14th Annual Seafood Fest – A Success!

Seafood Fest ’17 exceeds fundraising goals


As the annual Seafood Fest auction sailed through the Old Library Event Center on Friday, March 24th,  attendees from Olean and beyond outdid themselves this year in support of The Rehabilitation Foundation. Prizes were won and gourmet food was served including a bountiful buffet with various seafood dishes, beef tenderloin and chicken. It was a fun night out for all full of excitement and entertainment.

“It was an exceptionally successful sold-out year,” Elena Bombardier, Foundation director, said, adding, “We exceeded this year’s fundraising goal.”

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The following is reprinted from a news bulletin by the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of WNY:
Yesterday, in the State Capitol, Governor Cuomo and the leaders of both Houses, along with the mental hygiene committee chairs, promised a group of bFair2DirectCare demonstrators that they all support the addition of funds to increase direct care salaries. The Governor said he would not sign a budget that didn’t include $55 million for direct care providers. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein and members of the Senate Republican Conference including Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan were unified in their support and all commented on the effectiveness of the campaign and the unanimity it evoked among legislators. The Governor noted that this funding would come on top of the increase provided to bring workers up to the minimum wage, with a total 6.5% wage increase occurring over two years.

The announcement was made as participants in the bFair2Direct Care coalition (of which DDAWNY is a partner), held an event at the State Capitol today, where we expected the announcement that the State Budget will include funding to make a first step towards providing a living wage for workers in our field. This event is the culmination of many months of work by DDAWNY and other organizations across the State working to get funding to mitigate one of the key issues, salary, contributing to the disability field’s recruitment and retention issues.

The announcement from the Legislative Leaders and the Governor comes as a result of the more than year-long, statewide bFair2DirectCare advocacy campaign. Staff, self-advocates, board members, families and volunteers from across the state have worked hard to make their representatives in Albany understand the desperate need for this funding. State Senator Frederick Akshar called the campaign, “the greatest grass roots effort I’ve ever witnessed.”

While there is no guarantee of the precise details until the budget is passed, today’s announcement essentially ensures the budget will include a 3.25% increase in salaries for 100 and 200 code employees effective, January 1, 2018, with another increase of 3.25% for 100, 200, and 300 code employees effective 4/1/18. These increases are in line with the $45 million per year State share, $90 million annually, that was part of the living wage proposal so strongly advocated for by the participants of the bFair2DirectCare campaign. (The $55 million State investment announced by the Governor reflects the expansion of the investment to cover OMH and OASAS programs as well for the same group of employees.)

You will receive additional details on what is in the budget once it has passed, but with the announcement today, it certainly is good news and a long time in coming.

   The Rehab Center is grateful to all our employees who wrote letters, made phone calls and advocated on behalf of a living wage for our hard-working DSPs by urging Governor Cuomo to include $45 million in the state budget for a wage increase.  


Linwood Center ignites new purpose for seniors

Linwood Center ignites new purpose for seniors

Linwood Center w RayThe wisdom of their years is only amplified by the joy they share at the Linwood Center.

After a lifetime of hard work, raising families, fighting and surviving wars, recessions and many hard northern winters, today 30 seniors enjoy their well deserved day in the sun.

As an adult day center, the Linwood Center is a deeply honoring and welcoming place for adults over age 60. While some are fully independent and just need the social interaction of others of their own generation, others may need a little extra support to remain independent in their homes.

Services include: breakfast and lunch, exercise, trivia games, armchair travel, live bands, games and cards, volunteer opportunities, day trips and fishing trips.

“There are no TVs here,” Nancy Ogden, who has been with the Linwood Center for 13 years and is currently its supervisor, said, adding all the activities and events are mind, body and community stimulating.
“Maybe we view one or two movies a month, but everything is geared toward providing a therapeutic activities, socialization, assistance with personal care and case management.”

The center promotes an improved quality of life while providing respite and guidance to family members and caregivers. It offers a friendly environment for veterans, retired people, and those who live alone and want the daily companionship of others.Veterans, retired people, those who live alone and want the daily companionship of others. For one, in particular, the Linwood Center has given him a new lease on life after the death of his wife.

Chuck Tyler 002When Chuck Tyler’s wife died in 2006, he slipped into a deep, dark depression, and remained alone at home for well
over a year. After he began coming to the Linwood Center, he found his life again.

“Now, everything is better because of Linwood. This place helps a lot of people more than anyone realizes. You have to associate with other people to be mentally intact,” he said, smiling as he headed back into the bright cheerful room full of friends waiting for him to play Bingo.

Others with some physical and cognitive challenges also enjoy a special bond of friendship encouraged by a caring and experienced staff.

The Linwood Center, which is sponsored by the ReHabilitation Center and located in its Allegany site on Nine Mile Rd., has a long history in Olean.

It was begun 35 years ago by the Cattaraugus County Department of Aging in Christ United Methodist Church at 633 Linwood Avenue.
Later, the Linwood Center was moved into the now closed Allegany High School where it remained until it was relocated to its current location on May 1, 2015.

“The old school closed in 1990. It had no upgrades and always had issues with temperature. We needed a new location,” Nancy said.

Tumbleweed 007 - dancing ladies“We became part of the ReHabilitation Center on January 31, 2011, but didn’t move until after construction was completed.”

In addition to providing a great community for friendship and support, the Linwood Center encourages members of the community to share knowledge and resources through special events.

“We have guest speakers regularly from the Department of Aging who discuss nutrition and staying healthy along with other services they provide,” Nancy said. “These services promote an improved quality of life while providing support to family members and caregivers.”

For more information about the Linwood Center, call Nancy Ogden at 716-375-4740, ext. 120.

2017 Weekday Jackpot


The Weekday Jackpot is back!

The Weekday Jackpot gives you 51 chances to win $100-$1,000 with weekday drawings from April 24th – June 30th, with a special $1,000 drawing on July 4th. 

How to get tickets:

Stop into  our Rehab Center Admin Building: 1439 Buffalo Street in Olean or, print the attached form and mail in with a check or cash, and we will send you your ticket! Weekday Jackpot Form 

Tickets are 1 for $30  or 2 for $50 (double your chances!)

Proceeds from the Weekday Jackpot Drawing benefit The ReHab Foundation Learn More Here.

2017 Winners List:

Week 1 – April 24th – 28th

M – $100:John Firkel
T-$100: Sister Mary Immaculate
W-$100: Ellen T. Bald
Th-$100: Lucia Scotty
F-$500: Janae Kosciol

Supported employment makes a perfect blend at Union Tea Cafe

Supported Employment makes

a perfect blend at Union Tea Cafe

Tea CafeA portrait of the Queen’s coronation, crystal chandeliers and a fireplace displaying items from the Victorian era might seem out of place in an Olean cafe. Quite the contrary.

The city’s newest business, the Union Tea Cafe and Tea Shop, is a hit with the locals. Offering

more than 90 different teas and a delightful pallet of English tea pastries along with delicious and healthful American and Middle Eastern cuisine, the cafe is a jewel in the city’s emerging business district.


Tea Cafe 3

The tea shop and eatery is the culmination of a lifelong dream for its owner Amy Sherburne in a couple unexpected ways. She had always hoped to open her own restaurant and cafe, and to help people.

“I’ve always had a passion to cook,” she said, noting she began cooking as a young girl beside her mother and grandmother.

“It’s part of our culture,” she said, smiling, “I’m Lebanese.”

And, the artful Lebanese love to help people almost as much as they love to cook. So, cooking and making a difference in someone’s life, someone who needed an opportunity, seemed to fit together.

“A couple years ago, my husband and I discovered a unique tea shop in

Upstate New York where they bring a pot of tea to the table and offer a large selection of teas,” she said. “We love tea and asked ourselves why don’t we have something like this in Olean.”

The answer came this winter when they opened their tea cafe, adjoining the renovated OBI building on 301 N. Union St., Olean.

Immediately their tea cafe was a big hit in Olean. In fact, it’s so busy, the Sherburnes decided to reserve offering their High Tea for Sunday afternoons in February, simply because their cafe is too busy during the week for the delicate, leisurely traditional English tea.

The second part of Amy’s goal was found as soon as Nicole Herbert, who has been with the Employment Connection’s Supported Employment program, came in for an interview.,dressed to start work as a dishwasher right away.

Tea Cafe 2“We were impressed with Nicole and decided to give her a chance,” Amy said.

The Supported Employment program, which has 50 people currently employed and 15 job searching, places people in jobs with local employers and provides on-going job coaching to ensure a successful employment outcome.

“Nicole is such a great fit, just perfect right from the beginning,” Amy said. “I’m happy to see her come into work. She has a system and does it right.
“As a business owner, it can be a challenge to find the right person for a job and when that happens, it’s a great feeling.

You try to put people in positions in which they’ll do well.”

The Union Tea Cafe is open Monday through Thursday 8:30 am to 6 pm; Friday 8:30 am – 8 pm, and Saturday 8 am – 3 pm. In February, high tea will be offered on Sundays. Stay tuned for more on their website: www.unionteacafe.com.

For more on Supported Employment: www.rehabcenter.org/vocational-services/




Agency calls on NYS for living wage for DSPs


The Rehab Center, along with other NYS-ARC agencies throughout the state, is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to increase DSPs salary to a living wage.

As compassionately as the Agency cares for the people we support, we are equally passionate about supporting our Direct Support Professionals who are the hands that care for the people, and the hearts and minds who listen to them. Support means helping them earn a living wage to make it possible for them to continue to care for the people we care about.

Despite the accolades they deserve, they also have to pay their rent, feed and clothe their children and somehow live on wages comparable to those of fast food workers.

In almost every single case, when you ask them what it is they like best about their jobs, they say, “It’s the folks.”
For their dedication, commitment and hard work, they deserve a living wage. DSPs and seven major advocacy associations in New York State have spent the last year advocating for Governor Cuomo to include $45 million in his current budget to take the initial step to improving wages. To date, he has not responded.

In a video produced to promote the BFair2DirectCare campaign, NYS ARC spoke to Mari Howard, Russ Hahn, Missy Garcia Bautista, Keith Pierce, and Brian Quinn. The video is on the Agency’s Facebook.

This week Olean Times Herald Reporter, Kate Day Sager wrote a comprehensive and well researched two-part feature series highlighting the hard work DSPs face daily,  their commitment to the people they support and the personal challenges of living on minimum wage.

The following are reprints of the series.  The Agency asks for your support in our initiative.



Support Professionals ask for support

Support Professionals ask for support 2

Nursing is a joy for residential LPN

Nursing is a joy for residential LPN

Carolyn Lawson 005 photoshoppedCarolyn Lawson worked for Olean General Hospital for 19 years before coming to the ReHab Center four years ago.  She thought she loved her job at the hospital until she met the people she cares for at the three residences where she’s an LPN.

“I love my job,” she said, matter-of-factly.  “It’s actually a job I truly enjoy.  I found my niche.”

She began at Hinsdale and then Big 6 was added, and more recently Fall Road joined her already busy schedule.

While Carolyn is working closer to 60 hours a week rather than her regular 40 hours, she’s happy for the extra hours. She rises at 3:30 am to be at Fall Road by 5 am to give meds. Despite the early hour, she looks forward to her day ahead.

So, what makes the difference between her years at the hospital and her job as a nurse at the residences?

“It’s the folks,” she said, smiling.  “Here at Fall Road there are 11 people.  They’re so open, they make you feel so appreciated, so valued.”

“Whenever I go anywhere in the Agency, like SubCon, when they see me, they jump up to say hi and just make me feel so good.”

In addition to giving meds, she provides medical care which may include breathing treatments, and dressing changes and direct care as needed. But, one of the perks of the job is joining them on recreational activities away from the residence.

“I’ve been on trips to Niagara Falls, the Erie Zoo and to Country Western concerts,” she said, adding “There are all kinds of fun things that people don’t realize we do.”

The job isn’t easier than the nursing she did at the hospital, but the people have embraced her, welcomed her, and in so many ways given back to her as much as she’s given to them.  It’s the bond of friendship she feels that makes her know she’ll be working as an LPN for the ReHab Center for many more years.

Family Care, a gift from the heart

Family Care, a gift from the heart

rehabcenterphoto-6 photoshopped

It’s hard to imagine the historic old house, now a beehive of activity as a home and family care residence, was once the site where Verne Cummins ran the Cummins Cider Mill.
The former cider mill was artfully redesigned with a vaulted cathedral ceiling and winding stairway to an upper loft to make room for an expanding family.

Today, it is home to Verne’s nephew, Jerry Cummins and his wife, Deb, who raised their four children there and now provide family care support to Jeff, Bruce and Rhonda who are as much a part of the family as their own four children and seven grandchildren.

ccm-history-1-326x191“The cider mill is not owned by the family anymore. It’s out in Portville, but this area here was where the mill was,” Jerry said, gesturing to the large open living area, seasoned with a nautical theme reflecting Jerry’s years in the Navy amid large comfortable furniture for the home’s many occupants.  Jerry was born in the house but returned with his wife, Deb, to take care of his aging parents and her mom. Verne passed away in 2007 at the age of 95.

Virginia and Verne Cummins at the Cummins Cider Mill, which they ran  in Allegany from 1935 – 1945.

Today, Jerry is a retired paramedic with Allegany Rescue EMS. Deb, who was a nursing assistant at Olean General Hospital where she worked with children with some disabilities, still feels a strong commitment to nurturing and supporting others. For both, it was a natural decision to support people in the Family Care program in their home.

Both Jerry and Deb have a long history of supporting people with disabilities which has set the tone for the entire family. Their compassion and understanding for others is reflected in their children who are also in caring professions, and even in their grandchildren who grew up among the people the family has supported in the Cummins’ home throughout the past 25 years.

“I’ve always had an overwhelming need to help other people,” Deb said.

“As a child, I thought I’d like to be a nurse, then I saw a different plan. I like being able to interact with people and help them.

“Our being together like this is a blessing. As my children were growing up, they learned to not be afraid of people with disabilities. Because of it, my children and grandchildren are comfortable with people who are different.”

Deb shared an incident involving her son who was a security guard at the casino at the time. When he noticed someone in a wheelchair having a seizure, he immediately stepped in to help, surprising people around him who were unsure how to react.

“It’s just a seizure,” Deb recalled him saying to the people as he stepped in to help the young man.

“My son knew all about seizures from his experience with the people here,” she said. “Too often people are afraid of people with disabilities. Our work in Family Care has been a real benefit to all of our children and grandchildren.”

Her loving, but no-nonsense nurturing style has won her the respect of her children, grandchildren and the many people she and Jerry have supported over the years.

“I tell Deb and Jerry, you guys are my second mother and father,” Jeff said, smiling affectionately at Deb.

“Jeff is going to stay with us a long as we can take care of him,” Deb said.
Jeff worked at SubCon for 30 years on jobs from working on the loading dock to folding boxes and assembling cups.

The other residents include Bruce, who has lived with the Cummins for five years and attends Continuing Day Treatment and Rhonda who attends Lifeskills. They have bonded almost as siblings.

rehabcenterphoto-2“Jeff is like my big bro, and Deb is like, mom,” Bruce said.

Before Deb and Jerry stepped up as Family Care providers, they tested the waters by providing respite which is a short term care.

There are more than a dozen Family Care Providers, who provide a caring home to 23 individuals.

Another caring Family Care provider we spoke with is Suzanne Petti who has been providing Family Care for 27 years to John who works for the Agency’s SubCon Cleaning Solutions.  He earns an income from his job and is able to purchase his own clothes and care for his own, beloved cat, Sylvester.

Ditta 014
Ditta 015


Suzanne describes John as kind, neat, responsible and  an important part of their family.

Raymond, who works a the Agency’s InTandem Solutions and was formerly a person we supported, also lives in a Family Care residence.

Family Care 003He is a perfect example of someone who has matriculated out of the Agency’s work center and is now employed in the “real world” working environment of InTandem Solutions.

He began his relationship with the ReHab Center as a young child in the former Children’s Learning Center. Family Care providers ensure all medical appointments are met, medications are taken on time, and encourage people to learn new skills to live more independently which include personal hygiene, cooking, recreation, employment and money management, and keeping their rooms clean. They keep a regular schedule, usually go to work or attend day services, and usually participate in family vacations and holidays.

Each Family Care provider receives monthly room and board payments for each individual living in the home. A Difficulty of Care payment is also allocated monthly according to the needs of the individual.

To learn more about the Family Care program, please contact Linda Cavana at 375-4747, ext. 157.

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.

Tommy is appreciative of the warm hat and gloves he also received through the Wish Tree project of the Foundation.
“About 30 families were helped by the Wish Trees,” Elena Bombardier, development director, said.
“I would say more than 60 percent of the gifts requested were brought in by the community.”

The Foundation supplemented to ensure everyone received at least one or two items. In some cases the MSCs purchased gifts for the people they support because brittany-tarr-wit-santathey knew what the people needed.

“Brittany has tiny feet, and we weren’t sure we’d be able to find shoes her size, but fortunately we did,” Karen said.

There are currently 18 MSCs, who have up to 42 people they support each month.

The Foundation is grateful to those who either donated online or purchased gifts and brought them to the Admin Building, Good Times of Olean, or the Olean YMCA.

“We are really appreciative of the community support,” Elena said, adding “we are overwhelmed with the generosity and spirit of giving and the community collaboration.

A special Thank You to all supporters, including many Agency staff members, the Olean YMCA, Good Times of Olean and Mastel Ford.
Through your gift of caring, Maggie has new boots, and other children have warm winter clothing and toys.

If you would like to support the great work of the ReHab Center, we wlcome any donatation which you can make on the Foundation’s web page at rehabcenter.org/foundation

Rehab Wish Tree brings single mom holiday hope

brittany-photoshoppedRehab Wish Tree brings single mom holiday hope

The season may be blogo2right with the excitement of children’s “sugar plum dancing in their heads,” or of dasher and dancer and lonely little Rudolph.

But, for mothers and fathers of less abundant means, the holiday tugs at their hearts.  Do they pay their bills late to make a memorable Christmas for their child? Certainly none suffer more with this dilemma than Brittany, a single mom, living on her SubCon Industries pay with higher than usual heating bills nipping at her wallet.


While tucked under a warm comforter during winter’s first Arctic blast, Brittany is off work as she recuperates from a broken ankle. Despite her circumstances, she is hopeful her nine-year-old daughter, Maggie, will receive a favorite toy for Christmas this year. “Maggie loves Shopkins and we’re hoping The Rehab Center Wish Tree will be able to help us get them for her,” Brittany said. Maggie lives with Brittany, and her grandmother Norma, and uncle in a small trailer in Olean.

“She loves doing crafts,” Brittany said, adding last year’s Wish Tree gave Maggie craft makings which made her Christmas brighter. The family trailer may be small, as Norma says, but they manage. And, it seems, the family’s financial circumstances don’t limit Brittany’s abundant smiles and hopes for a happy Christmas for her daughter.


There are more than 150 requests for items on The Rehab Center’s Wish Trees, located at the YMCA Olean Branch on Wayne Street or Good Times of Olean. Many requests are for warm clothing and household necessities and are between $5-$25.


To help a family like Brittany’s simply take a tag off the tree, purchase the gift and return it to either location with the tag attached. You can also sponsor an individual or family online at www.rehabcenter.org/wishtree


The Rehab Center Wish Tree is a community collaboration that helps bring meaningful Christmas gifts img_2023to the people The Rehabilitation Center supports and their families, who may not receive a gift otherwise.

Thank you for making the holidays brighter for the people we support!

2017 Seafood Fest

Seafood Fest Olean NY

Presented by Our Admiral Sponsors:
Bryans & Gramuglia CPA’sUnivera HealthcareIroquois Group, Inc. 

Relph Benefit Advisors AN ALERA GROUP COMPANY  Kinley Corp of NY 

14th Annual Seafood Fest: Friday, March 24th 

Thanks to overwhelming community support, the 2017 Event is sold out!

Please e-mail or call us to be notified of next years event!

The Rehabilitation Foundation’s 14th Annual Seafood Fest promises another exciting night on the high seas to benefit the important work of the Rehab Center. This years event is planned for Friday, March 24th, 2017 at The Old Library Event Center in Olean, NY. This event usually sells out quickly, so mark your calendars!

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




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.

Why is this so?  In order to understand how rates of anxiety disorders have increased it is helpful to first learn about the complex and varied nature of the disorders themselves. For example, generalized anxiety disorder causes sufferers to worry not about a specific thing, but instead to worry excessively about many things. Everyday stressors and concerns become magnified and can lead to a vulnerable state in which daily functioning is impaired. Panic Disorder, on the other hand, involves acute episodes of severe anxiety which many later describe as feeling like dying, having a heart attack, or “going crazy.” These episodes are commonly known as panic attacks. In between such episodes the individual lives in constant fear of the next attack occurring. Phobias are very specific fears involving an intense, incapacitating fear of certain objects, places or situations in which the fear is greatly exaggerated and out of proportion to the actual danger or threat posed. A person may dislike spiders, but a person with a phobia of spiders is intensely afraid at even seeing images of spiders, may go to great lengths to avoid places where spiders might be, and in general has altered their everyday behavior based on their fear.  Many individuals have agoraphobia, more commonly known as social phobia, which is a fear of social situations and being with larger groups of people. Such persons may isolate themselves by foregoing such routine social outings such as grocery shopping, riding the bus or visiting family and friends.

Fortunately, there exist well-researched and proven treatments for those suffering from anxiety disorders. Typical treatments recommended include talk therapy, or counseling, and in some cases the use of an anti-anxiety medication. Common talk therapy approaches often involve helping patients examine their worrisome thoughts from a more objective perspective. Next, they are challenged to modify these ‘irrational’ thoughts by replacing them with ‘rational’ ones that are based on what is occurring in real life, and not on exaggerated, distorted thoughts and feelings. Phobias are often treated in a similar way but many include an approach known as systematic desensitization, in which the person is gradually exposed to their specific fear during increasing periods of time. The individual intensely afraid of snakes may begin by first talking about snakes with their therapist and then looking at pictures of them. Eventually they may be directed to visit a pet store or zoo and observe snakes in their cages, or even touch or hold a snake.  During all of these sessions the therapist is helping the person monitor their level of anxiety and work to control it.

As mentioned, medications are sometimes prescribed to assist persons with managing more moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety. Such medications are typically the domain of the psychiatrist, although primary care physicians are now prescribing these as well. Anti-anxiety medications are often used in conjunction with talk therapy, as research shows outcomes are often improved when both treatments are used together.

Whatever form of anxiety one may have, the most important thing is getting proper treatment. Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma related to mental health disorders and this can prevent those who need help from getting it. If you happen to know of someone currently experiencing persistent worry, panic attacks, or specific fears severe enough that they are becoming a problem with daily living, don’t hesitate to provide support and help them access treatment. In today’s modern world life is tough enough…but it doesn’t have to be made even tougher with an anxiety disorder.


‘We Remember Committee’ honors those who have passed

Dan Evans, owner of PleasantValley Greenhouses & Nursery, provides wreathes to Linda Manross for the graves of people we supported.

Dan Evans, owner of Pleasant Valley Greenhouses & Nursery, provides wreaths to Linda Manross for the graves of people we supported.

The lives of 40 people we once supported are remembered with gratitude, as our staff and a local business give back.

Linda Manross and Mike MacWilliams, both of whom launched the Agency’s staff-supported “We Remember Committee” several years ago, placed wreaths on graves of people we once supported in St. Bonaventure, Allegany and Five Mile cemeteries, all in Allegany; Mt. View in Olean, Pleasant Valley in Hinsdale, Crawford and Calvary cemeteries in Salamanca, and Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Portville.

“The goal of the We Remember Committee is to ensure that we remember those who have passed away by taking care of their graves. Flowers are planted in the spring in addition to the distribution of Christmas wreaths,” Mike said.

“The committee wants to ensure that these graves get regular and respectful care.  This effort is a demonstration of the special bond between the agency, the staff and those that we supported.  It is a clear demonstration to the community that indeed we are a family and that our commitment continues after folks have passed away.”

The committee also includes Allen Frank, Lisa Phearsdorf, and Mickey Harwood.

The wreaths are supplied by Pleasant Valley Greenhouses at a reduced cost due to Dan Evans’ shared commitment to remembering those who have died. Funds are also provided by The Rehabilitation Foundation. Through generous donations and community support, The Foundation financially assists The Rehabilitation Center’s programs and services, and people with disabilities in the community, who have a financial need and nowhere else to turn. Learn More Here

Wish Tree Project




A big thank you to Good Times of Olean, the Olean YMCA, Mastel Ford and all supporters of the 2016 Wish Tree Project! Over 100 gifts were purchased and over 30 families were able to exchange Christmas gifts thanks to this project. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Holiday Candle Sale!

Holiday Candle Sale! Support a local badusiness and local people.

16oz. Hand-poured, eco-friendly soy candles. Available in 12 fragrances. These make a perfect Holiday Gift! We have partnered with The Potato Creek Candle Company out of Smethport, PA on a Holiday Candle Sale fundraiser. Proceeds from the sale benefit The Rehabilitation Foundation. The Foundation financially assists programs and services of The Rehabilitation Center and people with disabilities in the community.

Candles are $15 each, and can be picked up at The Rehab Center Admin Building (1439 Buffalo Street, Olean, NY 14760) or shipped for an additional $5 (select option at checkout).
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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


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.”

Being a firefighter was also a way to debrief from the intensity of combat and allowed him to continue the service which gives a deeper meaning to his life.

“In many ways, firefighting is like going into battle,” Steve said. “It’s a battle of a different kind. When you’re in combat you don’t know what’s going to happen and it’s kind of along the same lines with a fire.  You don’t know what’s behind that door or on the other side of that wall.  There’s a surprise around every corner.”

Steve has worked for the ReHab Center for six years, is married to Amy and have two beautiful children.  His service to his country, his community and his family has made a priceless difference. He clearly has succeeded in being a leader who is making a difference through his service to others.


Cruising the Caribbean as war clouds gathered on horizon
chuck-tyler-w-nancy-ogdenChuck Tyler was only 17 when he set sail to the high seas for the adventure of a lifetime.  He joined the Marines in 1959 and served until 1963.

While his service was during the Cold War and between wars, it was not without international tensions.  He was stationed on the U.S.S. Boxer for two years during which he participated in eight cruises in the Caribbean.

During that time, the Cuban Missile Crisis threatened the free world with a possible nuclear launch by Russia from San Cristobal, Cuba. After the failed attempt by the U.S. to overthrow the Castro regime, the Soviet Union constructed missile sites to deter any future U.S. invasions.

After discovering nuclear missile sites were under construction, on October 22, 1962 President Kennedy demanded the Soviet Union remove them.  The nation held its breath

awaiting a truce between the two nuclear-armed nations.  Finally, on October 28 both countries agreed to back down.

During that time, Chuck was on the U.S.S. Boxer cruising the Caribbean with a ship full of Marines ready to storm the beaches of Cuba.

“During the Cuba Missile Crisis we were just south of Cuba, loaded with all these Marines who were trained and ready to play war games in Cuba,” Chuck said, adding, “I was aware the U.S. was more prepared for whatever might happen than a lot of people realize. We were prepared to go into Cuba and evacuate our military should that be necessary.”

Thankfully, it wasn’t.

“Today, the U.S. is just as prepared, much more than people realize,” he said.

In 1964, after he finished his four years, Chuck returned home, got married, and moved to California where his son and daughter were born. Later, the family moved to Indiana for a couple years before returning to Humphrey where they settled down as he worked at then Dresser-Clark for the next 22 years.

His father and son were both also Marines.  His father served during World War II in the Pacific, and his son served during the Persian Gulf War, but sadly lost his life in a helicopter crash in 1985.

When Chuck’s wife died in 2006, he slipped into a deep, dark depression, and remained alone at home for well over a year. After he began coming to the Linwood Center, he got his life back.

“Now, everything is better because of Linwood. This place helps a lot of people more than anyone realizes. You have to associate with other people to be mentally intact,” he said, smiling as he headed back into the bright cheerful room full of his friends waiting for him to play Bingo.


Out of the Air Force into the Fire Department

chuck-tyler-003When Raymond Limerick and a buddy decided to join the Air Force together in 1955, they couldn’t have imagined the challenge of basic training in Central New York in deep winter.

“We did basic training in February at the Geneva Air Force base,” he said, recalling the bitter cold of that first winter, reminiscent of the legendary February winter at Valley Forge in 1777.

“It was very cold.  There was snow coming through the cracks in the barracks,” he said.

Originally, he’d hoped to be a medical technician.  But, after more than a month waiting for his orders, it turned out the Air Force had other plans for the two men.

“I was sent to the Air Force Academy in Denver for electronics training,” he said. “We were there for 34 weeks. I learned electronics and worked as a technician on the flight simulator.”

After he graduated from the Air Force Academy, he worked in various places including Long Island.  In 1959, four years and one month after he signed up, Raymond retired with the rank of sergeant.

He returned home to Olean, married, and went to work at the Tile Plant.

But the spirit of service lingered in the heart of the young man now fresh out of the service. Raymond decided to take the Social Service test to be a firefighter.

While his time in the Air Force had not brought him into active duty or sent him into cross fire, he spent the next 34 years of his post military life doing just that.

Ray served as a firefighter for the City of Olean until 1993 when he retired.

“It’s a long time to be retired,” he said, adding he enjoys the time he spends with his friends at the Linwood Center. “I enjoy the games and the people. It’s a great place. We all have a lot in common.”

The Linwood Center is an adult day service program sponsored by the ReHabilitation Center for adults over age 60 who require additional support in order to remain independent in their homes.  Services include breakfast and lunch, mind stimulating activities, socialization, and assistance with personal care and case management.  These services promote an improved quality of life while providing support, respite and guidance to family members and caregivers.  Nancy Ogden is supervisor of the Linwood Center, located in the Center’s Allegany site on Nine Mile Rd., Allegany.


In the air, over the sea, and on a bus . . .

recalling their years in and out of the service












Cliff Lowe, Bernie Lyaski and Jack Peters share military experiences

at a weekly Veteran’s Group led by Patty Blue at the YMCA.


In the hope he could join his older brother in the 101 st Army Airborne division during Vietnam, Cliff told his mom one morning he was going to enlist.  Fully expecting to see his brother soon, he took the long bus ride from Ishua up to Buffalo to enlist in the Army.

“But, when they found out that my brother was already in the Army, as the only other son, they sent me home,” he said.  “I was really disappointed.  I wanted to enlist.”

When he returned home later that day, his mother didn’t believe him.  She called the draft and discovered he was right.  His brother spent the next 30 years in the Army while Cliff stayed in Ishua.

“I built a house within 100 feet from my family home,” he said.

While Cliff would have liked to serve his country in the military, he accepts it wasn’t his destiny. But, his willingness to serve puts him in good stead with his friends in the YMCA Wednesday afternoon men’s group, many of whom are veterans. The group is led by Patty Blue, the Agency’s behavioral health care coordinator on location at the YMCA.

His friends, Bernie Lyaski and Jack Peters, both of whom were in the military between Korean and Vietnam wars, did not experience actual combat duty.

“I was in from 1953 – 57 at the tail end of Korea,” Bernie said, wearing his Navy USS Newport News hat, and adding the USS Newport News was stationed out of Norfolk, Va.

“I was an electrician’s mate and got out just under four years,” he said, adding his ship cruised through Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean, Dardanelles, Caribbean, and Panama Canal each year.

“We had the same schedule each year,” he said, adding he looked forward to spring when the ship was in the Caribbean.

Jack enlisted in the Air Force during the end of the Korean War in 1951 and served until 1955.

“I was busy installing radar sites,” he said, adding, “After that, I was part of the Atomic Energy Commission.”

After their years in the service, both Bernie and Jack returned home to Olean and went to work at Dresser- Clark, where they worked for more than 40 years. They’ve been retired more than 20 years and enjoy the opportunity the group offers them to  talk about their lifetime experiences.

“Both men had worked together at Dresser and never realized they were both coming here to the Y,” Patty said, adding she began the group soon after she began working as a behavioral health care coordinator for the YMCA and ReHab Center.  “This was a great way for them to reconnect.”



The Rehab Center is grateful to all veterans, and especially some of our own men and women who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice.



Comedy Night Raises Money for Foundation


A Good Time for a Good Cause!

It was a night of laughs and levity.  The Rehabilitation Foundation’s Comedy Night, held Saturday, November 5 in the Premier Banquet Center in Olean, featured stand-up comedians Tony Boswell and Bill Boronkay.

The evening included entertainment, basket drawings, 50/50 raffles, food, and drinks. The  Foundation drew winners for the “Fly Away Giveaway” and awarded three winners with either #jetBlue Airline Tickets or cash.

“We had a great time and would definitely return,” said an Olean Rotarian Club member.

“The comedians were funnier than last year!” said another.

Proceedimg_0956s from the evening support  Foundation grants or scholarships which financially assist specific needs and requests on behalf of the ReHab Center.

In the past, the Foundation has provided home safety modifications for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, assisted agency programs that receive no designated funding, funded participation for the people we support in  recreation trips, and provided funding for clothing and transportation to enhance the people we support in their pursuit of jobs.

The ReHab Center and Foundation are grateful to the generous community support that supports the Agency’s mission.

THANK YOU to timg_0937hose who attended the event, and an even bigger THANK YOU to our corporate sponsors:

  • A Jason Clemons Salon
  • Allen’s Wine & Liquor
  • One Group
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY
  • Bryans and Gramuglia CPAs, LLC
  • Community Bank, N.A.
  • Comfort Zone
  • Kessel Construction
  • Kinley Corporation
  • Mazza Mechanical Services, Inc.img_0871
  • Peterson Roofing Co., Inc.
  • Valley Tire, Inc.
  • Dan Horn Pharmacy and Health Services
  • Orthodontists Associates of Western NY
  • Olean Times Herald
  • JG Stein General Dentistry
  • Nephrology Services Medical Group of Olean & Bradford
  • PeaceMaker Mediation


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.


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.


Fly Away Giveaway Raffle

Win A Trip or Cash!

GRAND PRIZE – Fly Away Getaway:

(2) Round Trip jetBlue Airline Tickets & $300 Rental Car Certificate

1st Prize: $100    2nd Prize: $50



1 for $5 -or- 3 for $10

Get them at one of our three buildings:
  • Rehabilitation Center Admin Building: 1439 Buffalo Street, Olean, NY 14760
  • Subcon Olean: 338 N 15th St, Olean, NY 14760
  • Allegany Building: 3799 South 9 Mile Rd., Allegany, NY

Can’t stop in but want a ticket?

Contact The Rehabilitation Foundation: foundation@rehabcenter.org

716-375-4720 ext. 562


Drawing will be held on November 5th, 2016 at our Comedy Night Event. You do not need to be present to win. Winner will be contacted by phone and/or e-mail. * Certain Restrictions may apply. Tickets can be used for any domestic location where jetBlue flies*

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.”

foundation-scholarships-mari-and-jessicaThe Jacob J. Karl Memorial Staff Scholarship, named for the late county legislator who served on the ReHab Center’s board of governors and was instrumental in promoting the Agency’s growth during the 1970s, was presented to Jessica Preston (left, with Mari Howard). Jessica has worked for the agency for four years and plans to pursue a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from University of Buffalo.

“This degree would help me understand and be able to help the people we support with problems and ways to help resolve these problems,” Jessica said.

The Charlotte Frost Memorial Nursing Award was established to enhance educational opportunities for nursing professionals. It is named for the parent of a child with a disability who was also one of the founding members of the Rehab Center. She was president of the Agency’s board of directors for ten years.

“She was a graduate of the Buffalo Children’s Hospital School of Nursing,” Mari said, adding, “Char is remembered for her strength, caring, talent, energy, commitment, generosity, advocacy and will always be an inspiration to the ReHab Center and the community.”

foundation-scholarships-alyssa-and-mari-howardThis award was presented to Alyssa Richardson (left, with Mari Howard) who began working for the ReHab Center in 2008 in the Children’s Learning Center. After taking some time off after the birth of her daughter, she returned in 2015 to work at the Fall Road residence as a Direct Support Professional. She was transferred to Prospect Avenue in December, where she works today.

Alyssa began a nursing degree program this fall and plans to use the funds to support her nursing education.
“I always knew I wanted to work with people,” Alyssa said, “but it wasn’t until I was given the opportunity to work at The ReHab Center that I realized I loved the medical aspect of full care support.”

The Mary Tremaine Memorial Staff Award is given in memory of Mary, who was a residential services quality assurance manager and worked at the ReHab Center for more than 10 years.

Mary is remembered as “dynamic, vivacious with an upbeat personality, with a strong work ethic and tenacity,” Mari Howard said.

The award was presented to Jessica Preston.

The Rebecca Ann Hellier Memorial Staff Scholarship was established by members of Rebecca’s family and honors the memory of a bright and loving young woman who lived for many years at the Agency’s home for children and young adults on Fall Road.

“The scholarship was designed to aid in the educational advancement of a ReHab Center employee who is especially interested in leading and inspiring other individuals learn more about supporting people with disabilities,” Mari said, naming Kristina Miller as this year’s award recipient.

Kristina is currently studying social sciences at JCC and will graduate with her associates this fall. She plans to attend St. Bonaventure this spring.

“I hope to acquire more knowledge about mental health conditions such as Autism, Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar disorder,” Kristina said, adding, “I feel that furthering my education will help me better understand the thoughts and actions of our folks.”

The Eaton Family memorial Award, established by the Eaton Family in honor of its loving husband and father, Daniel Eaton.
foundation-scholarships-lisa-and-jessica“This award recognizes two staff members who consistently give 110%,” Mari said, naming Lisa Powless and Jessica Preston as award recipients.

“Lisa has worked for the Agency for 13 years and is a very strong advocate for the people we support and has excellent working relationships with them,” Mari said.

“She expresses interest in their lives, and with her calm demeanor and great sense of humor, the folks demonstrate more interest in learning and achieving independence. Lisa is an asset to the Lifeskills program and to the agency overall.

“Lisa’s self-motivation and determination has allowed her to build a bridge between the residential houses and day program.”
Jessica, who received two previous awards, “is a very hard worker,” Mari said.


Jessica Preston, Mari Howard, and Lisa Powless and in photo left / above.

“She is available whenever needed, is compassionate to the people we support and the staff. She goes above and beyond her required hours to spend extra time with the folks on a regular basis.”

foundation-scholarships-family-support-servicesThe final award is the Roger Hennig Memorial Arts Enrichment Grant. The grant was established in 1990 in memory of Roger Hennig, who had muscular dystrophy. He graduated from Olean High School in 1970 and participated in the ReHab Center’s workshop program.

“His life exemplified what people can achieve regardless of disability,” Mari said, adding Roger did not let his physical limitations deter him from getting the most out of life.

“Roger was a deep thinker who enjoyed painting and writing, which reflect his philosophical and spiritual approach to life,” Mari said. “He passed away in 1985, but his passion, determination and memory will always live on in this memorial.”


Jamie Canfield, and Aimee Kaple and Angie Ritchie (left) accepted the award on behalf of the Agency’s Family Support Services program.

“The grant will be used for outings that our families normally would not be able to go to because of the needs of the youth,” Angie said, adding Family Support Services received the grant also last year.  The program will continue the types of programs which had successful outcomes.

“The families have been very excited about the activities and experience they otherwise may not have had.  One family told us they thought a visit to the Corning Glass Museum would be too challenging because of their youth,” Angie said.  “Each family shared a great experience.”

Garden abundance



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.
Pam began her career in direct support care at Buffalo Road and then Prospect Avenue before coming to the Youth Home when it first opened.
She blends s a caring compassion with a youthful enthusiasm as she supports the eight teenagers who live there. She and others on the staff receive a considerable amount of in-service training in trauma-informed care.
“Since many of the kids come from some rough backgrounds, you have to build trust because each one has been traumatized at some point,” she said, adding that simple, joint tasks such as gardening together helps build that important trust.

Affirming respect


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.

Today, she is also an advocate for protecting the people we support as an instructor in crisis prevention intervention.

“I want people to feel safe. They can come to me if they’re feeling disrespected,” she said, citing an incidence where one of the people in Lifeskills came to her and shared with her an upsetting experience.

An individual in her Lifeskills class was uncomfortable about something that had happened and wanted to report the incident, but felt unsure of himself.  He was confused by what had happened and needed to know what she thought.

After she heard him out, she affirmed his experience and assured him it would be the right thing to report it.

“I told him, ‘if you think it wasn’t safe, then it wasn’t; and if you think it was wrong, it was wrong’,” she said.

“I am here to make the people I work with the happiest most independent they can be.  I want them to be safe and respected and be able to make the choices that make them the happiest and be able to do things they love – things they have always dreamed of.”

She works to give them the tools and opportunities to self-advocate in a healthy, positive way and feel assured the staff that will have their best interests at heart.

“When he came in and told me what happened and asked what I thought,  I told him, ‘I believe it was true. I believe you’re not kidding,’” she said.

“They need to feel protected.  They want to be loved. Their stories – both happy and frustrating – are important to me,”

Allowing space to grow



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.

Power of the mind


Alyssa Richardson began her career with the Agency at the Children’s Learning Center.
Since, she has worked for several of the residences as a Direct Support Professional, including Hinsdale, Fall Road, Buffalo Road, Five Mile,  and now at Prospect Avenue where she’s worked since December, 2015. She is now med certified and working on a degree in nursing.
While today, her gentle nature reflects an inner calm and commitment to the people she supports, it wasn’t always that easy for her.
“When I first started, I was terrified. I didn’t know if I could do this,” she said, “but after meeting the folks, I decided I could do it. Now, I do whatever I can and for whomever.”
As for other DSPs, listening for cues from those who are non-verbal is important to knowing what they need and how she can respond to those needs.
“It’s hard not to get emotionally attached,” she said, adding she has moved from one end of the care spectrum to the other. Her work as a DSP at Fall Road where the residents’ needs are primarily physical to Prospect Avenue where they have higher behavioral health needs.
“At Prospect we offer emotional support to people with behavioral health needs,” she said, sharing that one of the residents is often fearful and needs reassurance he is safe.
“Almost daily, one of our residents who has been diagnosed schizophrenic will ask if the voices he hears are real. I assure him they are not and that he is safe,” she said, compassionately. “I can’t imagine what that must be like for him. But, he feels safe in his room. After I assure him, he’s safe, he’ll go in his room and lie down. He knows no one will go in his room. It’s his safe place.”
Currently, her class schedule includes a unit on psychology, which is helpful in her work at Prospect.
“It’s incredible the power your mind has on your body,” she said. “Everybody needs the reassurance that they’re doing ok. Hearing you’re doing a good job can totally change everyone’s day. It’s a big relief for them.”
For Alyssa, it’s a good feeling to know that something as little as offering the reassurance that no one is going to hurt her resident means so much and makes such a big difference to him.
“We can’t stop the voices he hears, but we can help him feel safe and that makes him happy. He’s doing really well now,” she said, adding, “We all need confidence boosting.”
When someone comes to her with an emotional issue or concern, she invites that person to “talk about it,” for 5 to 10 minutes.
“That’s usually all they need – is to be heard and to talk about what’s on their mind,” she said.
In addition to reassuring residents of their safety in the house, she encourages them to self-advocate for themselves and take responsibility for their needs. By empowering them to self-advocate she helps them reduce their own feelings of vulnerability.
“By self-advocating, it’s on him to take responsibility for himself,” she said, adding by speaking up, a need is met which is emotionally empowering and healing.



Comedy Night!

Who’s Ready to Laugh for a Good Cause?

Thank you to all who joined us for 2016 Comedy Night. Hope to see you next year!

A Jason Clemons Salon
Allen’s Wine & Liquor
One Group
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York
Bryans and Gramuglia CPAs, LLC
Community Bank, N.A.
Comfort Zone
Kessel Construction
Mazza Mechanical Services, Inc.
Peterson Roofing Co., Inc.
Valley Tire Company
Dan Horn Pharmacy and Health Services
Orthodontists Associates of Western New York
Olean Times Herald
J. G. Stein General Dentistry
Kinley Corporation
Nephrology Services Medical Group of Olean & Bradford

Pathways mentors plan for success

Pathways mentors plan for success


Don Salter’s internship working at the Best Western Plus hotel in downtown Olean helped him discover what it’s like to work in an active downtown hotel. As part of The Rehabilitation Center’s Pathway to Employment program, he stepped into all aspects of the hospitality business to determine if that’s the kind of work he’d like to do on a permanent basis.

Pathway to Employment, funded by OPWDD, is one of the agency’s new person-centered vocational programs that offers individuals the opportunity to explore a variety of jobs, identify preferred careers, and develop a plan for obtaining employment in their community.  Individuals enrolled in the program participate in career exploration, discovery, and job readiness training to enhance their personal skills and create a path to success in the workplace.

Donald has worked for Subcon Industries, a safe and familiar work center, for the last 12 years.  Enrolling in the Pathway program offered him an opportunity to carefully consider a different career path and make an informed decision about his future.  Job coaching and staff support are provided through out the program.  This assured Don he had back up and would never be alone without Agency support.

Bill Dombrowski, General Manager of Best Western Plus, Olean, understood exactly how Don felt.  He began his own career at One-Stop employment before coming to Best Western almost five years ago. He knows first-hand how a teaspoon of opportunity can lead to a gallon of success. Consequently, he’s always on the look out to help someone else succeed. That was the case for Don. EMPCON_12315.0099

“Individuals in the program try out a variety of jobs for a few months to determine their own personal goals so they can pursue permanent employment,” said Deborah Poydock-Whipple, one of Don’s coaches and the agency Community Site Developer.  “When they complete the Pathway program they begin job development and look for permanent work.”

Don found a mentor in Bill, who saw his inherent capability through intangible character skills that are pivotal qualities for success in any business.  All Don needed was some encouragement to develop greater self-confidence.

Five years ago Bill, who was young, inexperienced, but highly motivated, began working in the maintenance department at Best Western. After two and a half years, he moved up to the front desk position.

“That’s when things started to get interesting,” he said, adding that only two years later, he found himself in the assistant general manager position.  A year later, he was the general manager. “In two years, we’ve taken this hotel from the bottom 40 percent to the top five,” Bill said, proving his employee-empowerment ethic is the gold standard for success.  He says “we” because he sees the rapid success of the Best Western Plus in Olean is the result of to the excitement, enthusiasm and will “to go out of their way in customer satisfaction” by the team.  Of course, he stirred up that excitement, modeled customer service, and empowered everyone who works there to be successful.

The single quality that makes Bill exceptional is his positive attitude that sees the potential in others and unleashes the power in that potential.

Bill saw that potential quietly shining behind Don’s bright smile.

“Bill looks for employees who have a good personality and are willing to go above and beyond,” Deborah said.

“Don’s got a deep heart, cares and empathizes with people, something you can’t teach.  They either have it or don’t,” Bill added.

Don completed work experiences in four different jobs at Best Western Plus, learning most aspects of the hotel’s business. These included housekeeping, breakfast bar, pool maintenance, and valet.

Bill’s own dedication to doing a good job, eyes wide open, with his willingness to go beyond to make customers feel comfortable and valued is such a high-energy priority for him that it’s contagious to his staff. It left a powerful impression on Don, who stepped into his internship at Best Western with only a fraction of the self-confidence with which he left a few months later.

The short story:

“It’s about building relationships and a team that will support you,” he said, adding, “When you’ve done this from the bottom up, you have a different perspective of running a hotel. You’re always asking, what’s one more thing you can do? What can we do to make this place even better? These are the ‘difference makers.’ ”

And, Don touched Bill’s life, and Bill made a big difference in Don’s life.

“Don was great.  We love him. He was friendly and found that niche with everybody,” Bill said, adding the team enjoyed working with Don in all areas of the hotel.  “They took a little extra time in their day to show him how to clean the lobby, work with the continental breakfast.”

The team found that by rotating him, they were able to give him a feel for all the jobs at the hotel, from housekeeping to cleaning the pool.

“We saw a big difference in Donald from the beginning to end,” Bill said.

The relationship has had a lasting effect on both who are friends on Facebook.

“It’s not just a business connection,” Bill said. “It’s personal, accepting him and pushing him to flower a bit, empowering him.”

And, again, Bill was successful.

Don has bigger dreams today that he had four months ago.  The positive experience of working with a new team in a challenging new line of work, showed him he could be that person who succeeds.  Today, he’s on his way.

Best Western Plus is one of several hotels consolidated in the Visions Hotels management company throughout New York State. Visions Hotels has placed a high value on the same qualities Bill espouses. One, among many, is Santa’s Vision, which is a community event, which offers community leaders, businesses, and local people a way to support the needs of children.  It sponsors a fun-filled day for children to have their picture taken with Santa, receive a gift and other meaningful activities.  More than 25,000 children benefit from Santa’s vision throughout New York State. Visions Hotels also sponsors Home for the Holidays, free temporary lodging for families who have a family member receiving medical care.  It also offers a free night stay if someone has lost their home to a fire.


Pathway to Employment

Pathway to Employment is a person-centered employment planning and support service that provides assistance for individuals to obtain, maintain or advance in competitive employment or self-employment.

The Pathway to Employment service will be available to individuals expressing an interest in competitive employment or self-employment including (but not limited to) individuals who receive Day Habilitation, Pre-Vocational and Supported Employment services, as well as students leaving high school.

This service offers an individualized planning process that helps individuals identify a career or vocational direction. Pathway to Employment also provides instruction and training in job readiness skills and develops a plan for achieving competitive, integrated employment at or above the New York State minimum wage.

Within 12 months the outcome of this service is documentation of the participant’s stated career objective; a detailed career plan used to guide individual employment supports; and preparation for supported employment services.

To be eligible for Pathway to Employment, an individual needs to be enrolled in the Home and Community Based Waiver (HCBS). To enroll, discuss Pathway to Employment with your Medicaid Services Coordinator (MSC) or contact your OPWDD Regional Office.





SubCon Honors Employees’ Service

nancy's photo

The 34th annual SubCon Years of Service and Awards Banquet, held last Tuesday in St. Bonaventure University’s Hickey Dining Hall, was another year to remember.

More than 200 people attended the event that honored employees with SubCon Industries and the Employment Connection in five-year increments and those with outstanding work achievements.

“Many of our folks work both in our businesses or out in the community,” Mari Howard, CEO, said, alluding to the hard hitting initiative of the Employment Connection which has successfully helped many people find employment in the community.

“It’s a beautiful opportunity to be integrated and part of the community,” she said.

The celebration is supported by a grant from the Dr. Lyle F. Renodin Foundation grant.

While the annual event began with a fun-loving Elvis impersonator who delighted the group from SubCon and the Employment Connection, the event took a more serious and sincere turn as Russ Hahn, Chief Strategy Officer, announced the names of award recipients and why they were being honored.

When naming Noreen VonRhode for 45 years of service at SubCon Industries, Russ said, “I’ve known Noreen for 34 of the 45 years she’s been with the Agency (Russ has been with the Agency 34 years!), I would clone her and have a room full of people like her,” to the unanimous applause of all gathered.

He also smiled warmly at Billy Joe Olkosky, who was also being honored for 45 years on the job at SubCon, as he described him as “a kind-hearted individual who always has a smile on his face.”

SubCon Industries named Jill Cooley and Gary Cornell for 35 years of service; Vicki Jimerson, John Pockolony and Robert Richards for 30 years; Richard Holmes, Dale Roehner, and Candy Stephan for 25 years; Nancy Abbott, Donna Gardner and Angela Smith for 20 years; Daisy Brockel, Raymond Gynnip, Judy Paradowski, and Charlene Shaffer for 25 years; Danielle Bartlett for 10 years; and Nan Bargy, Justin Erckert, Victor Gallman, Heather George, and Brittany Tarr for five years.

Employment Connection honored John Ditta for 30 years, Paula Grove for 20 years, Christopher Morton for 15 years; Mary Jane Myers and Edward Smith for 10 years, and Lynn Weinaug for five years.

The Shining Star Award was presented to Harold Jones of Olean SubCon, Nan Bargy of Salamanca SubCon, and Misty Slocum from the Employment Connection.

The Rising Star Award was presented to Meredith Doyle of Olean SubCon, Jessica Johnson of Salamanca SubCon, and Nicole Herbert of the Employment Connection.

The Employee of the Year award went to Deb Spinler of the Employment Connection; John Dita and Pat McMillen of SubCon Cleaning Services, and Paul Ash and Marsha Kennedy of Foundations for Change.

The William B. Joslin Outstanding Performer Award was presented to Paula Grove. The Jim Bellanca ‘Build a Brighter Future’ award went to Ricky Stanton.

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