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People Inc. Receives Grant from First Niagara Foundation to Help Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Achieve Gains in their Life Goals

Jan 22, 2016

Targeted effort focuses on financial literacy and self-sufficiency

January 22, 2016: People Inc., Western New York’s leading health and human services agency, was awarded a $5,000 grant from the First Niagara Foundation to support individuals with disabilities in developing skills to lead day-to-day lives that are fulfilling and personally satisfying.

People Inc. will use the funding to support its Life Quality Coaching (LQC) Program which helps an average of 50 individuals each month, and provides each with the opportunity to work towards a goal that doesn’t necessarily fit into the box of traditional programming. Individuals work closely with a life quality coach to achieve their goals in a three to six month time span, enough time to gain the confidence and tools needed to move forward with the goal on their own. Sometimes the goals are as small as learning to take the bus. Others can be life-changing such as moving into an independent apartment.

In addition to supporting the overall program, funds will also be used to enable young women to gain important personal finance skills including budgeting, planning, savings and understanding credit so that they can move closer to self-sufficiency. In alignment with its Mentoring MattersSM Program, First Niagara staff will join with life quality coaches, serve as volunteer mentors and utilize a hands-on approach to assist participants of the program in developing money management skills.

“Giving individuals with disabilities the tools they need to confidently achieve their dreams can have a significant impact on them and those around them,” said People Inc. Program Director Alison Smith. “The effects of life quality coaching are life-long, and we are so grateful to the First Niagara Foundation for recognizing the value of the program and partnering with us.”

An innovative leader in the human services field, People Inc.’s LQC program was developed by driven employees who became certified Special Needs Life Quality Coaches™ through a 16-week certification course provided by TERI, Inc., a California non-profit organization serving individuals with developmental disabilities. The program is built on a system of mutual accountability between the life quality coach and individual as they develop a contract with expected outcomes and goals, as well as respective roles in moving toward achieving that goal.  

Recent program success stories include Buffalo resident Phil Stroth who wanted to join a gym and learn how to use the equipment. He now visits the gym confidently on his own and feels stronger than ever. Depew resident Jen Giolando dreamed of becoming a basketball coach and was able to secure a spot coaching for a local team. Tyler William-Smith of Lockport wanted to acclimate to college life and purchase a laptop. He is now an active college student studying sports management. To see their stories and more, click here.

“First Niagara is committed to supporting initiatives that provide opportunities for all individuals to reach their full potential,” said Elizabeth Gurney, executive director of the First Niagara Foundation. “We are proud to work with People Inc. to offer initiatives that increase self-sufficiency and create a thriving community.”

People Inc. is a not-for-profit health and human services agency providing programs and services to more than 12,000 people with special needs, their families and seniors throughout Western New York. Since 1970, People Inc. has assisted individuals to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity.