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NYSID News Blog

June 18, 2018

Now More Than Ever, New Yorkers with Disabilities Urge Legislators to “MAKE THE CHANGE”

Category: General — NYSID @ 2:41 pm

Betty Napoli knows the importance of “MAKE THE CHANGE” all too well.

“I was told when I was growing up with a disability that I wasn’t going to go places in my life, and that’s heartbreaking,” she said. “But if you keep fighting and let your voice be heard, you’re going to find employment, you’re going to be somebody. You’re going to be able to vote and have a voice.”

"MAKE THE CHANGE!" reverberated throughout the Legislative Office Building in Albany during a recent rally to combat an unacceptable 70 percent unemployment rate for New Yorkers with disabilities

Today, she’s a happy, successful Preferred Source worker in electronic document preparation at eBizDocs. Betty was among more than 150 New Yorkers with disabilities, family members and disability advocates raising their voices in a collective “MAKE THE CHANGE” rally cry during a June 14 event at the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Albany.

Rally participants united in solidarity to secure both ongoing employment and new opportunities for individuals with disabilities through an updated NYS Preferred Source law, to combat an unacceptable 70 percent unemployment rate for these New Yorkers.

Arc of RensselaerAWCpluseBizDocsFocused TechnologiesGoodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New JerseyGreen Facility SolutionLiberty ARCNortheast Career Planning and Rehabilitation Support Services were among the NYSID member agencies and corporate partners in the rally crowd, wearing campaign buttons, sporting t-shirts and waving signs with “MAKE THE CHANGE” messages. The Arc New York and Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities, Inc. also lent their voices to the rally event.

CBS6NewsNiagara Frontier PublicationsSpectrum NewsTALK 1300AM & 98.7FM and WCNY were among the media outlets that covered the rally.

Navree Woods is also a Preferred Source worker at eBizDocs and was named a team leader after two years on the job in a workplace she truly loves. “I didn’t find a place that I felt was home until I found this opportunity,” she said. “When I came to eBizDocs, I found my work family, and it opened my eyes to see that I’m able to do more than I thought I could.”

Preferred Source employment has allowed her to raise four children, buy a new car and possibly a home, all of which give “MAKE THE CHANGE” added significance. “These jobs are not hand-outs, but hand-ups,” she said. “We add diversity to the workforce. I implore you to make your voices heard. Be your own advocate. Your voice matters.”

Three former NYSID Legislative Preferred Source Champion Award recipients spoke during the “MAKE THE CHANGE” rally.

Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I-North Tonawanda) emphasized the need to “MAKE THE CHANGE” to Preferred Source legislation for the collective benefit of New York State.

“When we talk about economic opportunity, we can’t just talk about one part of the population,” he said. “Not only do people with intellectual and developmental disabilities need employment, they are great employees. This isn’t charity. It’s better for the economy, it’s better for employers. This is a win for employers, our local economies — and it’s certainly a win for the disability community.”

Liberty ARC was among the NYSID member agencies wearing campaign buttons and waving signs with "MAKE THE CHANGE" messages during a recent rally at the Legislative Office Building in Albany

Senator Catharine Young (R/I/C-Olean) is no stranger to those who would benefit most from “MAKE THE CHANGE”. Before entering public office, she served for 15 years as the director of communications and development at The ReHabilitation Center, a NYSID member agency.

“I saw firsthand the impact on people’s lives,” she said. “There’s nothing better than getting a paycheck because you’re able to earn money, you have a sense of accomplishment and achievement, you’re learning new skills. And it makes a difference when you come here to Albany and have your voice heard in the State Capitol.”

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther (D,I,WF-Forestburgh) mentioned several NYSID member agencies in her District — including Crystal Run Village, Inc./Village Care, New Hope Community, Inc. and SullivanARC/Sullivan Industries — and how Preferred Source workers statewide could benefit from “MAKE THE CHANGE.”

“This legislation will have quality of life implications,” she said. “It’s time that we ‘MAKE THE CHANGE’ in New York State and the United States of America. Make sure you and your families call, write or fax your legislators. Let them know that this is an important issue and it’s time to ‘MAKE THE CHANGE’ now.”

Jennifer Saunders, Liberty ARC CEO, encouraged legislators to “MAKE THE CHANGE” for such Preferred Source workers as Bridget Bailey and Sandy Becker, who accompanied her to the podium. Bridget and Sandy both work in Liberty’s facility-based production center.

“The Preferred Source Program often provides a work opportunity to those who haven’t experienced employment,” she said. “They build a resume and develop skills they’ll need in competitive employment. It’s so important to ‘MAKE THE CHANGE’ for the folks at Liberty and the 7,000 New Yorkers with disabilities employed through the Preferred Source Program.”

 

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