Above, honoree Henry Valerych, front center holding "Arc Spirit Award," and his beloved family of "advocates."
Submitted photos and press release:
Arc of Genesee Orleans Board of Directors paid tribute to an agency founding father at Wednesday’s Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet held at Park Place at Batavia Downs.
Henry Valerych was presented the "Arc Spirit Award," in a touching ceremony that included a military color guard by local veterans and music from St. Joe’s of Batavia Brass Ensemble.
“We are honored to present the Arc Spirit Award to a man whose life is a reflection of his dedication to his family, the community and his country,” said Arc Board Member Kevin Fisher.
Valerych is a veteran of the Navy where he served four years and then fulfilled a lifetime of service in the Army, retiring as a Master Sergeant.
“As a Genesee County agency founding father, Henry and his wife, Anne, helped create and grow our agency over the last half century,” Fisher said.
Earlier this year, Henry stepped down from his leadership position with the Arc Board and has been granted Board Member Emeritus status.
In the early years, Henry Valerych wore many hats. When it came to public relations, he helped spread the word by typing a newsletter in his basement and delivering it door-to-door. He also served as Membership Chairman since the agency was founded and has helped raise more than half a million dollars to help grow our agency.
The Valerych family has spent more than 50 years advocating for their loved ones, and the sons, daughters, sisters and brothers of hundreds of local families. In an interview on the history of our organization, Valerych was asked “What can the community do to help people with disabilities?” His answer was simple…“treat people with disabilities, like you treat everyone else.”
Business Partner of the Year honors went to Intergrow Greenhouses of Albion. Director of Community Employment Services, Melissa Cotter told banquet attendeesthat Intergrow’s David Purvee and his team exemplify our mission to “Be a partner for people with disabilities, and a gateway to opportunities for each person to experience their desired potential.”
“The individuals we serve who work at Intergrow have been given the opportunity to earn money, work in an integrated setting, make new friends, and be a part of a growing compan,” Cotter said. "Our job coaches report that all the employees at Intergrow make sure to make the people we serve who work there feel welcome and a part of their team.”
Friends of Arc Awards were presented to:
- Child Welfare Association of Orleans County for being an active supporter of the Arc of Genesee Orleans and Camp Rainbow for more than 20 years;
- United Way of Genesee County for its ongoing commitment to raise and designate funds in support of Arc programs and services and for the volunteer service opportunities for the individuals Arc serves through the United Way backpack program;
- Batavia Community Garden for welcoming Arc’s Batavia based Community Pre-vocational program, cultivating new interests, friendships and community connections.
Persons of the Year Awards were given to: Joshua Tiede, Self-Advocate; Katie Acomb, Supported Employment; Nick Fuller, Pre-Vocational; Alice Torres, Residential; Francine Caltagirone, Day Habilitation; and Kurt Hoffman, Community Services.
Arc Executive Director Donna Saskowski presented Staff Recognition Awards to: Maryja Andrews, bus driver; Paula Knaak Sr., production manager/community PV; Carole Mitchell, senior QA technician; Kristie Rada, assistant director of Medical Services; Karen Stymus, residential administrative specialist; Kimberly Travale, coordinator of Day Hab Services; and Bethany Willis Sr., support broker.
During the annual meeting portion of the event, the following were elected officers for the coming year: President, Debrah Fischer; Vice President, Jane Scott; Treasurer, Marlene Hill and Secretary, Deborah Riggi.
Board members receiving three-year terms were Debrah Fischer, Kevin Fisher, Susan Maha and Michelle Mahler, and the following were elected to Arc’s nominations committee: Kevin Fisher, Carolyn Laney, Susan Maha, Michelle Mahler, Jim McMullen and Carl Tuohey.
The Master of Ceremonies for the Arc Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony was Paul Figlow.
"Arc Spirit Award" recipient Henry Valerych at the podium.
"Arc Spirit Award" recipient Henry Valerych shaking hands with members of the color guard.
Arc Persons of the Year: Francine and Alice in front; Josh, Katie and Nick in back.
Arc Staff Recognition Award recipients: Bethany Willis, Karen Stymus, Carole Mitchell, Kim Travale, Paula Knaak and Maryja Andrews. Award recipient Kristie Rada was unable to attend.
Eileen Corcoran, far left, of Arc of Genesee Orleans, presented the Batavia Community Garden with a Friend of Arc Award. Accepting were: RaeAnn Engler, Leslie Moma, Bob Gray, Jocelyn Sikorski and Debra Rosenbeck.
Arc Board President Deb Fischer, left, presented a Friend of Arc Award to Genesee County United Way’s Tammy Hathaway and Melissa Stein.