Wednesday, November 4, 2015


NYSARC'S "It Matters to Me" Campaign
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To bring attention to critical issues affecting people with intellectual and other disabilities and their families, providers and staff dedicated to serving them, NYSARC Chapters statewide have been involved in a grassroots advocacy campaign. The "It Matters to Me" Campaign organized by NYSARC, Inc., is designed to share personal, compelling stories of the individuals we serve, their concerned families, and providers on the issues that matter the most to them.

The issues that matter most to us, include residential housing and other opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are living with aging caregivers and employment opportunities for our individuals to remain in a non-competitive settings, consistent with the individual's wishes and the Olmstead Supreme Court decision.  The other issues that matter to us are increased wages for direct support professionals and increased preschool rates. 
Please join us in our advocacy efforts so that the needs and wants of people, with intellectual and other disabilities, are heard and addressed by our Legislators as they work on the State Budget. We also ask that you share your concerns with our Legislators and Governor by writing letters as well as sharing this information with your friends on all your social media outlets.  Below is a sample letter that you can customize to let Governor Cuomo as well as our other Legislators know your issues and concerns.

(Sample Letter)

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:
I am writing to you as a (IDENTIFY RELATIONSHIP: PARENT, SIBLING, CAREGIVER, FRIEND, ETC.) of a person with developmental disabilities.   I, along with thousands of other family members, am extremely concerned about the future of needed programs and services that are critical to the well-being of people with developmental disabilities.

The field of developmental disabilities is facing enormous challenges and supports for people have started eroding.  Among the challenges is a shortage of residential opportunities for people living at home, particularly for those whose family members who are elderly and may be coping with health problems of their own; difficulty in recruiting and retaining direct support staff due to inadequate wages; the lack of employment opportunities for people who wish to work in the community or remain in a viable work center; and acutely inadequate funding for special-needs preschool services.

(TELL YOUR STORY HERE:  Pick the one or two issues most critical to you and tell the Governor how it impacts you personally, your family and/or your loved one with a developmental disability, as well as your community.)

As you prepare the state budget for the next fiscal year, I hope you consider all of these issues and are willing to increase funding to help us provide needed residential opportunities, a living wage for direct support staff, an adequate inflationary increase for special-needs preschools, and enhanced employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.   On behalf of myself and my (IDENTIFY RELATIONSHIP), I am personally asking for your help in making sure my (IDENTIFY RELATIONSHIP TO PERSON AND/OR ISSUE) has access to the services (HE/SHE/THEY) need.

Governor, thousands of family members and people with developmental disabilities would be enormously grateful to you for including resources in this year’s budget to begin to ensure that critical programs and services will be available to those who are in need.
We are depending on you.

   Let our Governor and Legislators know what matters to us!

Below is a link that will take you to NYSARC's “It Matters To Me” page.  Please take the time to watch the videos that address the many issues.  The most recent video is introduced by NYSARC President Laura Kennedy.  Please click on the photo to watch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Self-Advocates Holiday Wreath Fundraiser

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The Self-Advocacy All Stars are holding a Holiday Wreath Sale in partnership with the Genesee ARC Self-Advocates!  The cost of each wreath is $19.00 (Includes berries, bows, and pine cones) and the swag (includes berries, bows and pinecones) is $10.00. 

Please mail in or drop off your orders and payment to Vickie Randall at our Community Living Department at the Arnold Gregory Complex (2nd Floor), 243 South Main Street, Albion, NY by 4:00 pm on Thursday, November 19th. 

Please make checks payable to The Arc of Orleans and put self-advocates in memo section.

Thank You!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Rainbow Preschool Mom Helps Agency to Receive $2,000 Grant

(Korey and Ashleigh)
Ashleigh Walls is a freelance writer and blogger as well as a busy mom of two active boys. Earlier this year she had been working for Huggies to promote the “HUGGIES “ULTRAHUG” PROMOTION.” The campaign was hosted by Walmart and it outlined the promotion where Huggies would provide ten $2,000 grants to ten lucky nominated community projects.

Ashleigh decided she wanted to nominate Rainbow Preschool because of the amazing strides that her son Korey has made since attending. Korey started at Rainbow Preschool when he was three. At that time, there were many things he couldn’t do. Korey signed but couldn’t speak, sit still, dress or feed himself and he couldn’t communicate his feelings. Rainbow Preschool provided occupational therapy and speech services to Korey. His communication and socialization skills increased. Korey learned to speak, dress and feed himself. He could also effectively express his needs and wants. Korey currently attends UPK (Universal Pre-Kindergarten) as well as Rainbow Preschool and is scheduled to begin Kindergarten in the Fall of 2016.

To nominate The Arc of Orleans County Ashleigh had to post an #UltraHug selfie with a write up on Twitter or Instagram about Rainbow Preschool being a community project that could use some love. The write up that she used for the nomination is below.

“The Arc of Orleans County has been there for my family since we found out that my son has special needs and developmental delays. As a young parent I was worried on what I should be doing or what his future would look like. The Arc of Orleans has a preschool program with wonderful teachers and therapists that have helped my son start talking, learning control and life skills. When my son is older, I don't have to worry about his quality of life as the Agency stays with families from birth through adulthood. They provide job opportunities for disabled persons, summer programs for children, a place for disabled adults to live and so much more. The Arc of Orleans feels like a family member to us and to many others in the community. This grant would go a long way for all of their projects and bring joy to all at The Arc of Orleans.”

The “HUGGIES “ULTRAHUG” PROMOTION” started with one thousand nominations and those were narrowed down to twenty. The voting was then opened to the public in July and the top ten vote getters using social media platforms would each receive a $2,000 grant. Ashleigh worked hard to promote the voting for Rainbow Preschool and it worked as we were one of the ten lucky recipients. The $2,000 check was received in September 2015.

Korey’s teacher, Kelly Squire stated, “The money will be used to purchase supplies and materials in conjunction with a core curriculum approved by the New York State Department of Education. We are so thankful and excited to have received this grant.”  Donna Saskowski, Executive Director commented, “We truly appreciate Ashleigh’s nomination and efforts in this promotion. She is truly making a difference in the lives of those we serve.”

(From left; Kelly Squire, Rainbow Preschool Teacher; Ashleigh Walls;
Korey Weslowski; Tabatha Pahura, Teacher Aide)