A year in review and much more
A year in review and much more
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AGENCY NEWS
A supported employment participant with co-workers.
Children in an afternoon respite program visiting a firetwuck and displaying a picture they dre of a firetruck.
Older adults enjoying the senior companion program through a video call.
Lit candles on a cake showing
A Message from the President: Year in Review
People Inc. Focus on Safety and Perseverance

Through this past, very challenging year, I’m reminded of the perseverance of our incredible staff – our frontline heroes, clinicians and administrative employees all play such an important role to ensure the safety of the people we support. And thank you to those who have shared many messages of hope, success stories and acts of kindness – your support of our agency is so appreciated. I’d like to reflect on this previous year with some of our agency’s achievements
:
  • A special edition of the People Inc. Faces of the Foundation newsletter featured many examples of dedication from the frontlines. Highlighted stories included an “Art at Home” initiative, the benefits of using technology to stay connected and the creation of “PeopleCart” to support residential staff with grocery shopping. Various businesses and community generosity were also included in this newsletter.
  • We continued to support people with disabilities in their employment goals and worked with local businesses through our Supported Employment and Vocational Services, along with our Business Solutions – Contract Manufacturing, Janitorial and Carpet Cleaning.
  • Many of our services expanded across the Greater Rochester region, including our Self-Directed Services, Supported Employment Program, Respite, Care Management for Children and the opening of a new community-based residence. These resources serve as a great benefit, giving people with developmental disabilities paths to employment, support and residential options, along with much-needed outlets for families to support school-aged children and those with chronic health needs.
  • Supports continued for People Inc. Senior Living, ensuring building cleanliness and safety for tenants. Our Senior Companion Program continued with volunteers reaching out
    to recipients virtually and implementing a new “Phone Connection” initiative.
  • As part of our Affordable Apartments, Grant Street Apartments in North Tonawanda, NY, and Jefferson Avenue Apartments in Buffalo, NY, both welcomed their first tenants. Our Affordable Apartments continue to expand and we look forward to further growth across diverse neighborhoods.
  • The “On Our Way at Wayside” project was completed with home furnishings. This new People Inc. transitional housing project located in Hamburg, NY, will benefit people with developmental disabilities by preparing them for independent living.
  • Our People Inc. family continued to grow and thrive: Our new collaboration, Virtual Medical Care, was initiated. People Inc. also welcomed Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc., into our family of agencies. Our affiliate, Deaf Access Services, encouraged state leaders to include vital sign language interpretation in their communications.
  • The agency strengthened its commitment to inclusion through the continued efforts of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee. A People Inc. Inclusion video was created to mark this ongoing goal and to encourage people to stand together against what divides us.
  • We also launched PeopleConnect, our new Employee Intranet, to help staff stay informed with what’s happening at People Inc., including many safety guidelines and updates in the face of the pandemic.
  • This year marked the 50th anniversary of People Inc. We continue to acknowledge this milestone and look forward to safer times ahead. From illuminating local landmarks blue this past summer, to highlighting historical photos in agency communications, our celebration continues through August 2021.

    Our focus continues on the safety and well-being of the people we support, while navigating what may come ahead. We’re also dedicated to elevating our agency mission to help people lead more healthy, independent and productive lives.
Be well and safe,
Rhonda Frederick
President and CEO, People Inc.
A very festive holiday decorated door. A young man wearing costume reindeer antlers and a fun holiday scarf. A Supported Employment participant, at work, wearing a festive holiday t-shirt.
Holiday Happenings Recap
People we support found safe, creative ways to have fun this past holiday season. For some festive fun from around the agency, view our 2020 Holiday Happenings Facebook photo album!
Jason Smith, as he meets his idol Stevie Wonder!
Telling the People Inc. Story Historical Moment
Shirley Jones was among the first people supported by People Inc. She began receiving services on April 27, 1987, attending our agency’s former Central Park Plaza Day Treatment Center, as well as attended Elmwood Day Habilitation. In 2008, Shirley moved to a People Inc. group home in Farnham, NY, where she made a lasting impression. She also attended the People Inc. Park Place Day Service in Silver Creek, NY. Sadly, Shirley passed away on August 22, 2020, at the age of 72. Shirley loved a variety of music, like James Brown, Bob Marley, Frankie Valli, Barry White, the Temptations and Usher. She liked to say they were dancing specifically for her. Shirley also proudly wore her favorite sports teams’ colors, cheering on the New York Yankees and Buffalo Bills. She also enjoyed attending live events for the Harlem Globetrotters. Her pastimes included watching TV, going out to eat, shopping and driving by horses to watch them wag their tails. Many people in the Silver Creek area knew her from her weekly walks and from selling painted rocks outside of Park Place Day Services, where she enjoyed sitting outside under an umbrella, laughing and smiling with those she met. Shirley was an unforgettable person and her memory lives on.
More of our agency’s historical moments are included in a photo album on the People Inc. Facebook.
Developmental Disabilities Agencies Impacted by Reimbursement Cuts
An article in the Albany Times Union newspaper recently highlighted the impact of reimbursement cuts for agencies that support people with disabilities. People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick shared ongoing challenges: “By cutting these rates and doing this, we are unable to pay our staff more. These are not minimum wage jobs. We’ve been deemed essential workers. If we are essential, then let’s fund us as if we are essential.”
Cover of People Inc. Foundation 2021 calendar.
2 beautiful Embrace the Difference bracelets.
Two Ways to Give with Exclusive Benefits
Gifts to strengthen the People Inc. mission help provide support for our programs and services. Here are two ways you can give to support People Inc., with both including exclusive donor gifts:
Donate $10 a Month and Receive an Exclusive Calendar: Join us as a People Inc. Foundation Supporting Member by pledging a recurring gift of $10 a month or a one-time gift of $100 or more annually. As a token of our appreciation, Supporting Members receive an exclusive 2021 calendar! In honor of our agency’s 50th anniversary, this year’s calendar theme tells the People Inc. story through historical photos from over the years! Become a Supporting Member today!
Receive Exclusive People Inc. 50th Anniversary Keepsake: Your support impacts what we can do and has kept us going for the past 50 years. Support the People Inc. 50th Anniversary through our new Patron Donor level of $150 or more. With this donation, we’re pleased to offer an exclusive 50th Anniversary Patron Keepsake, featuring special Embrace the Difference© bracelets. 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. The beautiful bracelets can be for yourself or we can send one as a surprise to another person on your behalf! Patron Donors also receive all Supporting Member benefits.
For more information about these ways to support People Inc., contact Jennifer Robinson at jrobinson@people-inc.org or call 716.817.7269.
An artist working on the mural. An artist working on the mural. An artist working on the mural. An artist working on the mural.
An artist working on the mural.
Mural Development Continues for People Inc.
Jefferson Avenue Apartments

Five murals by community artists are being developed to brighten the People Inc. Jefferson Avenue Apartments in Buffalo, NY. The initiative is a collaboration between People Inc. and the WNY-Urban Arts Collective. We’re excited for the installation of the murals to be completed in the Spring of 2021.
Donna Cieslinski, wearing a People Inc. polo shirt.
Happy Retirement to Donna Cieslinski
We thank Donna Cieslinski, Senior Living case manager, for more than 30 years of service to People Inc. Donna retired on December 18, 2020, and is already greatly missed! Donna started with People Inc. on December 27, 1988, at the Orchard Park Day Program as an instructor and was promoted to the role of treatment coordinator. After 12 years, Donna took a position working with the Intermediate Care Facility Residential Department as a social worker for the next 11 years, until she took a position as a case manager with People Inc. Senior Living, where she completed her years of service. Donna is known for her friendly, upbeat demeanor and is always the first to offer to help with any project. During her time with Senior Living, Donna was an active member of the Network in Aging of WNY, supporting their mission and helping its members and the community learn more about People Inc. services. She also participated in many community marketing events.
Regarding her retirement, Donna shared, “People Inc. is a fantastic place to work. I have many fond memories of people I worked with and a long list of People Inc. friends I made along the way. Being a part of networking through Network in Aging of WNY, Council on Elder Abuse, WNY HUD Service Coordinators Group, People Inc. Guardianship Program and the agency’s Ambassador Program for many years brought me much enjoyment. To end my career as a case manager for People Inc. Senior Living was the icing on the cake!”
We’re thankful for Donna’s dedication and excellent work and send best wishes in her retirement!
Sale Extended for Museum of disABILITY History Store
Select Books Are Buy One/Get One

As shared last month, it is with a heavy heart that the Museum of disABILITY History, which has been closed to the public through the COVID-19 pandemic, announced its formal closure. Like so many museums across the country, lack of adequate, dedicated funding has made operations unsustainable. To help provide an additional opportunity for people to purchase items from the Museum of disABILITY History online store, the sale has been extended.
A limited supply of select books are buy one/get one free from the Museum’s Abandoned History Series, as well as books from the Ivan the Invacar children’s book series. There is also a special bundle package for the Ivan the Invacar series, which includes four illustrated books and an activity book for only $20, plus get a free Frisbee (while supplies last). Save an additional 20-percent off items by using the “save20” discount code during the online checkout. Stock up now on books for all year-round!
For information about the closing, collection items or store sale, contact David Mack-Hardiman at dmack@people-inc.org or 716.629.3606. Arrangements for curbside merchandise pick-up can be made.
Julia Harris showing her License to Smile card.
Get Inspired with “License 2 Smile”
Julia Harris, who receives Self-Directed Services from People Inc., is sharing how to live life to the fullest through her motivational speaking project, “License 2 Smile.” Her upcoming virtual presentation, “The Power of a Smile is Endless,” is being offered on three upcoming dates:
  • Wednesday, January 27, from 7 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 30, from 10 to 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, February 2, from 7 to 8 p.m.
Registration is $15, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Special Olympics. Learn more and register at License2Smile.com.
Self-Directed Services is a person-centered program encouraging people with disabilities to manage a plan based on their needs to experience personal growth, live in the home and community they choose, work and volunteer. To learn more, contact People Inc. Admissions at admissions@people-inc.org.
COVID-19 Updates
At People Inc., we’re doing everything we can to promote the safety and well-being of the people we support, our employees, families and community. Our Nursing Department led the way by receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Pictured here is Tanya Perri, RN and vice president of People Inc. Clinical Services.
COVID-19 Vaccine
We have been sharing and encouraging our staff and people we support to look at fact-based information about the approved COVID-19 vaccinations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). People Inc. is proud to have been authorized by the NYS Department of Health to dispense the COVID-19 vaccine to those included in the Phase 1A rollout. Our team created an entire workflow that quickly administered our entire allocation – 500 vaccinations in just four days! We are hopeful to get more vaccine to continue efforts to combat the pandemic for those we support and the staff who work with them in accordance with the guidelines, and to continue partnering with community venues to access vaccinations, as well. Hats off to the entire team who took “All hands on deck!” to heart!
Family Alert: Vaccine Resource Information
With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in New York State, we understand that parents and caregivers may have questions as it relates to your family and specifically your loved one with an intellectual and developmental disability. Here are some resources that you may find helpful
  • We encourage you to talk with your medical physician about any specific concerns.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination is the safest and most efficient way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Information is available on our website with links to Pfizer and Moderna vaccine materials, along with the Informed Consent Form, which is for both vaccines. Additionally, COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions is also available on this web page.
People Inc. Family Conference Call Scheduled for Thursday, January 28
Resources Available

Families of people supported through our agency are encouraged to join the next
People Inc. Family Conference Call on
Thursday, January 28, at 6:30 p.m.
During this call,People Inc. management will provide operational updates, projected plans and answer questions. Questions may be sent in advance, and during the call, to COVIDconcern@people-inc.org,
ortexted to 716.868.9233. Given the anticipated volume of participants on the calls, this is the most effective way to have your question heard and answered.
RSVP to 716.817.7400 to receive the conference call number and ID.
Additionally, families are welcome to call group homes and programs for specific questions. Updates are on the Coronavirus section of our website.
Resources Available:
  • 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
Essential Employer Seeks Compassionate People
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. Many of our positions will qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. We are also seeking behavior technicians, RNs and LPNs, 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 York and the Greater Rochester region. A sign-on bonus of $600 for full time and $300 for part time is now available for some designated positions. We are featuring positions in our East Aurora, North Tonawanda, Grand Island 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.
Affordable Senior Apartments in Southern Tier and Lockport
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 information, call 716.817.9090. View a video to see the interior of this apartment building. Additionally, People Inc. Pine Senior Living in Lockport, NY (border of Amherst), provides affordable rent based on income and numerous safety features for independent seniors age 62 and over who are income-eligible. To learn more and for an apartment application, call 716.433.3381. For information about other People Inc. Senior Living locations, 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 Headway of WNY
Support for People with TBI: Newsletter and Virtual Support Groups
Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., supporting people and families with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), seniors and those who have disorders affecting cognition, as well as the regional center for NYS, DOH TBI and NHTD Waiver Programs, provides the following updates:
A TBI support group meets virtually the first and third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Upcoming dates are January 19, February 2 and 16, March 2 and 16, April 6 and 20. 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
Headway of WNY is seeking people for its Advisory Council (meet virtually). For details about this or Headway programs, visit Headway’s website. For additional updates, check out Headway’s latest newsletter available online.
A group pictured with a pony.




NEWS from LOTHLORIEN THERAPEUTIC
RIDING CENTER
Fun Times with Pony Polar Express
Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc., an affiliate of People Inc., made some stops with the Lothlorien Pony Polar Express last month to two People Inc. group homes to spread some holiday cheer. Polar Express ponies Tucker and Toffee visited the people who live and work at the residences. They all sang songs and had a mini-parade! Stay up-to-date with Lothlorien by liking their Facebook page.
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. 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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