Inclusion in the workplace empowers everyone
Inclusion in the workplace empowers everyone
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AGENCY NEWS
Individual at work with Carpet Done Right.
Celebrating National Disability Employment
Awareness Month

Since 1986, People Inc. has helped to support people with disabilities in training, preparing for, securing and maintaining employment. We believe an inclusive workplace is one that spurs innovation and encourages everyone to thrive.
Fittingly, the theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) campaign is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All!” We not only believe this at People Inc., but we also live it through everything we do. In this issue of E-magine, we will be highlighting some local businesses who know firsthand the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, along with our employment program, Contract Manufacturing.
We hope this issue will inspire you to help us create more inclusive workforces, plus, we encourage you to follow the conversation online all month on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Use the hashtag #NDEAM to spread the word: inclusion in the workplace truly empowers us all.
Gratefully,
Rhonda Frederick
President and CEO, People Inc.
Josh Benson, Gary Drzewiecki and their manager Colleen Dowse at Sheridan Surgical.
Josh Benson, Gary Drzewiecki and their manager,
Colleen Dowse, at Sheridan Surgical.
Sheridan Surgical Supports Inclusion
When Gary Drzewiecki first joined Sheridan Surgical in 2015, he was quiet and kept to himself. However, owners Ginger and Dean Davis, along with Gary’s manager Colleen Dowse, focused on making sure he had the tools he needed to be successful in his role.
As an inventory clerk, Gary stocks items, organizes products on the floor, prints his own stickers to label products and checks in delivery items, while verifying purchase orders. Since he started, Gary has grown into an independent worker, taking on more responsibilities and tasks. His confidence level has skyrocketed and he even spends time with his co-workers at events outside the office.
“Gary was very shy and quiet in the beginning,” Colleen shared. “He is now confident, bold and funny! His communication skills have very much improved as well. He loves to learn new things and complete them independently.”
Gary’s success inspired the company to hire Josh Benson in 2017 as a medical biller, and the team couldn’t be more thrilled with how both employees have worked out.
“Josh is very task and detail-oriented. He has an impressive work ethic,” said Colleen. “He always offers up a ‘hello’ and ‘bye’ to everyone each day. It’s great to see him acclimating.”
By taking the time to find a job that matches both Gary and Josh’s skill sets, Sheridan Surgical has found two wonderfully dedicated employees. They also loved working with People Inc. Job Coach Amy Allen, who carefully helped them each step of the way.
“We believe in setting all new hires up for success by offering detailed training and setting mutually understood expectations for the job at hand,” said Collen. “In return, we have gained wonderful and hardworking members of our team. It’s truly rewarding getting to work with them.”
To learn more about how you may employ people with disabilities, contact our Vocational Services Department at 716.817.5750.
Photo of matt Connors.
Market in the Square Supports People with Disabilities
At The Market in the Square in North Tonawanda, NY, Matt Connors earns his paycheck by keeping the produce section looking great. He’s worked at the family-owned grocery story, formerly known as Budwey’s, for three years. Each day, he puts out fruit, removes old produce and rotates stock, unloads the truck and helps put it away.
“I like the people,” said Matt, who works 20 hours a week. Matt saves his money for snacks and traveling, as he plans to visit Tampa, Florida in the spring.
The Market in the Square has long understood the importance of hiring people with disabilities and has worked with People Inc. throughout the years to hire for various positions. From produce to carts and stock, the business is committed to creating an inclusive workplace and working with participants to ensure they are supported and successful.
“I wish everyone would be as meticulous as Matt,” said John Capuano, produce manager, who has worked at the grocery store for 21 years. “He has such a good attitude and I don’t think he has called in sick while working here.” When asked why other businesses should explore employing people with developmental disabilities, John shared, “I have a philosophy of everyone deserves a chance.”
To learn more about how you may employ people with disabilities, contact our Vocational Services Department at 716.817.5750.
Individual at work assembling parts.
New Contract Manufacturing Site Coming Soon
Work is an important part of each of our lives that provides a sense of purpose and an avenue to achieve our goals. Since 1974, Southeast Works, which merged with People Inc., has provided a safe environment for adults with developmental disabilities to do meaningful paid manufacturing work.
Currently, People Inc. is transitioning the existing workshop environment at 181 Lincoln Street in Depew, NY into an integrated and thriving work center that provides employment for hardworking people. Fueled by a push from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) toward an integrated, person-centered approach to all services, the move will better position People Inc. as an important partner in the community.
“Although this is a big change, we have gone to great lengths to ensure everyone who currently attends our work center will have an uninterrupted continuum of service offerings,” said Tim Pfohl, vice president, People Inc. “Individuals’ needs, goals and safety are paramount and our team will continue to work closely with each person and their family to ensure this exciting transformation is a smooth one.”
The building in Depew may be re-purposed for the relocation of some of People Inc.’s existing services currently taking place in other locations. These would join the programs and administrative functions already taking place at the Depew site. There is no intention to vacate the building. As we shift the work program into the community, the new site will be focused solely on Contract Manufacturing and vocational exploration.
Through this valuable service, we will continue to offer complete assembly/disassembly, packaging, inspection or mailings in a timely and cost-effective manner to community business partners. The program is a tremendous alternative to temporary agencies. It provides a quality-driven, flexible workforce with on-site supervision to ensure all jobs are completed to a business’s expectations and satisfaction.
Contract Manufacturing is just one part of People Inc.’s complete Business Solutions. For more information or questions, email contractmanufacturing@people-inc.org or call 716.683.7100. You will hear more about this exciting shift toward a more integrated work environment and a new location in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Making a Difference in a Senior’s Life
People Inc. Senior Services provide many benefits for older adults, as well as their caregivers. Two of the programs that may be beneficial for families are People Inc.’s Senior Companion and Senior Outreach Programs:
The People Inc. Senior Companion Program assists older adults, 55 and up living in Erie County, who need assistance with daily living tasks. Companion volunteers assist participating seniors with grocery shopping, going for walks, light cooking and housekeeping, while providing a break for caregivers. The program is in need of additional volunteers, who are also age 55 or over, live in Erie County and meet income guidelines. Volunteers receive training and earn a stipend, mileage and meal reimbursement. They also enjoy rewarding experiences, while those who receive services can remain independent in their familiar surroundings. To learn more, call 716.768.2381.
Through the People Inc. Senior Outreach Program, case management services are provided to older adults 60 years or older who live at home to provide the necessary support to age in place. The program is available to seniors who live in Kenmore, Grand Island, North Buffalo, Tonawanda (city and town) and West Buffalo. Older adults enrolled will gain access to appropriate services, including: Adult day care, housekeeping, caregiver resources, food stamps, health insurance/Medicaid and home care services. Spanish speaking staff is available. For more information, call 716.768.2357.
People Inc. values the community’s growing senior population. Through affordable apartments, outreach, healthcare and a day program that helps individuals with memory loss, the agency is committed to encouraging older adults to get the most out of life, overcome challenges and achieve independence.
NEWS FROM MUSEUM OF disABILITY HISTORY
Suitcase Exhibit Finds a Home
When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Since their discovery, an incredible exhibit was created that showcases the moving stories behind these suitcases. We’re proud to announce that, “The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” exhibit has found a home at the Museum of disABILITY History, a project of People Inc. A grand opening, which will include the unveiling of a suitcase, will be held on Saturday, October 20, at 11 a.m., at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. The suitcase and its contents, once belonging to a man named Mr. Lawrence Mocha, will be displayed as part of the exhibit, thanks to support from his family and the New York State Museum.
During the grand opening event, Max Donatelli of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition will speak about the stigma surrounding mental health. Attendees are encouraged to join the conversation with a question and answer session.
The event is a fundraiser for the Museum of disABILITY History. Admission is: Adults $10, Seniors (60+) $6, students and human service employees with identification $6, children under 6 free and members of the Museum of disABILITY History are free. For more information or to register, contact David Mack-Hardiman at dmack@people-inc.org or call 716.629.3606. Refreshments provided. Reservations for the event are required.
“The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” was curated by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny for the Community Consortium. Copies of their compelling book, by the same name, will be available for purchase. The goal of the exhibit is to bring the stories of the suitcase owners and a patient-centered view of the history of psychiatry to a wider audience. For almost ten years, the exhibit traveled the country from coast to coast, hosted by 30 venues in 11 different states and seen by thousands of people.
NEWS FROM HEADWAY OF WNY
Annual Meeting and Educational Presentation
Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., is pleased to announce that Jess Young, MS, CCC-SLP, speech language pathologist, will be the featured speaker at its Annual Meeting and Educational Presentation. The event will be held on Wednesday, November 14, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. Young will present, “Brain Injury Rehabilitation: Benefits of Cognitive-Linguistic Treatment – There’s More to Speech Therapy".
The evening’s itinerary will also include a question/answer session with Young, followed by Headway’s Annual and Quarterly Advisory Council meeting. Refreshments will be served. Event admission is $10 and there is no fee for Headway members. New members are welcome to join at the event and throughout the year. For questions or to reserve your spot, email support@headwayofwny.org or call 716.408.3100. RSVPs must be made by November 7.
To learn more about Headway’s recent news and activities, click here for its latest newsletter. Headway of WNY, a not-for-profit agency, provides support groups, trainings and educational programs for survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and their caregivers. It is a support and advocacy agency for persons with TBI and other disabilities, as well as the Regional Resource Center/Single Point of Entry for the New York State Department of Health’s Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver and the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver.
HOW TO HELP
CAREERS AT
PEOPLE INC.

Join our Team!
People Inc., a multispecialty non-profit health and human services agency, provides services to more than 12,000 individuals throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester region. As a result, we have exceptional opportunities for numerous career paths, whether you are looking to work part or full time. There are many career openings, including behavior technicians, community-based instructors, direct support professionals and respite instructors, along with LPNs and RNs. To apply or to view all of our openings, click here.
Featured Job of the Month: Community Vocational Trainer
People Inc. is currently hiring a full time Community Vocational Trainer in Lockport to provide vocational support services to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Acting as a role model and mentor, the trainer will assist in the development of career exploration opportunities, job shadowing experiences, observation and vocational assessment. The trainer will provide support, instruction and any necessary adaptations required for each individual. Requirements: Associate’s degree preferred or minimal two to four years of equivalent field experience. The candidate must have a valid New York State Driver’s License that meets agency policy and be able to handle multiple tasks.
To apply for this employment opportunity or to learn about other available jobs, click here.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Become an Inclusive Employer
People Inc. is seeking new businesses in Western New York and the Greater Rochester region to employ individuals with disabilities. We also help companies create jobs around an individual’s talents and interests. Hiring a qualified person with a disability brings greater benefits beyond just filling an open job.
To learn more about how you can partner with us to employ people with disabilities, contact our Vocational Services Department at 716.817.5750.
Become a Supporting Member to Receive Exclusive 2019 Calendar
We’re so grateful to our People Inc. Foundation Supporting Member donors who make a big difference in helping People Inc. to serve individuals with developmental disabilities, special needs and older adults. We welcome new Supporting Members year-round. If you donate $100+ or pledge $10 per month, you will earn these Supporting Member benefits:
• People Inc. Foundation Calendar, along with an additional calendar mailed to a person of your choice
• Certificate of Appreciation
• VIP status at our annual Supporting Member event
• Personal updates throughout the year
• Surprise gift
• Inclusion in published donor listings
We’re excited to share that the 2019 calendar focuses on the four seasons and features artwork created by many talented individuals who receive programs and services through People Inc.
To become a Supporting Member today, click here. For more information, contact Jennifer Robinson, at jrobinson@people-inc.org or call 716.817.7269. We appreciate your support!
Get Social with Us!
People Inc. news, program updates, fun photos and events are included on social media. It’s a great way to stay updated! Follow us on various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
PEOPLE INC. IN THE NEWS
Recent news stories that include information from People Inc. and agency representatives.
“Thought Leaders: Nonprofits challenged by funding concerns:” People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick included. Buffalo Business First, September 28, 2018.
“People Inc. acquires Jefferson Avenue properties, seeks tax break:” People Inc. featured. The Buffalo News, September 19, 2018.
“Construction to begin on new Jefferson Avenue affordable housing:”
People Inc. featured. WBFO 88.7, September 19, 2018.
“People Inc. to move Southeast Works employment program: People Inc. featured. Buffalo Business First, September 6, 2018.
COMMUNITY EVENTS
Inclusive Theater of WNY is presenting “And Where Will You Put the Things You Save,” an original production currently showing through October 28, at Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY. Jessica Levesque, a program participant in People Inc.’s Self-Directed Services, is one of three actors starring in the play. Together, they tell the story of Nick Moeright, a criminal defense lawyer who has had an accident that has made him a wheelchair user. The night before his comeback case, he discovers that his sister, Ericka, who has high-functioning autism, has been willingly bio-hacked. Nick, responsible for his sister’s wellbeing, plans to confront the people who did it – just as soon as he can find them.
General admission tickets are $25 and seniors and students are $20 each. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here.
Inclusive Theater of WNY seeks to reimagine society through producing original scripts in their ongoing writing group and workshops with actors and production crew chosen solely on their ability and passion. The goal is to have a place where diversity is the norm, but also to challenge societal perceptions of difference and begin to create a world in which people are accepted and encouraged to contribute to society, no matter their age, physical condition, race, nationality or gender.