Two Etsy shops by people with disabilities, RNs needed
Two Etsy shops by people with disabilities, RNs needed
Jonathan Skonecki
Jonathan Loves to Make Delicious Food
As a participant in People Inc.’s University at Buffalo Young Adult Life Transitions Program, Jonathan Skonecki is able to not only get the experience of going to college, but also participates in various internships to refine and build upon the skills he needs to secure a job.
In one of his internships, Jonathan got the chance to work with People Lunch Express, a business service created by our agency focusing on providing healthy catered lunches. The program is staffed mostly by people with disabilities and uses produce provided from People Inc.’s Growing Richer Engaging Everyone’s Needs and Senses (G.R.E.E.N.S) Project to create farm-to-table style food.
Jonathan learned communication skills, food prep, organization, cleaning and advocating. He used these skills while making yummy wraps, subs and salads. He enjoyed his internship so much that he asked about the hiring process.
“I loved the work and was so happy when I got hired,” Jonathan said. “I get great satisfaction from hearing how much people enjoy our delicious food.”
Jonathan loves that his job with People Lunch Express also helps him to learn skills that will make him more employable in the future. He even has his eyes set on his next job – working at Subway – and we can’t wait to see what all Jonathan will achieve!
Southeast Works Officially Joins the People Inc. Family
Earlier this year, we announced a partnership being pursued by People Inc. and Southeast Works, a local not-for-profit agency that supports people with developmental and other disabilities, primarily through employment training and supports. We are pleased to announce that our plans have remained on track and our joining became official October 1. Our partnership strengthens our missions and enables us to more effectively contend with ongoing state budget cuts. By proactively establishing this alliance, together we are well positioned to continue providing the high quality services families deserve well into the future. Please join us in welcoming Southeast Works’ 279 staff members and 500 services recipients to our family!
Crafting their Dreams
For people with disabilities who are inspired to create their own businesses, People Inc. offers guidance and support through our Self-Directed Self-Employment Program. Check out just two of the program’s many success stories, and their crafts, which make great holiday gifts:
For the past three years, John Siradas has been building his vending business, and currently has 12 candy machines in restaurants and salons throughout the area. Recently, he’s worked to expand his skills by pursuing his passion for woodwork. John is participating in our Pens for People program and hopes to one day create and sell some of his own wood creations. He has even opened his own shop on Etsy.

Richard Harris is the owner and operator of Lightnings Native Crafts, and is proud to say his products are now being sold at the Museum of disABILITY History Store, several retail locations and on local native reservations. He continues to expand his product offerings and has opened a shop on Etsy.
Senior Living Tenants Visit Our Lady of Fatima
Tenants of our 19 People Inc. Senior Living locations throughout Western New York enjoy community outings year-round. Recently, tenants of People Inc. Walnut Senior Living in West Seneca enjoyed a visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston. They walked the grounds and took in the surroundings.
Our apartments provide older adults, age 62 and up who are income eligible, a chance to live affordably and safely. Apartment applications are being accepted and tours are available by appointment. For more information about specific locations, call 716.817.9090.
People Inc. Employee Honored
People Inc. is proud to acknowledge Terrance Hasan, whose advocacy efforts and work in our field have earned him recognition as a Black Achiever in Western New York. These awards honor outstanding individuals and show our community the variety and quality of achievements of African Americans. The recognition event took place last month at Adam’s Mark in Buffalo.
Terrance, a resident of Buffalo, NY, first came to People Inc. as a student in our Young Adult Life Transitions program at Buffalo State College. Following his graduation in 2008, he was offered a job within the program as a community based instructor. In this role, he assists with new student orientation, tutoring and ensuring student safety on and off campus. His perspective as a previous participant in the program allows him to connect with students in a unique way.
Over the years, Terrance has developed his abilities as a public speaker, advocating for himself and others with disabilities in front of elected officials in Albany, as well as countless civic groups.
People Inc. Vice President Joins Leadership Fellows
Earlier this year, People Inc. Vice President Denise Bienko was named to the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York’s 2016 class of Health Leadership Fellows. The 18-month program is designed to improve critical thinking skills of leaders in health and human service organizations. Made up of 39 professionals from Western and Central New York-based nonprofits, this year’s group is the fellowship’s seventh cohort.
“Working with the Health Foundation’s expert faculty and alongside 38 skilled professionals has provided so many insights,” said Bienko. “I am excited to experience all the program has to offer and to apply what I have learned to my work at People Inc.”
Bienko joined People Inc. more than 20 years ago as an administrative coordinator and rose through the ranks to become vice president in 2014. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing corporate governance affairs, grants, long range planning, marketing, government relations and family advisory functions. She also serves as executive director of the People Inc. Foundation.
In the Community: Thank You First Responders
We have been out in the community thanking first responders for all they do for the people we serve as part of our “Thank You for Helping Me Spread My Wings!” initiative. Recently, our CEO Rhonda Frederick and some fellow staff members stopped by the Buffalo Fire Department to present Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. and his team with artwork and a sweet treat as a sign of our thanks and appreciation. Special thanks to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown who helped arrange the presentation.
Featured Job of the Month: Registered Nurses
People Inc. is hiring for a variety of positions throughout Western New York and Rochester. Our featured jobs of the month are registered nurses, who maintain the delivery of health care services for individuals with developmental disabilities living in community based homes. RN requirements include a current NYS license to practice as a registered nurse and a valid driver’s license that meets agency policy. Full-time and part-time positions available. To apply for this opportunity and view other openings, click here.
Perfect Fit Program Launches Promotional Campaign
Earlier this year, People Inc.’s Second Family Program was rebranded as the Perfect Fit Program, in an effort to build greater awareness. To continue that momentum, an advertising campaign is underway to attract more providers. The campaign began last month, with television commercials airing throughout the month of December on WIVB-TV Channel 4, WNLO CW 23 and the Bounce Network. To view the commercials, click here. You may also spot ads in upcoming issues of Buffalo Healthy Living, Niagara Gazette, Springville Pennysaver and News and Western New Family Magazine.
For more information and how to become a Perfect Fit provider, contact Carrie Grant, director, at or 716.817.9011.
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Share Warm Wishes with People Inc. Greeting Cards
This holiday season, purchase holiday cards and spread cheer while making a difference for our community’s most vulnerable people – individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs and senior adults. The featured artwork was created by participants in The Arts Experience, our fine arts day habilitation program that showcases the talents of adult artisans with developmental disabilities. Cards are available in packs of eight for $7.99. You can order the cards on our website. Orders placed by November 30 will be delivered by December 7. Cards may also be purchased at our headquarters, 1219 North Forest Road, Williamsville. For more info, call 716.817.7269.
Support People Inc. with Embrace the Difference
Looking for a unique piece of jewelry for someone special? Check out the Embrace the Difference collection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Ten percent of your purchase will be donated to People Inc. upon designation. To start shopping, click here.
Shop with Amazon Smile
‘Tis the season to start your Amazon holiday shopping! Did you know you can help support People Inc. with every purchase? Amazon Smile donates .50 % to People Inc. To shop, click here.
Advocate for DSPs
The bFair2DirectCare Coalition was created to encourage elected officials to include funding for Direct Support Professional (DSP) wage increases in the New York State budget. People Inc. supports this initiative. The message is simple: These are not minimum wage jobs and funding is needed so not-for-profit developmental disability organizations can pay a living wage. To learn more on how to advocate for a fair wage for DSPs, contact Kevin Horrigan at or call 716.817.7475, click here and follow #bFair2DirectCare on social media.
Holiday Party with Music by Sujeet Desai
The Museum of disABILITY History’s annual Holiday Party will feature music by Sujeet Desai, an international musician who has Down syndrome. He plays six instruments and was one of 13 musicians filmed for a commercial called “We’re Superhumans” for the 2016 Summer Paralympics. Due to limited space, no-cost admission tickets are required.
When: Thursday, December 1, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: 3826 Main Street, Buffalo
Info: To reserve tickets, call 716.629.3626
“Growing need for more human services support staff in group homes:” People Inc. Direct support staff featured. WIVB-TV Channel 4, October 27, 2016.
“People Inc. seeks support for Gates Circle senior housing proposal:” People Inc. included. The Buffalo News, October 21, 2016.
“A good grocery store job suits Clarence role model just fine:” People Inc. Supported Employment Program featured. The Buffalo News, October 20, 2016.
“Supported Employment program helps people with disabilities find jobs:” People Inc. Supported Employment Program featured. WIVB-TV Channel 4, October 7, 2016.
“People Inc. and Jefferson Avenue Redevelopment:” People Inc. information included. Black Western New York Magazine, October 2016 Issue 57.
Disability Scoop: Disability portrayals on TV at record high
“The number of characters with disabilities on prime-time television is on the rise, with a new report finding such representation nearly doubled since last year.”
The Mighty: Young Girl with Down syndrome stars in new Fisher-Price commercial
“Fisher-Price and its parent company Mattel has embraced inclusive advertising with its latest commercial featuring a young girl with Down syndrome.”
WIVB-TV Channel 4: Children’s book by WNY mom inspired by bond between autistic brother and his sister
“Every time Charlotte flips through the book it’s a reminder that her brother has come a long way.”