Wish Trees provide gifts to those in need

Community generosity warms many this winter

tommy-kleever-2They are only two of many people who now have warm clothes and gifts for the children for Christmas thanks to the Foundation’s Wish Tree.

Brittany Tarr and Tommy Kleever both received Christmas gifts through the Wish Tree which they otherwise would not have received.

Brittany’s daughter, Maggie, received new boots, just in time as winter weather stormed into the area last week.
“Brittany was giddy when I delivered her gifts,” Karen Hunt, her MSC, said. “She was so happy and especially grateful for the new boots for her daughter.”

Tommy, who lives in an upstairs apartment in Olean with his mother, has no car or job, and is often seen riding his bike through town.
“Tommy is an outdoors guy,” Karen, who is also Tommy’s MSC, said.

Continue reading…


Anxiety-The New “Common-Cold” of Mental Health?

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By Tony Sowers, LMSW

Tony is a clinician in the Article 16 Clinic. He wrote the following article for the ReHab Center’s health and wellness monthly newsletter.

 

Paying bills. Our health. The economy. Common, everyday worry and anxiety can take many forms and everyone has things they are concerned about from time to time. Unfortunately for some people anxiety and worry can become an everyday, sometimes constant, struggle. The number of cases of anxiety disorders, which include among them generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and certain phobias, have steadily increased in the United States. In fact, they are close to unseating depression as the number one mental health issue in our country. Continue reading…


Making a difference in the Marines

There are a handful of unsung heroes here at the Rehab Center with a rare and noble courage.  Some have done double-duty in military service and firefighting. With the deepest appreciation, the ReHab Center thanks all  of you for your service to our country and your community. 

Leadership in the Marines

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Steve Gonska, who works in the agency’s maintenance Department, always wanted his life to make a difference, and he has been successful at that.  After graduating from high school, he went directly into the Marine Corps Boot Camp.  Next, he was deployed to Iraq, which has left an indelible mark on him.

“I wanted to serve my country,” he said, and ”I wanted to  be a leader and not a follower.  Going into the service gave me better skills to be a leader.”

After he returned from the service, he decided to join a fire department and serve the community. He has  served as a volunteer firefighter for 10 years.

“I started by serving my country, but when that journey ended, I wasn’t satisfied that I had done enough.  So, I joined the Westons Mills Fire Department, “ he said.  “Everyone knows them.  They have lime green/yellow fire trucks.” Continue reading…


Employment Connection expresses gratitude to disability employers

baskets-for-employersAs long-term advocates of disability inclusion in the community’s work force, Employment Connection will participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month by commemorating the local businesses who employ people we support.

Initially, the Agency offered educational opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities through the Children’s Learning Center. Later, As the children grew into adulthood, the Agency began offering vocational and employment opportunities, which led to the Agency’s work centers, SubCon Industries in Olean and Salamanca.
About 20 years ago, the Agency realized the need to offer community employment. While recently the government has called for an end to sheltered work shops and an increase in community employment for people with disabilities, the Agency was already well ahead of those new mandates.

Photo:  Zack, Adam, Darcy, Tim, and Todd (standing behind  Darcy) joined to artfully assemble 25 baskets to deliver to their employers in gratitude for their jobs.

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Today, the Agency’s Employment Connection actively prepares people, and finds them in jobs in the community.
As much as it is Employment Connection’s forward-thinking, successful employment is clearly a shared achievement by local employers who took a chance on our people. They are the real heroes to those who are now employed. Without their faith in our people, many might not be living with the high levels of independence and quality of life they enjoy. The number of employers in the area who have hired people through Employment Connection is up to 25.

The Agency is deeply grateful to all of them, which include: SCS, Ponderosa, Holiday Inn, Allegany Country Transit / First Transit, ReHab Center residences at Fall Rd., Henley Rd. and Buffalo Rd., Aramark, Park and Shop, Mazza, Walmart, St. Bonaventure University, Best Western Hotels, Cattaraugus County DSS, Absolute Care, Head Start, Tops Friendly Markets, Healthcare Services at The Pines, St. Mary’s Church, Holiday Valley, City of Olean, Fred’s Contract Cleaning, Burger King, and Pete-As Ria.
This year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “#InclusionWorks, and highlights the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.

 


Rehab Foundation names award, scholarship winners

The Rehabilitation Foundation held its annual Scholarships and Awards Reception last week to support employee professional development.

Mari Howard, CEO, thanked the selection committee which included Jen Eaton Miller who was unable to attend, and Tracy Karl Lebrenz, Lisa Hennig, and Nick Lyons and Kyle Henzel, both Foundation Board members for “their commitment and guidance in making these decisions.” Continue reading…


Garden abundance

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Pam Pacer, a supervisor at the Youth Home since 2009, gathers veggies from the Youth Home’s garden. Thanks to a hot summer and lots of TLC from the teen gardeners, this summer’s garden produced an abundance of squash and tomatoes. Continue reading…


Affirming respect

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Lisa Powless, who is a DSP III / Behavior Tech at Lifeskills, has worked for the Agency for 13 years.  She began her career at the Children’s Learning Center working with children with Autism. Later, she worked part time until transitioning to full time in December of 2008. She completed certification testing as a registered Behavior Tech in April, 2016.

Continue reading…


Allowing space to grow

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Jessica Martin, The Employment Connection’s Community Employment Specialist, supports people’s journey into community employment.

In her role, she is a combination of a job agent, coach and personal cheerleader, urging the people she supports to overcome hurdles to achieve their goals. Sometimes, that  may mean going with changes she doesn’t think are best for the person. But, Jessica feels her work as a Direct Support Professional is to encourage the person to make choices and learn from them. Sometimes they work out, sometimes not.  In this case, it worked out.

“If a job is what they want, I say, ‘Great, let’s get started.’ But, if they want to move on from the job, it’s all about what they want, and I just say, ‘Ok, let’s look for something else,” she said, adding about one particular case in which someone she helped get a job, wanted to leave and work elsewhere, a choice Jessica didn’t favor, but went with it anyway.

“Sometimes it’s tougher to go along with it,” she said. “It’s easy to think we know what’s best, but then they have to make their own choices and learn from them. In this case it turned out fine.”

As a good parent has to let their child experience the consequences of their choices, that’s also true for the people she supports.

She feels it’s important for a person’s self esteem and empowerment to grow from mistakes and learn to overcome their own challenges. Each one gives them the confidence to embrace another hurdle and with each success comes greater self-esteem.