Friday, March 23, 2012

The Butterfly Effect

When budding artist Jaymie Wolford-Eberle heard about a recent disability awareness-themed logo contest, she welcomed the opportunity to spread her wings and fly.

Jaymie's illustration of a butterfly earned fifth place in the contest for the 24th Annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, to be held May 24th at the Niagara Falls Conference Center.  To recognize her accomplishment, Jaymie's work will be displayed during the event, and she will be publicly honored alongside fellow finalists and contest winner Carrie Haas.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, which is open to the public, is expected to bring together 2,000 people, including individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, human service agency representatives, and local officials, to explore current issues in the field.

Jaymie, who is 20 years old, lives with eight other individuals at the Sanford IRA, an Arc of Livingston-Wyoming operated residence in Perry, NY.  Short for Individualized Residential Alternative, an IRA offers residents with disabilities the opportunity to live independently within the community with support from a 24-hour direct care staff.

It's no surprise that Jaymie's logo features a butterfly.  The 20-year-old has great enthusiasm for animals, including butterflies, hamsters, frogs, and — of course — the Sanford IRA house cat, Fluffy.

"When our staff received the contest information, we immediately thought of Jaymie as she loves to draw," says Sanford IRA Site Supervisor Dawn Ratigan. "We went over the contest information with her and told her to draw something she loves. She brought in the picture of the butterfly, and others of a ladybug and a lion head.  She asked us what our favorite one was. We loved the butterfly!"

Jaymie also enjoys swimming, bicycling, ice skating, singing hip hop, and playing the recorder.  She currently attends The Arc's Uptown Day Habilitation program, to help develop skills needed for future employment — which may include pursuing a job at a pet store.

Some of Jaymie's artwork:
To see more of Jaymie's art, visit Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, Thursday, May 24th at the Niagara Falls Conference Center, 101 Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls. Details are available at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Proclaimed Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Livingston, Wyoming Counties

All eyes were on Pete Yendell Thursday, March 8th at Hilltop Industries' production facility in Mount Morris, as the Lima Town Supervisor delivered an official proclamation that marks March 2012 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Livingston County.
L-R: Hilltop Industries Sales and Marketing Manager Rebecca Crocker, Hilltop Industries Director Kellie Kennedy, Arc Executive Director Chris Peterson, Lima Town Supervisor Pete Yendell, and the 2012 class of Leadership Livingston.
It was the first of two such presentations within the two-county service area of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, a 501(c)(3) private, not-for-profit agency dedicated to individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

"The Livingston County Board of Supervisors ... urges the citizens of Livingston County to give full support to efforts towards enabling people with developmental disabilities to live full and productive lives of inclusion in our communities," Mr. Yendell said, to a roar of applause throughout the workshop floor.

Hilltop Industries is the vocational rehabilitation branch of The Arc.  The Hilltop program meets the needs of about 350 people annually through day habilitation and work programs, including community employment and workshops.  Workers at the Mount Morris facility carry out a variety of jobs, including packaging, assembly, and operation of a full service print shop.

Joining Hilltop participants for the reading of the proclamation were direct-support staff from The Arc and members of the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Livingston program, who toured the workshop as part of their monthly session.

At its Tuesday, March 13th meeting, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors accepted a similar proclamation by unanimous vote.  Commenting on the recognition, Wyoming County Mental Health Director Stephen Snell stressed "genuine and heartfelt" appreciation for the seven million Americans living with disabilities, their families, and organizations such as The Arc in their focus on community inclusion.

Representing The Arc at the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors were Board Members Linda Leblond and Eric Parker, Executive Director Chris Peterson, Transportation Director John Prospero, Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas, and Public Relations Coordinator Bonnie McGoldrick.

Communities nationwide recognize March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to draw attention to the needs and potential of people with developmental disabilities.  The observance has been recognized nationally since 1987, when then-President Ronald Reagan called for the American people to build understanding and encouragement, and to provide new opportunities for people who have developmental disabilities.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Arc Recreation on Deck for Red Wings-Chiefs Game

Spring has sprung, and that means baseball season is right around the corner.

Twelve men and women from The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's Recreation Department will be off to the ballgame on Thursday, July 26th, to watch the Rochester Red Wings take on the Syracuse Chiefs at Frontier Field.

For the eighth year, the ballpark trip is made possible by The Bonadio Group, a group of accounting, business advisory, payroll, and personal
financial services entities.  "I get a lot of satisfaction from having funded this community event over the years," Bonadio Founding Partner Gerald Archibald says.

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming is a 501(c)(3) private, not-for-profit agency that serves more than 900 adults with intellectual and other
developmental disabilities annually through an array of interconnected programs including Vocational Services, Residential Services, Children's
Services, Transportation, and Service Coordination.

When they're not enjoying peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and America's pastime at their annual baseball outing, participants in The Arc's Adult Recreation program take part in outings such as dance, horseback riding, scrap booking, and local shopping trips.

To learn more about The Arc, to volunteer, or to give to the agency, visit or call Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas at (585)658-2828 ext. 128.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Special Birthday: "Santa's Helpers" Honored by Arc Foundation

In a tradition that has spanned well over a decade, Cheryl Morrow hand-delivers thousands of holiday gifts one-at-a-time to her friends and peers at The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's Hilltop Industries workshop, where she works three days a week assembling instruction packets included with Crosman air guns.  In 2011 alone, Cheryl, her mother, siblings, and extended family purchased, wrapped, and distributed Christmas presents to more than 300 developmentally disabled adults who work or receive day habilitation services under the Hilltop umbrella.

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Foundation gave back to the Morrow family Saturday evening, February 25th, during Cheryl's 50th birthday party at Leisure's Restaurant and Banquet Facility in Lakeville, by presenting them with its Hero Award.  The award is the Foundation's highest honor, recognizing local community members for enriching life for individuals with developmental disabilities.

"If you've ever wondered how Santa Claus must feel during his busiest time of the year, consider spending some time with the Morrows," said Arc Foundation President Tim McCallum.  "Year after year, their growing group of family and friends – let’s call them elves – have brought hundreds of gifts and countless smiles to Hilltop Industries, complete with all of the joy and generosity of the North Pole's most famous resident."

Hilltop Industries is a private, not-for-profit program providing gainful employment and habilitation opportunities to a diverse workforce.  Cheryl, who has Down Syndrome, has been enrolled at Hilltop since 1983.  Her holiday gift-giving tradition began quietly 15 years later, in 1998.  That year, Cheryl, her mother Fran, sister Terry, and Terry’s husband, Jeff Popp, gave about 60 gifts to their extended Hilltop "family."

In a practice that continues to this day, the Morrows personally greeted each person, wished them a Merry Christmas, and presented them with their gift.

“The best part is seeing the smiles on people’s faces, and the way that they come up to you and give you a big hug,” Fran has said.  “It’s something that you just can’t describe.”

“For some people, the Morrow Christmas, as it has become known, is a much anticipated event that they look forward to for months,” Arc Executive Director Chris Peterson added.  “I think it is one of the most gratifying things that occurs in the entire Arc.  It is done quietly, and clearly the Morrows are not seeking recognition.  Instead they just want to brighten the lives of people.”

In recent years, the Morrow's team of elves has grown to more than 20 people who contribute either time, money, or both.  In addition to Fran, Terry, Jeff, and Cheryl, those recognized by the Foundation for their efforts included Patty Morrow; Vicki, Jim , Lindsay and Lauren Jewett; Brenda Morrow; Gary, Chris and Jennifer Morrow; Donna Cottone; Dick Farrell; Jerry McCollumn; Karen Gentile; Jovon, Brian and Nolan Saunders; Joe Maggerine; Morgan Cooley; Donna Morrow; Marty Zuber; and Veronica Pinto.

Cheryl accepted the Hero Award on behalf of her family while celebrating her 50th birthday in grand style, complete with a Mardi Gras theme.  The party, which was organized by Cheryl's seven sisters and brother, drew family members from as far away as New Jersey, New Orleans, and California.  In total, about 220 people attended, including 70 of Cheryl's friends from The Arc.

"Cheryl had such a great time," said her sister Patty, who lives in Avon with Cheryl and their mom.  "She was so excited that she danced all night and only stopped when the party ended at midnight."

As she clung tightly to the crystal Hero Award, Cheryl showed no signs of slowing down in her efforts to spread joy to those around her. According to Hilltop Director Kellie Kennedy, it's that Morrow family enthusiasm that is, quite possibly, the greatest gift of all.

“It is a wonderful tradition that the Morrows have started,” she said.  “Their family really enjoys handing out the presents and the consumers are very excited to receive gifts from the family. It has become a holiday tradition that everyone looks forward to at Hilltop. For some of our people, the Morrow's gifts are the only gifts they receive, and they are very meaningful.”