin Hicks (Retired), New York Run for the Fallen, which takes place between Syracuse and Albany June 8-10.

Among the legislative staffers who attended:

Caitlin Rooney, Albany regional director, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services

Ann Mueller, deputy district director, U.S. Congressman John Faso (R-19)

Dan Casale, director of constituent services, NYS Senator Kathleen Marchione (R-43), member of the NYS Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs

Spectrum News covered the Summit and spoke with Stewart Dawes about the school’s NYSID Battle Buddy Center.

Rhiannon Antico, assistant director of financial aid, The Sage Colleges, attended her first NYSID Veterans’ Summit five months into her role as a VA certification officer and came away impressed.

“I was eager to attend this event to build my network of VA resources here in the Capital Region and beyond,” she said. “This event did not disappoint! The presentations covered a wide range of topics that were relevant to the work that I do. It was great to hear about other schools’ VA programs and how they have grown over time.

“I also walked away with information and resources to share with the VA students that I work with. My VA network has certainly grown after attending this event and I look forward to future Veterans’ Summits.”

Alex Ciccarone Jr., assistant director/investigator for Veterans’ Employment & Training Service (VETS) with the U.S. Department of Labor, likewise attended his first Veterans’ Summit and found the event to be an educational networking experience.

“I was impressed with everything and everyone. I learned something valuable from each of the speakers,” he said. “I was able to mingle with the attendees which allowed me to introduce myself personally. I did not realize there were so many people working passionately to represent our most deserving population.”

Visit Veterans’ Resources & News for more information on NYSID veterans’ initiatives.

March 19, 2018

Employment Excellence, Developmental Disability Awareness Spread Through Central New York

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:48 pm

Gerald Robbins Jr. was diagnosed at an early age with mild intellectual disabilities associated with environmental deprivation, organic personality syndrome secondary to childhood lead poisoning, attention deficit disorder and autism.

Gerald Robbins, The Arc of Madison Cortland's 2017 Joslin Outstanding Performer, accepts his award from Katie Tucci, NYSID's Central New York account representative, and Jack Campbell, The Arc's executive director

Today, he is the embodiment of “See Me for Me,” the theme of National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March.

At The Arc of Madison Cortland, Gerry initially was hesitant to try certain NYSID Preferred Source contracts, including the rag cutting contract, as he was apprehensive of the equipment.

Celebrating the success of his peers who previously received the William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award nomination motivated Gerry to try new jobs, including the rag cutting operation, and he quickly excelled. Working on the food packaging of margarine spread cups, Gerry has increased his productivity along with his quality.

Gerry is The Arc of Madison Cortland’s 2017 Joslin Outstanding Performer, and he has entered into the Pathways to Employment program, where he has used his work experience on the NYSID Preferred Source contracts to overcome the challenges of new jobs. He has flourished at many of his work experiences, being offered positions at two of his training opportunities at the conclusion of his internship.

NYSID joins the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities in celebrating National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March. The theme “See Me for Me” encourages society to look beyond someone’s disability and see them as a person, not just a person with a disability.

In 2017, NYSID Preferred Source contracts accounted for 6,879 jobs, 4,293,221 employment hours and $65.4 million in wages across New York State.

This includes 1,491 jobs created in Central New York on Preferred Source contracts with these local-based member agencies and corporate partners:

Broome County – A.V.R.E.; ACHIEVE, Broome-Tioga County Chapter NYSARC, Inc.; Bates Troy, Inc. (in partnership with ACHIEVE); Paper Alternatives, Inc. (in partnership with ACHIEVE); SOURCECORP BPS Inc. (in partnership with ACHIEVE); and Xerox State & Local Solutions, Inc. (in partnership with ACHIEVE)

Chemung County — Capabilities, Inc.; The Arc of Chemung

Cortland County – J.M. Murray Center, Inc.; Ames Linen Services (in partnership with J.M. Murray Center, Inc.)

Jefferson County – Jefferson Rehabilitation Center

Madison County – The Arc of Madison Cortland

Oneida County – The Arc, Oneida-Lewis County Chapter NYSARC, Inc./Progress Industries; Human Technologies

Onondaga County – The Arc of Onondaga; Clarus Linen System (in partnership with The Arc of Onondaga); Image Integrator, LLC (in partnership with The Arc of Onondaga); Immediate Mailing Services, Inc. (in partnership with The Arc of Onondaga); American Maintenance (in partnership with Syracuse Brick House); and Liberty Resources (in partnership with Continuum Professional Services)

Oswego County – Oswego Industries, Inc.

Seneca County – Arc of Seneca Cayuga

St. Lawrence County – St. Lawrence County Chapter NYSARC, Inc.

Tompkins County – Challenge Industries

NYSID honors all Preferred Source workers from these member agencies and corporate partners who push past significant challenges to reach their potential in the workplace and community. #DDawareness18

March 12, 2018

Capital Region, Hudson Valley Give “See Me for Me” New Meaning

Category: General — NYSID @ 12:48 pm

Paul Roes is a familiar presence to Schenectady ARC/Pine Ridge Industries’ Document Destruction customers, removing full containers of confidential records and bringing in new ones. He also works on Pine Ridge’s recycling crew, all while representing what National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is all about.

Paul Roes, Schenectady ARC/Pine Ridge Industries' Employee of the Year, points to a sign at the agency commemorating his award

In Document Destruction Services, Paul works with a team of six individuals serving more than 100 state government customers. He speaks knowledgeably of the process and represents the agency at the Preferred Source Expo at New York GovBuy.

Schenectady ARC was NYSID’s 2017 Member Agency of the Year, and Paul was their chosen Employee of the Year. John Craig, our Annual Meeting emcee, also profiled Paul in this wonderful story on WNYT NewsChannel 13.

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and NYSID joins the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities in celebrating this year’s theme — “See Me for Me!” — encouraging society to look beyond someone’s disability and see them as a person, not just a person with a disability. #DDawareness18

In 2017, NYSID Preferred Source contracts accounted for 6,879 jobs, 4,293,221 employment hours and $65.4 million in wages across New York State.

This includes 1,298 jobs created in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley on Preferred Source contracts with these local-based member agencies and corporate partners:

Albany County — Center for Disability Services; Northeast Career Planning/The Norton Center, Inc.; Camelot Consulting, Inc. (in partnership with Northeast Career Planning); Focused Technologies (in partnership with Northeast Career Planning); Immediate Mailing Services, Inc. (in partnership with Northeast Career Planning); Green Facility Solution (in partnership with Northeast Career Planning);

Rehabilitation Support Services; Action Window Cleaning, Inc. (in partnership with Rehabilitation Support Services); Image Data, Inc. (in partnership with Rehabilitation Support Services); Janitronics, Inc. (in partnership with Rehabilitation Support Services); Green Facility Solution (in partnership with The Altamont Program, Inc.); Janitronics, Inc. (in partnership with The Altamont Program, Inc.); and Second Chance Opportunities

Clinton County — Clinton County Chapter NYSARC, Inc.

Columbia County — Columbia County Chapter NYSARC, Inc.

Delaware County — The Arc of Delaware County

Essex County — Mountain Lake Services

Franklin County — North Star Industries/Citizen Advocates

Fulton County — Lexington, Fulton County Chapter NYSARC, Inc.

Herkimer County — Arc Herkimer

Montgomery County — Liberty, the Montgomery County Chapter NYSARC, Inc.

Otsego County — The Arc Otsego

Rensselaer County — The Arc of Rensselaer; Clarus Linen System (in partnership with The Arc of Rensselaer); eBizDocs (in partnership with The Arc of Rensselaer)

Saratoga County — Saratoga Bridges NYSARC, Inc./Alpha Industries; Plaza Linen Service (in partnership with Rehabilitation Support Services)

Schenectady County — Schenectady County Chapter NYSARC, Inc./Pine Ridge Industries; The Altamont Program, Inc.

Schoharie County — Schoharie County ARC/Toe Path Industries

Ulster County — Gateway Community Industries, Inc.; The Arc of Ulster-Greene

Warren County — Community, Work & Independence, Inc.; Warren, Washington & Albany Counties Chapter NYSARC, Inc.

Thanks to our member agencies and corporate partners for your assistance and your continued support during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and throughout the year.

March 9, 2018

“Making the Change” on Capital News Tonight

Category: General — NYSID @ 7:11 pm

More Jobs for Today’s Market Urged

Corey Heritage, NYSID’s senior manager of business development and governmental affairs, recently appeared on Spectrum News’ Capital Tonight to discuss “MAKE THE CHANGE” and continued efforts to increase employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities.

“MAKE THE CHANGE” is a grassroots movement to ensure both ongoing employment and new opportunities for workers with disabilities who face a 70 percent unemployment rate.

Its goal is to encourage Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to implement changes in the Preferred Source law that would improve employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, without any negative fiscal impact on the State’s budget.

View Corey Heritage’s appearance on Capital Tonight.

Heritage emphasized the importance of modernizing the Preferred Source law, first enacted by the New York State Legislature in 1975 and made permanent in 2002.

“This was a cutting-edge law in 1975, but over 40 years ago, we couldn’t anticipate how procurement and business would operate today,” he said. “We’re not fundamentally changing the Preferred Source Program, we’re making it easier for individuals to get these opportunities.”

Heritage credited NYSID’s Preferred Source customers in New York State government for recognizing the capabilities of workers with disabilities.

“Our customers fully believe that individuals with disabilities can do the work,” he said. “This program has helped hundreds of thousands of people over 40 years that gives them that first job. We have strong advocates in state government that want to use our services. Now it’s just making sure that the rulebook which everyone has to approve and abide by is updated.”

More than 1,700 letters have been endorsed and e-mailed by constituents statewide to Governor Cuomo and New York State legislators through the “MAKE THE CHANGE” website so far.

Visit http://makethechange-ny.com to endorse the letter and learn more about “MAKE THE CHANGE,” including personal stories of Preferred Source workers positively impacted by the campaign.

March 1, 2018

“See Me for Me!” Celebrates National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month With Inclusivity

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:38 pm

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and NYSID joins The Arc United States in celebrating this year’s theme — “See Me for Me!” — encouraging society to look beyond someone’s disability and see them as a person, not just a person with a disability.

Josh from Spectrum Designs holds the t-shirt designed by Spectrum Designs Foundation for New York City's 3rd Annual Disability Pride Parade

One NYSID member agency that wholeheartedly embraces this concept is Spectrum Designs Foundation, an integrated workforce of more than 30 individuals living on the autism spectrum who work in the screen printing and embroidery departments, creating shirts, sweatshirts, safety apparel, hats, and much more.

Spectrum Designs provides apparel to state and local government agency customers, including 24 school districts, numerous municipalities, several residential and psychiatric centers, public works entities, and other Preferred Source purchasers. Its expanding NYSID business also has increased employment opportunities for its team of dedicated workers.

NYSID’s 2017 Member Agency of the Year Award co-recipient, Spectrum Designs also supports its fellow NYSID member agencies by printing shirts for walks and other fundraising events, and has printed shirts for two NYSID WORKS! community improvement events. On a wider scale, Spectrum provides custom apparel to countless not-for-profit organizations and events, including the national Autism Speaks walk and New York City’s Annual Disability Pride Parade.

In 2017, NYSID Preferred Source contracts accounted for 6,879 jobs, 4,293,221 employment hours and $65.4 million in wages across New York State.

This includes 3,584 jobs created in New York City and Long Island on Preferred Source contracts with these local-based member agencies and corporate partners:

Bronx County – The Osborne Association; Action Window Cleaning, Inc. (in partnership with The Osborne Association)

Dutchess County – Abilities First, Inc.; Dutchess ARC

Nassau County – Abilities, Inc. (in partnership with Seery Systems Group, Inc.); Adults & Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, Inc.; AHRC Nassau; American Maintenance (in partnership with The Corporate Source); eWorks Electronics Services, Inc.; FDR Services Corp. (in partnership with AHRC Nassau); Landtek Group, Inc. (in partnership with AHRC Nassau); OceanSide Institutional Industries, Inc. (in partnership with AHRC Nassau); Nicholas Center for Autism/Spectrum Designs Foundation; The Corporate Source; and The Rehabilitation Institute (in partnership with American Maintenance and Mayco Building Services, Inc.)

New York County – AHRC New York City; American Security Shredding (in partnership with AHRC New York City); CASO, Inc. (in partnership with Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, Inc.); Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, Inc.; International Center for the Disabled (in partnership with Focused Technologies); Lifespire, Inc.; R & W Inventory, LLC (in partnership with AHRC New York City); Scarab Consulting (in partnership with AHRC New York City); The Doe Fund, Inc.; Wildcat Service Corporation

Orange County — Access: Supports for Living; American Maintenance (in partnership with Access: Supports for Living)

Queens County – American Maintenance and Terranova Landscapes, Inc. (in partnership with PSCH, Inc.); Goodwill Industries of Greater NY & Northern NJ; Lioncage NYC, Inc. (in partnership with AHRC New York City); and PSCH, Inc.

Rockland County – eBizDocs (in partnership with Jawonio, Inc.); Jawonio, Inc.; and The Arc of Rockland

Suffolk County – Alternative Earthcare (in partnership with Skills Unlimited); American Maintenance (in partnership with Skills Unlimited); Concern for Independent Living (in partnership with Carlstrom & Ritter, Inc. and Stang Landscaping Corp.); Imaging and Microfilm Access (in partnership with Skills Unlimited); Maryhaven Center of Hope; and Skills Unlimited

Sullivan County – Sullivan ARC/Sullivan Industries

Westchester County – A & P Coat, Apron & Linen Supply (in partnership with Jawonio, Inc.); American Maintenance (in partnership with AHRC New York City); Westchester County ARC; and Digiscribe (in partnership with Westchester County ARC)

NYSID honors all Preferred Source workers from these member agencies and corporate partners who push past significant challenges to reach their potential in the workplace and community. #DDawareness18

February 26, 2018

AHRC New York City Earns Excellent Evaluation from FDNY

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:40 pm

A founding NYSID member agency has earned high praise from New York’s Bravest, as AHRC New York City received an outstanding performance evaluation for cleaning services provided at the Fire Department of the City of New York’s (FDNY) locations in Bronx and Queens.

Richard Clark of AHRC New York City's Hudson River Services performs janitorial work at FDNY's Fort Totten training center in Queens

AHRC New York City received an “Excellent” overall score of 88 out of 100 from FDNY, based upon such criteria as timeliness of performance, fiscal administration and accountability, and performance and overall quality.

“This is an outstanding performance evaluation for janitorial services at the FDNY facilities in the Bronx and Queens,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “FDNY demands excellence, so AHRC New York City and NYSID are extremely proud of this ‘Excellent’ performance evaluation.”

The FDNY employment opportunity for AHRC New York City’s Hudson River Services team began in 2015, quickly proving that workers with disabilities make valuable contributions to FDNY’s mission of service in communities.

Its Preferred Source workers provide services in two major areas: janitorial, including daily cleaning, deep cleaning and periodic work; and landscaping, including mowing, edging, trimming and cleanup.

On a given weekday across four boroughs, more than 100 individuals with disabilities are hard at work cleaning 65 FDNY locations. AHRC New York City workers have earned a reputation for top notch service and attention to detail, as reported by FDNY and reflected in customer evaluations and contract ratings, according to Naira Aslanyan, AHRC New York City’s regional director.

“What’s more, the individuals state that they’re made to feel a part of the FDNY family, and are proud to serve such an important customer while earning a paycheck,” she said. “Their excellent performance and customer service prove that New Yorkers with disabilities can do great work when given a chance. Providing janitorial and landscaping services through our contract with FDNY has been helping us achieve that.”

FDNY was named Local Customer of the Year during NYSID’s 2016 Annual Meeting.

“AHRC New York City’s Hudson River Services has come in and I would say they’re very proactive,” said FDNY Chief Inspector Ronald Riccitelli. “They’ve approached me from the beginning, given me a lot of assistance in making sure that their cleaners do the right type of job that we need for this building.”

“The opportunity to serve the FDNY in janitorial and cleaning contracts has been a tremendous opportunity for the individuals we serve,” said Brian Simon, AHRC New York City’s Hudson River Services. “We want to thank the FDNY for this opportunity and all the jobs it’s created.”

February 21, 2018

Jamboxx Pro is Pitch Perfect Prize for Lucky Collegiate Musician

Category: General — NYSID @ 1:54 pm

As a music student at The College of Saint Rose, Sean Hastings plays saxophone and guitar, in wind and jazz ensembles. He’s also a member of a rock band, Blue Cherry, in his hometown of Utica.

Sean Hastings (center), music student from The College of Saint Rose, accepts a Jamboxx Pro from (pictured l-r): Mike DiCesare, Jamboxx co-founder and president, and Tom Occhiogrosso, NYSID commodity sales specialist.

Now, he can add Jamboxx to his repertoire, both as a musician and an aspiring music educator. Jamboxx, one of NYSID’s newest products, is a MIDI Breath controller that allows an individual to perform, play and read music with minimal breath and slight head movements.

Sean was the winner of a raffle drawing for a Jamboxx Pro after submitting his name during the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) 2017 Winter Conference in Rochester.

“I attended the NYSSMA Conference last semester with our collegiate chapter of NAfME (National Association for Music Education) to check out various workshops about education,” he said. “It’s really exciting to have been chosen for the Jamboxx prize.”

With Jamboxx, an individual can access more than 100 different instruments and sounds. The plug and play technology allows them to play an instrument and song in minutes.

Jamboxx is a true success story for everyone involved, as it was invented and manufactured by individuals with disabilities to improve the lives and livelihoods of individuals with disabilities.

Dave Whalen, Jamboxx inventor, reached out to Schenectady ARC/Pine Ridge Industries, a NYSID member agency, for assistance in manufacturing Jamboxx. Dave is a musician with significant disabilities who happens to live in Scotia, where Pine Ridge Industries is located.

Valerie Andreoli, Schenectady ARC’s business development leader, sings the praises of Jamboxx for its employment opportunity at Pine Ridge Industries.

“We have all the raw materials and recently hired a new employee who will be working on assembly of Jamboxx,” she said. “When sales orders roll in, Jamboxx will potentially create three jobs.”

Jamboxx is a MIDI Breath controller that allows an individual with disabilities to perform, play and read music with minimal breath and slight head movements.

Sean won a Jamboxx Pro, which is designed for the professional musician or enthusiast or music student and uses a pliable mouthpiece that provides both comfort and control. Many experienced Jamboxx musicians prefer the low to zero airflow setting as they find they can play faster.

The Jamboxx Pro also includes tactile bumps on the face of the instrument similar to frets on a guitar. Since the Jamboxx Pro mouthpiece is about 1.5 inches in length, musicians have the option to play with or without the tactile bumps. As muscle memory takes over, many will play without the tactile feel.

Disabled-World.Com recently featured Jamboxx in an article and videos.

In 2017, Jamboxx received a National Institute of Health Phase II STTR grant to fund a clinical trial using Jamboxx technology for respiratory therapy at Albany Medical Center. Accordingly, Jamboxx is now headquartered at the Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center (BACC) at Albany Medical College, which is where the prize presentation took place.

Sean is passionate about the music industry, as well as songwriting and composition, although his focus is to become a music educator. He sees Jamboxx as striking the right chord with his musical pursuits – at The College of Saint Rose, in Blue Cherry and beyond.

“As a future educator, I think the Jamboxx can potentially be very useful to introduce to students and as a tool to teach,” he said. “It’s important for students to know software and technology, and a course to introduce Jamboxx to students with and without disabilities would be extremely valuable.”

February 1, 2018

“MAKE THE CHANGE!” Rally Cry Resonates Through The Arc Erie County During Event Urging Changes to Preferred Source Law

Category: General — NYSID @ 5:13 pm

Brian Slapnicker was promoted to a janitorial position in 2016 at Buffalo City Court, which is NYSID’s longest continuous Preferred Source contract.

He averages 15 hours per week and loves his job and his co-workers. “It gives me something to look forward to,” he said. “The job makes the person, and mine makes me feel like I’m wanted.”

Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO, and Brian Slapnicker, a Preferred Source worker from The Arc Erie County New York, speak during the first "MAKE THE CHANGE" rally event

Brian was one of more than 100 Preferred Source workers, family members and supporters, in collaboration with The Arc and NYSID, who passionately educated the community about “MAKE THE CHANGE” during an enthusiastic rally event on February 1 at The Arc, complete with blue and green buttons and signs for attendees.

WBFO was one of several Buffalo media outlets covering the rally. WKBW, WIVB, WUTV, WGRZ and Spectrum News Buffalo also reported on the standing-room-only event.

“MAKE THE CHANGE” is a growing movement to ensure both ongoing employment and new opportunities for individuals with disabilities and help combat a 70 percent unemployment rate among this viable workforce.

The goal is to encourage Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to implement changes in Preferred Source law that would improve both existing and future employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, without any negative fiscal impact on the State’s budget.

More than 1,000 letters have been endorsed and e-mailed by constituents statewide to Governor Cuomo and New York State legislators through the “MAKE THE CHANGE” website at http://makethechange-ny.com so far.

This Preferred Source worker is all smiles in support of "MAKE THE CHANGE" at The Arc Erie County New York

Among those who spoke in support of “MAKE THE CHANGE” during the February 1 rally event:

NYS Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I-North Tonawanda), Chair of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee — MAKE THE CHANGE is about integration and fulfillment. We need to make sure you have the same opportunities everyone else does.”

NYS Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo)“As we move forward with upgrading Preferred Source legislation, I’m confident we’ll have something that will make everybody happy.”

William McHugh, The Arc Erie County New York CEO — “The Arc Erie County New York has been around for more than 60 years, serving people for the whole arc of their lifetime. We want to move people from segregated to integrated work environments.”

Brian Slapnicker, The Arc Erie County New York custodian on a NYSID Preferred Source contract at Buffalo City Court

John Robinson, Our Ability, CEO and Our Ability Alliance/New York Business Leadership Network executive director — “It took me four-and-a-half years to get my first job in media. My job means everything to me. When I see us working, we’re smiling, contributing and advocating. We can’t live under old laws all the time. We have to adapt, advance and move forward. Your story is my story.”

Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO

Staffer for NYS Senator Timothy Kennedy (D, IP, WF-Buffalo)

Signs supporting "MAKE THE CHANGE" were in abundance during the rally event at The Arc Erie County New York

Just ask Brian Slapnicker how important work opportunities are to him, and you’ll see why “MAKE THE CHANGE” means so much.

He joined The Arc Erie County in 2014 and worked in the janitorial training department through The Arc’s School-Age Education Program. Brian transitioned to the janitorial mobile crew, working on NYSID Preferred Source contracts for the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and NYS Thruway Authority before a promotion to his current janitorial position in 2016 at Buffalo City Court.

“My job lets me keep up with my bills, buy extra things and take care of my dog, Max,” he said “I feel supported on the job. NYSID and The Arc of Erie County New York have given me the chance to earn a paycheck and be part of the community.”

For Brian Slapnicker, and thousands of his fellow New Yorkers with disabilities, “MAKE THE CHANGE” is personal — and potentially life-changing. Visit http://makethechange-ny.com to endorse the letter and learn more about “MAKE THE CHANGE,” including personal stories of Preferred Source workers positively impacted by the campaign.

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