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NYSID Thinks “Big” This Holiday Season for Community Outreach

Thanks to the generosity of NYSID employees, the holidays will be a little brighter for some needy families of children with disabilities.

As part of NYSID’s annual holiday tradition of giving back to the community, NYSID “adopted” two families through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBSCR).

NYSID supported two families –– each with a child with a disability –– by purchasing clothing, toys, books, kitchen accessories and home goods on their wish lists, and delivering the gifts to the organization’s headquarters in Albany.

BBBSCR provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

“BBBSCR would like to thank NYSID for its donations,” said Amber Zane, BBBSCR’s community based program manager. “It means a great deal to our organization and the families we serve. Many families struggle during the holidays because of the extra pressure to provide for their families and to go above and beyond to obtain gifts. NYSID’s generosity will help ease some of the stress from the families they are assisting.”

Each of the families supported by NYSID has a child with an identified disability, which makes the gifts even more special, Amber pointed out.

“It is so heartwarming to see the joy and appreciation on the families’ faces when they receive these gifts. The families are grateful, humble and it adds a lot of holiday cheer into their lives,” she said.

One family has two children: a 16-year-old boy diagnosed with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a 1-year-old girl. The other family also has two children: an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder; and a 4-year-old boy.

“NYSID employees traditionally help those less fortunate during the holiday season, especially families impacted by disabilities,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “We love bringing kindness and warmth into the lives of needy parents and children during this special time of year, and we wish Happy Holidays to all!”
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Jerry Williams Embodies Employment Excellence With Joslin Award

Jerry Williams doesn’t hide his feelings about being named a co-recipient of the 2016 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award. “This award makes me feel good inside. My family is happy, my wife’s happy for me to get this award.”

Jerry, who works in packaging/labeling with Schoharie County Chapter NYSARC, Inc./Toe Path Industries, was recognized at NYSID’s Annual Meeting at The Saratoga Hilton, along with co-recipient Brian Mann, a document destruction technician with Lifetime Assistance/LAICO Industries in Rochester.

Kumi Tucker, WNYT NewsChannel 13 anchor, once again served as Annual Meeting emcee. This year’s theme was #EmploymentEmpowers.

Toe Path Industries, the work center of Schoharie ARC, currently provides work opportunities to more than 70 individuals with varying abilities. Toe Path Industries provides a wide range of professional, manufacturing, and fulfillment services from its Schoharie headquarters to an ever-expanding list of national and international business partners.

At the Toe Path Industries work center, Jerry maintains a consistent five-day schedule and also works on the facilities cleaning crew several hours per week. A respected and valued contributor in the production of the Preferred Source floor maintenance pads and State Police vehicle graphics, Jerry has mastered the operation of automated and manual die-cutting equipment, numerous packaging and assembly tasks, and a variety of material handling responsibilities.

Jerry’s focus is on work, keeping busy and doing as much as possible. As testimony to his outstanding work ethic, almost 50 percent of his earnings come from jumping in to work on other assembly jobs as needed.

“Jerry and I have known each other for a long time. I also consider him a friend,” said Terry Tetlak, Schoharie ARC executive director. “He really has put a lot into all of the jobs that he’s been employed with, and he’s worked here for several years. He enjoys working. It means a lot to him, and it really keeps him busy and makes his life fulfilled.”

“The reason we nominated Jerry for the Joslin Award is he truly epitomizes an individual who is at work because he is able to, wants to be here, and is enthusiastic about the work that he’s performing,” said David DiNicola, Toe Path Industries Work Center general manager.

NYSID’s annual Joslin Awards Program spotlights those who have overcome challenges and achieved personal success through employment. The Joslin Awards annually recognize employment excellence of New Yorkers with disabilities working on NYSID Preferred Source contracts.

In its 13th year, NYSID’s Joslin Awards Program has recognized more than 650 Outstanding Performers, and awarded 15 of those individuals with the final William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award. Bill Joslin was Chief Executive Officer of Human Technologies Corporation in Utica, and served on NYSID’s Board of Directors for many years.
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NYSID Joins Forces With Albany Housing Coalition to Find Jobs, Housing for Homeless Veterans

Victor Cooper credits the Albany Housing Coalition, Inc. (AHC) with turning his life around, in more ways than one.

A three-year U.S. Army veteran who received an honorable discharge, Victor is working toward securing permanent housing and a full-time job in the security field, thanks to the non-profit agency.

“If it wasn’t for the Albany Housing Coalition, I’d probably be sleeping under a bridge,” Victor said. “A lot of veterans, when we come in here, we’re broken down, but when we come through here, they straighten us out. They’ve given me a chance to be back on my own and earn a paycheck.”

Since 1990, AHC has provided a holistic response to the needs of returning and homeless veterans in upstate New York, facilitating access to housing, employment, healthcare resources and a shoulder to lean on, according to Joe Sluszka, AHC’s executive director and regular participant in NYSID’s Veterans’ Summit. “Our job is to raise self-esteem, establish a relationship of trust, communicate hope, and insist on personal responsibility –– and we love them,” he said. “We’ve had incredible success at giving veterans a new shot and helping them move forward.”

Such success, in fact, that Eric Shinseki, then-U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, honored AHC in 2009 for its outstanding service on behalf of homeless veterans. “We’re the little engine that could,” Sluszka said.

For the past 12 years, AHC’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) has broken through barriers to employment by providing employment resources, case management, tools and clothing, and ultimately good-paying jobs to more than 530 disabled and homeless veterans, with a retention rate of nine months or longer.

Earlier this year, AHC was notified by the U.S. Department of Labor that funding for its HVRP would end effective June 30, 2016. The HVRP was downsized, as of July 1, 2016, from two veteran employment specialists down to one, with funding from AHC’s reserve funds until January 31, 2017.

AHC reached out to community leaders to match the non-profit’s fundraising efforts for its employment specialist position, and NYSID generously contributed $5,000. “Eliminating the HVRP is not acceptable, and what NYSID’s donation has done is enable us to keep going,” Sluszka said. “I’m ecstatic.”

“NYSID assists with veterans’ support programs, promoting quality of life for veterans as they reconnect to the New York State workforce,” Romano said. “We are pleased to support the Albany Housing Coalition in its efforts to provide employment, housing and healthcare to our veterans who have sacrificed so much.”

Ruth Fredericks, AHC’s veteran employment specialist, is herself a U.S. Army veteran, and she loves spending each day assisting her fellow vets. “I’m honored and blessed to work here and meet veterans every day,” she said. “They’re the most generous, kind, sweet-hearted and blessed people. Our hands are never tied. If I’m helping a veteran, I’m working. It’s about really making it a success story for the veteran.”

Along with employment, Fredericks also helps veterans find a place to live, in her role as AHC’s permanent housing case manager. Until they do, AHC’s Vet House offers a 28-bed, single room occupancy (SRO) facility with a monitored supportive transitional environment for homeless veterans. “The vision is to put veterans in homes, not apartments,” Fredericks said. “It’s about making us all whole.”

Levi DeWilde is one veteran who seeks to make himself –– and others –– whole, with AHC’s help.

Like his fellow veteran Victor Cooper, Levi is a U.S. Army veteran who received an honorable discharge after three years of service. He is equally grateful to AHC for helping him straighten out his life in search of permanent, positive change. “My whole life has been a struggle trying to gain control of my addictions,” he said. “It’s been a battle of life and death. Anybody who helps me out has saved my life, and a lot of people have saved my life.”

Levi is pursuing his degree so he can work peer-to-peer with persons with addictions. Admittedly, but not ashamedly, he is highly qualified for the job. “Coming from the lifestyle of a homeless drug addict, I relate to them. They trust me more,” he said. “AHC saved my life. I was headed out on another homeless venture, and penniless. They’ve given me an opportunity to continue establishing myself and pull myself out of this self-inflicted hole.”

Victor’s career preferences differ from Levi’s, but he shares the same desire to pursue meaningful work and fulfill a higher calling. “AHC gives us self-esteem,” he said. “We feel like we have something to live for.”

http://www.nysid.org/success-stories/?p=3456
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NYSID Calls for Renewed Sense of Urgency and Commitment to Preferred Source Program

As National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) concluded, Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO, urged the New York State Office of General Services (OGS) to expedite approval and renewal of Preferred Source contracts that create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities statewide.

Romano spoke with host Liz Benjamin during a recent appearance on YNN’s Capital Tonight about the unemployment crisis among people with disabilities and the current climate and campaign for increased inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce.

In Fiscal Year 2016, NYSID provided employment to 6,970 New Yorkers with disabilities on Preferred Source contracts, a workforce which has been stagnant the past five years.

Currently, there is a significant backlog of NYSID price applications awaiting OGS approval or renewal. Romano praised Governor Andrew Cuomo for his Employment First initiative, while urging OGS to address this backlog and the need for a more collaborative process among all stakeholders in support of increasing job opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities.

“I’d like to applaud Governor Cuomo and his leadership on behalf of individuals with disabilities,” Romano said. “He’s trying to address this issue and has actually laid out a pretty ambitious agenda making New York State an Employment First state. We need a sense of urgency and commitment on the part of not only state government and the private sector, but all involved to work together, especially our oversight agencies, such as the New York State Office of General Services.”

View a video of Ron Romano’s entire 10-minute appearance on Capital Tonight. http://www.twcnews.com/nys/capital-region/capital-tonight-interviews/2016/10/27/creating-employment-opportunities-for-people-with-disabilities-.html

In a subsequent e-mail to NYSID member agencies, Romano thanked them for their commitment to Preferred Source employment and expressed optimism for heightened collaboration with OGS to develop an effective, expedient process to put as many individuals to work as possible.

“NYSID members, elected officials and our customers understand that these contracts aren’t just words on paper. There are real life consequences to the delays we’ve been confronting,” he said. “As a result of all of our member agencies’ efforts, the Preferred Source Program has been one of the most successful mechanisms in addressing the unacceptably high unemployment rate among people with disabilities. I am hopeful that we will continue to have a dialogue with OGS and work in partnership to come up with a process that is acceptable to all involved but, most importantly, works to grow employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities statewide.”
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NYS Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara Recognized for Supporting New Yorkers With Disabilities

NYSID presented NYS Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) with its 2016 Legislative Preferred Source Champion Award during its Annual Meeting on September 21 at The Saratoga Hilton. NYS Senator Catharine Young (R/I/C-Olean) was a co-recipient.

Assemblymember Santabarbara and Senator Young have long been known for their advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities in their communities.

Assemblymember Santabarbara introduced an Autism Action Plan in the spring of 2016 to create services and supports enhancing the quality of life of New Yorkers living with Autism Spectrum Disorders and supporting their families and caregivers.

His 14-year-old son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism at age 3, and Assemblymember Santabarbara serves as chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism Retention. Michael attended the Annual Meeting with his mother and sister.

A member of the Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Assemblymember Santabarbara regularly participates in NYSID’s quarterly Veterans’ Summit, an interactive forum for individuals and organizations supporting veterans with disabilities in New York State.

“NYSID has always been there creating meaningful opportunities for all of those with developmental disabilities,” Assemblymember Santabarbara said. ”Take comfort in knowing you are not alone. We just need to make sure our voices are heard.”

Both Assemblymember Santabarbara and Senator Young also have actively supported NYSID’s CREATE initiative. CREATE, which stands for Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology, gives university engineering students the opportunity to work closely with rehabilitation agencies to develop assistive technologies.

“These legislators provided incredible leadership in advocating on behalf of New Yorkers with disabilities and their contributions to our statewide workforce,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “NYSID and its vast network of member agencies honor these champion legislators for their ongoing support of job opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, particularly as we celebrate the numerous ways in which #EmploymentEmpowers, our Annual Meeting theme.”

During NYSID’s Annual Meeting, individuals employed on Preferred Source contracts, not-for-profits, small businesses, New York State agencies and municipal agencies were all recognized for their work to create jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities.

Kumi Tucker, WNYT NewsChannel 13 anchor, once again served as Annual Meeting emcee.
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NYSID Celebrates Employment Excellence and Community Outreach

NYSID recently participated in several important events across Long Island highlighting job creation for individuals with disabilities, in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

The Long Island Working Partnership, an ACCES-VR Consortium, hosted an award breakfast on October 14 to honor employers who hire individuals with disabilities. Each NDEAM, ACCES-VR recognizes local businesses providing the opportunity for skilled workers to contribute to their communities, earn a living wage and have meaningful careers.

Next, NYSID staff visited the Long Island Department of Transportation’s new Welcome Center, the first location of its kind at a Long Island Expressway service area, where 15 new jobs for people with disabilities were created.

American Maintenance and The Corporate Source partner for cleaning and maintenance services on a Preferred Source contract at the Welcome Center, which features a Taste NY kiosk offering travelers locally made products.

Later that day, NYSID participated in TRI Business & Career Center’s annual awards ceremony, during which Meredith Hartman, NYSID sales manager, proudly presented the Joslin Outstanding Performer Award to 2016 recipient Ronnie Windham and TRI’s Employee of the Year Award to Thomas France.

TRI was named Member Agency of the Year, and Thomas France was named Employee of the Year, during NYSID’s Annual Meeting last month.

More than 100 community residents throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties are benefiting from meaningful employment and wages on NYSID Preferred Source opportunities through TRI.

“The entire weekend, I witnessed and heard people who were told ‘they can’t’ and proved that they could,” said Heather Bushane, NYSID contract administration specialist. “Hearing from the employees at TRI was especially important to me because they are one of our member agencies that we directly impact. The entire staff of TRI was commended and thanked numerous times by the people they employ, because without them, they wouldn’t be where they are today. I was so happy to hear that, because NYSID holds contracts that help employ those people, and we make a difference in their lives.”

“These events served as reminders to my colleagues and me of the hard work we put forth year round to put a smile on people’s faces,” said Angelo Cervone, NYSID’s Long Island account representative. “From the individuals we serve to our member agencies, it is truly rewarding to know that my job has a powerful impact on the lives of others.”

On October 15, NYSID staff served as BUDDY (Because Unbelievable Dedication Deserves You) volunteers with The League of YES, a baseball program for children with disabilities, by assisting players around the bases and in the field.

“It brings me so much pride to have my colleagues take time out of their weekend and travel all the way from Albany to Long Island to see how much The League of YES is helping children with disabilities,” said Kristine Fitzpatrick, NYSID’s higher education account manager, and executive director and founder of The League of YES. “The fun part of running my league is that these children are all potential future workers on NYSID Preferred Source contracts.”

“Visiting The League of YES was probably the most touching experience of my visit, if not my life,” Bushane said. “Through The League of YES, these children are able to feel equal and be given the same opportunity as other children, just as we do for adults when we employ them on a Preferred Source contract. It is truly wonderful to know I am a part of something that lets people know ‘they can’ and that they are just like everyone else.”

Finally, NYSID participated with American Maintenance in the first University Recycle Challenge Day at Stony Brook University, joining numerous universities across the country that also undertook the challenge.

NYSID and American Maintenance representatives walked the parking lot before Stony Brook’s homecoming football game, collecting water bottles, soda cans and trash. The goal was to collect the most recyclables, determined by a weigh-in at day’s end.

Stony Brook has a long history of providing jobs for people with disabilities, in academic buildings and its prestigious Cancer Center. This was a great opportunity for NYSID to give back to a renowned institution that celebrates the spirit of NDEAM all year long.

Each October, NDEAM reflects the important role disability plays in workforce diversity. #InclusionWorks #EmploymentEmpowers
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NYSID Hosts Veterans’ Summit to Spread Warmth During Holidays

The holiday season can be an emotional time for veterans and their families, which is why NYSID recently hosted its quarterly Veterans’ Summit.

The December 14 event fostered camaraderie, networking and mutual support among New York State government agencies, not-for-profits, veterans’ service organizations, institutions of higher learning, and rehabilitation organizations, including NYSID members.

“After hearing the presentations and talking with other veterans and veteran representatives, I felt the Summit was a reminder of the strong sense of community there is for myself and fellow veterans,” said Jason Lebrecht. “As a service-disabled veteran and entrepreneur, I look forward to future NYSID Veterans’ Summits.”

Presenters included:

Michael Cognetti, MBA, MS. Ed., director of brain injury, veterans and employment services; and Harold Horace, veterans services specialist, with Living Resources. The agency developed the Veterans Services Project (VSP) to expand its broad range of community-based supports and services to veterans, while also providing them with employment opportunities.

Maj. David Erickson, an Army retiree who runs Albany High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) battalion. JROTC is a citizenship and leadership training program offered to students in high schools throughout the country.

Mary Ellen Whitney, CEO and founder; and Jenifer Whiston, development director, STRIDE Adaptive Sports. STRIDE has moved into its new headquarters and Project SHARE (STRIDE Health and Recreation Education Center) in West Sand Lake and is hosting an Open House on Wednesday, December 21 from 3-8 pm. STRIDE is also planning for its ski and ride season at Ski Sundown, Catamount and Jiminy Peak, with lessons for students of all ages who require ski and snowboard services.

A TEDx video highlighting Ron Self, founder of the self-help group Veterans Healing Veterans From The Inside Out, also was shown during the Summit. Veterans Healing Veterans From The Inside Out tries to stop the alarmingly high suicide rate among veterans. The video came to NYSID’s attention through Henry Cohen, treasurer on NYSID’s board of directors; his daughter, Delia, is a justice advocate and organizer of TEDx events in prisons.

Special thanks to Benjamin Pomerance, deputy director for VA Programs, who attended the Summit on behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Dan Casale, constituent representative, who attended on behalf of NYS Senator Kathleen Marchione (R-43), member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

For more information on NYSID’s veterans initiatives, visit or https://www.facebook.com/NYSIDVeterans.
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Brian Mann Reaps Benefits of Hard Work Through Joslin Award

Brian Mann truly embodies the concept of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. “The money that I get, I get a nice paycheck,” he said, adding that he spends it on haircuts, going out to dinner, cruises and trips.

A document destruction technician with Lifetime Assistance/LAICO Industries in Rochester, Brian was named a co-recipient of the 2016 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award. Jerry Williams, who works in packaging/labeling with Schoharie County Chapter NYSARC, Inc./Toe Path Industries, is his fellow Joslin Outstanding Performance Award co-recipient.

Both men were honored during NYSID’s Annual Meeting at The Saratoga Hilton. Kumi Tucker, WNYT NewsChannel 13 anchor, once again served as Annual Meeting emcee. This year’s theme was #EmploymentEmpowers.

LAICO Industries offers a comprehensive suite of document management services –– prepping, scanning, cloud storage and certified document destruction. All of its high-quality, cost-effective services are provided locally “under one roof.”

One of Brian’s favorite jobs is to load and unload trucks, safely using an electric pallet jack. He uses the electric pallet wrapper to wrap pallets, and he produces paperwork, stages pallets in the warehouse, and loads them onto the truck.

Brian also records the agency’s transportation vans for departure –– a responsibility previously only done by staff –– uses an intercom system to announce their arrival, assists drivers to find individuals, and helps anyone who has missed their van to get home.

“We’re an answer to the labor force in many cases for area employers, but for the people who work here, it’s the same kind of dignity and self-respect and fullness that earning a paycheck means for all of us,” said Jamie Branciforte, president & CEO.

“He feels that by earning a paycheck and paying his own way and being self-sufficient, he’s a good community partner and not just taking advantage of the system,” said Marty Reeners, director of vocational services, Lifetime Assistance/LAICO Industries.

NYSID’s annual Joslin Awards Program spotlights those who have overcome challenges and achieved personal success through employment. The Joslin Awards annually recognize employment excellence of New Yorkers with disabilities working on NYSID Preferred Source contracts.

In its 13th year, NYSID’s Joslin Awards Program has recognized more than 650 Outstanding Performers, and awarded 15 of those individuals with the final William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award.

Bill Joslin was Chief Executive Officer of Human Technologies Corporation in Utica, and served on NYSID’s Board of Directors for many years.
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On Veterans’ Day, NYSID Pays Special Tribute to Those Who Served

NYSID celebrated Veterans’ Day by paying it forward in patriotic fashion, dedicating its newest Battle Buddy Center at SUNY Oswego, in collaboration with Oswego Industries and Clear Path for Veterans.

NewsChannel 9, CNYCentral.com and Oswego County News Now provided excellent coverage of the November 11 Battle Buddy Center dedication ceremony.

Among those who participated in the standing-room-only event:

Paul Quirini, NYSID outreach & communications specialist, on behalf of
Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO

Capt. Walter Roettger (Ret.), United States Air Force and SUNY Oswego provost

Ben Parker, SUNY Oswego veteran & military services coordinator

Ed Pulaski, Oswego Industries vocational services coordinator

Sean Walsh, Oswego Industries custodial operations manager

Brian Knapp, Clear Path for Veterans peer support team lead
Student veterans from SUNY Oswego

Battle Buddy Centers are safe havens for veterans to socialize with their fellow veterans and receive services they need. Based on the military concept of a “Battle Buddy,” which partners soldiers to assist each other both in and out of combat, Battle Buddy Centers offer activities to encourage camaraderie and foster veterans to give and receive mutual support.

Through this Battle Buddy Center, NYSID, SUNY Oswego, Oswego Industries and Clear Path for Veterans provide a space for nearly 200 veteran students, National Guard/Reserve Students, active duty students and their dependents to study, socialize with one another, and receive services they need.

The Battle Buddy Center will allow SUNY Oswego to continue advancing its support of student veterans by growing its existing space and expanding resources to help them accomplish their educational goals and assist them with the challenges they face post-service.

“NYSID recognizes that creating educational and employment opportunities for service-disabled veterans and other New Yorkers who face barriers to employment is not only the right thing to do, it also improves our state’s economy and strengthens our communities,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “Based upon the current veteran population and the anticipated growth of veterans’ programs and services, NYSID is pleased to partner with SUNY Oswego, Oswego Industries and Clear Path for Veterans in this Battle Buddy Center.”

Deborah F. Stanley, SUNY Oswego president, remarked: “SUNY Oswego remains dedicated to providing outstanding educational services that reflect the unique needs of our veteran students. The Battle Buddy Center will enhance our ability to serve our veteran students as they transition from active duty into and through higher education. Creating a safe space that promotes a strong sense of community and supports academic and personal success for our veterans is a project we are proud to support.”

“As a Preferred Source partner of NYSID, Oswego Industries, Inc. is honored to collaborate with SUNY Oswego in the dedication of this Battle Buddy Center,” said Laurie Davis, Oswego Industries executive director. “We look forward to being a strong partner in helping local veterans with disabilities gain successful employment through our Career Employment Services program. Our agency brings over 40 years of employment supports and experience in the community, and we are proud to partner with NYSID and SUNY Oswego in supporting our veterans.”

Brian Knapp, Clear Path for Veterans peer support team lead, remarked: “The Battle Buddy Center at SUNY Oswego will enhance the programs and services already offered at the college. The veterans will have a place to meet, learn about benefits, and restore the camaraderie they experienced while in the military. We look forward to strengthening our already outstanding relationship with SUNY Oswego and collaborating once again with NYSID, with whom we opened NYSID’s first Battle Buddy Center five years ago.”

NYSID now has participated in the opening of Battle Buddy Centers at 12 locations, including: SUNY Oswego in Oswego; SUNY Canton in Canton; SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury; Clear Path for Veterans in Chittenango; The College of Saint Rose in Albany; Hudson Valley Community College in Troy; Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson; LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City; John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City; Westchester Community College in Valhalla; Rockland Community College in Suffern; and SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge.

NYSID’s Battle Buddy Centers have collectively hosted more than 50,000 visits by veterans since September 2011. Battle Buddy Centers are made possible through grant funding from NYSID and support from NYSID member agencies.
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Center for Disability Workers Honored for Employment Excellence and Courageous Advocacy

Joseph Scorza and Richard Whaley, mail processing clerks at the Center for Disability Services, received special recognition at NYSID’s Annual Meeting for advocating toward keeping these job choices and bringing to life the importance of their jobs for themselves, their families, and their community.

Both employees of the Center’s Commercial Services mailing operation, Joe and Rich were presented with a special award “In Grateful Appreciation of your Exemplification of the Spirit and Independence of New Yorkers with Disabilities.”

View Joe Scorza and Rich Whaley’s inspiring award video. #EmploymentEmpowers

With its motto “Where people get better at life,” the Center currently provides employment to more than 250 individuals with disabilities in an integrated work setting, including Joe and Rich. Its Preferred Source customers include the NYS Department of Social Services, NYS Insurance Fund, and NYS Courts.

Joe and Rich testified in May at the NYS Procurement Council meeting about their mail processing jobs, as Preferred Source mail processing services are coming under scrutiny.

“I help my mom pay the bills in my household, and if you took that away from me, you would not only be taking that away from me, but you would be taking my quality of life away from me,” Joe told the NYS Procurement Council.

Rich echoed Joe’s sentiments to the NYS Procurement Council, saying, “I just want to tell you how important it is to have this work continue for not only me, but the future of the Center and the future of people with disabilities that are going to come along in the future.”

In presenting their awards during the Annual Meeting, Ron Romano, NYSID president and CEO, remarked: “Tonight, I’m proud and privileged to take a moment to appreciate two of those deserving and talented individuals and workers from the Center for Disability Services who recently spoke passionately about their jobs and the future of NYSID and employment.”

Joe and Rich also were featured in the Center’s video highlighting its 25-year history of providing mailing services to New York State agencies.
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NYSID Assists Veterans Through Numerous Initiatives Across NYS

As Americans celebrate Veterans’ Day this month, NYSID continues to create educational and employment opportunities throughout the year for service-disabled veterans and other New Yorkers who face barriers to employment.

NYSID provides livelihoods for a diverse group of New Yorkers with disabilities through our member agencies and assists with veterans’ support programs, promoting quality of life for veterans as they reconnect to the New York State workforce.

Among NYSID veterans’ initiatives:

Veterans’ Summits: NYSID conducts quarterly meetings among individuals and organizations supporting veterans with disabilities in New York State. Please join us for our next Veterans’ Summit on Wednesday, December 14 from 9:30am – noon at our Albany office, 11 Columbia Circle Drive.

“The diverse resources offered through the various speakers provided a multidisciplinary approach for those trying to serve our honored veterans,” said Ruth Fredericks, Veterans’ Summit attendee, U.S. Army veteran and veteran’s employment specialist with the Albany Housing Coalition, Inc. “Not only were the speakers well versed, but there also was an enormous amount of talented Summit attendees who offered their resources openly to assist any organization to help veterans.”

Battle Buddy Centers: Battle Buddy Centers are safe havens for veterans to socialize with their fellow veterans and receive services they need. They have collectively hosted more than 50,000 visits by veterans since September 2011. NYSID will dedicate its 12th Battle Buddy Center on Veterans’ Day, November 11 at SUNY Oswego, in collaboration with Oswego Industries and Clear Path for Veterans.

“Since we opened our doors over 40 years ago, LaGuardia Community College has provided veterans with education, training and services they need as they transition from military to civilian life,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, LaGuardia Community College president. “We are enormously grateful to our partners NYSID and Goodwill Industries for this opportunity to continue to serve those who have served our country.”

Community Outreach: In the spirit of the holiday season, NYSID employees delivered clothing, toys and accessories they donated to needy veterans receiving services through Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company (RPC) in Ballston Spa, as part of NYSID’s annual holiday tradition of giving back to the community. Saratoga County RPC is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 that includes VETHELP and Saratoga Regional Housing Services.

“Having been homeless and alone, these gifts mean so much to our veterans,” said Cheryl Hage-Perez, executive director of VETHELP. “NYSID went above and beyond to make sure each veteran will feel the spirit of Christmas. For the homeless veteran, it is not just the gift they will remember, it is that NYSID cared about them as individuals.”

Preferred Source Program: NYSID employs 134 veterans on Preferred Source contracts; of those, 105 are service-disabled veterans. In addition, NYSID is exploring partnerships with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, helping our customers achieve their procurement goals while also employing New Yorkers with disabilities.

Veterans Contact Directory: As a result of our quarterly Summits, NYSID developed an online resource listing veterans’ service provider government agencies and not-for-profit organizations available in New York State counties.

We salute all of our veterans for the sacrifices they have made and their contributions to our workforce and society.
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NYS Senator Catharine Young Honored for Advocacy on Behalf of New Yorkers With Disabilities

NYSID presented NYS Senator Catharine Young (R/I/C-Olean) with its 2016 Legislative Preferred Source Champion Award during its Annual Meeting on September 21 at The Saratoga Hilton. NYS Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) was a co-recipient.

Senator Young and Assemblymember Santabarbara have long been known for their advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities in their communities.

At a time when sheltered workshop employment is often criticized, Senator Young took a stand. She introduced legislation providing a means for NYSID member agency workshops to transition into qualified employment centers in order to continue to employ people with developmental disabilities. The legislation also provides tax incentives to encourage additional employment.

Before entering public office, Senator Young served for 15 years as the director of communications and development at The ReHabilitation Center, a NYSID member agency in Olean. She currently serves as a member of the Senate Health Committee and Senate Children and Family Services Committee.

“It is very alarming… in the last couple of years, it feels like we are going backwards in some regards,” Senator Young said. ”People with disabilities are losing important employment opportunities instead of gaining them. We cannot go back there. We will not go back there. I am committed to making sure we maintain and grow employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We have to double our efforts, to make sure people with disabilities have the same job opportunities, and the same success as others have.”

Both Senator Young and Assemblymember Santabarbara also have actively supported NYSID’s CREATE initiative. CREATE, which stands for Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology, gives university engineering students the opportunity to work closely with rehabilitation agencies to develop assistive technologies.

“These legislators provided incredible leadership in advocating on behalf of New Yorkers with disabilities and their contributions to our statewide workforce,” said Ron Romano, NYSID president & CEO. “NYSID and its vast network of member agencies honor these champion legislators for their ongoing support of job opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, particularly as we celebrate the numerous ways in which #EmploymentEmpowers, our Annual Meeting theme.”

During NYSID’s Annual Meeting, individuals employed on Preferred Source contracts, not-for-profits, small businesses, New York State agencies and municipal agencies were all recognized for their work to create jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities.

Kumi Tucker, WNYT NewsChannel 13 anchor, once again served as Annual Meeting emcee.
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Turning business opportunities into jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities.
Introduction

NYSID is the leading source of job opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities. We make gainful employment possible for this dedicated and highly qualified workforce through New York State's Preferred Source Program, which was created by Section 162 of the New York State Finance Law.

Rehabilitative agencies throughout New York, who support individuals with disabilities, choose to become members of NYSID. On behalf of these members and often in conjunction with private sector associate members, NYSID enters into contracts with state and local government agencies for services and goods which are then performed by this workforce. Examples of such goods are custodial products, custom apparel, and health care supplies, and our business services range from document imaging, to janitorial and groundskeeping, to industrial laundry, electronics recycling, mailing, and others.

Over 7,000 jobs are created annually by NYSID through the Preferred Source program, which not only give dignity and sense of purpose to New Yorkers with disabilities but also satisfy the procurement needs of our state and local government agencies.

NYSID is grateful to have been able to serve New Yorkers with disabilities since 1975 and humbly reflects on "40 Years of Looking Forward."

Contact Information
Contact info
Phone
1-800-221-5994
Address
11 Columbia Circle Drive Albany, New York, 12203