'MAKE THE CHANGE!' Rally Cry Resonates Through The Arc Erie County During Event Urging Changes to Preferred Source Law
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."
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.
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)
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.