Genesee ARC honored supporters, volunteers, community members, individuals served and staff during its 48th Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony Friday night at the Clarion Hotel. Assemblyman Steve Hawley was the 2014 master of ceremonies.
During opening remarks, ARC Executive Director Donna Saskowski shared that the field of developmental disabilities is in a state of transformation.
“Choice is not as primary as it once was," Saskowski said. "We continue to be the focus of the Governor who believes that New York State is spending too much money on Medicaid, the primary funding source for the people we support."
The executive director challenged everyone at the banquet to go out and this story to someone who doesn’t know about Genesee ARC.
“We need to advocate, talk to our government representatives, and help educate our community about those we support and their real impact and value to our community,” she said. “If each one of us talked to just one more person about the skills of our workers and their dedication to their employers I think new community based jobs would quickly develop, there would be more volunteer opportunities and ARC would develop an even larger base of supporters."
The 2014 Spirit of ARC Award was presented to the Rotary Club of Batavia. This award was established nine years ago to recognize an organization, business, family, or individual who exemplifies the mission of ARC. The Rotary Club is always reaching out to Genesee ARC and individuals served, welcoming and including people of all abilities in their community events.
Saskowski, herself a Rotarian, said “This is a dedicated group of local men and women who actually possess a laser focus on community improvement, youth development and social responsibility.“The Rotary Club’s financial contributions have spearheaded major capital improvements at UMMC, the YMCA, GO-ART! and Genesee Community College. At Genesee ARC, the Rotary Club made a significant pledge to the agency’s People Realizing Potential campaign to help fund renovations at the Community Center resulting in a culinary arts training center for people with disabilities. Several Rotarians attended the presentation and the award was accepted by Club President Hollis Upson."
Bergen residents Carl and Candie Pocock were presented with Volunteer of the Year honors. Saskowski said the award is in recognition of the Pococks’ commitment to Genesee ARC and our mission. Candie is involved with the Byron Kiwanis recreation program for children with disabilities and the area summer reading program. She was also a former leader in the County 4-H program. The couple also participates in various committees of the United Methodist Church.
Carl and Candie’s work with Genesee ARC started in 1996 when their daughter Michelle began to receive services from the agency.
“They are tireless advocates for all people with disabilities and help insure that everyone we serve, receive the services they need,” Saskowski said. "Two years ago Candie stepped up to take on the lead role as president of the Genesee ARC Board of Directors and both she and Carl volunteer at Genesee ARC fund raisers.
The Business Partner of the Year award was presented to Applied Business Systems, Inc. Steve Samis, ABS vice president of Production was on hand to accept the honor. Genesee ARC has had a longtime partnership with Applied Business Systems through the ARC Work Center and last year they provided the opportunity to run two temporary work enclaves at their site on Harvester Avenue in Batavia.
According to Scott Jones, director of Vocational Services, ABS believes in the value of the Genesee ARC workforce.
“ABS has shown a commitment to providing employment to people with developmental disabilities by consistently returning to us with new work projects and ideas for future projects,” Jones said “...Thanks to the work opportunities ABS has provided they have helped to benefit the individuals served by our agency by helping them to develop crucial job skills and opportunities to become more independent as contributing members of their community.”
A surprise Lifetime Membership Award was presented to Thelma C. Montreal, of Batavia. Genesee ARC has always been near and dear to Mrs. Montreal as she is a parent and grandparent of children with developmental disabilities. Thelma is a member and past president of the Genesee ARC Board of Directors, and served several years on the NYSARC Board of Governors. The award is in recognition of her many years of service to Genesee ARC and individuals served by the agency.
Friend of ARC Awards were presented to:
CP Rochester Dental Clinic -- Charles O. Kolthoff, DDS and the Staff of CP Rochester Dental Clinic were presented an award in recognition of their exceptional talents and compassion in providing dental care for individuals with disabilities.
Anne Marie Starowitz -- A retired teacher, Anne Marie was recognized for the difference she has made in the life of an individual at ARC as a reading tutor. Anne Marie is helping this individual gain more independence.
Howard and Michael Ouriel -- The Ouriel brothers offer quiet, behind-the-scenes support to Genesee ARC. Their many acts of kindness include donating funds to purchase special wish list items, enhancing the lives of individuals served. They also support recreation and sports opportunities for children with disabilities.
The following received Genesee ARC Achievement awards: Gabe Norton, Jacob Klotzbach, Dolores Wanser, James Grudzien, Janette Vick, Mael, Joan Pietyzkowski, Jonathan Hedrick, and Dan Ware.
Genesee Staff Shining Star honorees for 2014 are: Linda Conroy, Medicaid Service coordinator; Darla Jaszko, coordinator of Administrative Services; Richard Majors, residential assistant; James Owens, mechanic; and Michelle Wheatley, Day Hab specialist.
Longevity awards went to the following individuals: Lucy Brown and Patty Sheedy, 40 years; Bob Adam, Alan Birge, Steve Jenney and Tom Dissette, 35 years; Paul Johnson, David Miner, Tom Montreal and John Wiggins, 30 years; John Brown, Alvin Stewart and Ken Sheehan, 25 years; Phyllis Riley, Mary Welsh, Elizabeth, David, Joseph Duganier, Marjorie Keppler, Hayley Brandes, and Robert Cummings, 20 years.
Staff Longevity award recipients were: Donna Saskowski, 25 Years; Elizabeth Hopkins, James Owens, Reneé Potter, Carolyn Cauthen and Shelley Kropelin, 20 Years; Debra Worthington, Lauraine Cornell, Carolyn Griffin, Darla Jaszko, Scott Lang, Angela Spikes and Marla Snyder, 15 Years; Roxanne Monteleone, June Lawrence, Debra LaDue, Sue Given, and Catherine Pangrazio, 10 Years.
More than 325 guests were in attendance at the banquet ,which also serves as Genesee ARC’s official annual meeting. Board officers for the upcoming year are: Candie Pocock, president; Debrah Fischer, vice president; Jane Scott, treasurer, and Deborah Riggi, secretary.