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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates
Inside People Inc.: A Message to our Community
Our priorities remain on safety and healthy environments for the people our agency supports and all of our employees. The People Inc. Leadership Team continues to be moved by the commitment of our incredible staff. We’re grateful for the patience of families and to our community partners, who have offered us important feedback and support during this unprecedented crisis.
A planned and gradual reopening of our programs is occurring, based on a variety of factors to support our primary goal of safety. After reviewing relevant state and federal guidelines and taking careful consideration, we have begun the reopening of People Inc. Day Habilitation Programs in stages. Our website includes more information. Progression, pause or reversal of these stages will be determined by our Emergency Management Team, based on ongoing monitoring and regulatory guidance. Updates may be made rapidly as a result.
We do our very best to work though these challenging times and keep the lines of communication open with families and fellow service providers. An additional Informational Session for Families has been scheduled for July 28. Continual updates are posted on the Coronavirus section of our website. If families and people supported by our agency have questions and concerns, I encourage you to speak directly with program management or use our dedicated Coronavirus Phone Line at 716.817.7445 or email COVIDconcern@people-inc.org. Our Advocacy Phone Line is also available for people we support to ask non-emergency questions by calling 716.322.7070.
Thank you for your continued support. Please take some time to review the stories in this e-newsletter for news and program updates.
Be well and safe,
Rhonda Frederick
President and CEO, People Inc.

Picture of the light blue rubber People Inc. Heroes awareness bands.
Your Support is Needed During this Critical Time
COVID-19 has affected our lives and loved ones, as well as people’s jobs and daily operations of non-profits and businesses. Yet People Inc. has not wavered in commitment to its mission. The People Inc. Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund is accepting donations, so our agency can continue to assist thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, special needs, families and older adults throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester region. Your donation will help bridge the gap of extra expenses for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and enhanced cleaning products, as well as technology to provide remote support and to help people stay connected with family and friends. Donate $20 or more and receive a People Inc. Heroes Awareness Wristband. Support People Inc. with your contribution today. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated.
Encouragement and Ideas
As social distancing during these difficult times continues, check out these examples of dedication. At People Inc., we continue to get through this pandemic together.
A group picture of the Farmham residents.
Staff at Farmham Group Home Provides Comfort During Difficult Times
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges – and for those unable to stay in touch with family and friends, these times have been particularly difficult. Yet, through it all, wonderful acts of compassion and resiliency
have shone through to light the lives of so many people!
One of the People Inc. group homes in Farnham, NY, is a prime example of this positive spirit. Over the years, the house has struggled with low staffing, but the direct support professionals who work there commit their time and heart to ensuring people are happy and healthy.
Michael, who lives at the house, enjoys spending time outside, immersed in nature. Prior to the pandemic, he looked forward to get-togethers with his father on the weekends. But the early stages of the pandemic made it impossible for them to see one another in person. Sadly, Michael’s dad passed away a couple months ago, and the challenges of the pandemic were made twice as hard in the face of this loss.
Staff at the group home, however, were determined to provide Michael – and everyone living there – with a meaningful space for growth and reflection. Haley Sovereign, team leader/day aide, and Lynn Gugino, senior residential supervisor, brainstormed ideas and decided to spruce up the backyard with flowers and solar lights. Haley, who shares a close bond with Michael, also got him
an egg chair for the garden and spa lights for the bath. This inspired other members of the team to contribute decorations for the home to liven everyone’s spirits. Together, staff and people living at the house, planted flowers and arranged hanging baskets around the yard.
The changes have done wonders for Michael’s mood. He is watering the plants outside with increasingly less assistance, and he can be found walking the backyard path each day at dawn
to see the lights.
“Everyone really worked as a team to make this house nicer for everyone who lives here,” shared Lynn. “People who usually don’t go outside to relax have been sitting out there to enjoy the yard. Staff here is thrilled go above and beyond to give the people here the quality of life they deserve. All of the staff truly care and it shows in everyone’s happiness.”
A group picture of people at a People Inc. Lancaster home who kept a My Covid Journal.

Butterflies Help Show Changes
A People Inc. group home in Lancaster, NY, has turned to butterflies for inspiration. Due to COVID-19 and temporary closure of our Day Habilitation Programs, many changes in routine and staffing occurred for people living at our Residential locations. The situation called for some creativity and it sparked an idea from James Amspacher and Alison Caggiano, primary instructors. They encouraged everyone living at the group home, as well as staff, to learn about caterpillars and the changes they go through to become butterflies. “By using the process of how caterpillars turn into butterflies, it helped everyone understand the changes in our lives,” shared James and Alison. As a part of the project, each person had a “My Covid Journal,” in which they described the changes they were going through during this time. In their journals, they documented their feelings and emotions, the activities they completed and fun facts about their lives.
As our People Inc. logo features a butterfly with the outline of two faces, representing both change and evolution, we hope this story brings you some inspiration to create your own journal – reflect to see if your perspectives have changed by focusing on positive experiences or by overcoming a challenge.
2 pictures of people we support working on greeting cards.
People at Silver Creek Group Home Connect through Cards
People living at one of our group homes in Silver Creek, NY, spent time making cards for friends and family. It was a great way to use their creativity to stay connected with loved ones.
People Inc. Debuts Inclusion Video
Inclusion has always been the fundamental purpose of People Inc. The agency’s longtime values of Improving Lives, Respect, Diversity and Inclusion are meant to guide everyday actions in very practical ways. They are especially important in times of uncertainty and distress. We strive to live them every day, but there is still work that needs to be done. We can be part of the solution by standing together against racial injustice. People Inc. has made it a priority to focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for people supported and its staff to become
a more culturally competent agency. View the People Inc. Inclusion video as part of the agency’s continued expression of its values and commitment. Let’s promote inclusion for all. Let’s work together.
Golisano Medical Oncology Center patients Carol Faccini, Margaret Tretter and John Gabriele join to ring the Victory Bell at the dedication ceremony, in a symbolic act that that officially opened the new Center.
From L-R: Golisano Medical Oncology Center patients Carol Faccini, Margaret Tretter and John Gabriele join to ring the Victory Bell at the dedication ceremony,
in a symbolic act that
that officially opened
the new Center.
Margaret Tretter Rings Symbolic Bell for Opening of Golisano Medical Oncology Center
The Golisano Medical Oncology Center
held a virtual grand opening on July 16, and Margaret Tretter, who lives in a People Inc. group home in Niagara Falls, NY, was proud to be part of the celebration. Located at the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center in Niagara Falls, NY, the ceremony was streamed live on Facebook and was restricted in the amount of attendees, in accordance with current health guidelines regarding group gatherings. Representatives from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center dedicated the new Golisano Medical Oncology Center, a member site within the Roswell Park Care Network. Margaret was safely escorted by a staff member to attend the event. At the end of the ceremony, Margaret rang the Victory Bell in a symbolic act demonstrating support for all cancer survivors that helped to officially open the new center.
In a statement, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo, said: “The expert cancer care provided at this new center is welcome news for all Niagara County residents and directly addresses health disparity issues that historically have impacted African Americans, Native Americans, people with mental health issues and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Last November, People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick, Margaret and others supported by our agency attended an event that announced this new medical center. We’re pleased that Margaret was able to celebrate the opening of this new facility and especially for ringing the Victory Bell.
Nominations Now Open for DSP of the Year
People Inc. is accepting nominations for its annual Direct Support Professionals (DSP) of the Year Awards! Award recipients are direct support staff members of People Inc. who demonstrate superior care and consistent dedication for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
At least 15 winners will be selected and announced during DSP Week, September 6-12. Each winner will receive a $1,000 monetary award. DSP Week is observed nationally and honors these wonderful professionals for the valuable contributions they provide. We are seeking nominations from people we support, parents, guardians, family members, community members and staff. Winners will be chosen through an impartial committee review. Submit a nomination by Sunday, August 9.
The Buffalo News Editorial Board Article Encourages Funding
Last month, People Inc. requested an editorial board meeting with The Buffalo News. People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick, along with representatives from the Developmental Disability Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), Empower and a parent of a person receiving supports, met with members of The Buffalo News Editorial Board to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on, and funding for, our agency and other developmental disability agencies. The result of this meeting was an editorial published on July 7.
Leadership Buffalo’s Class of 2020 participants.
In the Community:
Leadership Buffalo Class of 2020 Visits People Inc. Jefferson Avenue Apartments
People Inc. was excited to recently share our community developments with a group from Leadership Buffalo’s Class of 2020! Concetta Ferguson, senior vice president of People Inc. and Bradford Watts, community relations coordinator, safely welcomed the professionals to People Inc. Jefferson Avenue Apartments in Buffalo, NY. The group learned about new developments in the city, as well as how People Inc. collaborated with developers Nick Sinatra, David Pawlick, City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) and the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, as well as NYS Empire State Development, NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, NYS Housing Finance Agency and other city officials – they all worked together to create this affordable housing and commercial space – the largest residential development for our agency in the city of Buffalo, to date!
Plus, John Baker, president of WNY Urban Arts Collective, discussed a mural project with the Leadership Buffalo class – the results of which will be two impressive pieces of artwork on the Jefferson buildings, designed by local artists. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting project!
A young female graduate thowing her cap into the air.
What’s Next? College, Trade School, a Job?
Join our Team!

If you’re starting out or considering a new career path – either temporarily or permanently – contact us today! We have immediate full time, part time and temporary openings for direct support professionals, LPNs, community-based instructors and behavior technicians to help people with developmental disabilities. A variety of shifts and locations across Western New Work and the Greater Rochester region are available. We offer virtual interviews, paid training and great benefits. To apply or to view all employment openings, go to the People Inc. Job Board or call 716.322.7050 for more information.
Apartment Applications Accepted for
New Affordable Apartments in
North Tonawanda

We’re excited to share that one of our new Affordable Apartment locations is ready, right in the heart of North Tonawanda, NY! We’re now accepting rental applications for a summer move-in for our People Inc. Grant Street Apartments. Located at 25 Grant Street in North Tonawanda, the apartments are
for people 18+ who meet income eligibility. The one and two-bedroom apartments are spacious and have beautifully landscaped grounds! Some apartments are designed for people who have mobility and vision challenges or for people who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Rent subsidies and/or rental vouchers accepted. If you or someone you know is interested or have questions about income eligibility, email housing@people-inc.org or call 716.880.3890 to learn more about pricing and move-in dates!
Summer Sessions Now Available for Incredible Years Program
Are you or do you know a parent looking for guidance for a child with unique needs? The Incredible Years Program offers FREE guidance designed for children with special needs. Enrollees are now being accepted for the summer sessions. This social skills program provides guidance, focusing on building social skills, healthy relationships and fostering positive behavior, as well as decreasing negative behavior. Participation requirements include: Children with special needs, between the ages of 7 and 17; must be eligible for services through OPWDD and reside in the community (non-certified setting). People Inc. has added extra safety measures for the Incredible Years Program to continue. To enroll or for more information, contact Shannon Bianco at sbianco@people-inc.org or 716.880.3826. The free training is made possible by a Family Support Services grant through the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office (WNY DDSO).
A man and woman with janitorial equipment.
Business Solutions Services Continue through COVID-19 Crisis
People Inc. continues to serve the business community, especially during this challenging time. All of our cleaning protocols follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to safely sanitize businesses. Our experienced staff is here to help you reopen
and stay open. People Inc. provides janitorial services, interior cleaning services, carpet cleaning, floor care and maintenance for commercial, business and government offices throughout Erie and Niagara Counties.
People Inc. works with businesses in Western New York and the Greater Rochester region to assist people with disabilities to secure and maintain meaningful, competitive employment. Several business solutions have been established that offer high-quality work, ranging from janitorial and carpet cleaning to workforce solutions and contract manufacturing.
Free estimates are provided and the agency is fully insured. For more information, contact carpetcleaning@people-inc.org or 716.817.5750.
Virtual Support Groups Available
Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., is providing virtual support groups. The focus is regarding brain injury and handling stress by the current pandemic. They will be held on August 4 and August 18, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For those interested in participating, follow these instructions: Email your name, phone number, email address and date(s) that you would like to attend to support@headwayofwny.org. Participants will need to use a Google Chrome web browser with Microsoft software or Safari with Apple software. Once your email is received, further instructions will be provided for your virtual connection. There is no cost to attend. The Headway Team looks forward to connecting virtually.
Supports Available for Deaf and Hard of
Hearing Community

Deaf Access Services, an affiliate of People Inc., developed a creative video outlining the beneficial services they continue to offer during the COVID-19 pandemic. View the video and share with anyone who may benefit from these important services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.
A picture of the Red String Bracelet in its packaging, a white translucent fabric drawstring bag.
Connect with a Red String Bracelet
Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, an affiliate of People Inc., has introduced a new way for people in the community to connect. With the mission of assisting people to develop to their highest potential through therapeutically-based equine activities, Lothlorien is offering special bracelets. Legend says that there is an invisible “Red String” that connects us all. Regardless of time, place or circumstance, the thread may stretch, twist or tangle, but we always remain connected. For a $10 donation, people can receive a Red String Bracelet and help to make a difference in the lives of riders and horses at Lothlorien. All proceeds go directly to the care of the horses and program operations. Visit lothlorientrc.org or call 716.949.3551 to purchase your Red String Bracelet today!
Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. is a non-profit, therapeutic horseback riding facility providing horsemanship and horseback riding opportunities for people with cognitive, physical, emotional and learning disabilities. Located at a 10-acre facility outside the Village of East Aurora, NY, Lothlorien is the longest-running therapeutic program in Western New York, serving ages three and up.
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