Thursday, May 5, 2016

Best Friend Dinner

On Friday, April 22nd we gathered to celebrate the Best Friend Dinner, where we honored volunteers, people we serve, employees, and the invaluable community members that support our organization.

The decorations were simple and sophisticated, featuring paper flowers made by individuals at the Day Hab Without Walls Program.

We began the evening honoring four board members who are retiring from their positions on the board. Mary Lou Tuohey was the only board member in attendance. We also honored Kim Wendling, Don Allport, and William Eick.

Debbie Heuer was honored as the 2015 Best Friend. She first became acquainted with the Arc of Orleans County in 1988 when her son Tyler began receiving early intervention services at Rainbow Preschool. She has been involved with the Board and other committees, as well as being an active volunteer. She became invaluable in the past year after the passing of Community Relations Specialist, Denise Withey, and Debbie gave above and beyond of herself to help ease that gap.

Michael Grandin was honored as the Supported Employment Worker of the Year. Mike started with the Arc in February of 2000. He has had various jobs, including working in the Associated Brands Enclave for six years. He worked with Gary Withey at Fischer's Newsroom in Albion, first through the Employment Training Program, and then fully on staff, from March 2014 through Mid-June 2015 when the business closed. A few days later, he began working at Snap Fitness in Medina, again under the Employment Training Program, and will become an employee on June 15th 2016. Mike is an excellent role model through his work ethic and stellar attendance.

Arnie Wolf joined us to say a few words about his sister, Amber L. Wolf, for whom the Orleans Enterprises Worker of the Year Award is named.

Tom Popowych was named the OE Worker of the year due to his outstanding dedication since July of 1996. Over those past 20 years, his attendance is still at nearly 100%, he is always dressed neatly and appropriately, and his tireless work ethic makes him invaluable. He has a keen eye for detail and a high standard of quality. He is looked up to for displaying good manufacturing practices and daily workshop safety, as well as a friendly, mild demeanor and an infectious smile.

Philip Donoghue received this year's Self Advocate of the Year award. Phil has become actively involved in the recreation program, "Self Advocacy All-Stars" in the last few years, assisting with many projects and events. He has also supported staff in jewelry making classes, both with the shopping and the creating of the jewelry. Phil is very well spoken with his peers and in group settings. He is a mentor when disagreements occur, giving others options on how things can be worked out. his leadership qualities, involvement, and talents are among the many reasons he was truly deserving of this award.

John Hald was the recipient of the Community Service Award. A "born volunteer" he gives of himself to his family, friends, and the community through his personal efforts and his involvement in the agency. He volunteers with the Lyndonville Fire Department, helping with special events, fundraisers, dinners, and parades. He has also volunteered with the Lyndonville Lion's Club, Hospice, and PAWS. He supports his neighbors, assisting with their animals, trash, groceries, and other needs. He is an encouraging and supportive voice to his family and friends, especially his mother.

William (Bill) Hayes came to accept the Heritage Award for his business, Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning. He and his company have been a supporter of and partner to the Arc since 2001. Annually, he sponsors the golf tournament, which benefits Camp Rainbow, as well as the Annual Appeal, and the past Signature Series and Founders Fair. Bill and his company have been honored with this award as they consistently think of and assist the Arc and the people we serve in achieving our mission.

The Business Partnership Award was presented to Ben DeGeorge, Co-Owner of DeGeorge Property Group. This award goes to a business that works in partnership with the Arc's Vocational Services Department to assist people with disabilities in achieving their work related goals. In April 2015, Bed approached the Arc about a possible snack shop in the lobby of the Arnold Gregory Building and offered assistance with the start up costs. This was a dream come true, literally, as such a venture was a dream of the department since moving into the building years before. Much effort and time was spent by Ben and his team to bring the plan to fruition, and in time the snack shop opened for business, complete with a comfortable sitting area and music in addition to the variety of snacks and beverages. Four months of hard work later was the grand opening. Ben and his team continue to give support and vision to the endeavor, including plans for a monthly "Coffee Clutch" to be held in the evenings soon.

After the award ceremony, Jonsie and the Cruisers kicked off the party with some fantastic live music, and dancing was enjoyed by all.

Thank you to all who continue to support and encourage the Arc of Orleans County! We are so thankful to have such a great group of friends and support in the community and within our Agency.

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