On Saturday, September 7, The Arc Wayne introduced Color Wayne to Newark and surrounding Wayne County community members. The whirlwind disability awareness event sent at least 300 runners and walkers on a two-mile route along the Erie Canalway path ending in T. Spencer Knight Park located right in front of The Arc Wayne’s headquarters.
Kindness for Kasey
Groups and individual participants were given the option to raise donations to contribute to the Arc of Wayne Foundation, which all event proceeds benefited. Team Kasey exceeded all expectations by raising $1,150 in memory of Kasey DeMarree, a former student at Roosevelt Children’s Center that passed away at age 4 in 2016.
Kasey’s parents, Kelly and Dan DeMaree were overwhelmed by the support of their friends and family when they decided to participate in Color Wayne.
“Although Kasey was not able to join us at the [event], the kindness that he so willingly gave others was given back through the support and donations in his memory,” Kelly and Dan DeMaree said.
Kasey’s parents expressed their appreciation of Roosevelt Children’s Center and the school’s kindness in such a difficult time.
“It wasn’t until we unexpectedly lost Kasey that we were able to truly understand the magnitude of what Roosevelt has meant [to] our family,” Kelly and Dan said. “They understood our little boy so well, and we feel so lucky for Kasey to have been surrounded by so much love.”
RCC staff dedicated a bookshelf to Kasey to show their love and encourage his kindness.
“As a student, Kasey spread his love and kindness to everyone he came in contact with,” Kelly and Dan said. “Whether it was a hug, bringing you a book to share together, or one of his beautiful smiles, his kindness was on full display.”
The Arc Wayne hopes for everyone to follow in Kasey’s footsteps and lead with kindness.
“Seeing us celebrate our differences and accept all individuals for who they are is so important for our community,” Kelly and Dan said.
Color Wayne brought light, or in this case, color, to The Arc Wayne’s mission. The event’s theme was disability awareness to remind the Wayne County community of the opportunities the agency provides for people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities and show community members ways to get involved with the agency.
Team Kasey was given 10 tickets to a Rochester RazorSharks' game and 10 admissions to The Sterling Renaissance Festival for their generous donation. Charlotte Johnson was given four tickets to Dark Matter Scream Works haunted house and four admissions to The Sterling Renaissance Festival for raising a total of $125 for our foundation. The first-time event raised nearly $4,000.
A special thanks:
Kelly and Dan DeMaree for sharing their memories of Kasey.
In-kind prize sponsors
MVP Health Care
4Imprint - One By One Program
Legendary Auto Interiors
Rochester Regional Health
Shining the spotlight on RCC retiree, Sue Mulberry.
By Nicole Mauro
Roosevelt Children’s Center (RCC) is 1 of 32 services that The Arc Wayne offers. RCC is home to nearly 200 children from birth to five and offers preschool, early intervention and daycare programs. Although, the school has been home to only one Mrs. Mulberry for a number of years.
Sue Mulberry began working at RCC as a special education teacher in 1993 and retired in 2017. Previously, she had been a physical therapy assistant before deciding to go back to school for special education. She knew she wanted to continue working with individuals who had disabilities in some way. This past school year, she accepted a long-term substitute position and returned to RCC.
What kept her at RCC over the years was not only the option to work part-time, or the love for working with the pre-k age group, but the team approach she experienced at RCC.
“We are all here for the kids, and we want what’s best for the kids, and we are working together with all the different disciplines to meet their needs,” Mulberry said.
“Sue retired two years ago and offered to take a long-term sub role when we lost a teacher. This was a great cost to her very much enjoyed retirement,” Assistant Director of RCC, Vicktoria Sackett, said. “She has to ‘re-learn’ how to do many things related to the documentation required in a teacher’s role.”
As Mulberry revisits retirement, she will be greatly missed by her students and co-workers. She plans to return as a professional teacher substitute when needed.
“She has been a great mentor and trainer to the staff under her; they have grown in so many ways, as have the children,” Sackett said.
Thanks to teachers like Mulberry, RCC is able to help students develop their skills to ensure success in their future.
“Do it; do it in a minute,” Mulberry would say to a parent considering enrolling a child here. “Each and every person at Roosevelt is very dedicated.”
RCC’s goal as an Early Intervention and Preschool program for children ages birth to five is to provide the highest quality of service to all children, with and without special needs, in an integrated and natural setting where all children share the same learning environment.
RCC offers a wide variety of diverse services through an experienced, licensed and/or certified staff including special education and early childhood educators, speech pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and nurses.
For day care enrollment information and screening appointments, contact Caitlin Brown at 315-331-2086 ext. 3265. Screenings will take 20-30 minutes.
If you are interested in working at RCC, please visit The Arc Wayne’s job listings at https://waynearc.applicantpro.com/jobs/ to apply.
The partnership shines light on Walmart employee who utilizes The Arc Wayne programs
By Nicole Mauro
Seven months ago, Mike was hired at the Newark Walmart as a stocker. Almost 19 years ago, Mike was introduced to The Arc Wayne and our Supportive Employment and Care Coordination programs. Mike has worked in a nursing home, a gas station and another grocery store, but Mike is more than thrilled to be working for Walmart. Surrounded by fun coworkers, understanding managers, and stocked shelves, Mike has no complaints (at least today).
“I love my job; I am happy where I am at,” Mike said. “Walmart works with me.”
Cheryll Hall has been Mike’s case manager for four years. Updating resumes, taking individuals to interviews, observing and giving direction in the workplace is just a glimpse of what caseworkers do on a daily basis. Although, Mike received his licence in November. As a matter of fact, he earned it on his first try. (I would love to know how many of our readers can attest to that).
The Arc Wayne has relationships with both the Newark and the Macedon Walmart. Mike is not the only one who works at a local Walmart and receives support from The Arc Wayne programs.
“They have been very understanding,” said Hall. “We have had some people that have to start 1-to-1 and [Walmart] listened when [our individual] said he didn't like the job he was doing and they were accepting and worked with him.”
“Understanding” seemed to be the go-to word when describing The Arc Wayne’s experiences with Walmart, and we would not want it any other way. We hope for other workplaces to continue striving to be as inclusive as possible and help us in our mission of promoting independence with compassion, understanding and support while connecting individuals and their families to a world of possibilities.
Partnership With Walmart
The Newark Walmart awarded The Arc Wayne with a $500 Walmart Community Grant to benefit the 2019 Arc of Wayne Annual Golf Tournament on June 24 where proceeds go directly to The Arc of Wayne Foundation. The Arc of Wayne Foundation provides support to the numerous programs like the services Mike utilizes. Walmart Community Giving works to forge quality relationships and strong interactions with their grantees. The continuous support Walmart provides to The Arc Wayne through Walmart Giving is beyond impactful to our organization and the individuals we support.
ACCES-VR and The Arc Wayne provide support
By Nicole Mauro
It’s not every day that you have the pleasure to meet someone like Jeff Austin. Jeff is a 20- year-old Newark High School graduate, and he currently works in the kitchen of the Newark Wegmans. When he isn't there washing dishes and helping to prepare or package food, you can find him either volunteering for the Fire Department at the famous Fairville Fish Fry, or attending the races at Outlaw Speedway in Dundee.
Jeff is preparing for a hectic, but fun summer. Jeff has been involved at the speedway for about six years – this time he is going to be a part of two racing teams working in the pit crew, a dream that his late father always had for him. When his father passed away, Jeff was overwhelmed by the support that his Wegmans’ team offered him. Not long after, his grandfather passed away as well, leaving Jeff with an even heavier heart. Jeff’s coworkers did not hesitate in making sure he knew they were there for him, whether it was giving him the time off, donating products for the services or even attending calling hours.
When Jeff took a culinary arts class at Wayne Technical and Career Center, a chef from Wegmans came in and spoke about job opportunities. That stuck with him and inspired him to apply at Wegmans when he began searching for a job.
Jeff is a dishwasher right now, but is looking forward to working his way into and learning new positions.
“I would like to work in the pizza department or sub shop because those are my two favorite things of all time,” Jeff said.
Jeff is working toward becoming an active member of the Fairville Fire Department; right now he is a social member and loves being able to spend his free time volunteering. Jeff aspires to become either a famous chef or professional WWE wrestler one day in the future. He even made sure to sign a Wegmans chef hat for me, just in case.
Jeff is involved in The Arc Wayne’s ACCES-VR program that he learned about through his high school psychiatrist. The program helped him secure his job at Wegmans. Krista Stiles, a vocational instructor for The Arc Wayne, works with Jeff to ensure he reaches his full potential and surpasses his goals through the assistance of the program.
ACCES-VR is available to persons with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program provides assessment to help identify skills, abilities, and interests. It also offers career counseling and guidance, rehabilitation and assistive technology, training, supported employment, and job placement and retention.
Open Future Learning is an online learning provider 100% dedicated to the field of intellectual disabilities. Recently, The Arc Wayne's residential program started using Open Future Learning's resources to create better opportunities for the individuals we support. All of the videos, modules, and other resources have helped our staff improve the way we interact and help the individuals we support in our residences.
Some of the topics this wonderful organization covers include Centered Approaches Thinking and Planning, Challenging Behavior, Supported Employment, and more. If you would like to learn more or use some of their valuable resources, visit the website or contact Connie Jones, The Arc Wayne's Residential Director, for more information.
Community prevocational program members prepare for senior citizen luncheon, doubles as preparation for future endeavors.
By Nicole Mauro
Kristina and Joe are picked up from their homes each day and are bused to Key Industries where Kristina has worked for nine years and Joe, for 30. Key Industries production workers spend their days packaging items such as CO2 cartridges (“bullets” as the employees call them), golf balls, or tees, but some days they can choose to spend their time in the community volunteering, and Joe and Kristina often jump at those opportunities.
Each month, two members of The Arc Wayne’s community prevocational program help prepare for and serve food at the Lyons Senior Citizen Luncheon. For the January 2019 luncheon, Joe and Kristina worked alongside their job coaches to prepare a homemade beef stew to serve at the luncheon.
“I like to keep busy,” said Kristina, and being involved in The Arc Wayne community prevocational program helps her and Joe do just that.
Key Industries and Community Prevocational Services are both programs of The Arc Wayne and often work together being in such close proximity to each other and sharing a mission of preparing individuals with disabilities for competitive employment.
“If someone, lets say, would really like to work in a deli, going to observe deli workers at Sauders would be something we could go and do,” said Sharon Engle, a job coach at The Arc Wayne.
Members of the program sometimes volunteer at the local Humane Societies to help make animals adoption-ready, help at the Emmanuel Church Food Pantry, stock shelves or practice budgeting at the grocery store, go on environmental clean-up walks, or deliver for Meals on Wheels. The program assists those who want to work, but need extra help developing the skills to be successful in their future workplace.
“I would like to do something where I am helping people,” said Kristina when asked if she would like to work somewhere else aside from Key Industries in the future. Through the program, she hopes to volunteer at a local nursing home to prepare herself for a job in that area.
Joe grew up on a farm and would love to be a farmer if he ever decided to leave Key Industries.
The ARc Wayne's Supportive Employment Program encourages Success in Competitive community employment
Inclusivity at organizations such as del Lago Resort & Casino help make this possible.
By Nicole Mauro
Becky works as a steward in the Farmers Market Buffet of the del Lago Resort & Casino. Like many people who receive services from The Arc Wayne, drivers in the transportation department pick her up at agency headquarters in Newark, and she is then taken to work in Waterloo where the resort and casino is located.
“My favorite thing about working there is the big big machine,” Becky said.
One of her duties in the kitchen is to run the large dishwashing machine that both washes and rinses dishes by pulling down the door. She also enjoys the environment and the people she works with at del Lago, specifically Mikey, who she says gives her a hand when she is in need.
“Becky has come along way since she started with us. She is coming out of her shell joking with the other stewards and carrying on conversations with everyone,” Becky’s supervisor at the del Lago’s Farmers Market Buffet said. “Becky is always willing and ready to help anyone that needs it. We all love working with her; she can brighten up our day.”
Del Lago Resort & Casino has a number of employees who are supported by programs of The Arc Wayne. Exercising inclusivity is an important step in creating both awareness among the public and opportunity for those with disabilities.
The Arc Wayne’s Supportive Employment Program helps make this job a possibility for Becky, as well as other people who work to achieve goals such as finding independence in the working world.
The Arc Wayne’s Residential Assistance Program also allows Becky to live in a supportive apartment.
“Our residence assistance team is proud of Becky and all that she has accomplished, and we look forward to helping her to grow further,” Becky’s residence manager, Jessica Peer, said.
The Arc Wayne currently has 14 24-hour staff-supervised homes that house individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Becky has worked at the Farmers Market Buffet for one year, and previously, she worked at Goodwill in Macedon. When she is not working, she is often completing items on her house’s chore list, visiting with her neighbors across the hall, or spending time with her cats, Sunshine and Ringo Starr. Like most of us, she is looking forward to spring, for flowers to start blooming, and to maybe even planting her own garden.
By Nicole Mauro
For 20 consecutive years, the 10 Rotary Clubs of Wayne County have come together to host the Wayne County Rotary Spelling Bee to benefit Literacy Volunteers of Wayne County. This year, on February 9, 2019, the Razorfish Reciters took home the first place trophy from the competition held at the Wayne Central Performing Arts Center. The Arc Wayne has sponsored a team for all 20 years, they have place first a total of seven times.
The Arc Wayne is proud to be a continual sponsor of the Razorfish Reciters, formerly known as the Barracudas. Ten teams competed in the competition this year, the Razorfish Reciters housed three members, all employees of The Arc Wayne. Lisa Powers is a case manager, David Englert, a project coordinator, and Jason, a production worker.
After registering for the event, their team gets together for weekly spelling lunches to prepare for the competition. Jason would sometimes use braille flashcards to study as well.
“Jason likes to spell medical words, words that mean small and food words,” Powers said.
When competing, each team is timed while they collaboratively come to an agreement of the best way to spell the word.
“S-e-p-t-i-c-i-z-a-t-i-o-n,” Jason spelled out, that was the winning word this year, meaning treatment of sewage by septic action.
One of Jason's favorite memories from the past years of competing was when the event was previously held at the Eastview Mall because that meant that they could get Mrs. Fields’ cookies. He is already looking forward to next year’s spelling bee.
The mission of Literacy Volunteers of Wayne County is to promote and foster increased literacy in our community. They do this through a variety of programs and activities that provide opportunities for adults to learn, encourage reading in the community, and help children succeed in school. They have raised nearly $80,000 throughout the 20 years.
“Literacy Volunteers truly appreciates the support of so many community members, like Jason and The Arc Wayne, who have come together for the past 20 years to help raise awareness and support for the literacy needs in our community,” said Chris Edgar, Literacy Volunteers of Wayne County director and chair of the 2019 Wayne County Rotary Spelling Bee.
The Arc Wayne is a nonprofit parent-based organization that advocates for and serves more than 1,700 individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities in Wayne and surrounding counties. Key Industries serves as a contract packaging and assembling business that adheres to individuals with disabilities and employs more than 150 individuals and professional staff members. Just one of many programs the The Arc Wayne offers to connect individuals and families to a world of possibilities.
Each year, the First United Presbyterian Church in Sodus hosts their annual Christmas light show in December to raise money for a cause in their community. In 2018, the church honored Roosevelt Children's Center (RCC) by donating all the proceeds to our preschool in memory of Kasey DeMarree, a former RCC student who passed away suddenly in January 2016.
About 700 community members attended the lights and music show that parishioner, Jim Hopkins, organized.The event raised more than $1,800 for RCC, and a check was presented last Sunday to RCC by Reverend Gail Heimberger, event organizer, Jim Hopkins, and Kelly DeMarree, Kasey's mother.
At the dedication, Reverend Heimberger presented the following prayer:
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever. Every good and perfect gift is from above. This day we give thanks for the gift of Kasey DeMarree, for the joy he brought us, for the laughter and for the love he showed us. We are also grateful for the love shown him by Roosevelt School and their dedication to him. We give thanks to Jim Hopkins and his wonderful light show, his sharing of his gifts and also the sharing of the funds it raised. Today we dedicate those gifts to the Roosevelt school in memory and in love of Kasey DeMarree and may these gifts be used to enhance the lives of other children. May these gifts be blessings to both the school and the students. May the love of Kasey continue to shine through us all. Amen.
Kasey truly did have a smile that could light up a room. "It was so evident that Kasey was loved at home," Kasey's speech pathologist, Annalise Parker, said. "He was loved at school, and he just had the brightest smile of any kid."
Annalise was just one of the many RCC staff members that Kasey had a positive, lasting impact on. "It's not often that we have to say goodbye to our students like that," she said, "but it stays with us for life when we do. They're like family to us. Kasey definitely taught us more than we taught him."
On behalf of everyone at The Arc Wayne and Roosevelt Children's Center, we want to thank our community for rallying together and providing more opportunities for our students. We are so grateful for Jim's efforts in creating the light show and for the DeMarree family's continued support of our preschool. We couldn't do what we do without the generous hearts of people who believe in helping children with and without special needs be as successful as possible.
"Do We Need A Tragedy to Occur Before You Will Fund a Living Wage for Direct Support Professionals?”
Testimony on the 2019-20 State Budget Reveals the True Impact of the Workforce Crisis on New Yorkers with Developmental Disabilities and calls on state leaders to #bFair2DirectCare
The Arc New York Executive Director Mark van Voorst told legislative budget makers today that services and support for persons with developmental disabilities are “slipping backwards” because non-profit agencies, due to lack of state funding, cannot pay direct care workers a living wage.
In testimony before the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees joint budget hearing, van Voorst said non-profits that support people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are in the midst of a staffing crisis that risks turning back the clock to a dreadful time in New York State’s history.
“After the revelation of abuse and neglect at Willowbrook State School, politicians, parents, providers and advocates stood together and swore we would never let that happen again,” said Van Voorst, who’s Arc New York is a leader in the #bFair2DirectCare movement. “For decades, we have consistently made forward strides for people with I/DD. Now, for the first time, I believe we are beginning to slip backwards.”
Van Voorst says he is done discussing a “looming crisis” in the I/DD field, and is prepared to present lawmakers with the true impact of an ongoing workforce crisis in a field where overworked, underpaid staff often provide life-sustaining care. He cites troubling examples, including:
Van Voorst anticipates policy makers will blame violations of quality standards and degradation of services for people with I/DD on poor management. However, he says the root of this pervasive, system-wide problem is inadequate funding, and the solution is in the hands of state leaders.
Van Voorst’s testimony (see below) outlined outline a pattern in which tragedy and death have historically been the catalyst for change in the I/DD field, and call on New York to address the problem before another tragedy occurs.
“The leader of New York’s largest I/DD provider is sitting here before you telling you that without adequate workforce funding, our field is not sustainable. Today dozens of providers, families and self-advocates will submit testimony to this body pleading for you to take action and fund a living wage for DSPs, as we have done year after year. I caution you to listen,” he said.
“In the aftermath of Willowbrook, New York state and its tremendous network of voluntary providers rose as a beacon of hope for families with loved ones with I/DD. No other state served these individuals as well as New York. Unfortunately, after nearly a decade of static funding, this beacon of hope is fading. We risk sliding again into the darkness. Do not let that happen. Do the right thing and #bFair2DirectCare.”
About The Arc New York
The Arc New York is a family-led organization that advocates and provides supports and services to people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities, emphasizing choice and community engagement. The largest non-profit provider of services to New Yorkers with I/DD, The Arc New York has 49 Chapters across New York state, supports more than 60,000 individuals and families and employs more than 30,000 people statewide. This year, the organization celebrates its seventieth anniversary as an advocate and service provider.
**The contents of this blog post were published in an Arc NY press release that you can find here.
Jessica Blondell, our Development Coordinator, and Nicole Mauro, PR Assistant, write all of our blog posts to keep everyone who supports The Arc Wayne up-to-date with what the agency is doing in the community. Enjoy!