Category Archives: Uncategorized

COMMUNITY HEALTH

EMPOWER FOR ELDERS OPENS 9/5

On September 5, Empower for Elders will open at 8962 Porter Rd. in the Town of Niagara.  Recognizing that more services are needed for older adults and their caregivers, Empower developed this program which will provide meaningful day activities and assistance with personal care to older adults.

The program will operate Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Breakfast, lunch and a snack will be included.  Participants can socialize with peers and take part in activities that promote independence and feelings of self-worth.  Assistance with personal care will also be provided to those that need it.

In addition, Empower for Elders offers support to caregivers, giving them respite during the day while their loved one attends the program and support group meetings where they can meet and talk with others who share their experience of caring for an older adult.

Please stop by the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, September 8 at 1 pm.

For questions about Empower for Elders, please contact Karen Smith at (716) 297-0798, x163 or x189 or ksmith@empower-wny.org.

Flyer

JOB TRAINING

ANNUAL PICNIC WAS HOT, HOT, HOT

On Friday, July 21, the Job Training and Day Program division held their annual picnic at Hyde Park.  It was hot and sunny with temperatures almost as high as people’s enthusiasm.  The crew enjoyed delicious food from Melloni’s and being together while playing games like bean bag toss and soccer.  It is always such fun to be with them.

SCANNING AND SHREDDING COMING SOON

Empower will begin offering a scanning and shredding service to the public at the 4701 Military Rd. location.  Individuals, nonprofits and small businesses looking to purge backlogs of paper can hand the task off to Empower workers.

Like the redemption center, the scanning and shredding service is an OPWDD Community Pre-vocational Program that provides paid job training to people with developmental disabilities.  The goal for these workers is to go on to get jobs in the community.  The training they receive will provide the skills and experience needed to make this happen.

Although not open yet, the venture promises to provide another meeting place for people with and without disabilities to interact, achieving integration mandates and improving the public’s understanding and acceptance of developmental disabilities.

MIKE MARRA RECEIVES LIVING THE VALUES AWARD

Mike Marra always has a smile on his face and is willing to lend a hand.  That’s why Kim Kiely nominated him for a Living the Values award in June.  Mike embodies the value of collaboration in everything he does. From January through June, Mike worked with other staff in the planning of an open house for job placement.  He also serves on the golf tournament planning committee, providing essential golf knowledge and relaying key event information to the Niagara Frontier Country Club.  For these reasons, Mike was subject of June’s Living the Values video profile.

CHILDREN’S ACADEMY

2017-18 SCHOOL YEAR DATES

September 6, 2017 Through June 21, 2018
Half Day Classes: 8:40 – 11:10 a.m., 12:00 – 2:30 p.m., $10 per day per student
Full Day Classes: 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., $20 per day per student
Before- and After-School Options from 8:00 a.m.- 5 p.m., $5 per hour of care

***Empower staff receive a 10% discount if they send their kids to Empower Children’s Academy.

Before- and after-school care is an affordable and enriching choice for working families.  Special education teachers engage students in games, reading and outdoor fun that compliment classroom learning.

CHILDREN’S ACADEMY IS A GREAT CHOICE FOR TYPICALLY-DEVELOPING STUDENTS

Parents of typically-developing children are encouraged to consider Empower Children’s Academy for their child’s preschool education.  Empower Children’s Academy offers:

      • Small class sizes
      • Rich student-to-teacher ratios (6 students with a disability and 6 students without a disability per instructor)
      • Lead teacher is always a special education teacher with a master’s degree in early childhood education and who is assisted by two to three teacher aides per class
      • School-like atmosphere: with 2 hallways, 9 classrooms and 7 treatment rooms, students get used to a bigger, more organized education setting, which makes the transition to kindergarten that much easier
      • Access to specialized therapists and equipment: speech, occupational and physical therapists and equipment are on-site and available for typically-developing students to use. Of special interest is the sensory room and the cool bubble columns that help relax and rejuvenate students.
      • Experience of learning alongside preschoolers with a disability fosters acceptance of differences and greater maturity, which also helps smooth the transition to kindergarten.

KIDS’ MUSIC ROUND CLASSES OFFERED

Beginning Tuesday, September 19, Empower will begin offering 10-week music classes to parents and children ages birth through six at 8962 Porter Rd. in the Town of Niagara.  A music instructor will lead participants through movement and music activities including: playing rhythmic instruments, having fun with finger plays and singing and dancing to music of different meters and tonalities.  This is a fun opportunity for parents to bond with their child and foster their child’s social, physical and language development.

Classes are offered once a week for 10 weeks with several different time options.  For children birth through age 6, class meeting options are: Tuesdays, beginning 9/19, 6-7 pm or Saturdays, beginning 9/23 at either 9-9:45 am or 10:15-11 am.  A class for children ages five and six will be offered on Tuesdays, beginning 9/19, 7-8 pm.

To get more information, please contact Karen Smith at ksmith@empower-wny.org or (716) 297-0798, x 163 or x189.

Kids Music Round flyer

SPECTRUM THEATER PROGRAM WRAPS SUMMER SESSION

Fourteen students with autism attended the Spectrum Theater Program’s summer session, which concluded with a performance entitled The Sneetches.

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Ms. Bri assisted by Ms. Robin, Ms. Brandie and Mr. Joe led students through warm-ups and individual and group exercises focusing on gestures, eye contact, voice projection, leadership, listening each other’s perspectives and improvisation.

The idea to base the final performance on Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches came out of the students love of a tongue-twister exercise.  Also, the story’s themes (we are more alike than different and that character vs. outside appearance is what is important) reflected the growth that occurred in students’ confidence and social skill development during the five week session.

Here are some highlights of the Sneetches production:

The next Spectrum session begins Tuesday, September 19.  Contact Krystal at kdaloise@empower-wny.org or 297-0798, x120 to enroll.

Spectrum Fall Flyer

 

 

 

COMMUNICATION/DEVELOPMENT

GOLF TOURNAMENT GROWS

The 25th Annual Matthew J. Murphy, Jr. Memorial golf tournament took place on Monday, June 19 at the Niagara Frontier Country Club in Youngstown.  94 golfers, twice as many as last year,  enjoyed mild temperatures and friendly competition with colleagues while supporting a great cause.

The event culminated in a dinner and auction attended by 135 guests, again almost double last year’s attendance.  In honor of Neil and Mary Gruppo’s longtime service to Empower and the golf tournament, the Chairman’s Award was renamed the Neil and Mary Gruppo Service Award.  Neil’s family and friends were on hand for the celebration and gave Neil a standing ovation.

The 2017 Neil and Mary Gruppo Service Award was presented to Fran and Gary Hall for their humble philanthropy to Empower and the Niagara region.

In total, over $19,000 was raised in support of Empower’s Job Training and Day Program division.  This money will fund programs that provide job skills’ training and placement to people with disabilities.

We would like to thank everyone who participated, especially the following sponsors:

Gold Level ($2,500): KeyBank

Silver ($1,500): Integrity Auto Service and Schlaak Enterprises Property Management

Bronze: ($1,000): Crown Benefits Group, Inc. and Bond, Schoeneck & King Attorneys

EMPOWER STAFF MEET WITH GOLF TOURNAMENT SPONSORS

In the second week of July, CEO Jeff Paterson and Director of Communication & Development Elizabeth Cardamone met with golf tournament sponsors one-on-one to express appreciation for their support and gain feedback on the event.  This is part of an effort to build relationships with funders beyond their donation and obtain perspective on needed improvements and/or strengths that should be continued.

 

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

Sincere proudly showing off his Mother's Day gift

Sincere 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

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 which 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.