Celebrating achievements and a future of possibilities.
Celebrating achievements and a future of possibilities.
Joe, a participant in People Inc.'s Afternoon Respite Program.
Respite Programs Open Up New Opportunities for Families
For parents, guardians and caregivers of young people with developmental disabilities, it’s not always possible to work full days or complete errands when a loved one’s needs take priority.
People Inc.’s Afternoon Respite Programs are here to help. Located in safe, community settings, the programs serve as a bridge between school/day programs and home, offering young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities well-rounded experiences to nurture their skills. Participants keep busy with arts and crafts, recreational activities, getting help with homework and working on peer socialization skills.
Last year, thanks to a generous donation from the Maria M. Love Convalescent Fund, five of our Erie County respite locations have been able to further meet the needs of participants who live with a variety of disabilities and neurological impairments, such as autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. A grant of $2,520 was used to purchase multisensory equipment and supplies, like kinetic sand and color-changing light cubes to help relax participants, along with musical instruments and Giga balls (inflatable balls for bouncing and tumbling) to engage groups in fun activities that have been proven to reduce anti-social behaviors and increase happiness. Oversized, body-hugging bean bag chairs were also purchased to provide a comforting space for those whose senses are overstimulated.
“We are extremely grateful to have this program available in our community,” said Lynn Yannazio, a resident of Hamburg whose son, Joe, attends one of the agency’s programs. “It gives us great peace of mind to know that he is safe and well cared for after school. The People Inc. staff goes above and beyond to accommodate Joe and make him feel at home. He has a love of music, and is able to have fun and express himself with the instruments the program provides.”
To learn more about People Inc.’s Afternoon Respite Programs, click here or call 716.683.7100, ext. 238.
#bFair2DirectCare Campaign Wins Governor’s Approval
For more than a year, People Inc. has been a strong supporter of the #bFair2DirectCare campaign, which encourages elected officials to include funding for direct support professional (DSP) wage increases in the New York state budget. The initiative gained the attention of the State Senate and Assembly, who enthusiastically supported the coalition’s efforts. On March 28, after widespread campaigning from DSPs, individuals with developmental disabilities, family members and advocates, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $55 million would be included in the budget to fund DSP wage increases.
On April 10, the decision was finalized when the governor officially passed the 2018 State Budget. The $55 million is the state share (to be matched with federal Medicaid dollars, where applicable) of an investment in wages projected to take effect on January 1, 2018. Thank you to all who joined us in this effort!
Our 2017 Annual Report is Now Available
Over the past year, People Inc.’s values helped to strengthen our organization. We are thankful for our generous supporters and dedicated staff who continue to provide high-quality services. To learn more about our accomplishments from the past year, click here for the agency’s 2016 Annual Report.
Susan Bayerl and Marcia Ergort
After 30 Years of Dedicated Service, People Inc. Vice Presidents Retire
In March 2017, Marcia Ergort and Susan Bayerl, two dedicated members of the People Inc. team, retired after 30 years of service to the agency. Both were vice presidents.
Marcia, whose career with People Inc. began in 1976 as a senior program manager at a community residence, has impacted the lives of many over the years. She has been instrumental in the growth of our residential department, working closely with families and serving as a mentor to staff. Marcia’s contributions have helped People Inc. become the region’s leading provider of residential services, spanning from Chautauqua to Monroe Counties, providing every level of support.
Susan began her career in 1987 as a personal care vendor unit coordinator. A registered nurse, she has been a key figure in the development of People Inc.’s home health care services. She has served on the Board of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers, and received the Edna A. Lauterbach Member of the Year Award in 2016. Over the years, hundreds of people with disabilities have benefitted from the services developed under her leadership.
As People Inc. moves into the future, we remain confident that the foundation established by the work of Marcia and Susan will remain strong. We wish them the very best in their retirement and thank them for their dedicated service.
In the Community: Ambassadors Share Their Stories at Youth Leadership Conference
Last month, People Inc. Speakers Bureau Ambassadors Terrance Hasan, Shanita Wilson and Jill Turchiarelli addressed a group of young people at the 2017 National Federation For Just Communities (NFJC) Annual Youth Leadership Conference, held at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo. They represented People Inc. as part of the event’s DisAbility and Beyond panel, an opportunity for high school students to become more informed about being part of an accepting society as advocates for individuality. Each speaker shared his or her own personal journey of education, employment, entrepreneurship and individual achievement.
News from the Museum of disABILITY History Film and Speaker Series
The Museum of disABILITY History Film and Speaker Series will feature a heartwarming story called Life, Animated, on Friday, April 28, at North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo. There will be one showing at 7 p.m., followed by a short film discussion.
Life, Animated is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man with autism who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. An emotional coming-of-age story, the film follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. Life, Animated was a 2017 Academy Award nominee for best documentary.
Co-presented by Autism Services, Inc., the goal of the Museum of disABILITY History Film and Speaker Series is to educate viewers, offer different perspectives, challenge stereotypes and celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities.
Admission tickets are $7.50 each and will be available for sale at the North Park Theatre Box Office on the day of the show.
For more information, go to disabilityfilmfest.org or call the Museum of disABILITY History at 716.629.3626. Updates will be posted on the Museum’s Facebook page.
Become a Volunteer Ombudsman to Advocate for Seniors
Volunteers are needed to assist seniors through the People Inc., Center for Elder Law & Justice and the New York State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Volunteers, called ombudsmen, play an important role by advocating and promoting the rights of residents who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties. Ombudsmen are trusted advocates for the elderly and provide problem-solving skills. Phone screenings are now open to review eligibility of interested candidates for the program’s upcoming training sessions. This opportunity is ideal for those who work in professional fields, as well as recent retirees. Schedules are flexible with a minimum of two hours per week. If enrolled in the program, volunteers must attend all six sessions, which will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on the following dates: May 9, 10, 11, 30, 31 and June 1. To be screened and to learn more about the training sessions and its location, call 716.817.9222.
Living Healthy Program: Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop
People Inc.’s Living Healthy Program is hosting its next Diabetes Self-Management Workshop beginning May 2 and continuing every Tuesday through June 6, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The free workshop will be held at People Inc. Iris Senior Living, 4150 Sowles Road, Hamburg, and is open to adults with diabetes and/or caregivers.
Topics include: techniques to deal with the symptoms of diabetes, fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia and stress; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength and endurance; healthy eating and working more effectively with health care providers.
Attendees who complete the workshop will earn a $30 Wegmans gift card. Registration is required. To register or for more information, call Becky Orton, peer leader trainer and manager of People Inc. Marigold Senior Living, at 716.773.0907.
iCan Shine Bike Camp Seeking Participants and Volunteers
Learning to ride a two-wheeled bicycle is a major milestone in anyone’s life. When learning is a struggle, the accomplishment and its impact can be even greater. The iCan Shine Bike Camp uses adapted bicycles, a specialized instructional program and trained staff to enable individuals with disabilities to learn to ride a two-wheeled bicycle.
Riders attend one, 75-minute session for five consecutive days from June 26 to 30 at Buffalo Niagara Court Center, 425 Meyer Road, West Seneca. The program is now accepting participants and volunteers to join this exciting opportunity.
For more information, call 716.817.7204 or click here. The camp is offered through the national iCan Shine Program, which provides learning opportunities in recreational activities for individuals with disabilities. Locally, the program is made possible by the Down Syndrome Parents Group of Western New York, Inc.; Heritage Centers; People Inc.; RealtyUSA; Howard Hanna Company West Seneca office; and Univera Healthcare.
Featured Job of the Month: Respite Instructor
People Inc. is seeking part-time instructors who can provide after-school care to young people with developmental disabilities, ages 5 to 21, in our Afternoon Respite Programs. Respite instructors assist with arts and crafts, homework, peer socialization skills and community outings. A great opportunity for college students, these positions are Monday through Friday, from 2 to 6:30 p.m. with locations in Amherst, Buffalo, East Aurora and Hamburg. To apply or view other openings, click here.
Recent news stories that include information from People Inc. and agency representatives.
“Senator Jacobs, Business & Advocacy Groups Hail Workers’ Compensation Reform:” Kevin Horrigan, People Inc. associate vice president, interviewed. New York State Senator Chris Jacobs website, April 12, 2017.
“WNY traumatic brain injury survivor shares recovery story to help others:” Headway of WNY support group participant featured. WIVB-TV Channel 4, April 6, 2017.
“WNY children’s book author with Down syndrome committed to ending bullying:” Engelic Everett, People Inc. program participant, and the Museum of disABILITY History featured. WIVB-TV Channel 4, March 21, 2017.
“People Inc. plan to build apartments on Jefferson Avenue gains support:” People Inc. included. The Buffalo News, March 14, 2017.
"Could you be Someone’s Perfect Fit?:” People Inc.’s Perfect Fit Program featured. Buffalo Healthy Living, March 2017 (see page 11).
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Support People Inc. at Giveback Day 2017
As part of Giveback Day 2017, hosted by Embrace the Difference®, ten percent of everything purchased at Reeds / Jenss on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be donated to People Inc. upon designation. This includes home décor and Embrace the Difference® jewelry. Enjoy a free, catered lunch, along with a chance to meet local sports players and charity representatives! This year’s event will be held at Reeds / Jenss, 4001 Maple Road, Amherst. It is a great opportunity to get gifts for Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and weddings, or even something for yourself! For more information, contact Jennifer Robinson at jrobinson@people-inc.org or 716.817.7269.
Save the Date:
People Inc. Drive Fore Disabilities Golf Tournament

We are gearing up for our 16th Annual People Inc. Drive Fore Disabilities Golf Tournament, which will be held on Monday, August 21, at the Orchard Park Country Club, 4777 South Buffalo Street, Orchard Park. Participants will enjoy a round of golf, silent auction and dinner. Registration is now open, and a variety of sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, click here. To register, click here or contact Jennifer Robinson at jrobinson@people-inc.org or 716.817.7269.
People Inc. Rochester Open House
People Inc. is holding an open house in the Rochester area to spread the word about our wide range of services, including the new Care Management for Children program. The event is a great opportunity for families, medical and community providers to learn more about our programs and services in Monroe County. Light refreshments will be served.
When: Thursday, April 27, from 3 to 5 p.m.
Where: People Inc. Rochester Headquarters, 835 West Main Street, Rochester, NY 14611
Info: Call 585.441.9300
Museum of disABILITY History to Host “Meet the Author: Engelic Everett”
Join Engelic Everett for a story-reading and signing of her new read-aloud picture book, Olivia the Bully. The free family-friendly event will include a meet and greet with the author, book reading, coloring contest, face painting and snacks. The book begins to discuss bullying with children at an early age, sharing the values of friendship, understanding and loving one another.
An entrepreneur, Engelic lives and thrives with Down syndrome. She is a small-business owner, award-winning self-advocate, published and performed playwright and children’s book author.
When: Saturday, May 6, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, NY
Info: Event registration encouraged. To RSVP, call 716.629.3626. Updates will be posted on the Museum’s Facebook event page.
Headway of WNY’s Annual Spring Gala
Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., will host its 18th annual spring gala, “Unite & Move Forward,” at Rich’s Atrium. The evening will include a silent auction, basket raffles, live music and dinner. Proceeds benefit Headway of WNY to ensure that individuals in Western New York with brain injuries and other disabilities have access to advocacy, resources and support systems that enable them to live as independently as possible. Sponsorship opportunities are available and donations are welcome for the silent auction and basket raffles.
When: Thursday, May 18, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Rich’s Atrium, One Robert Rich Way, Buffalo, NY
Tickets: $55 each and can be purchased by clicking here
Info: 716.408.3117 or click here
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day
People Inc. is a proud supporter of the 29th Annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, which will be Thursday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls Street, Niagara Falls. Sponsored by the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York, the keynote speaker is Jamie Brewer, actress from the FX hit television series, American Horror Story, and the first woman with Down syndrome to walk in New York Fashion Week.
Commonly known as DD" Day," registration for the event is now open. The conference, the largest of its kind in the U.S., brings together local and regional agencies, industry-connected vendors and suppliers, direct support professionals and individuals supported by these groups.
The conference includes a vendor fair and workshop sessions, several of which will be hosted by People Inc. staff. To purchase tickets or to learn more, go to ddday.org or the conference’s Facebook page.
CNN: Learning, as an adult woman, you have autism
“Problems with social communication and sensory issues are typical signs of autism, so why was the possibility never raised?”

The Huffington Post: Sesame Street just introduced its first muppet with autism
“According to Sesame Street, they worked closely with organizations to figure out which autistic traits and features they should instill in Julia.”