One video needs 200 shares, caregivers are not alone, employment
One video needs 200 shares, caregivers are not alone, employment
Jason Smith and People Inc. Quality Life Coach Gary Spears.
A Wonder-ful Goal
Jason Smith has a passion for music. He loves how it helps him express emotions and how it inspires. One particular musician who has inspired him is Stevie Wonder. So much so that Jason created a tribute song and video for him with his Quality Life Coach Gary Spears. In his tribute song to Stevie, Jason sings, “Cause you’ve taught us there’s a little bit of ‘wonder’ in all of us.”
Jason, 46, was born with a mild intellectual disability and Cerebral palsy and receives residential and support services from People Inc. Jason's goal is to share his tribute song to Stevie 200 times before his concert on November 19 at the First Niagara Center! We’ve received more than 100 shares so far…can you help us meet Jason’s goal? You can share the video, pinned to the top of our Facebook page.
Like Stevie, Jason proves there are no barriers for people with disabilities. “Stevie has a disability. I have a disability, but it does not hold me back,” said Jason.
Through a generous donation by Live Nation, Jason and three of his loved ones will attend the upcoming concert. You will be able to easily pick him out of the crowds of concertgoers; he will be the one with the biggest smile.
To view a story that aired on WGRZ-TV Channel 2, click here.
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Memory Loss Day Program Benefits Whole Family
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s can be a difficult journey that brings about challenges. However, it is important for caregivers to know they are not alone through this devastating disease. In the U.S., there are about 15 million people caring for someone with dementia, and millions of others around the world.
Services are available to provide support, including People Inc.’s Seniors Unlimited, a social day program that meets the needs of adults who have developed dementia or memory loss, which may have been caused by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease or other illnesses. Seniors Unlimited benefits everyone in the family, not just the person who attends, providing much-needed respite to family members.
The North Buffalo-based program is often used by spouses like Marge and Bob Waddell. Marge, 64, started having memory loss symptoms at the early age of 55, and began participating at our Seniors Unlimited program nearly two years ago. Both retired, Marge was a speech therapist for 32 years and her husband Bob was a special education teacher for 31 years.
As Marge’s primary caregiver, Bob likes that Marge participates in the program’s exercise classes and that she gets a chance to do art therapy. He also appreciates the convenient North Buffalo location.
"It is important that there is a program available in the city of Buffalo; it is in the circle of my travel,” said Bob. “The program is nearby to my fitness center and our home so I don’t have to worry about difficult winter driving.”
Bob also values the open communication between the program’s staff and caregivers. “You can just talk to someone – I get feedback every day. Marge is happy,” he said.
The program’s quarterly newsletter provides resources on continual caregiver support, offered by People Inc. and the community. There are also support sessions for caregivers hosted on-site. Located at 2635 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo (border of Kenmore), the program is now accepting participants. For more information, click here or call 716.768.2370.
Jill Turchiarelli, receptionist for People Inc.’s headquarters in Williamsville who receives services from People Inc., said: “People with disabilities are sometimes overlooked. Don’t focus on my wheelchair. People should see me for what I am capable of.”
Pictured L-R: Keith Bryan, director of operations and services for Senator Patrick Gallivan; Jill Turchiarelli and Kevin Horrigan, of People Inc.
Pictured L-R: Senator Robert Ortt and Kevin Horrigan, associate vice president, People Inc.
Our Efforts to Spread the Word About NDEAM Payoff!
We spent October promoting National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and reached hundreds with our message about the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities.
We are so proud that as part of these efforts, several elected officials issued proclamations in honor of NDEAM and in recognition of our agency's commitment to assisting individuals with disabilities obtain meaningful employment. Proclamations were given by Senator Patrick Gallivan, Congressmember Brian Higgins, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Robert Ortt and Senator Marc Panepinto.
Also, President and CEO Rhonda Frederick reached more than 300 professionals and community leaders when she spoke at TEDxBuffalo about the importance of employing individuals with disabilities. Click here to view an inspiring testimonial from local business Quality Bindery Services that Rhonda shared during her talk.
Additionally, three local businesses that support People Inc. were honored for helping our individuals become active members of the workforce: Walgreens in Tonawanda and Grand Island and Scotch ‘N Sirloin Restaurant in Amherst.
To learn how you can employ individuals with disabilities, contact our Vocational Services Department at 716.817.5750.
People Inc. now Operates NYS Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, Looks to Add Volunteers
People Inc. was recently selected by The New York State Office for the Aging to operate the New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. The program provides resources and advocates for older adults who live in nursing homes, assisted living and other licensed adult care homes.
The heart of the program is the core group of volunteers called ombudsmen who go through comprehensive training to be certified to listen to, investigate and help resolve concerns on behalf of long-term care residents. Ombudsmen help residents understand and exercise their rights to good care in an environment that promotes and protects their dignity and quality of life. Inspired by his father’s move into a skilled nursing facility, Joe Cal, a retiree and resident of Orchard Park, NY, has been an ombudsman for the past eight and a half years. He says it is a role that is uniquely rewarding.
“You get more out of it than you put in, and when you leave for the day you know you have really done something to help someone,” said Joe. “We are not there to be adversaries, we are advocates, mediators and partners who appreciate the backgrounds and experiences of residents and want them to know that we have their backs. There is something really wonderful about being the person who has someone’s back. Words cannot describe it.”
As part of our new role coordinating the program, we are looking to add more volunteers. We are offering training at convenient times for working adults. With a minimum commitment of two hours per week, ombudsmen have the ability to decide the days and the times they work. Ombudsmen are also well supported after the training ends.
For more information about this rewarding opportunity, call 716.817.9222.
Elmwood Health Center Recognized by P2 Collaborative of WNY, Inc.
The Elmwood Health Center, an affiliate of People Inc., was recently recognized by the P2 Collaborative of WNY at their first Spotlight on Population Health awards ceremony. EHC was nominated for its dedication to improving the health of Western New Yorkers.
Pictured L-R: Bonnie Sloma, Frank Azzarelli, Barbara Johnson, Eliza Matson.
People Inc. Joins the Rochester Business Alliance and its One Job Initiative
In an effort to enhance the work we do in the Rochester, NY, area to help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, People Inc. recently cemented a partnership with the Rochester Business Alliance (RBA), the area’s chamber of commerce, which provides information and advocacy to help employers grow.
People Inc. is also teaming up with the RBA for its One Job Initiative which is designed to connect men and women in poverty with jobs that are a good fit so that they can gain new skills, rise to new levels and improve their lives and that of their families, as well as the community as a whole.

“The Rochester Business Alliance is pleased to have People Inc. as one of our newest members,” said Robert J. Duffy, president and CEO, Rochester Business Alliance. “We thank People Inc. for participating in our ‘One Job initiative,’ helping even further by working with candidate’s on employment opportunities to someone in our region working to lift their family from poverty."
People Inc. currently serves 430 individuals with disabilities in Monroe County and has 255 employees.
“Building our presence to best support the people we serve in Monroe County is very important to our agency,“ said People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick. “I am pleased that we are now part of the RBA and its One Job Initiative and look forward to future collaborations that will help the region prosper.”
People Inc. Silvercreek and Dunkirk Open Interview Day on December 2
We are hiring for a variety of career opportunities in the Southtowns, including group home, instructor, nursing and self-directed positions. A People Inc. Silver Creek and Dunkirk Open Interview Day will be held Wednesday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jamestown Community College (Dunkirk Campus), 10807 Bennett Road, Dunkirk. Qualified candidates are needed to help individuals with developmental disabilities live more independently. Can’t attend? Apply online.
Access to Home Funds Now Available
People Inc. was awarded a grant from New York State Housing and Community Renewal to implement Access to Home, a program that provides financial assistance for individuals with disabilities can continue to safely and comfortably live in their residences. Funds are granted for accessibility updates including wheelchair ramps and lifts, ceiling tracks and bathroom modifications. Up to $14,000 is available per project. Applicants do not need to receive services from People Inc. to be eligible for funds. To apply for assistance, click here for an application, which must be submitted by November 20, to: People Inc. Access to Home, 3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY 14226. For more information, contact Angela Kunz at or by calling at 716.880.3834.
Recent news stories that include information from People Inc. and agency representatives.

“People Inc. takes over ombudsman program:” Information included about the New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Buffalo Business First, November 2, 2015.

“People Inc. Offers Seniors Someone to Lean on:” Information include about People Inc.’s Senior Companion Program. Forever Young, November 2015.
November 2015
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BN360 Hosts Happy Hour for a Cause to Benefit People Inc.
We are ringing in the holidays in style and want you to be a part of the festivities! Thanks to our Friends at BN360, People Inc. will receive the proceeds from their Happy Hour for a Cause, which will be held on Wednesday, December 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Pan American Grille and Brewery in the Hotel at The Lafayette, 391 Washington Street, Buffalo. Join the young professionals of BN360, People Inc. staff, local dignitaries and our supporters as we ring in the holiday season in downtown Buffalo! See some friends and make new ones!
Events costs are: $15 pre-sale, $20 at the door. Light appetizers included; cash bar. Click here to purchase your tickets. Free parking in the lot at the corner of Clinton and Ellicott; valet parking available at the Hotel at The Lafayette entrance.
Spread Cheer with our Holiday Cards
This holiday season, purchase cards from the People Inc. Foundation and spread cheer while making a difference! Our holiday greeting card features artwork created by an individual we serve and proceeds benefit our programs and services. You can purchase cards for your business, which would include your company logo and a custom message. Click here to complete a form and submit your company logo and custom message to Orders placed by November 30 will be delivered by December 7. Cards are also available to purchase so they can be personally sent to friends and family. Click here for an order form. To order online, click here. Cards may also be purchased at our People Inc. Foundation office, 1219 North Forest Road, Williamsville. Have a question? Call 716.817.7269.
Holiday Craft Sale
People Inc. Marigold Senior Living will host a
Holiday Craft Sale on Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 3026 Grand Island Boulevard, Grand Island. Browse handmade crafts like scarfs, knitted hats, jewelry, ornaments and unique gifts. Donations of gloves, mittens, scarfs, hats and toys for children in need will be accepted for Community Missions of Niagara Frontier. Meet with tenants, tour an apartment and learn about People Inc. Senior Living, including income eligibility. To RSVP or for more information, call 716.773.0907.
The Museum of disABILITY History is hosting two fun events in December, both held at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo:
Annual Holiday Party, Thursday, December 3, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Enjoy music from Universal Mind, a band sponsored by Aspire of Western New York comprised of talented musicians who are differently-abled. Enjoy refreshments, a basket raffle, and of course, dancing! Plus, there will be a visit from Santa! Due to last year’s crowd, no-cost admission tickets are required, which are available at the Museum of disABILITY History. For tickets, call 716.629.3626.
Mubu’s Family Holiday Event, Saturday, December 12, from 2 to 4 p.m.
The free event is held in conjunction with the latest release from the Mubu the Morph children’s book series, Mubu’s Christmas. Mubu the Morph is the main character of a fun-filled series about individuality and lessons about self-confidence suitable for children, grades K to 3. The event includes book readings, holiday crafts, face painting, a visit from Santa and refreshments. Co-hosted by Bornhava, Parent Network of WNY and People Inc., the event will help spread some holiday cheer. To register or for more information, call 716.629.3626.
WBFO 88.7: Raising accessibility awareness for wheelchair users
“Under Title III of the ADA there are ‘minimum standards’ for accessibility. Businesses are required to make ‘reasonable modifications.’”

CNN: Sandy’s Story: Fighting Alzheimer’s
“If you were not paying close attention, you might never know Sandy Halperin has dementia. Doctors diagnosed him with early onset Alzheimer's in 2010, but he traces his first symptoms back to 2008.”

USA Today: America needs ALL of us (column)
“States and businesses are proving that employing people with disabilities is not an act of charity or sympathy; it’s enlightened self-interest at its very best.”