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AGENCY NEWS
Happy Holidays from People Inc.!
We understand this year has brought struggles, disappointments and grief, which can overshadow joyous times. Nonetheless, from the People Inc. family to you, we hope your holiday season and year ahead are filled with good health, acts of kindness and wonder. During this time of year, we share our People Inc. 2020 Holiday E-card. Thank you to all of our families, staff, donors and community partners for their year-round support! Our caring team is here to provide you with assistance in the new year.
Pictured left to right: Eliza’s mom, Mary Beth; sister Monica, who is a People Inc. employee; Eliza and her dad Tom.
Pictured left to right: Eliza’s mom, Mary Beth;
sister Monica, who is a People Inc. employee;
Eliza and her dad Tom.
Meet the People We Support: Eliza Debus
Meet Eliza Debus. She is one of seven adults with developmental disabilities who lives at one of our group home residences in Buffalo, NY. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges for people living with developmental disabilities, and, as a result, Eliza has had to make several adjustments.
Eliza takes dance lessons at Danceability Inc., a studio in Depew, NY, specializing in individualized dance and fitness for people with special needs. Each year, Eliza looks forward to Danceability’s annual recital, but in light of the pandemic, the 2020 event was cancelled for safety reasons. On May 9, the date of what would have been the 15th Annual Danceability Performances, Eliza dressed in her costume and celebrated in a different way – Danceability Inc.’s Social (Dis)dancing Parade, held for dancers and families. The event, which included a procession of 100 groups of cars, was a fun way to safely recognize everyone.
This past summer, Eliza also made another achievement – her graduation! Though the pandemic has impacted many celebrations across the country, people have found innovative ways to honor important accomplishments. Staff and family members in our own agency are no different. They recognized Eliza with her very own graduation ceremony, safely held outside the group home. Eliza wore a cap and gown, as her family members and administrators from the Arc Erie County New York happily watched her accept the diploma she earned.
“Eliza has been confronted with a large number of cancellations of important milestone events due to COVID, as have so many people,” shared Eliza’s mom, Mary Beth Debus. “I have been so proud of her resiliency, despite one disappointment after another. She has been so fortunate that organizations like Danceability, ARC of Erie County – and of course People Inc. – recognize this and do what they can to create special activities, when faced with disappointments. I was very touched by gifts that People Inc. staff created for all of Eliza’s guests for her outside graduation party. That was unexpected and so lovely.”
Staff continue to help Eliza and her housemates safely stay active. Eliza’s determination has helped her to rise through these challenging times. We’re so proud of Eliza and will continue to do everything possible to support her and other people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Jason Smith, as he meets his idol Stevie Wonder!
Telling the People Inc. Story Historical Moment
On November 19, 2015, it was a “wonder-ful” day for Jason Smith, as he met his idol Stevie Wonder! Jason, who lives with Cerebral palsy and receives residential and support services from People Inc., amazed our People Inc. family and the community by co-writing, singing and creating a video of a song called “I Wonder,” along with his then People Inc. Life Quality Coach Gary Spears. Jason’s tribute video was posted to social media in anticipation of Stevie’s Buffalo concert on November 19 with a goal of 200 shares, which he exceeded! In the song, Jason sings, “Cause you’ve taught us there’s a little bit of ‘wonder’ in all of us.” Jason proves there are no barriers for people with disabilities. “Stevie has a disability. I have a disability, but it does not hold me back,” said Jason. Media attention created a buzz around this story, and with a generous donation by Live Nation, Jason received VIP treatment with a backstage meet-and-greet with his favorite singer! For a stroll down memory lane, view Jason’s tribute video and learn more from The Buffalo News article.
More of our agency’s historical moments are included in a photo album on the People Inc. Facebook.
2 beautiful Embrace the Difference bracelets.
Every Gift Makes a Difference
Receive Exclusive People Inc. 50th Anniversary Keepsake
When it comes to what is most precious in our lives, family and community are so important. In the midst of this unusual time, People Inc. recognizes our 50th Anniversary. Putting aside traditional forms of celebration for now, we are intensely focused on meeting the very serious everyday needs before us: doing all we can to help safeguard those most precious to you and those most vulnerable in our community. It seems fitting that during this very important People Inc. milestone, we are attending to “mission” over “merriment.”
We can’t know what the coming year will hold. But, we do know your support impacts what we can do and has kept us going for the past 50 years. In recognition of this achievement, we are pleased to offer an exclusive 50th Anniversary Patron Keepsake, featuring special Embrace the Difference© bracelets. We hope you can join us in making a donation this holiday season to support a mission precious to us all. Patron Donors can choose from two options, both with a People Inc. 50th Anniversary charm. These exclusive bracelets were designed as a lasting symbol of unity and support of our mission. For a gift of $150 or more, they are available throughout the year. The beautiful bracelets can be for yourself or we can send one as a surprise to another person on your behalf!
For President and CEO Rhonda Frederick’s perspective, view our 2020 Holiday Appeal Video. With your help, we can continue to make great things happen. Your donation is so appreciated. For more information, contact Jennifer Robinson at jrobinson@people-inc.org or call 716.817.7269.
Higgins Announces Federal Home Loan Bank Awards to Support Access
to Affordable Housing

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced more than $2.8 million in funding made available through the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York toward the development of affordable housing in Western New York. Among the recipients was People Inc. for development of Elmwood Crossing in Buffalo, NY. Located at the site of the former Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, People Inc. will oversee a project developing 44 residential units for low- and very low-income older adults and those facing homelessness. The $15 million project will receive $401,236 through the Federal Home Loan Bank, as well as additional federal resources through Historic and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
“We are so excited to be involved with this redevelopment project and are eager to have our tenants experience living in the urban environment of the Elmwood Village in an affordable way,” said Rhonda Frederick, People Inc. President and CEO. “We are grateful for our funding sources, local partners, community groups and elected officials, who help People Inc. continue to bring affordable and safe housing opportunities to locations across Western New York.”
Elmwood Health Center Receives National Recognition
The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenging circumstances for many people, especially those in the medical field. Even during these challenges, the Elmwood Health Center continues to meet community needs and has received national acknowledgement for its ongoing efforts. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently recognized the Elmwood Health Center for its dedication to sustaining practice through the New York State Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Program. This earned recognition shows a commitment to providing quality improvement and a patient-centered approach to care. Congratulations to the Elmwood Health Center Team for maintaining this important certification!
Support People Inc. while Shopping on Amazon
Help support People Inc. while holiday shopping (or any time of year) through Amazon from the comfort of your own home! AmazonSmile donates .05 percent of every purchase to the People Inc. Foundation. To start shopping, go to smile.amazon.com. On your first visit, select People Inc. as your charitable organization for eligible purchases – People Inc. will be saved and every eligible purchase you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation. Happy shopping!
A photo of the experior of the Museum of Disability History.
Museum of disABILITY History Announces Closing
Store Sale Includes BOGO on Select Books and Discounts Until End of December
It is with a heavy heart that the Museum of disABILITY History, which has been closed to the public through the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced its closure, which will take place at the end of December 2020. Like so many museums across the country, lack of adequate, dedicated funding has made operations unsustainable.
Devoted to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities for the past 22 years, numerous resources are currently digitized. A comprehensive approach has been conducted to identify alternative outlets and partners to preserve the historical artifacts and collection items.
The People Inc. Training Center for Human Service Excellence will continue to operate in the building’s space at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. Educational components have long been integrated into New Employee Orientation for thousands of People Inc. staff and will be continued.
“While closure decisions like this are difficult, we will continue the Museum of disABILITY History’s spirit through community education and staff development at People Inc.,” said David Mack-Hardiman, museum director and associate vice president for People Inc.
We are truly thankful for the valuable participation of partners and supporters in this worthwhile effort to showcase inclusion and appreciate differences.
The Museum of disABILITY History online store has select books that are buy one/get one free from its Abandoned History Series, as well as books from the Ivan the Invacar children’s book series. Plus, various merchandise has been discounted throughout the store. An additional 20-percent off items can be applied by using a “save20” discount code during the online checkout. Discounted books and various merchandise remain for sale through the end of December at store.museumofdisability.org.
For questions about the closing, information about collection and artifact items or about the store sale, contact David Mack-Hardiman at dmack@people-inc.org or 716.629.3606.
The Museum of disABILITY History, a project of People Inc., was established in 1998 by James M. Boles, EdD, in an effort to improve access to disability history for students.
A couple looking at a laptop and planning their finances together.
Would You Make a Legacy Gift, if You Knew it Wouldn’t Cost Anything?
Did you know that every time you give to People Inc., you are helping people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and special needs live their best life possible?
With the generosity and forethought of our Legacy Donors, those living and those who have passed on, our agency has been able to continue its important work, 50-years strong.
In the midst of a pandemic and as we welcome a new year, consider exploring Legacy Giving and the meaningful ways in which you, your family and friends can help secure the future of People Inc. and its vital mission.
If you are interested in learning more about Legacy Giving and how you and your family can create something memorable with lasting impact, contact Christine Mathieu, Legacy officer, at cmathieu@people-inc.org or 716.817.7256.
Let your legacy gift be one of the most important and fulfilling things you do in your life.
COVID-19 Updates
Temporary Suspension of Some Programs and Services
Phone Lines and Email Available
As always, our focus remains on the safety of the people we support and our staff. While many of our People Inc. services remained in full operation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to date, others were suspended or altered. New York State has released information regarding COVID-19 “cluster zones,” which are focus areas designated, based on geographic case prevalence. The People Inc. Emergency Preparedness Team is proactively engaged in monitoring any potential changes in our service areas (from Yellow to Orange or to Red) and will adjust agency policies accordingly. For more information, a chart on the NYS website includes greater details.
We appreciate your understanding and feedback as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time together. Families are welcome to call group homes and programs for specific questions and participate in our Family Conference Calls. Updates are on the Coronavirus section of our website.
  • Please note the following available resources:
    A special Coronavirus Phone Line has been established for families to call, 716.817.7445, and is checked and responded to directly.
  • An afterhours Coronavirus hotline is available for the people and families of people enrolled in our Day Habilitation Programs and Vocational Services to express questions and concerns. The number is 716.529.6505.
  • A special email address is available to have concerns addressed at COVIDconcern@people-inc.org.
  • Our Advocacy Phone Line is available for people we support to ask non-emergency questions by calling 716.322.7070.
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
A New Career at People Inc. is Just a Click Away
Sign-on bonus available for some
designated positions

People Inc., an essential employer, is hiring for evenings, overnights and weekends for a variety of part time, full time and per diem jobs to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A sign-on bonus of $600 for full time and $300 for part time is now available for some designated positions. In addition to direct support professionals, we are also seeking behavior technicians, RNs, LPNs, employment specialists and team leader/medical liaisons, to name a few of the rewarding careers at the agency. We offer virtual interviews, paid training, a variety of consistent schedules, career advancement and great benefits for various openings across Western New Work and the Greater Rochester region. We are featuring positions in our East Aurora, North Tonawanda and Silver Creek group homes this month. To apply or to view all employment openings, go to the People Inc. Job Board or call 716.322.7050 for more information.
PROGRAMS and SERVICES
Now Accepting Recipients for Senior Companion “Phone Connection”
The People Inc. Senior Companion Program is providing a “Phone Connection” for recipients who qualify and would benefit from making regular connections. This initiative serves as an alternative to providing in-home visits, which are limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is now enrolling recipients who are 55 or older and living in Erie County. They will receive the benefit of socialization with a friendly voice. Senior Companion volunteers will call recipients once a week and share any concerns with program staff, who then make referrals to family members or other resources. Registering for the program is free and easy. To enroll or to recommend an older adult whom you assist, contact Alissa Yax at ayax@people-inc.org or 716.768.2381.
Senior Living Apartments in Lockport and Other Locations Accepting Applications
This fall, tenants and staff of People Inc. Pine Senior Living in Lockport, NY, held a flag-raising ceremony to recognize veterans. We’re grateful to a tenant who bought a flag that flew over the United States Capitol. Are you a veteran or know an older adult who would be eligible for an affordable apartment? People Inc. Senior Living manages 19 apartment locations throughout Western New York, helping older adults stay close to the community they love and to family members. Apartments are for independent seniors age 62 and over who are income-eligible. Two benefits of People Inc. Senior Living are affordable rent based on income and numerous safety features. As an added cost-savings, some utilities are included. Tenants are welcome to have one small pet. If you prefer to live in the Lockport area and would like more information, call 716.433.3381. For an apartment application or for info about other locations, including Amherst, Angola, Blasdell, Clarence, Grand Island, Lackawanna, South Buffalo, Springville and Wheatfield (border of North Tonawanda), call 716.817.9090.
NOW available: One-bedroom Tax Credit apartment unit at Academy Place Senior Apartments in Gowanda, managed by People Inc. The apartment building, ideal for older adults in the Southern Tier, is located at 1 School Street in Gowanda, NY. The HUD Section 202 Affordable Housing and NYS Tax Credit apartments provide housing for independent, older adults age 62 and up who meet income guidelines. Vouchers are accepted for Tax Credit units. Download an application or for more info, call 716.817.9090.
The kitchen of a Grant Street apartment.
Affordable Apartments in North Tonawanda Accepting Applications
As part of its Affordable Apartments, rental applications are being accepted for the new People Inc. Grant Street Apartments, offering one- and two-bedroom units. Located at 25 Grant Street in North Tonawanda, the apartments are for people who are head of household and 18 years or older, who meet income eligibility. Amenities include: Kitchen with refrigerator, stove and dishwasher; utilities for water and garbage removal; on-site laundry facilities; safety features; air-conditioning and on-site management. Tenants may have one small pet. Rent subsidies and/or rental vouchers accepted. Some apartments are designed for people who have mobility and vision challenges or who are Deaf or hard of hearing. For more information, email housing@people-inc.org or call 716.693.4249.
NEWS from DEAF ACCESS SERVICES
The cover of the DAS biannual newsletter.
Deaf Access Services Newsletter
Now Available

Even during this challenging year, Deaf Access Services, an affiliate of People Inc., has made great strides. Learn more about how Deaf Access Services has made an impact in the community through its newest biannual newsletter! To learn more about supportive services available from Deaf Access Services for yourself, a loved one or for your business, email Office@wnydas.org.
NEWS from Headway of WNY
Support for People with TBI
Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., supporting people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), has a new phone number: 716.408.3120. Please update your contact lists and use this number for all Headway matters, including TBI and NHTD Waivers.
To support people with TBI, along with families and caregivers, Headway of WNY Peer and Caregiver Support Groups are available to address brain injury-related topics, as well as mental health issues surrounding the current pandemic.
Dates: First and third Tuesdays of each month – upcoming dates are January 5 and 19, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Headway’s Virtual Meeting Room
Contact: Please follow these directions for access:
  1. Send your name, phone number, email address and meeting date(s) you would like to attend to support@headwayofwny.org
  2. When your email is received, further virtual connection instructions will be provided via email
  3. If you have questions, call 716.408.3120
NEWS from LOTHLORIEN THERAPEUTIC
RIDING CENTER
Holiday Pen Pals for Equine Horses
The horses at Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, an affiliate of People Inc., are looking for some holiday pen pals! People who are interested can send them a holiday card, ornament, letter, picture, poem or note. Staff at Lothlorien will share any messages with the horses and they will write back. Share what you enjoy about the holidays, a story or ask a question – anything you’d like to write or draw about is welcome. Pen pal submissions can be mailed to: Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Attn: Pen Pal Program, 15 Reiter Road, East Aurora, NY 14052. The horses are looking forward to your messages! More fun activities are available online.
Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. is a non-profit, therapeutic horseback riding facility providing horsemanship and horseback riding opportunities for people with cognitive, physical, emotional and learning disabilities. Donations are still being accepting for its Match the Match Program to go directly to the care of its amazing program horses during the winter months. Located outside the Village of East Aurora, NY, Lothlorien is the longest-running therapeutic program in Western New York, serving ages three and up.
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