Author Archives: Elizabeth Cardamone

JOB TRAINING

UNIVERSAL MIND AT SPRING TENURE EVENT

Spirits were up and everyone was dancing to the excellent music by Universal Mind at the annual spring tenure event, held at Mackenna on May 19.  The break was well earned after many successful job placements and over 800,000 bottles and cans sorted at Empties for Empower, which celebrated it’s one year anniversary in April.  Here’s to another year of accomplishment and excellence by this wonderful division!

ANGELA GANTT PROFILED IN VIDEO

Kim Kiely nominated Angela Gantt for excellence in the Living the Values employee nomination program for ensuring the renewal of the Family Services Program grant.  This required adding personal outcome measure interviews and tracking measures to ensure the program is helping participants, who are individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, improve their social and advocacy skills.

OUTLET MALL SIGNS ON AS EMPTIES CUSTOMER

15 bags of bottles and cans collected by the Outlet Mall and ready for sorting

15 bags of bottles and cans collected by the Outlet Mall and ready for sorting

When the Outlet Mall learned about Empties for Empower, they saw an opportunity to promote recycling while also being a good neighbor to a worthy cause.  Recycling containers labelled Empties for Empower were put in the food court and in 11 store break rooms of the Outlet Mall, one of the area’s biggest destinations.  All returns from bottles and cans that are collected will be donated to Empower.  So far, 15 bags have been delivered.  Many thanks to John at the Outlet Mall for his commitment and support.

SERVICE COORDINATION

Special Needs Trusts and Guardianship Information Session Held

Anthony Restaino and Neil Reddein from the Restaino Reddein law firm presented information on special needs trusts and guardianship to parents on April 4th.  

A special needs trusts allows an individual with a disability to receive public benefits, but still have funds to supplement those benefits, enhance their quality of life and improve their situation.  Families of people with disabilities make special provisions to ensure their loved ones are cared for after their death and that the money stays in the family.

Guardianship is a legal process done through the court that appoints someone to make decisions on behalf of an individual who has been declared legally disabled because of an inability to make competent decisions about their finances, health care or daily living.

The event was well attended, and attendees found the information presented to be helpful.

2 New MSCs Join the Team

Annette Pierce and Kayla Briggs recently joined the Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC) team. Annette began in January and comes with over ten years of experience as an MSC.  Kayla was promoted to MSC and worked previously as a direct service professional at one of the agency’s residences for five years.

Self-Direction Services Available

Self-direction is an OPWDD program administered by the MSC division that enables people with disabilities and their families to create highly individualized services and supports to meet their specific needs.  Individuals can have the authority to choose, hire, train and employ their own staff to work on goals and skills that are most important to them.  If interested, please contact Karen Korn at (717) 297-0798, ext. 303 or kmkorn@empower-wny.org.

CHILDREN’S ACADEMY NEWS

ART SHOW RETURNS

On May 18, family and friends gathered to admire the wonderful creations made by Children’s Academy students.  Each class focused on different styles and subjects for inspiration.  The result was an eclectic mix of self expression that also represents growth and learning.

MOMS ARE THE BEST

Bless proudly showing off his Mother's Day gift

Bless proudly showing off his Mother’s Day gift

A cold and stormy spring here in Western New York may be delaying the arrival of daffodils and tulips, but in Ms. Shaila’s class, students’ hard work and love made their personalized heart shaped flowers bloom with vigor for their moms.  Like flowers, each heart blossom was unique, with the child’s picture surrounded by their thumb prints.   Moms’ hearts must have melted when they received these wonderful keepsakes.

SUPERHERO OPEN HOUSE

Batman, Superboy and Wonder Woman took time away from saving the world to greet propsective students at the Children's Academy open house

Batman, Super Boy and Wonder Woman took time away from saving the world to greet prospective students at the Children’s Academy open house

Batman, Wonder Woman and Super Boy welcomed prospective students and their families at the first annual Children’s Academy open house, held on Monday, April 24.  Visitors were invited to come dressed as their favorite super hero, and received a Lego superhero book.  Families met staff, took tours and learned about the school’s standout offerings including the newly renovated sensory room, integrated learning options and low student to teacher ratios.  The goal of this event is to expand the experience of learning alongside all abilities to more children who are typically developing.

SUMMER SESSION DATES
July 10 through August 18
Half Day Hours: 8:40 – 11:10 a.m., 12:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Full Day Classes: 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

2017-18 SCHOOL YEAR
September 6, 2017 Through June 21, 2018
Half Day Hours: 8:40 – 11:10 a.m., 12:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Full Day Classes: 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Before- and After-School Options from 8:00 a.m.- 5 p.m.

COMMUNITY HOUSING NEWS

REMEMBERING TRACEY BYRD

Tracey Byrd, who worked in Empower’s Community Housing division for almost twenty years, passed away suddenly in March.  Tracey had a radiant smile and loving demeanor that put everyone she encountered instantly at ease.  Watching her interact with residents, it was clear Tracey loved them and they loved her because she took the time to get to know them and supported them in attaining what was most important to them.  In this way, Tracy embodied Empower’s core values of dignity, excellence, leadership, accountability and collaboration.

Tracey’s family held a balloon launch in April to remember her.

CELEBRATING AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH WITH FUNDRAISER

autism fundraiser

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month and to raise funds for Empower’s autism programming, Robin Stevens held an event at Niagara Active Hose on Saturday, April 22.  The event consisted of a vendor fair, basket auction and food truck.  Further, throughout April, the Village Bakeshop in Lewiston sold a special cookie iced in blue to denote autism and $1 of each cookie sold was donated back to Empower.  Over $500 was raised.  Many thanks to those who came out!

ERIC CIRRITO PROFILED IN LIVING THE VALUES NOMINEE VIDEO

In February, Eric Cirrito, a direct service professional at the Ward Rd. residence, was nominated for the value of accountability as part of the Living the Values monthly staff nomination program.  Eric ensures the individuals he supports have what they need to live their best lives.  Congratulations, Eric!

IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETE AT MAPLETON AND STEELE CIRCLE

Newly complete walk-in shower at Mapleton

Newly complete walk-in shower at Mapleton

Mapleton got a beautiful new walk-in shower, thanks to an $10,000 investment by the Board of Directors.  This improvement makes bathing easier while protecting the floors in other parts of the house.

Steele Circle got all new flooring throughout, ensuring residents have pleasant looking surroundings.

COMMUNICATION/DEVELOPMENT NEWS

Empower CEO Jeff Paterson along with Community Prevocational Program participants Mike, Jamius and Robin receiving $24,719 check from KeyBank Senior Vice President and Regional Corporate Responsibility Officer Cathy Braniecki

Empower CEO Jeff Paterson along with Community Prevocational Program participants Mike, Jamarius and Robin receiving $24,719 check from KeyBank Senior Vice President and Regional Corporate Responsibility Officer Cathy Braniecki

EMPOWER RECEIVES $24,719 GRANT FROM THE KEYBANK FOUNDATION

Thanks to a $24,719 grant from the KeyBank Foundation, Empower will expand its Community Prevocational program (operated under New York State’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) to include scanning and shredding services open to local households, small businesses and nonprofits.   Similar to Empties to Empower and located in the same building, individuals with disabilities will receive job training in an integrated setting, gaining confidence, social skills and valuable work experience that will prepare them for competitive employment.

Volunteers Needed

Empower is looking for volunteers to help out in the Children’s Academy.  Helpers are needed to organize rooms, prepare crafts and read to students.  If interested, please complete this form.

Snowflake Basket Auction A Huge Success

Almost $16,000 was raised at the 8th annual Snowflake Basket Auction, which took place on March 24 and 25 at the Volare Lodge. Hot items this year included a big screen tv, hand-made stained glass art, and, of course, a plethora of themed baskets and gift certificates.

More Big Ticket Raffle prizes were offered including a diamond necklace and Confer Bistro Set.

Proceeds will be used to send individuals to Camp Happiness, which is a summer camp for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  Additionally, the Medicaid Service Coordination department will purchase food, back-to-school supplies and holiday gifts for families who receive their services.  Finally, Community Housing will use funds to buy and plant a tree at one of the residences.

Empower would like to thank everyone whose support helped to make this year’s event so successful.  Special thanks to our event sponsors: Disney, Randy’s Smoke Shop, Smokin Joes, and Wegmans.

 

 

COMMUNITY HEALTH NEWS

Coming This Summer: Empower for Elders

Empower for Elders is a new program for adults age 60 and over, including those who are physically frail, persons with dementia and/or memory loss of the Alzheimer’s type or related disorders.  It is a structured group activity program that will provide socialization and supportive services in a caring environment.  At the same time, Empower for Elders offers caregivers respite from their caregiving responsibilities.

The program is based on the philosophy that each individual has a need and capacity for socialization which does not diminish with age; that socialization helps prevent depression, loneliness, and premature institutionalization; and that supportive services in a caring environment can enable people with functional impairments to live their lives more fully.

Our goal is to provide a welcoming, home-like setting with warm, friendly, well-trained staff and volunteers who support the functioning, safety, and dignity of each participant.

Hours of operation:

  • Monday through Friday, during the hours of 8:00am – 5:00pm

We will also be accepting gently used or new board games, card games and craft supplies for this new initiative.

For more information, please contact Karen Smith, Director of Community Health Programs at 716-297-0798 ext 163 or ksmith@empower-wny.org.

TOP STORIES

The Butterfly Effect

Butterflies were the inspiration for art made by some students for the second annual art show.  Students got to watch the process of metamorphosis as live caterpillars changed to chrysalides and finally to beautiful butterflies, learning science and art simultaneously.   But, the experience had an unexpected, additional benefit we are calling the butterfly effect: a student with autism who previously did not talk a lot began spontaneously speaking to the butterflies, encouraging them to fly!

Ms. Shaila, the student’s teacher, expressed her surprise at this unexpected benefit:  “I never imagined that the experience of making art and interacting with live creatures would help a student become more verbal.  It goes to show that every effort makes a difference.”

Preparations for the art show, which took place May 18, began with classes reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  In Ms. Shaila’s class, the caterpillar in the story came to life, fascinating students as they transformed from chrysalides to butterflies.  Every morning, students gathered at the netted enclosure and asked “are the butterflies here yet?”  When the butterflies finally came out, the students’ were very excited to see them.

Ms. Shaila’s class made many craft activities based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar which also taught them facts about butterflies.  For example, children learned that butterflies have upper and lower wings while making butterflies out of coffee filters and bingo markers.  In another craft, the lesson that butterfly wings consist of soft and hard textures was taught while making butterfly collages with dried eggshells, soft tissue and dry colored rice and glue.

The art displayed at the art show on May 18 is representative of hours of fun and learning made meaningful by being tied to real life experiences and through the use of multiple subjects and activities.  Progress made by students, such as the one who began to spontaneously speak, shows the butterfly effect that occurs when this method of teaching is used.  It is this standard of excellence that makes the Children’s Academy the best pre-k in town!

A Big Win For #bfair2directcare, More Work Needed

After a 12-month advocacy initiative led by Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State and its affiliates, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Congress approved the 2017-18 state budget that included $45 million to raise salaries of direct care professionals who work directly with people with developmental disabilities.

While this commitment is good news, #bfair2directcare will continue as $45 million is needed in each of the next six year’s budgets to ensure a living wage for these workers.

Empower would like to thank Senator Robert Ortt and Assemblymember Angelo Morinello for their unwavering support of this effort.

Spectrum

Free Theater Camp Offered by Empower to Kids with Autism

For additional information, contact:
Elizabeth Cardamone, Director of Communication and Development
Office: (716) 297-0798, ext. 173, Cell: (773) 430-9499
E-mail: ecardamone@empower-wny.org

Free Theater Camp Offered by Empower to Kids with Autism

TOWN OF NIAGARA, N.Y., April 10, 2017 – Empower, the not-for-profit organization formerly known as Niagara Cerebral Palsy, will offer a free theater camp to children with autism, beginning June 6, 2017.  Up to 40 students who are between the ages of 7 and 15 and who have autism spectrum disorder, will be accepted.  To register, please contact Krystle D’Aloise at (716) 297-0798, ext. 120 or kdaloise@empower-wny.org.

Called Spectrum Theater Program, the camp will meet twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Empower Children’s Academy, located at 9812 Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara. Theater instructors will lead students through group and individual acting exercises that build confidence, problem solving skills and social abilities.  Students will focus on gestures, eye contact, voice projection, listening to each other’s perspectives and improvisational skills. They will develop a play out of their own imaginations, memorize lines and perform in front of a live audience on Saturday, July 8, 2017.

According to Empower CEO, Jeff Paterson: “We held the camp twice in 2016, and both times, students showed marked improvement in their social skills as a result of participating.  Thanks to our two grantors, Arts Services Initiative of Western New York Inc. and The Children’s Guild Foundation, Empower is able to continue the Spectrum Theater Program in 2017, add a second theater instructor and expand enrollment from 20 to 40 students.”

With 300 employees and a $14 million budget, Empower is one of Western New York’s 50 largest nonprofit organizations. The administrative offices, preschool, community clinic and service coordination program are located on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara. The job training and day programs division is based in Niagara Falls, while residential facilities are located throughout Niagara County. Licensed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the New York State Education Department, Empower is an affiliate of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.

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Free Theater Camp Offered by Empower to Kids with Autism

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Fran and Gary Hall To Be Honored by Empower For Work on Behalf of People with Developmental Disabilities

For additional information, contact: Elizabeth Cardamone, Director of Communication and Development Office: (716) 297-0798, ext. 173, Cell: (773) 430-9499 E-mail: ecardamone@empower-wny.org

Fran and Gary Hall To Be Honored by Empower For Work on Behalf of People with Developmental Disabilities

TOWN OF NIAGARA, N.Y., May 9, 2017 – Empower, the not-for-profit organization formerly known as Niagara Cerebral Palsy, will award Fran and Gary Hall the Chairman’s Award at its annual golf tournament.

The golf tournament will take place on Monday, June 19 at the Niagara Frontier Country Club, 1058 Lake Rd., Youngstown, N.Y. 14174.  The award will be presented at the post-tournament dinner, which will be held at 6:30 p.m.  Dinner tickets are $60 per person,and may be purchased by phone at (716) 297-0798, ext. 120 or online at http://empower-wny.org.  Space is still available for golfers as well.

Fran and Gary Hall, longtime Niagara County residents and generous philanthropists, will receive this year’s Chairman’s Award for their generous support of Empower and numerous other community organizations.  A gift from the Halls enabled Empower to add new flooring, furniture and recreational items to its day program in Niagara Falls. They also played a lead role in opening the new Niagara Community Center on 66th Street, which they have generously opened for weekly visits from individuals supported by Empower.

“Fran and Gary’s fingerprints are all over this community, and their contributions have transformed lives,” said Empower Chief Executive Officer Jeff Paterson. “Yet they avoid the spotlight and seek no credit. Their humility and genuine goodness are what we admire most in them.”

With 300 employees and a $14 million budget, Empower is one of Western New York’s 60 largest nonprofit organizations. The administrative offices, preschool, community clinic and service coordination program are located on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara. The job training and day programs division is based in Niagara Falls, while residential facilities are located throughout Niagara County. Licensed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the New York State Education Department, Empower is an affiliate of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.

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Fran and Gary Hall Honored at Empower Golf Tournament

Call Your Legislators Today

  1. Senate switchboard – (518) 455 – 2800 – and ask for your Senator.  You can find your Senator at http://www.nysenate.gov/   Urge your Senator to BFair2DirectCare and fund the $45 million .

 

  1. Assembly switchboard (518) 455-4100 – and ask for your Assemblymember.  You can find your Assemblymember at http://assembly.state.ny.us/   Urge your Assemblymember to BFair2DirectCare and fund the $45 million .