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People Inc., NYSID and NFTA kicked off National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Celebrated $22,000 Matching Grant to Support Employing People with Disabilities

Oct 04, 2023

The combined nearly $44,000 will additionally create strong community partnerships to support more people with disabilities in their work.

People Inc., New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID), and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) shared details at a news conference about a nearly $44,000 investment to assist with a People Inc. program that employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The funds have been used to purchase janitorial equipment, used by People Inc. employees to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. The Carpet Cleaning Done Right program is one of the People Inc. business solutions offered to the public that provides high quality work in integrated settings.

This funding is through NYSID’s Matching Grant Program, which benefits its member agencies and partners such as People Inc. and the NFTA. NYSID provides financial support to its statewide network of chapters and other rehabilitative programs which help people with disabilities and qualified veterans succeed in rewarding employment.

“NYSID is thrilled to assist its Member Agency organizations and partners by awarding matching grants that boost productivity and inclusivity,” said Maureen O’Brien, president and CEO of NYSID. “The grant funds will be used to improve cleaning services at the Buffalo airport and other customers. We hope this support grows jobs locally for people with disabilities and qualified veterans.”

People Inc. will use the $22,000 matching grant to support a new carpet cleaning machine at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. “People Inc. is very grateful to NYSID and the NFTA for their support to ensure people with developmental and intellectual disabilities secure and maintain meaningful employment,” said Anne McCaffrey, President and CEO of People Inc. “We are lucky to have these organizations stand with us in our efforts to help people live independent, fulfilling lives.”

The NFTA has shown a significant commitment to the employment of people with disabilities. “The NFTA is proud of its long-standing partnership with People Inc., and fully supports programs and services that promote inclusivity in the workplace.” said Kim Minkel, executive director of the NFTA.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed throughout October to highlight and celebrate the many contributions of workers with disabilities. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities in New York state is close to 70 percent and can be improved by businesses and organizations providing more opportunities for people to work in meaningful jobs.

James Kuzon, who is a day porter at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport for People Inc., spoke about why his job is important and why it is important to support those with disabilities in their work. According to his supervisor, James was driven to learn all aspects of carpet cleaning. He learned that completing work quickly was not as important as completing it thoroughly. Additionally, James overcame previous workplace challenges and operates very professionally in his role. Armed with the confidence of excelling in his long-term position, James purchased a car and got married.

Area state legislators and local dignitaries are supportive for many reasons, including the impact that people with disabilities have on the Buffalo region.

US Congressman Brian Higgins (D, NY-26) said: “Employment opportunities allow for people to showcase their skills and value, while furthering self-sufficiency and independence. I applaud this collaboration between People Inc., NYSID, and the NFTA. This is what an inclusive workforce is all about.”

NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D, 141st District) said: “I’m proud to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month with People Inc. and the NFTA, which includes highlighting the importance of the ability of our friends and family members with developmental disabilities to have real opportunities for gainful employment. The dignity, independence, and chances for personal growth and professional development gained from working are experiences that they will keep with them forever.”

NYS Assembly Member Monica Wallace (D, 143rd Assembly District) said: “It’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and I applaud People Inc., New York State Industries for the Disabled, and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for marking the occasion by working collaboratively to create job opportunities for people with disabilities. We need to ensure there are opportunities for everyone to participate in the workplace to the fullest extent of their abilities. Doing so is good for people with disabilities, good for businesses, and good for the overall economy.”

People Inc. was founded from a humble beginning in 1970 by a small group of parents and professionals, who were concerned and passionate about addressing the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. Since then, People Inc. has remained forward-thinking and expanded its mission to include a wider variety of supports that address the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, families, older adults and the community.