Thursday, December 19, 2013

ATTENTION ARC EMPLOYEES: Work Out for Free at Stanley Street Fitness Center

Q: What do athletes from the Rochester Red Wings, Baltimore Orioles, Buffalo Sabres, Olympic gold medal speed skater Cathy Turner, and Arc of Livingston-Wyoming employees have in common?

A: Our agency's own Gary Buchanan.

These days, Gary keeps busy as a Life Skills Assistant in our Recreation program.  But during the late 70s and early 80s, he was employed at a Rochester fitness center, where his duties included conditioning of top athletes during rehabilitation or their sports' off-seasons.

Now, Gary is bringing his world-class personal training and strength conditioning expertise to fellow employees as the newest addition to the Stanley Street Fitness Center.  His services are free to Arc employees, and available by appointment by calling 658-2828 ext. 335 or emailing

And that's just part of what the Stanley Street Fitness Center has to offer.  Located at 66 Stanley Street in Mount Morris, the facility features a full Nautilus equipment room; open gym perfect for walking or basketball; cardio room with treadmills, ellipticals and more; and free weights in a room that has also hosted popular yoga classes. 

Use of the Stanley Street Fitness Center is free to Arc employees.  December hours are 4pm until 7pm, Monday through Friday.  Visitors need only to show a valid agency ID, and read and sign a one-time health and safety waiver.

Since the Wellness Committee opened the fitness center on November 2nd, more than 25 Arc employees have worked out there.  The facility is currently in the middle of a 3-month evaluation period; permanent hours and availability will be determined by early February, based on facility usage and employee feedback.

The early word is positive, with Arc employees praising the casual, supportive atmosphere of the Stanley Street Fitness Center.

"Traditional gyms can be intimidating," says Judy Welch, Coordinator of Vocational Services at Hilltop.  "Some of the people working out can make you feel like you don't know what you're doing, and some people just hog the machines.  Those pressures don't exist at the Stanley Street gym.  People are encouraging of each other."

Hilltop Case Manager Crik Christophel agrees. 

"I was reluctant to go because I had never been to a gym, and I had no knowledge of how to run on a treadmill," says Crik, who gave the gym a try because it is on her way home to Nunda.  "I always had this picture of people decked out in special gym clothes.  It wasn't that way at all.  It's low key and relaxed."

Crik now goes to the Stanley Street Fitness Center about three times a week, and has even taken advantage of Gary's personal training expertise.

"I feel good after I leave," she says.  "The time goes fast.  I look forward to going, which surprises me."

Hilltop Office Manager Sally Urbonas, who previously worked at the Wyoming County YMCA, oversees operations at the Stanley Street Fitness Center.  The facility is staffed by participants in The Arc's Supported Employment program, creating jobs for people we serve.  In their positions as Fitness Center Attendants, their duties and responsibilities include opening and closing the facility, ensuring that users sign in and out, facility walk-throughs, and keeping the equipment clean.

Uptown Day Habilitation program participants have also enriched the gym, by creating motivational signs that are hung throughout the facility.  The posters were made with input and guidance from Life Skills Assistant Kristine Burdick, a regular user of the Fitness Center who also donated two televisions to help enhance the cardio and free weight areas.  Plans are to add DVD capabilities to play instructional videos for small group workouts.

"I'm just super excited that the agency is providing this," says Kristine, who was bitten by the fitness bug since embarking on her own weight loss journey.  Kristine lost 110 pounds from her peak weight of about 250 pounds, and has kept the weight off for about two years.

The Arc Wellness Committee is looking into adding new offerings at the Stanley Street Fitness Center in 2014.  Some of the possibilities include cardio kickboxing and/or Zumba sessions, Wellness Committee Chair Christa Hartigan says.

Whatever your preferred means of exercise, an important key to success is a smart, dedicated attitude — advice that applies whether you're an elite athlete or a first-time user of The Arc's Stanley Street Fitness Center.

"What you need to do is build a strong foundation, like you're building a house," Gary says.  "If you're not already used to exercise, then you should take it slow.  You need to learn the equipment to get the most out of it. Then you can advance to the next level, including adding new machines."

Questions or comments about the Stanley Street Fitness Center?  Contact Sally at 658-3311 ext. 255 or surbonas@

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NYSARC Grant Keeps L-W Arc Dancing All Year Round

Program participants at The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming took to the dance floor all throughout 2013 for a series of special-occasion celebrations that were made possible with financial help from NYSARC Trust Services.

NYSARC Trust Services is part of The Arc's state organization, NYSARC. In 2013, its Trustees authorized a $6,000 grant to the Livingston-Wyoming Chapter for the exclusive purpose of funding Chapter recreational opportunities. 

The money allowed the Chapter to offset the costs of Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, and Semi-formal dances, as well as a Bowling Banquet for individuals with disabilities throughout its service area.  On average, 110 people were in attendance at each event.

"Many of the folks didn't have the opportunity to do things like these when they were in high school. Now, with the help of NYSARC Trust Services, they've been able to take part in dances, banquets, and other social activities with their friends and peers," says Cathy Sullivan, The Arc's Day, Community and Intake Services Coordinator.

The Arc is a private, not-for-profit agency with various programs to benefit people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. According to Ms. Sullivan, the NYSARC Trust Services grant-funded recreational activities were open to a wide cross-section of program participants, including those who reside in Arc-operated homes and those who live independently in the community.

The activities kicked off with a Valentine's Dance on February 9th, followed by a St. Patrick's Day Dance on March 9th, a banquet for participants in The Arc's popular Bowling program on May 23rd, and a prom-style Semi-formal on June 29th.  Capping off the use of grant funding in "spooktacular" fashion was a Halloween costume bash on October 26th.  The events were held at the Moose Lodge in Dansville, NY.

"The grant allowed our recreation team to provide a year-long calendar of entertainment for a low cost to participants," Ms. Sullivan says, noting that the money was used toward food, building rental, and disc jockey services.  "We were able to offer the Semi-formal dance at no cost and the others at a very low admission price."

About NYSARC Trust Services   
The Trustees of the NYSARC Trusts provided The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming with a $6,000 grant to support recreational opportunities for Chapter consumers.  The Chapter used this grant to hold a series of dances and banquets.  The NYSARC Trusts administer supplemental needs trusts that enable people who have disabilities to remain in their home and community and retain their Medicaid eligible services. The Trustees utilize remainder funds to benefit other persons with disabilities including unfunded Chapter guardianship programs as provided by statute.  In addition to the recreation grant, the Trustees awarded $1,225,500 to support Chapter Guardianship programs. Information on how you may benefit from a NYSARC Trust is available by calling 518-439-8323 or 1-800-735-8924 or at

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Big Start for Little Library: Community Unites in Local Literacy Movement

Our region's newest library won't enforce due dates or rely on late fees.  After all, it will operate with extremely low overhead.

18 inches, to be exact.
The Little Free Library construction crew (L-R):
Keshequa Central School's Joseph Bennett, Bradley Bennett,
Phil Giambra, Austin Schmidt, Kylee Martindale,

and Woodworking/Rustic Furniture Teacher Jim Myers.

Friday, December 6th will see the public unveiling of this area's newest Little Free Library, a handmade miniature schoolhouse measuring 23- by 25- by 18-inches high.  The structure will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the general public to "take a book, leave a book," according to Sarah Matthews, Children's Librarian at Wadsworth Library in Geneseo.

"The goals are to share literacy materials for free with the community, and to reach people who are either not able to come to the library, or would not choose to come to the library," she says.  "We want to be able to provide — especially for children — early literacy materials right at their school."

The Little Free Library is a joint venture between the Wadsworth Library and KidStart, the children's services program of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.  It will be mounted on a post located just outside of KidStart's Lehman Building, at 5871 Groveland Station Road in Groveland.

Little Free Libraries are a national and worldwide movement that offers free books housed in small containers to members of local communities.  The idea was popularized in Hudson, WI when Todd Bol erected a wooden container designed to look like a schoolhouse outside his home as a tribute to his mother, who was a school teacher and book lover.

As of January of this year, there were well over 5,000 Little Free Libraries, the closest located in Livonia.

The newest Little Free Library was initiated by KidStart staff and parents.  Head Start Advocate Loni Todisco and parent Laura Rahn were inspired by a news report about the Little Free Library phenomenon.  The duo began stockpiling books, and forged a relationship with Friends of Wadsworth Library to further ensure that their key resource wouldn't dry up.  Todisco's co-worker Lisa Faulds connected the team with Nunda Lumber owner Dana Russell, who donated wood to be used for the frame of the yet-unbuilt library.

"I am an avid reader, and I have been since I was a little girl," Faulds says.  "So for me, it is really important to do whatever we can to get the community involved, try to encourage reading, and show just how much fun it is when you give it a try."

Constructing a library from the ground up — even a "Little" one — requires big effort.  So Faulds turned to Keshequa Central School teacher Jim Myers for his woodworking expertise.  To her delight, the woodworking/rustic furniture teacher and a group of his 10th grade students volunteered to build the library at no cost, for the love of literacy.

"I have a favorite t-shirt — none of my current students have seen me wear it because I've worn it out — and it says, 'When all else fails, read the instructions.' Another way to say that is 'Before we fail, read.'  That's a good saying that I believe in," Myers explains.  "For example, I write instructions on the board quite a bit, and the reason I do that is to get everybody to read more instead of just asking, 'What do I do next?'  Reading is very important."

Building the Little Free Library was a six-week process that allowed students to apply techniques learned in Myers' classroom, and to test new skills.  Working from a basic frame that they constructed from the donated lumber, the students crafted windows, a sloped roof, horizontal siding, weatherproofing, and various finishing touches, including a tiny bell tower.

"Pro-environment" joined "pro-literacy" on the students' list of priorities while building the schoolhouse.  The finished structure is made up of approximately 50 percent reclaimed materials, according to Myers.

"That's called 'going green,' and it's right up our alley," Myers says.  "Even before we took on this project, our students were tearing discarded pallets apart to reclaim wood for the rustic furniture building and the woodworking that we do.  Trees are just too important to our ecosystem.  If we can take pallets that would normally probably be thrown in a dump somewhere, and put that wood to good use, we can make a big difference in this world."

Myers and his students will be on hand to unveil the mini-library at an 11:00am ribbon cutting on December 6th.  Beginning then, the resource will be open to the community at all times, with an ever-changing inventory of books.

Initial offerings will mostly be children's materials, with a focus on birth through grade 8.  But young adult and adult books are also welcome, organizers say.

Exactly which types and titles of books visitors will find in the Little Free Library at any given time is anyone's guess — but that's all part of the fun, Matthews says.

"Our goal, of course, is that it will be self-sustainable, and as people borrow materials they will leave a book for others," she says.  "But at the same time, we really just want to be reaching people."

For those involved with this Little Free Library, a single, time-honored adage applies: Good things come in small packages.

"You know, this is called a 'Little' Free Library but it has a very large impact on who it is going to affect," Myers says.  "This local effort is  part of a national project; it's all around our country.  We're part of a revolution!"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Arc Enrichment Presents "The Thanksgiving Visitor"

Join The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Enrichment Program on Saturday, November 23rd for their performance of Truman Capote's "The Thanksgiving Visitor" at Theatre 101, 101 Main Street in Mount Morris.  Performances are at 2:00pm and 5:00pm.  Advance tickets are $5.00 each at Arc Administration (18 Main Street, Mount Morris), Hilltop Industries (3 East State Street, Mount Morris), Arc Day Habilitation (21 Chapel Street, Mount Morris), and the theatre.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Arc Breakfast with Santa is December 7

Saint Nick will pull double duty on Saturday, December 7th at The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's "Breakfast With Santa," to be held at KidStart, 5871 Groveland Station Road in Mt. Morris.

The festive family event includes two sessions: children 12 and younger can dine with Santa at 8:30 am, while older kids and adults with disabilities can visit with old Kris Kringle at 10:30 am.

Both sessions will include food and drink, crafts, face-painting, caroling, and individual visits with Santa Claus.

Breakfast with Santa is free and open to the public.  Children must be accompanied by a parent or other adult guardian.  Families are encouraged to donate a non-perishable food item to benefit local families in need through The Arc's holiday food drive.

Reserve your spot by contacting Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Public Relations Coordinator Tina Sick at (585) 658-2828 or by Friday, November 22nd.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Win Two Tickets to Syracuse vs. Pitt November 23rd

Get your raffle tickets today... just $5 per chance.  Only 100 tickets will be sold.  Drawing is November 15th.  Contact Jeff Thomas at (585) 658-2828 ext. 128 or  All proceeds benefit The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Evan Pirrello turns personal passion into employment

With help from Hilltop Industries, 23-year-old Evan Pirrello has turned a long-time interest into a budding career at Wegmans Food Markets, consistently ranked among Fortune magazine's "Best Companies to Work For."

"When I was in high school, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted as a job, but I knew that I wanted to do something with the environment," Evan says, during a chat at Wegmans' Geneseo store, where he has worked since August.  "I was interested in the environment and environmental science.  Now, I work in recycling."

Evan works 20-30 hours a week overseeing the supermarket's bottle and can redemption room, which houses several automated machines into which customers feed their recyclable containers.  These recyclables are automatically counted and collected into large bins located in a work area behind the redemption room.  Evan empties the bins when they fill up, and takes the bottles and crushed cans to the back of the store where they are ultimately delivered to a recycling facility.  He's also charged with keeping the customer and staff areas clean and stocked with supplies such as paper towels, soap, hand sanitizer, and trash bags.

"I think Evan is a very responsible and conscientious worker," says Sally Witter, one of two full-time employees who oversees the Wegmans service desk.  "He's always on time, and he's friendly and easy to work with.  Evan always sees that the bottle area is taken care of before he leaves or goes on break."

For Evan, the road to community employment began in 2007, at the Hilltop work center in East Avon, where he worked summer jobs as a high school student.  At the facility, Evan worked alongside other individuals with disabilities as they soldered components for Star Headlight & Lantern Co., a manufacturer of emergency vehicle safety lighting.

In 2009, Evan made the transition to college.  He attended Genesee Community College with financial and moral support from New York State's Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) program.  With guidance from counselor Rodney Evans, Evan maintained an overall grade point average of 3.6, while studying cultural anthropology, human diversity, and meteorology, among other courses.  Evan continued to work part time throughout his 2 1/2 year term at GCC.

After graduation, Evan enrolled in Hilltop's Work Readiness program, which combines workshops on job interviewing and resume writing with tours of prominent local businesses.  To further his marketability, Evan also spent about three months working at Hilltop's own bottle and can redemption center in Mount Morris, sorting recyclables by hand and honing his service skills.  When the opportunity to interview at Wegmans arose, Evan was ready.

"He just nailed the interview," says Hilltop Job Developer Roxanne Adamson, of the Job Readiness program.  "I smile when I think of it, because he was almost too good.  Evan had studied all of the right materials.  He knew the year that Wegmans was number one on the Fortune magazine list, and all of the years that they were in the top 10.  It was like a commercial for Wegmans.  I wish that we could have taped it."

Today, Evan is a largely independent worker.  Bob Haslett, a Hilltop Job Coach, joins Evan about twice a month, and keeps in touch with his supervisors.  But Evan routinely drives to-and-from work from his home in Nunda, and goes about his daily duties at Wegmans in exactly the same manner as his non-disabled peers.

"At first I was pretty nervous.  I didn't know quite what to expect," Evan says. "Now, I think that I like the customers the best.   At Hilltop, I got to interact with my co-workers; here, it's more customer-focused.  Customers will ask me where a particular bottle goes, or what happens to their bottles after they put them in the machine.  I like to help them."

What's next for this over achiever?  "I'd like to venture off into different departments," Evan says, of his goals at Wegmans — and he's not afraid to do some heavy lifting to get there.

"Later this month, I'm taking a class at BOCES in Mount Morris to get my forklift certification," he says. "That opens up a lot more possibilities."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Harvest Fest 2013 is October 16 -- Get Your Tickets Today

Join us for Harvest Fest 2013, a one-of-a-kind Wyoming County culinary extravaganza, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday,October 16 at the American Legion Hall in Warsaw Village Park. More than just a food tasting event, Harvest Fest will connect local growers with area chefs to create delicious dishes that celebrate Wyoming County "from field to table."

For one low cost, attendees will be able to sample delicious dishes prepared with the best locally grown, farm-fresh ingredients in a fun and lively farm-market atmosphere that also includes live music, children's games, pumpkin painting, a gun raffle, 50/50 raffle, and more. All ticket sales will benefit The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming and the Wyoming County Business Education Council.

"With Harvest Fest, local restaurants, farms, caterers, and other vendors will come together in celebration of the harvest, and share their unique products and talents with the community," says BEC Executive Director Linda Leblond. "The event will showcase the power and diversity of our local resources, and promote togetherness throughout Wyoming County."

Tickets are just $10 each or $25 for a family of four.  Call Tina at (585) 658-2828 x133 or purchase online at !

Monday, August 12, 2013

Arc Earns Blue Ribbon at Pike Fair

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming has earned a Commercial Exhibit blue ribbon Award of Excellence at the 2013 Wyoming County Fair in Pike, NY.  Pictured with the prestigious award are Arc Board President Marcy VanZandt (left) and Immediate Past President Cheryl Englert.  If you're in Pike, be sure to check us out at the Fair through Saturday, August 17th!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Local Artists Ready to "Rock" for KidStart, Livingston Arts August 15

With chairs as their canvases and everything from paint brushes to power tools as their instruments, more than 20 local artists are "Rockin' the Arts" to raise visibility and funds for two needed local not-for-profit agencies.

James Link's chainsaw-carved chair
will be one of more than 20 pieces at
the Rockin' the Arts auction and gala.
The artists' work will be front-and-center on Thursday, August 15 at the historic Sweet Briar estate in Geneseo for the first annual Rockin' the Arts gala to benefit Livingston Arts and KidStart, The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's children's services program. As the evening's main attraction, their treasury of one-of-a-kind up-cycled and handmade chairs will be available to the highest bidders during the inaugural "Rockin' Art Chair Auction."

"I like being challenged with a specific theme for an artistic concept, and a chair also relates to my business," says Greg Johnson, of Johnson Family Restoration, one of the participating artists. "I know this is a way of showing the public some of what I do and of course the fundraiser is for a very good cause."

Greg's chair, which he has dubbed "Little Gold Windsor," fits the event by incorporating themes of art and childhood – with a playful twist on the latter.

"A child-size Windsor chair will be completely gilded with 23.5-karat gold leaf. The contradiction is a style of chair that has always been viewed as utilitarian – a seat for everybody, affordable to the masses – finished with the world's most precious metal, usually reserved only for royalty," he says, adding slyly, "Would you let your kid sit on it?"

Another distinctive contribution is an adjustable seat by James Link, of Carvings by Link, that recalls the classic winged logo of the rock band Aerosmith. The fine details of the feathers reveal themselves to be even more striking when you consider Link's medium; the piece was carved entirely by chainsaw.

Jeff Swift, a skilled metal craftsman and owner of Swift Custom Metal, also sees Rockin' the Arts as an appropriate venue to push the boundaries of his craft.

"For the auction, I wanted to build a prototype chair that was incredibly unique," he says. "The chair and matching light pendant I am submitting is one that I've been meaning to build for many years. It is technically, from a metal working standpoint, a very difficult piece to make. But I see this event as a nice opportunity to finally produce it and give it a chance at a home where it will be possibly a modern heirloom for someone to love and for a community that I'm grateful to be tethered to by many posts."

Others contributing one-of-a-kind chairs to the Rockin' the Arts gala and auction include Kathi Blaise, Patrice Case, Briana Coogan-Bassett, Cindy Costa, Derek Crocker, Rebecca Crocker, Roy Grisewood, Betsy Hoefen, Neena Johnson, Jim Jones, Lagom Landing, Kim Binaghi Lee, Mary Lee and Reggie Page, Maria Lombardo, Louise Michaud, James Myers, Cheri Natoli and Ken Richardson, Needles at Noon, Lauren Premo, Kala Stein, Sally Taylor, Julia Walker, and Matt Wurtenburg.

Proceeds from the auction and ticket sales for the event will be divided equally between Livingston Arts and KidStart. Livingston Arts enriches life in Livingston County by encouraging and promoting the arts and cultural activities. KidStart's special services, day care, and Head Start programs are unique because they serve children both with and without disabilities in an integrated setting.

Rockin' the Arts begins at 6:30pm with an auction preview, followed by hors d'oeuvres at 7:00pm. Bidding will commence at 8:00pm, and the auction will be followed by a concert by local favorites Flying Boxcar.

Attendance is limited, and tickets are on sale now for $35.00 each. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For details, visit or call Livingston Arts at (585) 243-6785.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Hive is Alive!

After a year of silence, the buzz was back with a vengeance as The Arc-Hives (John Prospero, "Queen Bee" Katie Tobin, and Team Captain Cameron Gayford) delivered a honey of a performance at the Catholic Charities Spelling Bee.  The trio made it past "electoral," "mozzarella," "conjecture," "precocious," and "meticulous" before being tripped up by "triumvirate," a word that means a regime dominated by three powerful individuals.  Our own triumvirate vows to sting the competition again at next year's Bee!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chart Topper: Hilltop's Ken James overcomes challenges to become top performer

Ken James keeps a copy of Billboard magazine with him as he works alongside peers putting together instruction materials for Crossman air guns at Hilltop Industries' work center in Mount Morris, NY.

Hilltop Habilitation Coordinator Ellen Friedler, who has known Ken for more than a quarter century, describes the music magazine as "Ken's bible."  Ken has superb recall of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  Since its inception in 1958, the Hot 100 has had more than 1,000 different number-one hits; Ken can identify most every song and artist, often with its record label and the date that the single hit the charts. 

While Ken is mainly quiet and introverted, he is cordial and engaged as he imparts his knowledge when asked.  Today, Ken discusses "Groove is in the Heart," a song by the dance band "Deee-Lite" that hit number 4 in 1990.  It's a commonplace workplace conversation -- but one that Ellen could only dream of 25 years ago.

"As a worker, he has always been amazing," Ellen recalls, of her early interactions with Ken.  "But he would suffer from rigid, violent behaviors.  The most injured that I ever was at work was by Ken.  He struck me on the back of my neck with his fists."

Ken, who is now 48 years old, is a tall, solidly built man with a dual diagnosis of autism and an intellectual disability.  For more than half of his life, he has worked at Hilltop Industries, a program of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming that provides gainful employment to people with disabilities.  As is typical for many individuals with an autism diagnosis, Ken has struggled with behavioral issues triggered by environmental stimuli such as noises or confusion regarding his routine.

When Ellen met Ken in the late 1980s, he was unable to work alongside his peers for concern of violent outbursts.  He also suffered from tardive dyskinesia, a difficult-to-treat condition caused by taking certain medications over time that results in a severely slouched posture and involuntary, repetitive body movements.  She became part of a team with a long-term goal to help Ken address his various challenges.

"We were all committed, but we were holding our breath," she says. "It wasn't like we waved a magic wand and -- 'poof'-- everything was fine.  It was a slow process."

Ken's circle of support included staff members from work and at home.  In 1988, he had moved from a large institution at Craig Colony into his first community placement, the Walnut IRA (Individualized Residential Alternative), a New York State-operated home in Nunda.  IRA staff joined forces with Case Manager Judy Welch, other Hilltop staff, and Ken's transportation providers to establish consistent guidelines regarding hitting and touching, and maintain a log book with Ken's behaviors.

Ken's staff developed a thorough rules/rewards system, which was the accepted method at the time.  The rules were communicated verbally, through illustrations, and printed word, as Ken is a better-than-average reader.

As his behavioral issues were being addressed, so were his health concerns.  Adjustments to his medication regimen eventually counteracted the effects of his tardive dyskinesia.

"Ken's success during that time was truly a result of teamwork," Ellen says. 

In 1997, Ellen left her job at Hilltop Industries to raise her daughter.  In 2007, she returned to the agency, and to an emotional reunion with Ken. 

"I almost cried," Ellen says.  "You could shake his hand, touch him on the shoulder, and talk to him off topic. Ken has always been well liked, and now everyone who knows him can interact with him more."

Joey Bonavita has worked with Ken for almost two decades, and is currently Ken's Case Manager.  He shares Ken's passion for music; Joey is a musician whose projects include The Hogs and The Mental Detectors.

"Sometimes he'll put on a song for me," Joey says.  Ken is known for wearing headphones as he works.  He often listens to Prince, Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross, and other favorites stored on his iPod.  Other times, he chooses the radio interface; although reception is poor at the work center, it doesn't bother Ken.

"There are times when Ken is just listening to static, but it has a soothing effect as he works," Joey says. "And his hearing is incredible.  Even with the headphones on, he hears everything that goes on around him."

While the soundtrack to his day might be considered unconventional, it provides a template for success.  Ken is among Hilltop's most productive employees.  He works at a steady, rapid pace five days a week, from 8:30am until 3:30pm, stopping only for a half-hour lunch and two 15 minute breaks.  Because he is paid by the piece, this allows Ken to earn "a very good paycheck," according to Joey.

"Literally, it's like he's half man, half machine when he's working," he explains. "He will put together up to 2,000 pieces in a day, which is double the productivity of most people."  He adds that Ken is self-motivated, and that staff no longer uses a rewards system.  Ken occasionally treats himself to an oatmeal cream pie from the snack machine, or to his favorite lunch: a chicken sandwich, potato chips, and apple juice.

And the violent outbursts have come to an end.

"I think Ken is a prime example of a person who has benefited tremendously from a work center," Hilltop Director Kellie Kennedy says. "Ken has been given the opportunity to use his skills to be very productive in his work while learning how to self manage his behavior over the course of many years. The work center allows Ken to be himself in an environment that is comfortable to him, and to work to his potential."

Having already met so many of life's challenges, Ken's current goals include managing his own money when making purchases in the community.  He has the math skills to do it.  According to Joey, Ken can complete complicated  problems in his head, including multiplication of three- and four-digit numbers.

Discovering, nurturing, and bringing to light Ken's talents has been "a gift," according to Ellen.  And Ken's prospects for the future could only be described as "Deee-liteful."

"He'll look at you sometimes, and it's like a compliment that he's taking you in," Ellen says.  "He looks like a giant teddy bear, and now he is one."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Congressman Chris Collins Meets with Arc Representatives

Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Board Treasurer Lyle Lehman (left) and Executive Director Chris Peterson (right) met with Congressman Chris Collins in Washington, DC on Monday, April 15th.  Collins represents New York's 27th Congressional District, which includes all of Livingston, Wyoming, Orleans, and Genesee counties and parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario counties.

"Mr. Collins expressed an interest in visiting our agency and was supportive of our message," Mr. Peterson says.

Dr. Lehman and Mr. Peterson were in the nation's capital for the National Disability Policy Seminar, which is the premier policy gathering for people and groups with an interest in federal policy that relates to services for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.  The national Arc is one of the Advocacy organizations that helps to coordinate, and participates in, the annual conference.  The seminar had an overall attendance of 695 people.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A GREAT Day for Students with Disabilities

Tuesday, April 16th was a GREAT Day for inclusion on the SUNY Geneseo campus, as about two dozen young people with disabilities shared their aspirations and accomplishments to an audience of faculty, family, and peers.
Kneeling, L to R:  John Feidner, Melissa Price,
Jewley Spencer, Matt Klein, Patrick Chmela, Keith Holmes.
Standing, L to R:  Andrew Sass, Jenna Diskin, Krista Coburn,
Tyler Bush, Robert Maplesden, Jonathan Kee,
Elimary Vazquez, Fred Young, Mariely Vazquez,
Chris Scheib, Emily Cook, Lauren Daly, Bea Rhodes.

The students, who are enrolled in a college-recognized program called LIVES (Learn Independence, Vocational, and Educational Skills), related their experiences working alongside non-disabled peers and preparing for life after graduation to a near-capacity audience in Newton Hall.  The presentation was part of Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent (GREAT) Day, a college-wide symposium celebrating students' creative and scholarly endeavors.

The LIVES Program is an educational and vocational initiative for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.  It is funded through a collaborative partnership with the college, Hilltop Industries (a division of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming), Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP), and Finger Lakes Developmental Disabilities Services Office.
Dustin Fredericy

LIVES students follow the same four-year structure as their traditional counterparts.  Their GREAT Day presentation was divided into four sections that illustrated students' growth from their Freshman through Senior years.

Freshmen presented "Comparing Strengths and Struggles with Geneseo Students," which contrasted everyday challenges for students with disabilities to those of their non-disabled peers.  Second year students focused on the skills are required to be a productive student, drawing from their experiences auditing college courses and taking part in internships.  Juniors explored "What the Future Holds: Looking at Life After Graduation," where students discussed how internships at the campus library, dining hall, bookstore, and fitness center are helping them to prepare for the work world.

John Feidner
Representing the LIVES Senior class, Jewley Spencer discussed what it takes to be an effective role model, drawing from her own educational and social growth through the LIVES Program.  After her 10-minute talk, Jewley presented a bouquet of flowers to Dr. Elizabeth Hall, a SUNY Geneseo faculty member who established the LIVES program five years ago, and has served as a role model for the group.

Following the large session, a smaller group of LIVES students headed to the MacVittie College Union, where they conducted mini-presentations that focused on their personal passions.  John Feidner's topic was technology, Ellen Beinsheim discussed heart surgery, Andrew MacDonald tackled speech therapy, Tyler Gerace spoke about hair loss from the medical condition Alopecia, and Dustin Fredericy discussed the hidden intricacies of professional wrestling.

For more information on the LIVES Program, visit

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mills, Hammond Earn Arc Foundation Scholarships

Congratulations to Jessica Hammond, of Wyoming, and Anne Mills, of Geneseo, The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Foundation's 2013 scholarship winners.

Anne Mills (left) and Jessica Hammond
Each year, The Arc Foundation celebrates the commitment of young people toward people with disabilities by awarding scholarships of $2,000 each to graduating high school seniors from Wyoming and Livingston Counties. 

Pavilion High School's Jessica Hammond intends to pursue a career as a special education teacher. "I plan on getting my master's in special education," she explains.  "It is my hope to work with both physically and mentally challenged students in some sort of school setting."

Throughout high school, Jessica has participated in soccer, basketball, softball, National Honor Society, chorus, and Girls Service League.  In the community, she is active in her church, and was a team captain for the Walk Now for Autism Speaks fundraising event.

"My cousin is just one of the 1 million Americans living with Autism today," she says.  "(He) inspired me to become a special education teacher because of the changes I have seen in him in the past few years.  I hope to go into this field and help to positively change the lives of children with physical/mental disorders, because they too deserve the chance to become fully functional members of society."

Geneseo High School's Anne Mills' goal is to teach special education in an inclusive environment.  "My career plans include being an inclusive education teacher either in a school setting, hospital, or nursing home," she explains.  "(I would like to) help people with developmental disabilities by providing a safe and stimulating environment for them to live and grow in."

Anne has been active in Girl Scouts, Student Council, volleyball, track & field, cheerleading, and Valley School of Dance.  She is a recipient of the Elite Athlete Award and "Triple C" Award for Courage, Commitment, and Character.

Anne has volunteer experience with her church, Strong Memorial Hospital, Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse (CASA), Together Including Every Student (TIES), and the National Down Syndrome Buddy Walk.  In 2010 and 2012, she was a Special Education Intern at Geneseo Elementary School.

"I've always put the people I am working with first," she says.  "The relationships that I form with these students is the most rewarding.  The smiles that I receive make all of my volunteering and time spent worthwhile."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Gives Back to Local Kids

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming participated in NYSARC's President's Project Week to give back to local communities March 25th through March 31st with an agency-wide "Food for Families" drive that benefits Livingston County Head Start.  The chapter collected about 150 healthy food items that will be distributed to area children. 

Brandon Pepin, Mary Tuso, Heather Bump, Juan Padilla,
Mark Hathaway, Chris Peterson, and Deb Tuckerman
give back through The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's
"Food for Families" drive.
Head Start is a is a nation-wide program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to children and families based on financial need.  Locally, Livingston County Head Start serves 71 three- and four-year-old children.

Preparation for the food drive began in February at KidStart, The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's children's services program, where the Food for Families Committee identified 12 key foods to be collected for Head Start families.  Next, each of 10 Arc locations focused on collecting 1-2 of the designated items.  For example, peanut butter and jelly were collected at KidStart, spaghetti and sauce at the Hilltop Industries work center in Mount Morris, and macaroni and cheese at Hilltop's East Avon location.

Staff and program participants pitched in throughout the month of March, and particularly stepped up their efforts during President's Project Week, which is when the greatest number of donations were made.

"We collected oatmeal at our administration building," explains Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas.  "Donations were slow and steady for the first three weeks.  Then on Monday, March 25th employees suddenly stepped up with about 25 pounds in one day.  That's a lot of oatmeal, and every item collected is a small but important step in ending hunger in this area."

Items collected included oatmeal (28 boxes), peanut butter (28 jars), jelly/jam (24 jars), macaroni & cheese (15 boxes), canned spaghetti products (13 cans), boxed pasta (11 boxes), granola bars (7 boxes), popcorn (5 boxes), and spaghetti sauce (3 jars). Cereal, soup, and pudding/fruit cups were also collected.

KidStart staff will distribute the food to Livingston County Head Start families from their Lehman Building in Groveland, located in the center of Livingston County.

The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming is one of 55 Chapters of NYSARC, a state-wide organization supporting approximately 60,000 people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families.  President's Project Week is an annual initiative by the state organization to collectively conduct volunteer programs during a single week, sending a resounding message about NYSARC Chapters' deeply rooted connections to their communities.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Arc Thrift Store Finds New Home, Grand Opening is April 8

Area bargain hunters will have a new destination this spring when The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's Finders Keepers thrift shop reopens at its new location on the corner of Main and State Streets in Mount Morris.

Finders Keepers' Crystal Smith
packs for the big move.
The Arc will hold a grand reopening at 10:00am Monday, April 8 at Finders Keepers' new store at 47 Main Street, Mount Morris.  Previously located at 86 Main Street, Finders Keepers is part of The Arc's Hilltop Industries business services program, and employs approximately 10 individuals with developmental disabilities in customer service, inventory, and maintenance positions.  

The 3,500 square foot showroom in the former NAPA store features new customer amenities such as off-street parking, better wheelchair access, and an open concept floor plan for clutter-free shopping.  Store workers' independence is also improved by the store's proximity to Hilltop's main hub at 3 State Street, which is now just a short walk away.

"The new location has a lot to offer," says Judy Welch, Hilltop's Coordinator of Vocational Services.  "Its parking area makes it easier to load large items and accept donations.  And we are in the heart of Mount Morris' 'antique row,' alongside other great shops as part of this community's unique, collaborative shopping experience."

Angie Sutton helps prepare the
new Finders Keepers store.
To celebrate the store reopening, all items will be discounted by 10 percent on April 8 only, and the first 20 customers will each receive a $5 gift certificate.  Local officials will join workers and staff for the festivities, and refreshments will be served.

An official ribbon cutting will commence shortly after 10:00am, led by Finders Keepers worker Barney Pedraza, who recently earned a Bronze Medal for Alpine Skiing at the 2013 Special Olympics World Games in South Korea.

Finders Keepers sells gently used furniture, small appliances, clothing, home decorations, holiday items, books, and sporting goods, with new items arriving daily.  All proceeds are used to enhance work programs for people with disabilities in the local area through The Arc, a 501(c)(3) private, not-for-profit agency.  For sales, coupons, and store news, visit

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Proclaimed Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Livingston, Wyoming Counties

All eyes were on Ian Coyle Thursday, March 14th at Hilltop Industries' production facility in Mount Morris, as the County Administrator delivered an official proclamation that marks March 2013 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Livingston County. 

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.  At its Tuesday, March 12th meeting, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors accepted a similar proclamation by unanimous vote.

Leadership Livingston
"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. Coyle said, to a roar of applause throughout Hilltop's shop floor.

Hilltop Industries is the business services branch of The Arc.  The Hilltop program meets the needs of about 350 people with disabilities annually through day habilitation and work programs, including community employment and work centers.  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.

Barney Pedraza
Wyoming County's proclamation, signed by Board of Supervisors Chairman A. D. Berwanger, reads in part, "Every person, regardless of their abilities, has valuable strengths, infinite capacity to learn, and can be productive, contributing members of their communities.  Celebrating the abilities and contributions of people with developmental disabilities can only serve to enrich the communities of Wyoming County."

Bringing the proclamation's words to life was Special Olympian Barney Pedraza, a Warsaw native who works at Finders Keepers, The Arc's thrift store in Mount Morris.  The Board of Supervisors honored Mr. Pedraza with a Certificate of Recognition for earning a Bronze Medal in Alpine Skiing  for Team USA at the recent Special Olympics World Games in South Korea.  Mr. Pedraza's mother, Beverly, was present for her son's recognition.

Also representing The Arc at the Board of Supervisors were Arc Board Members Eric Parker and Marcy VanZandt and Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas,

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.
Wyoming County Proclamation
Livingston County Proclamation

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Local Skier Captures Bronze at Special Olympics World Games

Warsaw native Barney Pedraza took a rare day off from his job at Mount Morris' Finders Keepers thrift shop this February, to recuperate from a whirlwind trip to PyeongChang, South Korea where he captured a Bronze Medal in skiing at the Special Olympics World Winter Games.

"I got home on Saturday (February 9th), and I returned to work on Tuesday," says Barney, age 36, who assists with deliveries, pickups, and general upkeep at the store, which is operated by Hilltop Industries, The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's business services program. "I had to stay home to catch up on my sleep."

Back to work, Barney proudly wears his medal draped around his neck as he performs his duties at the store, which provides meaningful job opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities.  He earned it in the Alpine Advanced Slalom competition, a form of downhill skiing that involves a vertical drop measuring 60-200 meters over terrain classified as "intermediate."

After finishing in 4th and then 5th place during heats held earlier in the competition, Barney scored his Bronze Medal on Tuesday, February 5th, the last day of the Games.  He clocked a time of 1 minute, 44.90 seconds, helping Team USA to sweep the race.  Barney's teammates Stephen Lynn and Matthew Krippel won Gold and Silver Medals, respectively.

While they were competitors on the slopes, Barney says that there was always a genuine sense of camaraderie among members of Team USA.

"I spent most of my time with other members of Team USA," Barney says.  "I made a lot of friends from all different states.  I was proud to be part of the team."

Prior to arriving in PyeongChang, Barney and his coach, Martha Pachuta, had the opportunity to bond with Team USA athletes on American soil.  On Thursday, January 24, all 213 members of the team gathered in Los Angeles for a special send-off ceremony at the Crowne Plaza before leaving for their two-week journey to South Korea the following day. 

Once in PyeongChang, a winter wonderland located in the Taebaek Mountains region of South Korea, the athletes were paired off as roommates.  They explored the area's sights, culture, and — to Barney's delight — the cuisine, which is largely based upon rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables, and meats, with plenty of side dishes.

"What I liked most about South Korea was the food," Barney says.  "It was a lot different from American food, but I tried a little bit of everything.  I really liked the chicken."

Other highlights included the World Winter Games opening and closing ceremonies, which brought together more than 3,000 athletes and their coaches from over 110 countries.  At the opening ceremony, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Special Olympics International Chairman Timothy Shriver jointly kicked off the Games.

"That was good," Barney explained.  "The opening ceremony had a lot of people dancing.  And at the closing ceremony, we swapped jackets with athletes from other countries." 

Barney traded coats with an athlete from Russia, and today the jacket keeps him warm as he shovels snow from the sidewalk by Finders Keepers' Main Street storefront.  Always at home in the snow, Barney tackles the task-at-hand with the winning attitude of a world class athlete, as he reflects on his recent Olympic glory.

"I had a great time in South Korea," he says, adding with a smile, "They've got a lot more snow than us."

Monday, February 11, 2013

From Scrap Yard to Success: Hilltop's Ferrainolo Honored as "Outstanding Performer"

Fred Ferrainolo learned his first life lessons at a Springwater, NY junkyard, helping to dismantle wrecked vehicles and separate the usable parts from scrap metal.

"When I was 10 years old, my step dad taught me the junk business, how to make money at it, and the value of working hard every day," Fred says.  "Ever since then, I have always worked."

Fred Ferrainolo by the "potato line," where he inspected and
bagged potatoes for the New York State Department of
Corrections and Community Supervision, his first job at Hilltop.
Now 56, Fred works at Hilltop Industries, The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's business services program in Mount Morris, NY. 

Five days a week, Fred is part of a team of workers with disabilities that inspects and bags dry beans as they move down an assembly line.  The beans, which arrive at Hilltop in 100-pound burlap sacks, are sorted into 50-pound bags as part of a contract  between Hilltop and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS).  Fred's finished work is sent to Rome, NY where the beans are cooked and distributed to correctional institutions.

Fred was recently recognized for his work as an "Outstanding Performer" by New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID), as part of their annual William B. Joslin Awards.  NYSID is a not-for-profit agency that connects hundreds of private sector businesses to thousands of skilled people with disabilities in programs like Hilltop, and the Joslin Award is their most prestigious people-centered award.  Each year, just one Outstanding Performer is honored at each of NYSID's member agencies.

"Fred has faced serious challenges since joining Hilltop in 2001," says Hilltop Director Kellie Kennedy.  "The one constant for Fred has been his work on NYSID contracts and his pride in earning a good paycheck.  Even during times that his mental health deteriorated, it was his work that motivated him to get healthy so he could return to working on the NYSID contracts."

Fred is dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and mental illness.  The two terms are often confused, but are very different. An intellectual disability is a condition where a person has significant difficulties in learning and understanding; mental illness is a disorder that affects feelings and behavior.  So Fred's disability is a life-long condition, while his mental illness requires separate, medical treatment.

While Fred's diagnoses are complex, his work ethic is straightforward, according to Hilltop Group Leader Kim Biondolillo, Fred's staff supervisor since 2005.

"Fred is soft spoken, polite, and gets along with his co-workers.  But what is most impressive about Fred is his willpower," she says.  "His strongest trait is an old-fashioned drive to always do his very best."

You could say that this award winner's road to Hilltop and The Arc was paved with hard work and scrap metal. 

Fresh from his experiences at his stepfather's junkyard, a 20-year-old Fred purchased his own trailer in 1977.  Located on a dirt road just blocks from his family home, the purchase set Fred back $5,000, "including the furniture," he says.  The humble residence would serve not only as his home, but eventually as the base for his own scrap metal business ventures.

"Next, I bought a 1975 Ford pickup from my brother, and began scrapping," Fred says.  "I did that for 15 years." 

As a scrapper, Fred would offer his services to remove metal for people who didn't need it, or needed to get rid of it.  Then he would haul the scrap to a wrecking yard, which would purchase it by the pound.  To help make ends meet, Fred also sold 55-gallon drums that were given to him by the wrecking yard, for use as burn-barrels. 

Eventually, Fred's talents also landed him a job as a handyman at a towing company in South Livonia.  He cut grass, shoveled snow, filled potholes, and helped to keep the garage clean. 

Despite his best efforts, Fred's mental health issues were taking a toll. Seeking additional structure for his life, Fred was referred to The Arc.  He viewed a future at Hilltop Industries with cautious optimism.

"Work is work, and I never complain about work," Fred explains.  "Besides, the (Arc Transportation) bus would pick me up.  I wouldn't have to drive, so I would save money on gas."

Fred's first Hilltop work assignment was on a NYSID contract grading and bagging potatoes for NYSDOCCS. He quickly developed a pride in working on this job, and often boasted about the important work he did supplying potatoes to New York State.

Fred tackled subsequent projects with equal enthusiasm.  In the years that followed, he would assemble spray pumps, pack safety glasses, and bag air gun pellets, before settling into his current assignment on the bean line.

"Fred is often known to share his pride in his job with others by taking burlap bean bags that are being discarded home to share with family and friends," Kellie says.  "Fred will tell you they are very useful for yard work or for storing items; he loves to recycle."

Even as Fred continued to set a positive example for co-workers, he was rocked by a personal tragedy.  In 2006, his mother, Dorothy, succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 74.  Finding himself lost without her grounding presence, Fred turned to Hilltop Industries' sister program, Arc Residential Services, for assistance. 

Arc Residential Services provides safe, secure housing for people with disabilities at 14 Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) throughout Livingston and Wyoming counties.

Today, Fred lives with five other men at The Arc's Warsaw North IRA in Warsaw, NY.  While work continues to be his top priority, he can also be found riding his bike, collecting watches, and bragging about his three grandchildren.  Assisted by a full time staff, Fred is able to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle that even allows him to draw from his experiences as a handyman; he routinely helps neighbors with yard work.

Fred has come a long way from that Springwater junkyard.  But more than four decades after learning life's first lessons there, he hasn't lost sight of the value of hard work.  In fact, he has never paid closer attention to it; Fred routinely works with Warsaw North IRA staff to manage the money he earns at Hilltop—and he has the bank account to show for it.

"It has changed my life," Fred says.  "When I lived by myself, I would just spend all of my money.  Now all my money goes into my checking account.  I have quite a bit saved up."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Arc of L-W Payroll: Which Towns Lead the Pack?

As the area's largest not-for-profit agency providing services to individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming employs about 600 full-time, part-time, and per diem employees.  Our annual payroll of more than $13 million benefits the economies of dozens of local towns and villages.

When that payroll is broken down by county, The Arc benefits the Livingston County economy to the tune of more than $8 million, and Wyoming County at almost $2.7 million.   The remaining $2.3 million goes to employees in neighboring counties, including Steuben, Monroe, and Genesee.

Arc employees are everywhere—but when you break down our payroll by town, which towns lead the pack?  Here is the current "Top Five," based on annual figures for 2012:

Mount Morris .......... $1,629,899
Geneseo .................. $1,406,671
Dansville .................. $1,394,122
Perry ....................... $1,063,279
Nunda ..................... $775,863

Friday, January 11, 2013

Arc Foundation to Award Two $2,000 Scholarships

Each year, The Arc Foundation grants one scholarship each to a graduating Senior from Livingston and Wyoming Counties. Each scholarship is valued at up to $2,000, payable in annual installments of $500.

Scholarships are awarded to students specifically pursuing careers serving persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Examples include teacher of special education, occupational therapy, physical therapy speech pathology, art therapy, music therapy, and training in the direct care field.

Completed and signed applications should be submitted to the attention of Arc PR Director Jeff Thomas by Thursday, February 28th. Scholarship winners will be notified by Monday, March 18th.

Download the 2013 Scholarship Application

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pennies Add Up for Arc Self Advocates

It was raining "Pennies for Heaven" this week at the Geneseo, NY Wegmans, in a unique fundraiser that raised more than $370 for a very special cause supported by The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's Self Advocacy group.

Since October 2012, the Self Advocates' "Pennies for Heaven" project has been raising money one penny at a time toward the purchase of a memory bench to honor friends who have passed away.

Pennies and other coins (along with $42 in bills) were collected in large water cooler bottles located at The Arc's Hilltop Industries program in Mount Morris, NY through Tuesday, January 8, 2013.  The following day, Arc representatives delivered the coins to Wegmans, where supermarket staff counted and sorted them using the store's Coinstar machine.  In a show of generous support for The Arc, Wegmans waived Coinstar's usual 9.8 percent processing fee.

With Pennies for Heaven, the Self Advocates raised $370.85, 58 percent of which was in pennies.  In total, more than 22,700 coins were collected, including a grand total of 21,873 pennies.  Even utilizing the automated Coinstar machine, the money took about 50 minutes to sort!

Pictured here are The Arc's Steven Piraino, Wegmans' Julie Hernandez and Terri Mason, and The Arc's Billy Driscoll and Holly McCutchen.