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Arc of Genesee Orleans

July 22, 2021 - 2:30pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has been selected one of four statewide recipients of "The Arc New York 2021 Employer of the Year Award," acknowledging the value of employing people with disabilities in their place of business

Arc of Genesee Orleans Director of Development Shelley Falitico says Batavia Downs has been a longtime friend of the agency, hosting Arc Night at the Races and Arc’s annual awards banquet.

Batavia Downs Values the Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities

In addition, through a partnership with Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, an onsite training on "The Benefits of Hiring a Person with a Disability" was held at the Arc Walnut Street location. Several employees from Batavia Downs HR Department were in attendance and were excited to begin collaborating with Arc’s Vocational Services team. 

“Our first request of The Downs was to allow us work with Community PreVoc participants at Batavia Downs to assess their skills,” said Arc Director of Vocational Services Melissa Cotter.

“A true partnership for employment and opportunities for people we serve was definitely developing. Unfortunately, COVID hit and Batavia Downs shut down along with some of our day services and the rest of the globe."

When Batavia Downs reopened, Arc of Genesee Orleans picked up where it left off and had a perfect candidate – Caleb Miller, for an Environmental Services technician position.

Caleb’s Mom, Debbie Miller, said in a letter supporting the award nomination, “My son is 20 years old with a diagnosis of autism. When COVID hit and shut the world down, Caleb could no longer attend college.

"He was attending Genesee Community College for Graphic Arts, but online classes did not work for him. Although he did try to find a job, Caleb also knew working directly with the public would not be easy for him. Enter Arc of Genesee Orleans and Batavia Downs,” Miller said. 

Naturally, as a mother, Miller said she had fears of how the job was going to work out, but is thankful that Batavia Downs for took a chance on her son and supported him as he landed his first job. 

“Batavia Downs has now hired Caleb directly – he is on their payroll now. And he is continuing to do well. His schedule is set, he knows the busy days of the casino and the slower days. He knows some of his ‘regular’ customers and they know who he is.

"Batavia Downs has given Caleb a sense of pride and self-worth. Caleb is a normal, working 20-year-old adult. He has his own money now. What a difference the Downs has made in Caleb’s life.”

One question in the award nomination asked how does the nominee ensure that employees with disabilities are fully integrated and supported in their company’s workforce.

Cotter said the people Arc supports at Batavia Downs Gaming are not separated by what they wear, ID badges, expectations or benefits.

“They wear the same uniforms, carry the same credentials and are expected to perform the duties that they were hired for,” she said. “The supervisors and coworkers have been very warm and welcoming to the people we support. From day one, from top managers, to security guards, to every other employee, all employees have been receptive to our presence there and offer the people we support any assistance they can to be a successful employee."

Arc of Genesee Orleans representatives will be on hand at the Downs on Thursday, July 29, at 6 p.m. for the Zoom award presentation from The Arc New York state offices. The award will be presented to Henry Wojtaszek, president & CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming.

Top photo: Caleb Miller, Environmental Services technician at Batavia Downs Gaming.

June 19, 2021 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Arc of Genesee Orleans, Challenger Baseball, news, batavia, muckdogs.

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The annual Challenger Baseball game was held at Dwyer Stadium this afternoon with the Batavia Muckdogs hosting clients of Arc of Genesee Orleans.

The Muckdogs play a home game tonight at 7 o'clock against Jamestown.

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June 16, 2021 - 11:49am
posted by Press Release in Challenger Baseball, sports, YMCA, Arc of Genesee Orleans, PGCBL.

Press release:

In their continued effort to make an impact in the community, the Batavia Muckdogs have teamed up with the Challenger Division Baseball League to host a game at Dwyer Stadium at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 19th.

Challenger Baseball is a community program sponsored by the YMCA and Arc of Genesee & Orleans that provides children in the area with disabilities the opportunity to play organized baseball.

With the generous support of volunteers trained in disability awareness and sensitivity, these athletes who range from ages 5-21 can have the unique opportunity to play the sports they love.

Players, coaches, and other Muckdog personnel will be on the field assisting the game that will be free to season ticket holders and other fans in attendance.

Later in the afternoon, the Jamestown Tarp Skunks will come into town to play the Muckdogs, with the start time of the PGCBL showdown still to be determined.

The rest of the Challenger Divison Baseball League games will be played at nearby MacArthur Park and hosted by Batavia Youth Baseball. They are very excited to have such a special event held at Dwyer Stadium and hope to see the community out to support them.

For any questions about the event or to learn more about the Arc of Genesee & Orleans, please reach out to Director Shelley Falitico at her email, [email protected], or on their website.

Go Dogs!

June 10, 2021 - 1:51pm

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Officers with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and Batavia Police Department carried the Special Olympics torch today from the Sheriff's Office on Park Road to the Arc Genesee Orleans Center on Walnut Street in support of the Special Olympics.

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June 10, 2021 - 11:29am

Submitted photo and press release:

The Boards of Directors of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming and Arc of Genesee Orleans announce Martin Miskell, current executive director of the Livingston-Wyoming chapter, will lead the agencies through their planned merger.

The unification of the agencies serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families will create a one-chapter, four-county service area covering roughly 2,400 square miles—geographically, the largest Arc chapter in New York State.  

Miskell began his Arc career as director of finance at the Livingston-Wyoming chapter in 2002, becoming associate executive director/chief financial officer in 2007 and executive director in 2015. He calls this an exciting time.

“The merger will offer all four counties more program and service opportunities for individuals and families served,” Miskell said. “We have experienced changes over the last decade in the field of disabilities and this merger will make the agency and its services more fiscally sustainable and poised for the future.”

Over the last several months, Miskell has met with senior leaders, board membership and retiring Genesee Orleans Executive Director Donna Saskowski to develop a regional approach and plan for legal and programmatic strategies to ensure a smooth transition. The merger process is expected to take as long as five more months to complete.

The new agency will use consolidated resources to ensure quality services to all people with disabilities and their families served in the Genesee Livingston Orleans Wyoming (GLOW) counties region. Once merged, the new agency will be called Arc GLOW.  

Miskell grew up in the Geneseo area, and he and his wife, Theresa, have four adult children. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from SUNY Geneseo and his Master of Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. He also serves on the NYS Genesee Valley Parks Commission, SUNY Geneseo Foundation, and is a member of the Kiwanis Club.

ABOUT THE CHAPTERS: The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming and Arc of Genesee Orleans, soon to be known as Arc GLOW are family-founded agencies dedicated to helping people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) meet their full potential and find fulfillment in learning, personal relationships, employment, volunteerism, recreation, the arts, and more.

In the coming months, a new Arc GLOW website will be unveiled. In the meantime, the websites serving the chapters are www.arcgo.org and www.lwarc.org. For more information contact Director of Development & Community Relations Shelley Falitico at [email protected].

April 30, 2021 - 4:07pm
posted by Press Release in Arc of Genesee Orleans, news.

Submitted photo and press release:

Retirement is on the horizon for Arc of Genesee Orleans Executive Director Donna Saskowski.

Her retirement this summer will cap off a successful 32-year career at the local nonprofit that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Saskowski’s first position at Arc of Genesee Orleans was part-time Residential Training instructor, working in the Supportive Apartment program 23 hours/week.

She didn’t have a lot of experience working with people with disabilities and admits she didn’t know what to expect.

“It only took a day or two to realize this was going to be my life’s work,” the Executive Director said. 

Over the years, Saskowski has held several positions at Arc including rehab counselor, residential coordinator, social worker and Day Habilitation Program coordinator. She became Executive Director in April 2004 and has overseen substantial growth in the residential and day habilitation programs, the privatization of Arc Collection Services and the successful merger with the Orleans Chapter in 2016.

One of her career highlights was the purchase and remodeling of the former St. Mary’s School, transforming it into the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center.

“The successful capital campaign to fund the project really hit home the generosity and love people have for our community, agency and especially, the people we support and their families,” she said.

In addition to her work at Arc of Genesee Orleans, Saskowski is very active in the community as a member of the Batavia Rotary Club and is Assistant Governor for Rotary District 7090. She is a member of the United Way Board of Directors, Collaborative of the Finger Lakes, Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York, and the Executive Directors Association of The Arc New York.

Saskowski received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Buffalo. She is a member of the Leadership Genesee Class of 2005; was named a 2006 Leadership Fellow of the Community Health Foundation of Western New York; and was awarded Social Worker of the Year in 2010 by the Western Division NYS Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

In 2011 she was named Geneseean of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

When asked what’s next, Saskowski thoughtfully replied, “tending my gardens and canning fruits and vegetables – two things I love to do," adding, “I will also continue my community involvement through volunteering.”  

Saskowski and her husband, Paul, live in Darien, just down the road from the family farm where she grew up. They have two daughters, Tracey and Karen.

In response to the retirement announcement, Arc of Genesee Orleans Board President Debbie Fischer said Saskowski has been a strong advocate for Arc of Genesee Orleans, its programs, people served, employees, and the community.

“She has positioned this agency for the future and we will continue to deliver excellent services to individuals and their families,” Fischer said. “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we wish Donna all the best in her upcoming retirement and look forward to working with her as a community volunteer."

LOOKING AHEAD 

It was announced earlier this week that following several months of meeting, negotiating, and work with The Arc New York, “conditional approval” has been granted for the Genesee Orleans and Livingston-Wyoming chapters to merge. This is the first step to move more formally to a fully integrated organization.

Although this process may take several more months, the end product will be a four-countywide organization. The new agency will use consolidated resources to ensure quality services to all people with I/DD and their families from the GLOW region.

February 23, 2021 - 2:44pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Arc of Genesee Orleans, Batavia City Council.

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On Monday night, Batavia City Council Member Robert Bialkowski presents a proclamation to Donna Saskowski, executive director of the Arc of Genesee Orleans, denoting March 2021 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Saskowski said the local ARC has had a long relationship with the city – even before 1987 when President Ronald Reagan made Development Disabilities Awareness Month a nationally recognized event – and continues as one of the leading employers, with 450 workers in the two counties.

“Thank you for the support and when you see people with development disabilities think about the contributions that they make … they are significant,” she said.

Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 31, 2020 - 2:34pm

Press release:

After decades of service, Rainbow Preschool, operated by Arc of Genesee Orleans, will permanently close on Aug. 14.

Rainbow Preschool, located in Batavia at 80 Union St., and in Albion, serves children from 2½ - 5 years old with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

After careful consideration by Arc of Genesee Orleans’ Board of Directors, this difficult decision was made due to the current environment of the coronavirus pandemic, uncertain funding and declining enrollment.

While no return to class date was set due to NY State COVID-19 restrictions, enrollment to date included 26 children.

The preschool provided special education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive technology, counseling, parent training, music therapy, and speech/language therapy to help students achieve kindergarten readiness. Preschool staff are New York state certified teachers, with teacher assistants and aides in the classroom. 

This decision was made with heavy hearts,” said Donna Saskowski, executive director. “For any children who are enrolled with Rainbow for the 2020-21 school year, we will work directly with parents and with school district representatives to secure appropriate placements and ensure continuity of services.”

Rainbow Preschool provided critical services to generations of children with and without disabilities and they have a proud history of service for children with special needs.

June 12, 2020 - 5:23pm

Submitted photos and press release:

Seniors from Byron-Bergen, Batavia, Pembroke and Oakfield-Alabama are the recipients of the 2020 Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarships administered by the Arc of Genesee Orleans.

The $1,000 scholarship award winners, Jillian Menzie, Macayla Burke, Eve-Lynn Sofia and Karlie Stymus, are all planning to pursue careers related to healthcare working with those with a disability.  

Jillian Menzie (left inset photo) -- Byron-Bergen Central, will be attending SUNY Brockport to major in nursing and hopes to one day also obtain her elementary special education certificate. At BBCS, Jillian was Student Council President, National Honor Society President, and member of band and elite choir. She played Varsity soccer, was the school mascot and member of Varsity Club, Spanish Club and Alliance for Equality Club.

She was also enrolled in the Health Careers Academy through Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP). Outside of school, Jillian is involved in the “Young Life” youth group and has been a longtime fundraiser for the Arc of Genesee Orleans bowl-a-thon, benefitting programs for individuals with disabilities in Genesee and Orleans Counties.  

Macayla Burke (inset photo, below right) -- Batavia High School Class of 2020, will attend Niagara University’s nursing program and plans to minor in American Sign Language. During her years at BHS, Macayla was co-mayor and vice president of student council and was a member of National Honor Society and the Production Club. A scholar-athlete, Macayla was six-year member of the cross-country team and participated in track & field and the boys lacrosse teams for two years. She is also a certified lifeguard.

Macayla attended the Health Careers Academy through GVEP, and it was because of her shadowing experience in the academy that she has chosen nursing as her major.

She selected American Sign Language as a minor as her Mom is a sign language interpreter and Macayla wants to be able to communicate and help individuals in the deaf community.

Eve-Lynn Sofia (inset photo below, left) -- is looking forward to attending D’Youville College to pursue a career in occupational therapy. A senior at Pembroke Central, Eve-Lynn has volunteered for many school, community and Arc events over the past several years. At PHS, Eve-Lynn participated in JV and varsity volleyball and was vice president of the Photography Club.

She has work experience as a lifeguard, aquatic attendant and the summer recreation team member.

As an occupational therapist, Eve-Lynn is interested in helping people of all ages and abilities live fuller, more independent lives and has enrolled in D’Youville’s five-year occupational therapy program, leading to a master’s degree.

Karlie Stymus (bottom right inset photo) -- Oakfield-Alabama Central School, is going to be attending Genesee Community College in the fall to study nursing and would like to specialize in working with people with disabilities.

She is particularly interested in learning more about autism and Down Syndrome.

Karlie was enrolled in GVEP’s Health Dimensions program, and she has been active in scouting for several years, rising to the rank of Senior Cadet and participated in many community service projects.

She has enjoyed volunteering to help at Arc events including dances, parades and fund raisers and works for Genesee Speedway, her family’s racetrack.

About the Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship

Now in its 15thyear, the Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship is presented to area high school seniors planning to further their studies in human services, special education or related fields.

It is in honor of Mary Anne Graney, a special education teacher, who died in 2004.

Molly Graney George and the Arc’s Shelley Falitico are chairs of the scholarship committee.

May 28, 2020 - 2:54pm

Press release:

The Western New York COVID-19 Community Response Fund, announced that it has awarded nearly $1 million to an additional 47 nonprofit organizations, bringing the total grant amount from the Fund to $6.6 million, supporting a total of 156 nonprofit organizations.

This collaborative philanthropic effort was created in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 health crisis and has been coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.

Grants were awarded to organizations serving all eight counties of Western New York that are addressing immediate needs in our community as a result of the COVID-19 crisis in the areas of food, housing, healthcare, childcare, mental health, transportation, and other emergency services.

This is expected to be the final phase of grantmaking to individual organizations from the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Additional funds raised will provide microgrants ranging from approximately $500 - $2,500 to grassroots organizations in all eight counties. Going forward, the collaborative effort is evolving into a “Build Back Better” initiative to support developing strategies focused on recovery efforts through collaborative systems work to address specific needs such as sourcing personal protective equipment for nonprofits and food security.

The following nonprofit organizations in Genesee County received a grant (amounts not specified) from the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund in May:

  • Arc of Genesee Orleans
  • Project Stork
  • YWCA of Genesee County

“The sudden arrival of the COVID-19 crisis necessitated an immediate response to meet the significant need in the community with everyone working together on solutions," said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president/CEO of Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. "We are grateful that so many foundations, corporations, community leaders and individuals continue to generously contribute time and resources to support more than 156 organizations to date working on the frontlines at a time of great need."

Robert D. Gioia, president of The John R. Oishei Foundation added, “We are just at the beginning of this crisis and it will take a sustained, collaborative effort to continue to assess critical needs and find new, creative solutions to rebuild our community.”

"It’s clear that COVID-19 will have a long-term, serious impact on the people and communities of Western New York," said Nora OBrien-Suric, Ph.D., president of the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York. "We remain committed to supporting nonprofit organizations in our region as they work tirelessly to meet the evolving needs of the community."

"We are facing unprecedented need and are only just beginning to grapple with the effects caused by COVID-19," said Michael Weiner, president and CEO United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. "Extraordinary times call for an extraordinary response and we will continue to support our community and the nonprofits on the ground throughout this unprecedented crisis."

To date, the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund has raised approximately $7 million from 60 local foundations and private sector companies, more than 40 community leaders and approximately 1,900 individuals. To see a full list of contributors, or to join the effort, please visit www.WNYResponds.org.  

On April 8, the Fund announced its first round of grants totaling just over $4.5 million to 74 organizations and on April 29, the Fund announced grants totaling $1 million to an additional 35 organizations. To see the full list of grantees, visit www.WNYResponds.org.

March 25, 2020 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Arc of Genesee Orleans, news, covid-19, coronavirus, video, live stream.
Video Sponsor

We're talking with Donna Saskowski, executive director of Arc of Genesee Orleans.

March 3, 2020 - 2:25pm

Information from Arc of Genesee Orleans:

In celebration of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Arc of Genesee Orleans will hold its annual Art Show & Film Festival in Stuart Steiner Theatre at Genesee Community College on Saturday, March 7.

This event showcases talents and abilities of children and adults served at Arc.

Doors open at 12:30 p.m. for the art show (meet some of the artists!) followed by films at 1 p.m. The presentation lasts 75 minutes and films are appropriate for all age groups.

This year, six films from the New York City based Sprout collection will be presented, produced by or featuring individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

In addition, Arc of Genesee Orleans has added a film to the 2020 lineup, produced by staff member Stephenie Hill, featuring Jim and his “Self-directed Life.”

The art show and film festival is free and open to the public.

It has been made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council and is being sponsored in part by WBTA Radio.

About Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the month of March as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and invited "all individuals, agencies, and organizations concerned with the problem of developmental disabilities to observe this month with appropriate observances and activities directed toward increasing public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.

"I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential."

December 17, 2019 - 4:17pm

Photo, from left: James, Curtis, Wendie Davis, Jesse, Justin, and Dorian Ely.

Submitted photo and press release:

The Friends for the Future Self-Advocacy Group from Arc of Genesee Orleans generously donated $100 to the Genesee County Meals on Wheels program today (Dec. 17).

Wendie Davis, the case manager for meals on wheels, accepted the donation on behalf of the Genesee Senior Foundation and the Genesee County Office for the Aging.

Dorian Ely, services administrator, noted that the county has seen about a 45-percent increase in the number of individuals receiving home-delivered meals this year.

Davis, who orders the meals, said that at the beginning of this year, a daily meal order ran about 75 and now it is around 110. This gift will help support a critical program for older adults in our community.

Donations to the Meals on Wheels program in Genesee County may be made to the: Genesee Senior Foundation, 2 Bank St., Batavia NY 14021.

Questions about the work of the Foundation may be directed to Ely at the Office for the Aging 585-343-1611.

November 14, 2019 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Arc of Genesee Orleans, video, batavia.
Video Sponsor
November 7, 2019 - 5:42pm

Press release:

“Universal Hiring Practices: Hiring Someone with a Disability” will be the subject of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s latest business workshop on Nov. 13.

The Chamber has partnered with the Arc of Genesee Orleans to provide training on the benefits of hiring a person with a disability. The workshop will be held at the newly renovated GO TO Hub at Arc of Genesee Orleans, 64 Walnut St., Batavia.

“It is well known that finding and retaining employees is a problem for employers here in Genesee County,” said Tom Turnbull, president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

“Unemployment is low and the pool of capable workers is shrinking. To meet these hiring needs, local businesses need to explore new and diverse options that are available here in our local communities.”

“Hiring a person with a disabilityis an option employers sometimes overlook but would be wise to consider. This pool of diverse employees will provide a highly productive, community focused, dedicated group of new hires to your employee base.”

The workshop is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and should last approximately one hour.

This event is free for Chamber and Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District members. There is a $10 charge for non-members.

To register, contact Kelly Bermingham at the Chamber by phone at 585-343-7440 or by email at [email protected].

August 6, 2019 - 10:03am

Arc of Genesee Orleans will hold its 15th annual Family & Friends 5K and Fun Walk on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Elba.

There will be food, music, kids' activities and face painting at a post-party afterward. It all begins and ends at the Day Habilitation Center, 4603 Barrville Road.

Registration / check-in begins at 8:45 a.m. The 5K run starts at 10 o'clock, with the Fun Walk immediately following.

Register by Sept. 16 for best pricing. After that, rates increase to $25 (5K) and $20 (Fun Walk) up to and including race day.

Sponsorships are available.

Funds raised benefit education through the Arc of Genesee Orleans Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship Fund and programs and services for people served by Arc.

Register online here.

For more information, call Sandy at 585-343-4203, ext. 223.

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