The Guys Group Brightens Aaron Hanson’s Life
High-fives and hanging out with friends are all common occurrences for Aaron Hanson. This is all thanks to the Guys Group, a People Inc. program in which Aaron proudly participates. “It’s awesome,” Aaron said when asked about the group.
Developed by People Inc.’s Life Quality Coaching Department, the Guys Group helps young men with developmental disabilities who are between the ages of ages 18 and 30, discover and nurture their passions in life while building lasting friendships. The group provides social opportunities that include recreational, physical and volunteer activities. From sporting events and museums to eating out, there are countless opportunities for forming friendships with peers.
“It’s good to have a friend,” Aaron said, “We play basketball, play board games and just hang out.” In addition to these activities, Aaron is looking forward to the group’s upcoming cross county road trip. Scheduled to begin in the spring, the trip will be a video documented journey, entitled Crossing Borders, which will include Aaron and three others from the Guys Group.
“I never knew Aaron had so any friends until he joined the Guys Group,” said Aaron’s father, Mike. “You would swear he is the most popular guy and the social interaction has had a big impact on him. Plus, he is learning to get to places on his own and on time.”
A graduate of City Honors School and the Occupational Training Center, Aaron, age 22, volunteers at the Salvation Army Church in Tonawanda. He helps to organize their food pantry, cleans and enjoys talking with the church’s elderly members. A resident of South Buffalo, Aaron is currently looking for a job and hopes to find one that focuses on stocking and organizing items. When Aaron is not with friends, he enjoys exercising, shopping and bike riding with his dad who, Aaron says, gives great advice. Aaron’s favorite?
“The only bright side in your life is the path you choose.”
“It’s great advice for everyone,” said Aaron.
People Inc. Receives $1.5 Million in OPWDD Grant Funding
People Inc. has received a total of $1.5 million in funding from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The funding will support five projects designed to remove barriers in the areas of housing, self-directed services and employment. Out of the 103 organizations who were awarded grants, People received more than any other agency in the state. The OPWDD awarded 133 grants totaling $65 million through a competitive Request for Applications process open to New York State developmental disabilities providers, advocates and local governments. To learn more, click here. For news coverage about the grant, click here.  
People Inc. in the Community
Our leadership team and staff members work tirelessly to share our agency’s mission throughout our community. The initiative is entitled, For Your Community, and recent activity includes a meeting with Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes to discuss healthcare and employment issues. Approximately 300 of our employees live in the assembly member’s 141st District and nearly 100 employees work at our program locations there. Also taking place was a meeting with the Amherst Rotary Club of Amherst. Pictured above with People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick are (left to right) Assembly Member Peoples-Stokes and President of the Rotary Club Katie Biggie. “We are always grateful to organizations like People Inc. that provide such amazing services in Amherst and the greater Western New York community,” Biggie said. 
Brad Watts of People Inc. at a recent NFJC event where Claudine Ewing of WGRZ-TV Channel 2 was honored.
Watts Joins NFJC Board
People Inc.’s Community Relations Coordinator, Brad Watts, was recently elected to the board of the National Federation for Just Communities, an organization that promotes understanding and respect through advocacy and education. Through his board involvement, Brad will advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities for inclusion within our community.
Dining Out for Headway: A Nourishing Event in Support of Headway of WNY, Inc.
In recognition of March as national brain injury awareness month, Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., is holding a dining out event from March 2 to 4, with select area restaurants. Awareness and funds will be raised to ensure that individuals in Western New York with brain injuries and other disabilities have access to advocacy, resources and support systems so they may live as independently as possible.
Participating restaurants include Betty’s, Fat Bobs Smokehouse and Ristorante Lombardo. For a flyer to present to your server and for more information, click here.
Only $10 a Month Makes you a Supporting Member!
By pledging a recurring payment of $10 a month or with a one-time gift of $100 or more, you can become one of our valued People Inc. Foundation Supporting Members!
Our Supporting Members are critical for us to continue our mission. To learn how to become a Supporting Member, click here. If you have questions, contact Sarah Snyder, annual giving manager, at or by calling 716.817.7269.
Recent news stories that include information from People Inc. and agency representatives.
“Perfectly at home:” People Inc. Pine Senior Living in Lockport is featured. Lockport Union Sun and Journal, February 2, 2015. 
“Volunteers Needed to assist seniors:” People Inc. Senior Companion Program featured. Bee Publications, Life After 50, February 4 and 5, 2015.
The Huffington Post: ‘Glee’ Star Has 1 Request For Fans: Stop Using The ‘R-Word’
“If you need a reminder of just how hurtful the “R-word” can be, look no further than “Glee” actress Lauren Potter.”
The Mighty: Awesome 8-Year-Old Stars in What’s Already Our Favorite Super Bowl Commercial
“Grace Ramsburg, an 8-year-old with Down syndrome, made a television appearance on Super Bowl Sunday, advertising’s biggest event of the year.”
The New York Times: For Special-Care Residents, New York State Policy Means Leaving Home
“Once, New York State had 22 institutions serving more than 27,000 people. By 2017, when the Bernard Fineson Developmental Center in Queens closes, only two institutions — both far from New York City — will remain open, serving a total of 150 people.”
Today: Designer mom campaigns for disability-friendly clothing for kids
“Like most 10-year-olds, Oliver Scheier wants to fit in with his friends and classmates. But the simple act of wearing trendy clothes like the other kids is difficult due to a rare form of muscular dystrophy that requires him to wear leg braces.”
February 2015
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Museum to Host New Exhibit, Hold Grand Opening Event
When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Many of them appeared untouched since their owners packed them decades earlier before entering the institution. The Museum of disABILITY History will host a limited-time traveling exhibit called, The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic, starting with a grand opening event on Friday, February 27, at 6 p.m., at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo.
The exhibit tells the stories of the suitcase owners and offers a patient-centered view of the history of psychiatry. The grand opening event is a fundraiser for the Museum of disABILITY History. The event admission is $25. The exclusive event includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. For admission and more information, click here or call 716.629.3626. Reservations for the opening event are required.
The exhibit will be on display at the Museum until April 11. It was created by The Community Consortium, an organization that works to promote the full citizenship and civil rights of people with psychiatric disabilities.
“Out of the Shadows: Join the Conversation”
“Out of the Shadows: Join the Conversation”
As part of our commitment to disability awareness and advocacy, a panel discussion and reading event, “Out of the Shadows: Join the Conversation,” will be held this March at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo.
On Friday, March 6, from 7 to 9 p.m., the Museum will host a panel discussion featuring writers who either have disabilities or write about disability-related topics. Participants will read their work and discuss its meaning. 
On Saturday, March 7, from 1 to 3 p.m., local and regional writers who either have disabilities or write about disability-related topics will share their work and discuss their experiences.
If you are a local writer or journalist and would like to participate in either event, contact Lizz Schumer, writer, or contact Doug Farley at or by calling 716.629.3601. 
New Date and Location Announced for Mental Health Care Workshop
The Improving the Health of Young People: Integrating Mental Health Care and Primary Care in Western New York Workshop, hosted by People Inc.’s Elmwood Health Center, has been rescheduled for Friday, March 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, 2402 North Forest Road, Getzville. The free workshop was previously scheduled for last November, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Join local experts in the field to learn how to best integrate primary care and mental health care. The workshop is funded through a grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. For more information, click here. To register, click here. 

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day 2015
For more than 25 years, self-advocates, parents and professionals from Western New York have worked together to present a comprehensive, informative conference about developmental disabilities. The 27th Annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day Conference and Fair will be held on Thursday, May 28, at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. The conference is seeking exhibitors and presenters. Individuals with developmental disabilities are encouraged to participate in a logo design contest or as event performers. For more information and for submission deadlines, click here.