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Genesee ARC

June 30, 2015 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, Genesee ARC.


Press release:

For many families who have children diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including autism, Project Lifesaver is viewed as exactly that – a LIFESAVER!

Genesee ARC has partnered with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department in support of their effort to bring the Project Lifesaver program to Genesee County. 

The program is part of Project Lifesaver International, a nonprofit organization that bridges the technological gap for “at risk” populations and public safety agencies. It provides police, fire/rescue and other first responders with a comprehensive program including equipment and training to quickly locate and rescue individuals with cognitive disorders who are at risk due to behaviors of wandering and other safety concerns. 

Project Lifesaver has more than 1,400 participating member agencies throughout 48 states in the United States, six provinces in Canada, and Australia, and has performed 3,016 searches over the last 16 years with no serious injuries or fatalities ever reported.

The Genesee County’s Sheriff’s Office has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse for the implementation of the Project Lifesaver program, which provides equipment, training, certification and support to law enforcement, public safety organizations and community groups.

Children identified and their families will participate in training and receive their Project Lifesaver bracelets at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in July. The program is overseen by Sheriff’s deputies trained in the Project Lifesaver program.

For more information on Project Lifesaver, visit www.projectlifesaver.org.

June 8, 2015 - 9:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC, Color Me Rad, darien lake, Darien.


Genesee ARC was well represented Saturday at the Color Me Rad 5K at Darien Lake Theme Park.

See also: Photos: Color Me Rad 5K 2015 at Darien Lake

Submitted photos.



May 3, 2015 - 9:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.


Genesee ARC hosted a dance recital today at John Kennedy School for its Challenger program participants. The show was created around a Disney theme. We mistakenly missed the show, but some of the participants posed for us after it was over. Pictured are Cassidy, Mosha, Benny, Aries, Christy and Max.

March 13, 2015 - 5:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.

Press release:

Combine artistic talent, enthusiastic individuals and the desire to help others and the results can be amazing. Genesee ARC’s Friends for the Future self-advocacy group took the lead in a “Pay it Forward” quilt project. The concept of pay it forward is when someone does a good deed, instead of paying it back, the recipient “pays it forward” by doing a good deed for someone else. 

Genesee ARC Intake/QI Specialist Kim Owens came up with the idea of making quilts for those in need. When she presented it to Friends for the Future, they loved it!  Kim’s mother Mabel Buchina, of Yorkshire, agreed it was a phenomenal project and offered to help by donating quilt squares and sewing the finished pieces together.

The quilt squares were used as part of a presentation at the Finger Lakes Collaborative Self-Advocacy Conference this past fall in Geneva, Kim explained.

“The advocates presented on what 'Pay it Forward' means and enlisted the help of conference attendees to design the quilt squares with meaningful and inspirational messages or images,” she added.

One-of-a-kind creations include rainbows and flowers and words of comfort like “You are Loved” and “Stay Strong.” A shining sun, footballs and the Buffalo Bills logo also adorn the squares. The six finished quilts will be donated to local organizations helping people who are struggling with illnesses such as cancer. 

During the March observance of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Genesee ARC is celebrating the accomplishments of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and working to increase the public's awareness and understanding.

March 5, 2015 - 8:45am

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Genesee ARC and The Arc of Orleans are hosting the 5th Annual Art Show and Sprout Film Festival. Please join us at The BEST Center at GCC and meet the artists and view the works of art created by individuals with developmental disabilities. Following the Art Show there will be the film screens from Sprout Films, directed by and staring individuals with disabilities.  Admission is free.

February 7, 2015 - 2:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, Genesee ARC, Genesee Sno Packers.

Collin Wickings gets a helmet adjusted before taking a snowmobile ride in Oakfield this morning.

Genesee Sno Packers hosted their annual ride for clients of Genesee ARC, an event that had to be cancelled last year because there wasn't enough snow on the ground. This year, plenty of snow.

Colleen Fisher getting ready for her ride.

January 2, 2015 - 8:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.

Press release:

Thanks to two Rochester area donors, 20 children with disabilities served by Genesee ARC recently received new bicycles! 

The Park Avenue Bicycle Shop made the delivery to Genesee ARC’s Community Relations office in mid-December, giving staff just enough time to match bikes to recipients and deliver them in time for Christmas.

Howard and Michael Ouriel are the generous brothers behind the donation and said, “We just wanted to do something for the kids.”

ARC Director of Development Shelley Falitico, who helped deliver some of the bicycles, said all of the families are appreciative of the Ouriels’ generosity.

“We are so honored that Howard and Michael thought of Genesee ARC for this special holiday act of kindness,” Falitico said.

The Ouriel brothers’ support of Genesee ARC is unique in that they reside outside of Genesee County and do not have a family member served by the local nonprofit organization. 

“That’s what makes this so extraordinary,” Falitico said. “It’s a story we are so happy to share.”   

November 13, 2014 - 12:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee ARC.

Press release:

More than 140 baskets are featured at the fourth Annual Genesee ARC Chili & Chowder Fest and Basket Raffle on Saturday (Nov. 15) at the Genesee ARC Community Center. 

The event begins at 10 a.m. and winners will be drawn starting at 1:30 p.m. Community members who already have Saturday plans, can get in on the fun because for a second year in a row the Center at 38 Woodrow Road will be open from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Friday for ticket-only sales. 

Event Chair Shelley Falitico said this was wildly popular last year.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to stop by after work and take a chance on some great baskets donated by ARC Staff, families and local businesses.” 

There is no separate admission charge. Ticket chances for regular baskets are $10 for 25 chances or $25 for 75 chances. Specialty baskets, valued at $50 or more, cost $10 for 15 chances. This year’s grand prize is a spectacular cleaning package, valued at $475, featuring a vacuum cleaner and a wheeled trash tote filled with of every type of cleaning supply imaginable. 

Tickets for the grand prize are $2 each; 3 for $5 or 8 chances for $10.

During the event on Saturday, there will be a variety of chili (red, white and vegetarian), Manhattan clam chowder and chicken noodle soup for sale along with grilled cheese sandwiches. A bake sale is also featured.

July 25, 2014 - 2:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee ARC, Lambert Park.

Kids participating in the city's summer program at Lambert Park toured the recycling center at Genesee ARC this morning.

July 21, 2014 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, golf, Stafford Country Club, Genesee ARC.

The Genesee ARC today held its 38th annual golf tournament at Stafford Country Club, which also included tournaments in bocce ball and tennis.

Above, Steve Pies watches a put just barely slide by the cup during his tournament round.

Ken Barrett hitting a tee shot.

Ray Shirtz playing tennis.

Krysia Mager, Lisa Dechau, Bob Bennett and Marth Bailey, the champion bocce ball team.

Representatives from Alpina yogurt at the bocce ball tournament. Alpina was a silver-tier sponsor this year.

July 1, 2014 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee ARC, Cargill.

Press release:

On June 25th,  Cargill observed their annual Green Day by sending 19 of the local employees to volunteer at the Genesee ARC Transportation Department.  The volunteers washed 18 buses and vans inside and out that are used by the Transportation Department in transporting children and adults with disabilities.  The community enrichment activity was part of the company’s Green Day event that is celebrated across Cargill’s 46 plants throughout the United States.

In a statement from Plant Manager, Joe Washburn, Cargill Animal Nutrition observes Green Day annually as an opportunity to celebrate their success of the past year, and to reflect on the ideals within the Green Book, a handbook held by all employees that lists the ideals by which Cargill will operate its business, and goals that are set out for all employees.  One of these goals is Community Enrichment. According to Washburn, “Everyone improves the communities in which they live and work for a better tomorrow.”  Cargill’s 46 Animal Nutrition Plants throughout the US are working to donate time to their local communities not just on Green Day, but throughout the year.  On a national level 1500 Cargill employees logged nearly 1400 hours of volunteer service. The company has donated $337,000 in community funds and $10,00 locally.

Cargill’s Batavia plant is located on Wortendyke Road.

June 4, 2014 - 1:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.

Press release:

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.

March 27, 2014 - 6:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.

Press release:

This is “Gives Back Week” at Genesee ARC, an opportunity to highlight ways individuals served by the local nonprofit help make a difference to other community organizations.  Each ARC Chapter shared a success story for the 2014 Statewide Gives Back publication and Genesee ARC chose to feature Marty, a longtime volunteer at the New York State Veterans Home.

Since 1999 Marty has logged nearly 1,400 hours as a Physical Therapy volunteer at the New York State Veterans Home in Batavia. Each Thursday, he and his Mom, Joan, visit the home to honor and give back to the men and women who so proudly served the United States of America. Marty helps by transporting residents to and from their therapy appointments and both he and Joan assist with housekeeping and clerical duties. They are accompanied by their dog Gator who is known and loved by all of the residents. Marty looks forward to the weekly visits and feels good about helping others.

“I like helping out, I have a lot of friends here,” Marty said.

He greets staff and residents by name, sharing a hello and his heart-warming laughter.   Marty is a valued member of the volunteer team, and considers the Veterans Home his "second family." When asked what kind of impact Marty has on the residents, NYS Veterans Home Volunteer Director Connie Caselli said, “The residents look forward to seeing Marty. He’s a real pleasure and so passionate about volunteering.”

In addition to Marty’s volunteer work at the New York State Veterans Home, individuals at Genesee ARC participate in a variety of other community volunteer placements including:  Assisting with table set-up at the Office for the Aging; Meals on Wheels delivery; Salvation Army Toy Drive collection and bell ringing; Cafeteria aide at a local elementary school; Organizing, sorting and washing books in the children’s room at Richmond Memorial Library; Visiting and interacting with the Human Services Class at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership; Helping to fill 100 backpacks weekly for the United Way Backpack (food) program; Making and delivering homemade cat and dog treats for the Genesee County Animal Shelter and cleaning the cat cages, interacting and playing with the Shelter animals; Adaptive bowling and visiting residents at the Genesee County Nursing Home;  Daycare Childcare Aide; Serving and cleaning at Stephen’s Table Soup Kitchen; Making and delivering coloring books for local pediatricians’ waiting rooms; Collecting needed items for Eagle Star Housing; Straightening clothes and organizing racks at the WYCA's My Sister’s Closet; assistance with cleaning at the Elba Fire Department, Northgate Church and the Bergen First Presbyterian Church.

Genesee ARC is always looking for meaningful volunteer placements or projects for individuals, giving them an opportunity to make a difference and “give back” to the community. If you have a volunteer placement or project idea, please send it to Genesee ARC Director of Development Shelley Falitico at [email protected].

March 13, 2014 - 5:00pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in Genesee ARC, NYSARC.

Genesee ARC’s parent organization, NYSARC, Inc. and CP of New York State, the leaders of the two largest statewide family founded groups supporting people with disabilities, are calling on Governor Cuomo to make good on commitments by previous administrations to support people with disabilities and their families.

"There is a need for funding programs for people with intellectual disabilities in New York State," Genesee ARC Community Relations Coordinator Sandy Konfederath said. "Our ARC is one of 54 Chapters overseen by NYSARC. We serve 500 people in Genesee County with intellectual and or other developmental disabilities, along with their families. We currently have 280 employees, a majority of which are Direct Support Professionals."

NYSARC and CP of NYS urge the Governor to demonstrate his commitment to the thousands of people with developmental disabilities in New York by investing in services which are critical to the well-being of these vulnerable citizens.

"The supports and services for people with developmental disabilities have been cut by almost $400 million over the past four years," Susan Constantino, President & CEO of CP of NYS said. "These cuts have come at a time when we are seeking to find new ways to truly integrate people in communities statewide – taking money away from needed supports and services goes against the longer term goals of person-centered planning and community integration. This is why we have asked the legislature to add an additional $11.25 million into this year's budget for the development of new supports and services for more than 300 individuals with high priority needs who reside at home with their families."

The need for this funding has been exacerbated by the Governor's 2014-15 budget proposal, which eliminates year-projected investments. These proposed reductions come on the heels of cuts over the past four years and lowers the State's investment in services for people with developmental disabilities for years to come.

"Our request for additional funding is both reasonable and responsible, striking a balance between the State's priority to be fiscally prudent and our mutual obligation to serve families who are becoming more desperate," NYSARC Executive Director Marc Brandt said. "Without essential supports, both in and out of home, families and their loved ones are finding the promise of being included in society to the fullest extent possible beyond their grasp. That promise was enunciated in the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision and embraced by this Administration."

While some reports contend that New York State ranks first in Medicaid spending for people with disabilities, prior to these cuts, and when compared nationally, New York State spending on not-for-profit supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities ranks 36th among all states (2010 University of Minnesota study).

"Not-for-profits have been working hard to make ours a highly efficient system of care and the numbers show it," Brandt said. "But too many families are at or beyond the breaking point."

The need for services, such as meaningful day activities, at home support, out of home residential services, as well as other services, surpasses any funding amounts that have been suggested, particularly for those who can no longer live safely with their families.

According to The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), as of April 2013, over 12,000 people statewide were waiting for residential services and approximately 4,200 of those people stated that the need was immediate. Additionally, more than 14,000 people were waiting for a day service.

"Our request for funds would go a small way toward helping provide these acutely needed services and the demand for services will continue to grow as nearly 3,000 individuals with severe cognitive disabilities will be aging out of New York's educational system as of June 2014," Constantino said.

NYSARC, Inc. is the largest not-for-profit organization in the United States. They support people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, as well as their families.

CP of NYS is a statewide organization with affiliates across the state. They employ 18,000 individuals to support people with developmental disabilities, as well as their families.



September 21, 2013 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, elba, 5K, Genesee ARC.

While rain seemed to encourage a few of the ARC 5K walkers to shorten the course today, it didn't slow down Michael Richenberg (second picture), who won the race in Elba for the fifth straight year.

A slow drizzle turned into a bit of a downpour about a minute into the race, but hundreds of runners still completed the course.

Race results are not yet available.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the full race results.

June 1, 2013 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC, garbage collection, bativia.

Genesee ARC crews were out and about this morning picking up garbage. It's the last day of a 28-year run for ARC as the contracted trash collector for the City of Batavia. From now on, residents are required to arrange for their own garbage collection with a private hauler. ARC is going into competition with five other companies that will provide trash service.

May 18, 2013 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.

Press release:

Genesee ARC’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to those who have made a difference to Genesee ARC over the past year.

In addressing guests at Friday’s event at the Clarion Hotel, Executive Director Donna Saskowski described the last 12 months as challenging.

“We have faced the loss of a major contract (trash and recycling) as well as state budget reductions that may change how we do business in the future,” Saskowski said. "However, through all of that I continue to see a very dedicated group of staff and supportive families working to help guide our way."

Looking to the future, Saskowski said, “We are not going anywhere; we are here for the long haul. I can say this with conviction because our mission is to provide supports and services to individuals with disabilities and their families.”

The 2013 Spirit of ARC Award was presented to the Genesee County Office for the Aging and Director Pamela Whitmore. This award was established eight years ago to recognize an organization, business, family or individual that exemplifies the mission of ARC. Genesee ARC’s relationship with the Office for the Aging began more than three years ago when they reached out to ARC’s vocational department to request assistance in setting up tables for various activities at the Senior Center on Bank Street. This has resulted in part-time employment for three or four people several times per week ever since.

Earlier this year, Genesee ARC’s Culinary Arts Program was awarded the contract to provide meals for Genesee County’s Meals on Wheels program.

“This was the beginning of four new jobs for people we support,” Saskowski said. “Ten months later we are producing more than 100 meals daily and this contract maintains employment for those four people who are also doing something they love.”

Additionally, the Genesee County Office of the Aging provides support to some ARC seniors and assistance with tax preparation each year for many people served by ARC.

Volunteer of the Year honors were presented to Dawn Fisher, a Human Services teacher at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.

Saskowski said, “Dawn embraces the values of integrity, honesty, and independence and is always looking for integration opportunities for people with disabilities.”

Fisher coordinates many activities involving her human services students and individuals from ARC. The Volunteer of the Year is also active in the Challenger Sports program, is a key volunteer for the Challenger Winter Fun Day and is a longtime member of the Down Syndrome Parent Support Group of Genesee County that has been supportive of Genesee ARC’s mission.

In the youth category, the spotlight was on Ashley McCormack, 12, of Darien as she was presented Youth Spotlight Award. ARC Director of Development Shelley Falitico presented the award and shared that when Ashley has a goal in mind, she does everything she can to accomplish it!

“Last fall Ashley raised $875.00 for Genesee ARC through the Challenger Sports Bowling Party. In 2010, she raised $610,” Falitico said.

Ashley has been involved in Challenger Sports since ARC’s collaboration with the YMCA began seven years ago.

“Whether soccer, dance, bowling or baseball, Ashley always gives 110 percent,” Falitico said.  

Friend of ARC Awards were presented to:

Laverne Bates, for helping develop a golf program for individuals with disabilities served by Genesee ARC and for enlisting the enthusiastic volunteer support of his family;

Ben Bonarigo, in recognition of his longtime support and commitment of Genesee ARC programs and services;

Deirdre Pehrson, a special education teacher at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership for going above and beyond to help her students excel and succeed;

Mosman Paint & Wallpaper for the difference they make in the lives of individuals with disabilities at the Genesee ARC Day Habilitation Center by donating items used for arts and crafts;

Brandon Armstrong, owner of City Styles Barber Shop, was recognized for his welcoming ways with individuals from one of ARC’s residences, who are customers of the shop;

and Cory Weber, a volunteer who has helped out with Special Olympics Track & Field, Softball and Snowshoeing competitions.

The following received Genesee ARC Achievement awards: Tyler Kreutter,
Stacy Gill, Deborah Lehman, Sarah Dieck, Jennifer Pawlak, Betsy Hamilton, Valerie Penepent, Terry Warters and Samuel Russell.

Genesee Staff Shining Star honorees for 2013 are: Vanessa Dempsey, Medicaid Service coordinator; Theresa O’Hearn, Day Habilitation specialist; Catherine Pangrazio, bus aide; Rebecca Podlasek, Culinary Arts specialist and Karen Roesch, residential assistant.

Longevity awards went to the following individuals: Dan O’Grady, Joe Barone and George Hughes -- 40 years;  Madaline Cleveland, Jeff Glazier, Liana Harding -- 35 years; Julieanne George, Sherry Markle -- 30 years; Judy Chapell, Ben Conwell, Paul Alexander -- 25 years; William, Joseph Mergler, Paul Miller, Alan Nygard, Cheryl Squires, Dolores Wanser, Rebecca Ritz and Marguerite Rodriguez -- 20 years.

Staff longevity award recipients were: Sandy Konfederath -- 20 years; Joseph Hoak, Teresa Hodge, Nicole Mudrzynski and Traci Manes -- 15 years;  Andrea Anderson, Leoti Cudney, Jennifer Elmore, Sandra Moskal, Catherine Schultz and April Zeilman -- 10 years.

The Master of Ceremonies was Assemblyman Steve Hawley. There were more than 325 guests 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.

Photo from Genesee ARC. Pictured are, Pam Whitmore, representing the Genesee County Office for the Aging -- Spirit of ARC Award; Dawn Fisher -- Volunteer of the Year; Assemblyman Steve Hawley -- Master of Ceremonies; Donna Saskowski -- ARC Executive Director, and (seated), Ashley McCormack -- Youth Spotlight Award.

May 16, 2013 - 9:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, Genesee ARC, Stardust Ball.

Tonight Genesee ARC hosted its annual Stardust Ball at the Byron Fire Hall.

Some 65 people, including ARC clients and family members, attended the event.

Couples were encouraged to wear the best gowns or suits and each received a handmade -- by volunteers -- corsage or boutonnière. Attendees could also get a formal portrait taken as a keepsake.

Top photo, Josh Derick (a big fan of The Batavian) and Jennifer Pavlick.

Steven Jenney and Joanne Ladd

Collin Wickings and Nicole Hirtzel

Justin Shaw and Colleen Fisher

March 12, 2013 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee ARC, garbage collection.

There was nearly a full house for Monday night's public hearing on proposed changes to the City of Batavia's garbage collection law.

Most speakers -- and most applauders -- argued for some variation of "keep Genesee ARC" as the city's official garbage collection agency.

A couple of speakers said the city should get out of the garbage business.

There was no vote or comment by the council itself Monday. Council members did what they do at public hearings -- sat and listened.

The council is considering a proposed change to the ordinance that would take the cost of garbage collection off the tax rolls, end a 28-year relationship with Genesee ARC, and leave it up to each individual resident to contract with a garbage collection company of his or her choice.

Even the speakers who favor free choice said they would go with Genesee ARC if the price was competitive.

"If ARC chooses to provide trash service I will go with them," said John Roach, who supports the proposal to get the city out of the trash business. "It's the right thing to do and a good many people feel the same way."

But many supporters, such as Carol Grasso, said the city has pulled a fast one on residents by proposing a single-payer, pay-as-you-throw tote system and then when people protested, just saying, "OK, we'll get out of the trash business."

"Council may have misunderstood what we wanted," Grasso said. "Many of us wanted it to stay the way it was."

Grasso suggested that if the council votes for the new ordinance, come November, local voters may just "throw out the garbage."

Mary Ellen Wilber suggested that supporters of ARC may just seek the 400 signatures necessary for a ballot initiative to overturn any decision that gets the city out of the trash business.

"We need to do something together as a city and work together," Wilbur said. "You guys need to understand it wasn’t really broken. I don’t know what happened that this came to this point, but it has to be equitable for everybody."

Thomas Houseknecht said the proposed change unfairly increases the cost for city residents who can least afford the increase and offered to serve on a committee that would help the city come up with a better plan for garbage collection.

Several people made such an offer, and even supporters of choice, such as Jim Rosenbeck, said the city hasn't collected enough public input, studied the issue thoroughly and given it enough time.

"Trying to make the decision in two months is unfair to people," Rosenbeck said.

While he also offered to serve on a trash committee, Rosenbeck clearly favors getting the city out of the trash business.

"I don't believe the sky will fall if the city gets out of the trash collection business," Rosenbeck said. "It works in the town. It works in other communities. I think if trash piles up on the streets, you folks are charged with making sure that's taken care of, and I trust that you will."

Donna Rae Sutherland said the city getting out of the trash business is "bad governance" because it's the city's responsibility to provide shared services that benefit all residents.

Part of the economic calculation, she said, needs to include the local impact of Genesee ARC on jobs created, taxes paid, money spent locally -- the whole multiplier effect of local employment.

A trash collection committee should be formed, she said, to come up with a plan in conjunction with ARC that will increase recycling and create shared revenue with the city.

A select-your-own system, she said, is just going to lead to problems.

"Absentee landlords and unruly tenants will certainly clash over who pays and who is responsible for trash collection," Sutherland said. "Neighbors with garbage contacts and business owners with Dumpsters will find other people’s trash added to their own. Pocket parks and green spaces and back alleys will become drop garbage zones and our streets will become more congested with trash vendors."

Roach said, free choice works in other communities and there's no reason it can't work in Batavia.

"Former City Council President Charlie Mallow has moved to Webster where they have this free choice system and everybody has a different service provider," Roach said. "According to the former city council president, it is not a major problem, trucks running up and down the streets or anything like that. It’s workable. Glens Falls doesn’t have a problem. Saratoga doesn’t have a problem. The Town of Batavia doesn’t have a problem. Get out of the trash business. I don’t need anybody telling me who I have to hire."

March 4, 2013 - 1:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee ARC.

Below is a press release from the parent organization of Genesee ARC about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed cuts to funding for programs that assist people with developmental disabilities.

According to Sandy Konfederath, of Genesee ARC, the proposed cuts would "equal $600,000" for the local agency.

The photo is of Deb and Mike Riggi, of Oakfield, and their daughters, Masha and Cassidy, during a meeting Saturday with Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer. Deb Riggi is a Genesee ARC board member. The Riggis and Genesee ARC Executive Director Donna Saskowski met with the Senator to discuss the local impact such funding cuts.

Press release:

NYSARC, Inc., the nation's largest nonprofit agency serving people with developmental disabilities, is urging the Legislature and the Governor to approve a final budget deal restoring $120 million in State funding to programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.

The reduction is a result of a 6 percent across-the-board cut which was contained in the Governor's budget. When federal funds are included, the cut is $240 million.

"These cuts are catastrophic," said NYSARC Executive Director Marc Brandt. "They are in addition to the nearly $350 million in cuts developmental disabilities services have sustained over the past three years."

Agencies throughout New York State care for 126,000 individuals with developmental disabilities. It is the largest system of its kind in the nation.

Brandt said that "We expect that many agencies will sharply curtail service and some may face closure" as they are unable to meet payroll and pay for goods and services.

"Many of these agencies serve vulnerable people, some of whom are medically frail, many of whom require 24-hour care. We don't know what will happen with them. Many, particularly adults, have no families to step in should an agency fail. This is a recipe for disaster for this population."

Furthermore, Brandt added, "the staff that provides hands-on care are already stretched to the breaking point from prior year cuts and a staggering onslaught of regulations."

"Seventy percent of all agency funding goes to pay these individuals. Simple math will force these employees to absorb layoffs, shortened hours, and increased medical costs."

"Now, these cuts will push many of these staff beyond the breaking point. Many of people they care for will find their quality of care eroded and be exposed to far greater health and safety risks."

"The Governor's Justice Center was aimed at enhancing the health and safety of the people we serve. We strongly support the Justice Center. However, we can't help but note that these cuts will undermine the primary aim of the Justice Center -- to safeguard the people we serve."

"When New York State elected to build a large system of community-based care for people with developmental disabilities, it accepted a moral responsibility for decent care. Some argue that a system this large should never have been built. But over decades, New York State built it. That reality won't go away. The State must continue to own up to its clear moral obligation to provide decent care to tens of thousands of people with developmental disabilities and their families. The State must eliminate this cut."

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