Inclusive workforce, People Inc. Health Services Building
Inclusive workforce, People Inc. Health Services Building
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Increase Inclusion: People Inc. Seeks New Businesses to Employ People with Disabilities
A Message from our CEO
People Inc. is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Each October, we celebrate the valuable contributions of workers with disabilities and their impact on the economy. This year’s theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” which reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At People Inc., we’re honored to support people in their employment goals through our Supported Employment and Vocational Services, along with our Business Solutions. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing messages on our social media accounts. Spread awareness with us by using the hashtag #NDEAM on social media!

Ensuring that people with developmental disabilities and varying abilities secure and maintain meaningful, competitive employment is an important part of what People Inc. does year-round. Hiring a qualified person with a disability brings greater benefits beyond just filling an open job – it means increased productivity, enhanced corporate culture and dedicated, loyal and efficient employees – all of which contribute to a company’s success! People Inc. seeks companies who are welcoming to our team and who treat employees who have disabilities with the same dignity and respect afforded to all of their employees. We are fortunate to meet the needs of numerous partners across a wide spectrum of businesses, while providing expanded career opportunities for those we support. We are constantly developing relationships with new businesses, understanding what the needs of that organization are and how we can provide them business solutions. We are eager to educate a company on all of the abilities of the people we support and create the right fit within their organization.

While the employment rate for people with disabilities has remained largely stagnant in recent years, it is our goal through enhancing our existing relationships and creating new ones, that we can increase the participation rate for those with disabilities.

Business partners throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester area have sought out People Inc. throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to provide continuity in assisting people with employment choices. This edition of People Inc. in the News includes a story about Kevin Nowak, who is employed at Price Rite in Amherst, NY, as a result of our Supported Employment Program. Kevin’s job allows him to earn a paycheck, support himself and make an important contribution, especially now. I am proud of Kevin’s can-do attitude and his job-coaching team for being so supportive.

To learn more on how to employ people with disabilities or partner with our other business solutions, call 716.817.5750. I encourage businesses to promote a more inclusive workforce – one where every person is recognized for their unique abilities and valuable contributions.

It seems appropriate to return to a TEDx Buffalo talk that I was asked to be a part of in 2015. The message of employing people with disabilities continues to be relevant today. I challenge all owners of businesses of any size, as well as community organizations, to think differently about people with disabilities in the workplace – how can you promote inclusion in your workplace? Together, let’s break down the barriers that still exist.

Rhonda Frederick
President and CEO, People Inc.
Kevin Nowak working at Price Rite
Kevin Nowak working at Price Rite.
Supported Employment Program Continues to Enhance the Community
Many people with developmental disabilities are eager to continue working through the Coronavirus pandemic. Kevin Nowak is a perfect example. Employed at Price Rite in Amherst, NY as a porter, and assisted through the People Inc. Supported Employment Program, Kevin has continued to clean the store, paying special attention to how the aisles and products appear, as well as assisting customers.

Kevin shared, “I enjoy being part of the team here and learning new things! They keep me busy so I am never bored.”

Andrew Jezior, store manager remarked: “Kevin continues to grow in the responsibilities that he tackles every day. He truly has become an important member of the Price Rite family and has embraced our culture.”

As part of the program, an employment specialist works as the liaison between the employer and the employee, focusing on job-readiness and addressing any concerns. “This is the first time at this store that I have supervised an employee who receives assistance from People Inc. and I appreciate their support and how well the employment specialist blends into our operations and is always available,” added Andrew.

Shannon Panepento, People Inc. employment specialist said of the relationship with Kevin and Price Rite, “From day one we look to see how do we tailor this opportunity to benefit both the person we support and the business. We focus on flexibility, ongoing communication and education.”

For more from Kevin, Andrew and Shannon, view this story from Spectrum News Buffalo, which aired during the summer.

Our Supported Employment Program serves a large range of people with disabilities throughout the region. This program promotes individualized job carving, providing assessment of employment interest and choice, job development, job training, stabilization and long-term follow along. All placements are community-based in an integrated setting. Participants are employees of the businesses and are paid the prevailing wage for their work. To qualify, people must be 18 years or older with a developmental disability and aging out of a school system.

People Inc. is seeking new businesses to employ people with disabilities year-round. The agency assists companies to create jobs around a person’s talents and interests. To learn more about how to get employed through the People Inc. Supported Employment Program or to become a business partner, contact James Scutt at or call 716.817.5750.
Business Solutions Services Continue through COVID-19 Crisis
People Inc. is proud to continue to serve the business community, especially during this challenging time. All of our cleaning protocols follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to safely sanitize businesses. Our experienced staff is here to
help you continue your business operations. People Inc. provides janitorial services, interior cleaning services, carpet cleaning, floor care and maintenance for commercial, non-profit, business and government offices throughout Erie and Niagara Counties.

People Inc. works with businesses in Western New York and the Greater Rochester region to assist people with disabilities to secure and maintain meaningful, competitive employment. Several business solutions have been established that offer high-quality work, ranging from janitorial and carpet cleaning to workforce solutions and contract manufacturing. Free estimates are provided and the agency is fully insured. For more information, contact or call 716.817.5750.
New Health Services buidling.
Now Open: People Inc. Health Services Building
We’re pleased to announce that our new state-of-the-art People Inc. Health Services Building is now open! Located at 800 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo (corner of Elmwood and Hertel Avenues), a variety of health services are provided all under one roof. Together, with our partners at Evergreen Health, People First Mobility and ECMC Dental, we’re excited to offer a range of services for people of all ages and needs. Most services began on Monday, October 4, with dental services opening later this year.

Our People Inc. Rehabilitative Health Services include: Physical and occupational therapies, speech and language pathology and our Wheelchair Clinic, as well as Counseling Services.
For more information, contact:
People Inc. 50th Anniversary Fantasy Casino Night
As part of our People Inc. 50th Anniversary celebrations, join us for an evening of fun as we host a “Fantasy Casino Night!” The fundraiser will be held on Thursday, October 21, from 5:30 to 10 p.m., at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Road, Depew, NY.

Here’s the Deal: The event will feature blackjack, roulette and slots, a two-hour open bar, a full cash bar including a signature cocktail, raffles and an auction! Plus, our People Inc. 50th Anniversary video will debut.

Celebrate this Golden Milestone: Limited tickets are still available. Purchase tickets online today! Sponsorships are available with unique benefits. For more information, contact Melanie Wilkinson at or 716.817.7450.

This event is in collaboration with our Rivershore Foundation Inc. and Southeast Foundation. Together, we look forward to continuing our mission for 50 more years and beyond!
Telling the People Inc. Story: Then/Now Series Feature
As our agency’s 50th Anniversary celebration continues, we’re sharing snapshots of how things were then and now.
Then: People Inc. began with less than 10 employees, helping just a small group of people with developmental disabilities.
Now: Our agency is one of the largest non-profit employers in the region with nearly 4,000 staff, who make an impact on the thousands of people we support. We’re considered Western New York’s largest not-for-profit agency when ranked by revenue and the number of people employed. According to Buffalo Business First, People Inc. is one of the top 25 employers in the area.

More of our agency’s Then/Now series is included in a photo album on the People Inc. Facebook page.

Letter Writing Campaign Underway to Increase Staffing for People with
Developmental Disabilities

In an effort to bring attention to the staffing shortage across New York State for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to receive assistance, a local disability rights advocate is helping to make his and other voices heard. BJ Stasio, who also receives supports from People Inc., is launching a campaign to bring Governor Kathy Hochul’s attention to a workforce crisis that is leaving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities without the assistance they need.
The goal is at least 10,000 letters written by people with disabilities, their families, workers, and community members that BJ plans to deliver to Governor Hochul.

Learn more about this letter writing campaign in a feature story by WBFO, where BJ shared, “This is your opportunity to make change for yourself and for others. So please use your voice. It doesn’t have to be a long story. It can be a short story, it can be however long you want.”

BJ continued, “This is an issue for all people with disabilities and all those who love them and all those who support them. Because if we’re not seen, it’s not a truly inclusive community and without the staff who support us, we can’t be in the community to do what we’re all doing.”

Families, direct support professionals (DSPs), people with disabilities and anyone who works for a disability services provider are encouraged to participate. Submit your letter online or email
the cover of the 2020 Annual Report.
People Certified Home Health Accepting Referrals
Attention care coordinators and healthcare professionals – our
People Certified Home Health is the only agency in Western New York
that provides specialized home
health care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
People Certified Home Health
was established as an affiliate of People Inc. for those with short-term health needs, which can be cared for by in-home nurses and rehabilitation therapists to promote the health and wellness of people you support. The emphasis is on treating acute conditions through brief, appropriate house visits. Our focus is on proven, quality care, which:
  • Specializes in supporting people with developmental disabilities
  • Provides patients quality care in the comfort of their own home – to enhance their wellbeing and regain independence
  • Offers more cost-effective services than alternative long-term care options
Supports are provided to people 18 years old and older, with and without developmental disabilities, at home (including certified settings and IRAs). Services include: Intermittent Skilled Nursing; Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies; Nutrition and Medical Social Work.

There are many times that someone would benefit from People Certified Home Health, including: Treatment for new medical diagnoses, such as diabetes, cardiac and lung diseases; wound care and skin breakdown; frequent hospital emergency room visits; after an injury, surgery or hospital stay; age-related conditions and for assistance with medication management.
We welcome referrals from care coordinators and healthcare professionals. To make a referral, for more information or to arrange for a presentation, contact Jake Wilkins, RN, vice president, People Home Health Services, at or 716.566.4814.
Enjoying Tasty Treats at Arts Experience
Last month, our People Inc. Arts Experience Day Habilitation Program received a visit from Anderson’s Frozen Custard. This fun activity was made possible by Out of the Blue WNY, a local nonprofit that teams up with organizations like People Inc. and enhances the quality of life for adults with disabilities throughout Western New York. We’re so thankful for Out of the Blue’s generosity!
Would your business like to add some extra joy to the people who participate in our various services? We welcome unique opportunities to strengthen the relationships between the people we support and the community. If interested, or would like to talk about ideas, reach out to us at
Rhonda Frederick Shares “WNYers with Disabilities Deserve a Fresh Start”
Let’s work together to identify solutions to address the immediate crisis and safeguard the system of support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick shared this statement and more in a recent article in The Buffalo News.
In the Media: Being a Resource to the Community
Local news media stories have recently included information from People Inc. and agency representatives. Our team is always pleased to share information and their expertise:
Thomas Ess, People Inc. vice president Emergency Management Safety and Security, shared information with two local news outlets on the importance of vaccination for healthcare workers:
“My View: Father Baker’s tenacity was a career inspiration:” Former People Inc. President and CEO
James M. Boles wrote an article highlighting the impact of Father Baker on his career in the field of developmental disabilities, including his time at People Inc. The Buffalo News, September 28, 2021.

Latoshia Hubert
Agency Kudos
Latoshia Hubert, People Inc. associate vice president of Property Management and Finance, was honored as part of the virtual Buffalo Black Achievers Awards ceremony held on Sunday, October 3. Latoshia plays a key role in the agency’s Affordable Apartments, which provide safe, affordable housing to people in the community, who are income-eligible, including those with developmental disabilities. Her compassion, perseverance and strong work ethic make her an incredible asset to the People Inc. Team! View the award presentation.
Jo Ann Birch
Congratulations to Jo Ann Birch on her Retirement
Jo Ann Birch began her career with People Inc. on October 22, 2005, as a Residential Habilitation instructor. In 2007, she joined the Human Resources Department. Among her various responsibilities, Jo Ann provided dedicated service to countless staff by overseeing the Employee Service Line, ensuring they received accurate information and support. Jo Ann began her retirement last month – just shy of sixteen years. We thank Jo Ann for her dedication and send best wishes for an enjoyable retirement.

COVID-19 Updates
COVID-19 Updated Guidance and Resources
Our focus remains on the safety of the people we support and our staff. The People Inc. team will continue to operate in a proactive, precautionary manner, with a primary goal of maintaining a safe and healthy environment for people we support and our staff throughout the global pandemic. For ongoing agency updates, refer to the Coronavirus section of our website. Thank you for your continued observation of the protocols that best keep the people we support and our staff as safe as possible.
Please note that in August, People Inc. adjusted our masking protocols, based on revised OPWDD guidance, throughout the agency: ALL People Inc. employees, vendors and visitors are required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
The following resources are available:
  • Families are welcome to call group homes and programs with specific questions.
  • A special Coronavirus Phone Line is available for families to call at 716.817.7445.
  • An afterhours Coronavirus hotline is available for families and people enrolled in our Day Habilitation Programs and Vocational Services to share questions. The number is 716.529.6505.
  • A special email address,, is available to have concerns addressed.
  • The People Inc. Advocacy Department continues to help people who receive supports stay connected and informed through Zoom video and phone conferences. Our Advocacy Phone Line is available for people we support to ask non-emergency questions by calling 716.322.7070.
Fall In Love With A New Career! Make an Impact and Become Part of a Supportive Team
Fall in love with a new career and make an impact in the lives of people with disabilities! People Inc. is hiring compassionate, energetic and creative people for full time, part time and per diem positions across Western New York and the Greater Rochester region. If you value rewarding experiences, then apply today! People with experience in retail, restaurants, customer service and education often become an outstanding part of our agency’s team. We have a place for people with all skill levels – from entry level to years of experience. Direct support professionals, clinical and behavioral staff are needed to help people with disabilities achieve their goals! People Inc. offers paid comprehensive training and a wide variety of flexible and consistent positions, which are great for college students to gain hands-on experience and for people returning to the workforce. Staff earn lots of PTO and PTO buyback. Some of the other great benefits provided by People Inc. include health insurances and tuition assistance. A starting hourly rate of $15 per hour is available for select direct support positions. A sign-on bonus of $750 is now offered for some designated full time direct support positions and a $375 sign-on bonus for part time. For designated management positions, a sign-on bonus of up to $1,500 is also available. (Note: The sign-on bonus is subject to change and/or may be discontinued at any time). There are also immediate opportunities for LPNs, RNs, behavior technicians, Children’s Services case managers, team leads and residential supervisors, just to name a few. Take the next step to grow your career today! To view People Inc. employment openings, go to or call 716.322.7050 for more information.
Kids enjoying Afternoon Respite.
New Niagara Falls Afternoon Respite
Seeking Applicants

We are proud to announce that we will be opening a new program in Niagara Falls, NY, and are currently accepting applicants. The People Inc. Niagara Falls Afternoon Respite will be located at 4455 Porter Road, Niagara Falls, for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, ages 13-21. The program will be available Monday through Friday, from 2 to 6 p.m. Fees are accepted through HCBS Medicaid Waiver or private pay. The site is not able to administer medications. Transportation is provided to and from the program for students from the Niagara Falls School District.

Students will enjoy a fun and safe environment where they have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities with staff and their peers, including board game tournaments, cooking classes, arts and crafts and more. There is also regular access to a gymnasium for physical activities and a low-stimulus quiet area, which can be utilized for watching movies, playing games or reading.

To learn more, contact our Admissions Department at or call 716.880.3700.
Grant Street Apartments kitchen
Grant Street Apartments kitchen
Looking for Safe, Affordable Apartments?
Applications Now Welcome
Locations in Erie and Niagara Counties

People Inc. Affordable Apartments options provide reasonably-priced, safe apartments across our region for those who are income-eligible. Each apartment consists of one- or two- bedrooms, kitchen with appliances, bathroom and a living/dining area. Some of these communities are for people 18 and over, while others have an age requirement of 55 and over. Adaptable apartments are available, with some that are specifically designed for people who have mobility and vision challenges or for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Our Affordable Apartments, located throughout Erie and Niagara counties, are accepting applications.

Locations for the Olmsted Apartments, managed by People Inc., include the following (preferences for people with physical disabilities or vision impairments are noted):
Austin Manor Apartments: 395 Tonawanda Street, Buffalo, NY
Elizabeth Harvey Apartments: 525 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, NY
Gratwick Manor Apartments: 840 Tonawanda Street, Buffalo, NY
Haskell Stovroff Apartments: 30 Alpine Place, Cheektowaga, NY
Nelson Hopkins Apartments: 5562 Davison Road, Lockport, NY
Oakwood Apartments Senior Living
Oakwood Apartments Senior Living
The apartments listed below are also accepting applications (certain eligibility applies):
Oakwood Senior Apartments, 15 Oakwood Avenue, Blasdell, NY: 55+ years of age and who are income eligible (affordable rent). Currently nearing full construction with tenants moving in by mid-November.

Grant Street Apartments, 25 Grant Street, North Tonawanda, NY: 18+ years of age and who are income-eligible, physically disabled and/or intellectually/developmentally disabled.

Highland School Apartments, 105 Highland Avenue, Tonawanda, NY: 18+ years of age and who are income-eligible, traumatic brain injury (TBI), physically disabled and/or intellectually/developmentally disabled.
Currently, a two-bedroom unit with hearing and vision accommodations is available.
Linwood Lafayette Senior Apartments, 637 Linwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY: 55+ years of age and who are income-eligible, physically disabled and/or intellectually/developmentally disabled. Market rate units available. Varying rates apply, based on income.

For more details, contact us today by email at or call 716.880.3890.

An older adult holding her kitten.
People Inc. Senior Living Accepting Applications
Multiple Locations throughout Western New York
Do you have a parent or elderly loved one who needs to downsize from their home or remove the worry of household maintenance? Our People Inc. Senior Living provides maintenance-free apartments for independent older adults age 62 and up who are income-eligible. Many locations throughout Western New York are currently accepting applications, including Amherst, Angola, Blasdell, Buffalo (border of Cheektowaga) and South Buffalo, Gowanda*, Grand Island, Lackawanna, Lockport (border of Amherst), Springville and Wheatfield (border of North Tonawanda). (*Our Gowanda location provides HUD Section 202 Affordable Housing and NYS Tax Credit apartments for seniors age 62+. Accessible unit available. Amenities vary. TTD/TTY: 1.800.662.1220).

Two benefits of People Inc. Senior Living are affordable rent based on income and safety features. As an added cost savings, some utilities are included and on-site laundry facilities are provided. There is also a day-time manager and a live-in caretaker for building emergencies. Tenants are welcome to have one small pet. Each apartment complex has a spacious community room with a kitchen that tenants may reserve for family gatherings. If additional supports are needed, tenants may utilize a unique benefit through People Inc. Senior Living Service Coordination at no extra charge to assist with various services.

If you or your loved one would like to learn more, email or call 716.817.9090.
Rendering of the Oakwood Apartments.
Volunteers Needed to Help Older Adults
Want to assist older adults to remain independent?
The People Inc. Senior Companion Program welcomes volunteers 55 or over, who live in Erie County and meet income guidelines to assist older adults with grocery shopping, light cooking and housekeeping. Additionally, our volunteers have the opportunity to reach out to recipients virtually through our program’s “Phone Connection” initiative. Trained volunteers earn a stipend, mileage and meal reimbursement. To join us or for more information, contact Alissa Yax at or call 716.768.2381.
News from Deaf Access Services
The Erie County Legislature
Deaf Awareness Month and Deaf Access Services Recognized by the Erie County Legislature
The Erie County Legislature recently recognized the Deaf and hard of hearing community with a proclamation in honor of Deaf Awareness Month. In addition, the Legislature honored Deaf Access Services, an affiliate of People Inc., with special recognition for the work they have done throughout the
global COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do for the local and national Deaf and hard of hearing community. Deaf Access Services supports the county during the ongoing global pandemic by ensuring press briefings are interpreted, so that the Deaf community has access to critical information.
For more information about available services and trainings through Deaf Access Services, email, call 716.833.1637 or videophone at 716.335.9192. News and event updates are posted on the Deaf Access Services Facebook page.
Shannon Patterson
Send Us Your Photos!
Did you purchase a shirt from the recent Deaf Access Services shirt campaign? The design spells out 716 in American Sign Language! Submit your photos and they may be included on the Deaf Access Services Facebook page and within their newsletter. Shannon Patterson, a Deaf Access Services AmeriCorps member, happily wears her new shirt (pictured)! Email your photos to David Wantuck at

NEWS from Headway of WNY
You Are Not Alone: Support Groups Meet Virtually on Wednesdays
Are you struggling with belonging? Headway of WNY, Inc. has a place for you through its virtual Support Groups, which meet twice a month to address topics related to traumatic brain injury or other cognitive conditions, as well as COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Support Groups meet on the first and third Wednesday of the month (instead of Tuesdays). Upcoming virtual meetings, held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., are scheduled for Wednesday, October 20; Wednesday, November 3 and Wednesday, November 17. To join these groups, send your name, phone number, email address and meeting date(s) you would like to attend to Virtual connection instructions will be provided to your email address. If you have questions, call 716.408.3120.

Headway assists people and families with a traumatic brain injury, other cognitive conditions, seniors and veterans. The agency offers a variety of services to the Western New York community, including: support groups, identification of supports, educational programs, waiver programs, symposiums, outreach, special fundraising events and a bi-annual newsletter. Stay updated with Headway’s website and Facebook page.
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