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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.

January 29, 2018

SUPRA Recognizes NYSID’s Ron Romano for Tireless Efforts to Create Job Opportunities for Individuals With Disabilities

Category: General — NYSID @ 8:59 pm

Congratulations to Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO, who was honored with the “Spirit of SUPRA Award” at the State Use PRograms Association (SUPRA) 20th anniversary conference in St. Petersburg, FL, January 24-26.

Ron Romano (third from right) proudly displays his Spirit of SUPRA Award with (pictured l-r): Brian Schneider, Brian Bateman, Jennifer Lawrence, Eileen McCarthy and Corey Heritage, all from NYSID

This award is given annually to an association member who has gone above and beyond to advance greater employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities.

SUPRA’s mission is “Turning disabilities into capabilities through employment.” Its 20+ member states support more than 40,000 individuals who work at not-for-profit employment centers across the country, by advancing preferential purchasing programs through collaboration and advocacy. The collective power of SUPRA member states helped workers with disabilities earn over $180 million in 2017.

“I’m truly honored to receive the Spirit of State Use Award,” Romano said. “I am deeply humbled to be recognized with such a prestigious honor for exemplifying SUPRA’s mission in New York State and, in collaboration with my SUPRA colleagues, across the country.”

The award is also presented in memory of Larry Barker, NYSID’s president & CEO from 1996-2008, and the founding SUPRA board president.

To learn more about SUPRA, view here.


January 12, 2018

Trainings Enhance Member Understanding of Application Process

Category: General — NYSID @ 7:00 pm

This past week, NYSID hosted trainings for its members in Albany, Utica and Buffalo on the new OGS price approval application process. FAST TRACK YOUR NYSID SERVICE APPLICATION gave members insight into the new forms and procedures required in the janitorial and imaging arenas.

NYSID executive staff, including Joe Messina, VP sales; Brian Schneider, VP contracts; and Meredith Hartman, senior sales manager, presented on a variety of topics, including: pro rating paid time off, prevailing wage information, backup information required, and more. The presentation was followed by an open forum discussion.

Follow-up from the trainings from the nearly 100 participants included comments such as “I now know what to itemize and include on my costs” and “It is good to know what OGS will accept.”

“Better training means more informed members which, in turn, leads to more job opportunities for people with disabilities,” Hartman said. “And that’s what it’s all about.”

For more information on this training or to receive copies of the training materials, please contact Heather Bushane, coordinator of NYSID’s technical assistance and quality management (TAQM) program, at hbushane@nysid.org or 518.694.0223.

Look for this and other member trainings in your area at http://www.nysid.org/tip.cfm.

January 3, 2018

Purchasing That Powered 2017 Employment!

Category: General — NYSID @ 5:58 pm

NYSID member agencies, corporate partners, customers, and other supporters made a big difference in 2017:






























Help create even more job opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities. Visit our “MAKE THE CHANGE” website and support legislation that puts people to work!


December 20, 2017

NYSID Employees Grant Wishes for Children With Disabilities and Their Families, in Keeping With Holiday Tradition

Category: General — NYSID @ 9:12 pm

Each year, NYSID employees generously help those less fortunate with our holiday giving project.

This year, aligning with our mission of “Advancing employment and other opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” NYSID employees “adopted” children from two local families who face the challenge of disability.

Kathleen Tricarick, NYSID insurance specialist (far right), delivers clothing and toys collected by NYSID staff for two local families referred by the Saratoga County Department of Adult and Family Services

NYSID employees were provided the names of the families by the Saratoga County Department of Adult and Family Services, through the Saratoga County Health Department.

This holiday season, NYSID employees supported five boys between the ages of 13 and 16, and three girls between the ages of 9 and 11 by purchasing items on their wish lists and delivering the gifts to the organization’s headquarters in Ballston Spa.

These items included such essentials as coats, boots, hats and gloves, and fun stuff, such as NFL gear, Transformers, toy dinosaurs and horses, and BB-8 from the “Star Wars” franchise.

The Saratoga County Department of Adult and Family Services assists all eligible county residents who seek assistance, providing such services as: adult protective services, information and referral preventive services for adults, housing assistance, medical transportation, home care, SSI assistance, family type homes for adults, and homemaker services.

“Each holiday season, NYSID employees give generously to those less fortunate, especially families impacted by disabilities,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “We truly enjoy spreading warmth and kindness to needy parents and children, and helping to make their holidays a little brighter.”

Happy Holidays to these boys and girls and their families!

December 19, 2017

A Look Back at the Names, Faces and NYSID Highlights of 2017

Category: General — NYSID @ 8:02 pm

Season’s greetings to all of our member agencies, corporate partners, friends and followers. In these final days of 2017, we’re reminiscing about some of the feel-good NYSID stories during the past year:

Annual Meeting/MAKE THE CHANGE — During our Annual Meeting at The Saratoga Hilton, more than 250 attendees proudly wearing campaign-style buttons encouraged legislators to MAKE THE CHANGE to Preferred Source legislation — a true display of solidarity and reaffirmation of our core purpose of “Purchasing That Powers Employment.”

Richard Warner, Allegany Arc, and John Humphrey, The Arc of Onondaga/Monarch Industries, each received NYSID's 2017 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award

This proposed legislation can MAKE THE CHANGE in reducing a 70 percent unemployment rate for New Yorkers with Disabilities. Watch this video to learn more, and email your New York State legislators to show your support for employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

During our Annual Meeting, we also honored individuals employed on Preferred Source contracts, not-for-profits, legislators, New York State agencies and municipal agencies for their work to create jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities. View our 2017 Annual Meeting video playlist.

Battle Buddy Centers — NYSID dedicated two Battle Buddy Centers: SUNY Sullivan, in collaboration with SullivanArc/Sullivan Industries and New Hope Community, Inc.; and Dutchess Community College, with Access: Supports for Living. Since September 2011, NYSID’s 14 Battle Buddy Centers have collectively hosted more than 75,000 visits by veterans.

Commemorative Months — NYSID joined the disability movement in celebrating national commemorative months during the year, including: National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (March); National Autism Awareness Month (April); Mental Health Month (May); and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October).

City College of New York students and Celina Cavalluzzi of Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New Jersey, Inc. (third from left) pose with NYS Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara during the CREATE Symposium

CREATE – Union College and Schenectady Arc were among a record eight colleges/universities and eight NYSID member agencies that participated in NYSID’s third annual CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology) Symposium in Albany.

Governmental Affairs — This was a banner year for advocacy, as Preferred Source workers from across New York State joined NYSID staff on visits to members of the US Senate and House of Representatives in Washington DC to advocate for choice in employment opportunities and service providers during New York Day on Capitol Hill.

At a “Town Hall” held in Albany during NY GovBuy in May, NYSID members from across the state called upon the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) to improve the price application approval process for Preferred Source contracts so as to provide continued employment for New Yorkers with disabilities.

During NDEAM, Ron Romano and Corey Heritage of NYSID and Fred Weber, Jr. of TIBH Industries, Inc. joined SUPRA and the Porter Group in our nation’s capital to advocate for jobs for individuals with disabilities.

Derrick McGuinness, Lexington-Chapter of NYSARC, Inc. (third from left), received his Joslin Outstanding Performer certificate and check -- one of dozens of recognition ceremonies across New York State

Joslin Awards – NYSID’s annual Joslin Awards Program celebrated exceptional job performance and personal growth by New Yorkers with disabilities working on NYSID Preferred Source contracts. In its 14th year, NYSID has awarded 17 individuals with the final William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award. John Humphrey, The Arc of Onondaga/Monarch Industries; and Richard Warner, Allegany Arc were named 2017 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award co-recipients.

Since 2004, NYSID has recognized more than 700 Joslin Outstanding Performers, including 58 statewide in 2017: 21 Capital Region/Hudson Valley residents; 16 greater New York City and Long Island residents; 11 Central New Yorkers; and 10 Western New Yorkers. Visit our News Blog for lists of our 2017 Joslin Outstanding Performers by region.

Journey Along the Erie Canal — For the fifth consecutive year, John Robinson and Doug Hamlin led Journey Along the Erie Canal, a 370-mile, 12-day bicycle ride across upstate New York via the scenic and historic Erie Canalway Trail. NYSID was once again the proud video sponsor.

NYSID Night at “The Joe” — Our sixth annual NYSID Night at “The Joe” was a grand slam, as we were joined by folks from the Capital Region Miracle League, with whom we worked on NYSID WORKS! 2, and NYSID member agencies Catholic Charities, Northeast Career Planning, Rehabilitation Support Services, Saratoga Bridges, Schenectady Arc and The Arc of Rensselaer.

Volunteers from NYSID, SEFCU and Schenectady ARC, decked out in gold shirts provided by Spectrum Designs Foundation, pose for a photo during NYSID WORKS! 2

NYSID WORKS! 2 – Volunteers from NYSID, SEFCU, Schenectady ARC, Essex Arc/Mountain Lake Services and Puzzles Bakery & Café all participated in NYSID WORKS! 2, beautifying Jaime M. Adams Field, a ball field for individuals with disabilities, at The Capital Region Miracle League.

Veterans’ Summits — NYSID hosted its quarterly Veterans’ Summits for New York State government agencies, legislators, not-for-profits, veterans’ service organizations, institutions of higher learning, and rehabilitation organizations, including NYSID members. Summits foster collaboration and networking, and advance the cause of identifying jobs for veterans with disabilities, particularly as the number of returning veterans with disabilities increases.

Thanks for following NYSID on our blog and social media in 2017. We wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

December 15, 2017

Vets’ Summit Attendees Learn About “MAKE THE CHANGE,” Education and Housing This Holiday Season

Category: General — NYSID @ 3:30 pm

During NYSID’s Veterans’ Summit on December 13, Corey Heritage, NYSID’s senior manager, governmental affairs and business development, promoted NYSID’s “MAKE THE CHANGE” campaign to secure both ongoing employment and new opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Pictured l-r: Corey Heritage, senior manager, governmental affairs and business development, NYSID; Cheryl Hage-Perez, executive director, Veterans & Community Housing Coalition (VCHV); and Jason Collins, veteran outreach coordinator, Office of Veteran and Military Education (OVME), SUNY Empire State College

NYSID has launched “MAKE THE CHANGE” to have important changes made to the Preferred Source law. Implementation of the changes would improve both existing and future employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, including veterans, without any fiscal impact on the State’s budget.

Heritage encouraged attendees to visit “MAKE THE CHANGE” and endorse NYSID’s letter to members of the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo, and share with their social network to help NYSID make a vast difference in the lives of so many. He also showed this video highlighting the campaign and its goal of reducing a 70 percent unemployment rate for New Yorkers with disabilities.

“Help us create momentum that will truly ‘MAKE THE CHANGE’ necessary to secure both ongoing employment and new opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” he said.

Summit presenters also included:

Jason Collins, veteran outreach coordinator, Office of Veteran and Military Education (OVME), SUNY Empire State College. OVME supports more than 1,200 service members, veterans and their family members with programs and services that assist their educational needs, wherever they are locally, nationally or abroad.

Cheryl Hage-Perez, executive director, Veterans & Community Housing Coalition (VCHC), which provides housing and support services to more than 200 homeless veterans and their families each year, including transitional and permanent supportive housing. Its VET HELP program to provide housing and support services to homeless veterans and their families has expanded to seven counties.

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

The holiday season can be an emotional time for veterans and their families, which is why NYSID hosted its Veterans’ Summit to provide an opportunity for camaraderie, networking and mutual support. Attendees included New York State government agencies, not-for-profits, veterans’ service organizations, institutions of higher learning, and rehabilitation organizations, including NYSID members.

“NYSID conducts its quarterly Veterans’ Summits to provide an in-person clearinghouse for individuals and organizations supporting veterans with disabilities in New York State,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “Through this information exchange, we foster collaboration and networking and advance the cause of identifying jobs for veterans with disabilities, particularly as the number of returning veterans with disabilities increases.”

November 21, 2017

NYSID Recognizes Rockland County as Local Customer of the Year

Category: General — NYSID @ 2:28 pm

For the past 16 years, Rockland County’s purchases of services and commodities on NYSID Preferred Source contracts have afforded work to individuals with disabilities from five NYSID member agencies and one corporate partner throughout New York State.

Paul Brennan (second from left), director of Rockland County's purchasing division, accepted the 2017 Local Customer of the Year Award on behalf of Rockland County Executive Ed Day

For this commitment to the Preferred Source Program, NYSID proudly presented its 2017 Local Customer of the Year Award to Rockland County on September 26 at The Saratoga Hilton.

In one example, NYSID member agency Jawonio performs cleaning services at the 14 buildings on the Rockland County Yeager Health Complex in Pomona. This NYSID Preferred Source contract employs 32 individuals with disabilities earning prevailing wages and supplemental benefits.

Two of these individuals, William Bradley and Samuel Fenner, attended the Annual Meeting with Paul Brennan, director of Rockland County’s purchasing division.

Rockland County continues to reach out to NYSID to meet its procurement needs and plans to expand its janitorial contract in the coming months, providing even more employment to individuals with disabilities.

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