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.

“There are no words to indicate how grateful and appreciative I am to have been chosen for this scholarship. It means so much to me and to my girls that I was chosen for this. It has helped take a big weight off of my shoulders and helped me move towards my overall goal of becoming a nurse. I am currently Full time at the Prospect Ave site, I have worked for the agency almost a year and a half, starting in the Fall Rd residence and moving to my current position as a Direct Support Professional,” Alyssa said.

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 programs.”  She is a Registered Behavior Tech is  at Life skills and has worked for the Agency for 13 years.

“I was very honored to receive the scholarship. I love what I do and working for this agency!!” Lisa said.

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

Jessica, who received two previous awards, “is a very hard worker,” Mari said.

“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.

“To receive this award is FANTASTIC!!,” Angie, Family Peer Support Supervisor, said.

“The grant will be used for outings with entire families in safe settings for the youth to feel comfortable.  There are many times the families cannot do things together because the youth struggles with social appropriateness, or they have social anxiety,” she said

“The families are so excited about the ability to go on outing with other parents who understand their child’s issues and do not judge them.  I am so excited to be able to offer this option to many of the parent who feel they cannot do outings on their own and not be judged by others for their children’s issues.”

Last year, with funds from the Roger Hennig Memorial Arts Enrichment Grant, families in the Family Support Program were able to visit to the Corning Glass Museum.