News and programs for Niagara County
News and programs for Niagara County
Rivershore Foundation Mission

Supporting people with developmental disabilities throughout Niagara County to lead their best life as contributing members of our community.

Message from Executive Officer
I know you can all relate: There is so much going on!
We’re well into this unusual year of 2020, and have all been adapting. Our Foundation has always had a noble mission of supporting people with disabilities and the need couldn’t be any more clear than it is today. Plain and simple: the COVID-19 pandemic poses a more severe threat to people with compromised immune systems and underlying health conditions, which are present in so many of the people we support. Our response has been swift, enormous and sustained. Throughout the pandemic, many of our services continued without interruption. Group homes still provided 24/7 care and supervision for nearly 1,000 residents, which families relied on while restrictions on visits were in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. Day skills training was quickly redesigned and hundreds of staff reassigned so those services could be provided within group homes. Families with loved ones at home were provided with a range of assistance tailored to their needs, including online remote support and weekly calls, help with grocery shopping, walks outdoors, etc. Onsite medical services were transformed with telehealth visits and more.
A highly coordinated effort was undertaken to obtain and distribute a full range of personal protective equipment, a significant change in cleaning products and protocols were made, and a massive Information Technology effort was necessary to support staff to work remotely. At this point in time, additional expenses solely related to the response to this COVID-19 pandemic is beyond $2 million across the full of People Inc. operations, which also includes services across Niagara County. We need your help in bridging the gap – please see info on our COVID-19 Relief Fund below.
All of these efforts would not have been possible without the absolute dedication of our frontline heroes working every day, making personal sacrifices and observing conservative personal precautions so that others are protected. We have had very limited experience with positive cases in the low single percent’s, as compared to much higher percentages across the field and in the community.
We couldn’t be more proud of our frontline staff and are celebrating National Direct Support Professional (DSP) Week, September 13-19, throughout our agency in many different ways. Kudos to all of our of DSPs!
Thank you for your support!
With thanks,
Denise Bienko, Executive Officer
Board Member Profile: Meet Lei Han
Rivershore Foundation Board Member Lei Han, PhD, is an associate professor of accounting at Niagara University. Having joined the university after receiving a PhD in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington, her research interests include financial reporting, capital markets and pedagogical innovation. In addition to teaching accounting to undergraduates, Dr. Han also holds a CPA and teaches CPA prep classes to MBA students. Presented with Niagara University’s “Innovation in Teaching Award” last year, we are so fortunate to have Dr. Han’s skills and expertise on our Board!
Dr. Han is also a wonderful advocate for our mission, sharing, “Coming from a family with special needs, I always look for ways to give back to the community by helping people with similar challenges.” First learning of our mission from colleague Chris Aquino, an active board member before his retirement, she was “really impressed by the efficiency and ethics in providing human services and years of laudable outstanding performance.” Since joining the board in 2018, Dr. Han has helped raise support for capital and operations, develop innovative ideas for engaging with local businesses and social groups, as well as exploring new fundraising ideas. She led the design of a Comedy Night, postponed when the pandemic interrupted gatherings. (We all look forward to reviving this fundraiser once it’s safer to have in-person events – keep an eye on our website for details at
Reflecting on what she is most proud of about the Rivershore Foundation, ”I’ve been very proud of the board members and executive officer.…they come from different backgrounds and are already well-established in their own careers. It is their passion and belief in the mission” that brings us all together.
Looking toward the future, Dr. Han seeks additional success in raising funds toward developing the Hinman Apartments, exploring additional housing for people with disabilities and collaboration with local universities to foster cost-aware projects that enhance services and efficiency, perhaps through leveraging new technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Your Support is Needed During this Critical Time
As the COVID-19 has affected our lives and those of our loved ones, the Rivershore Foundation hasn’t wavered in our commitment to our mission to support people with disabilities in Niagara County. You can help support this mission by making a donation to our COVID-19 Relief Fund. Your contribution will help bridge the gap of extra expenses for personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced cleaning protocols, as well as technology to provide remote services and support in Niagara County. As the pandemic continues, the cost of various PPE has continued to rise. Donate $20 or more and we are happy to send you a Heroes Awareness Wristband to thank you for being part of this effort! Make a donation of any amount today. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Photo by Roxane Albond-Buchner, People Inc.
Telling the People Inc. Story for
50 Years

We’re so happy to share that People Inc. is celebrating its 50th anniversary! The agency started with just a small group of parents and professionals who joined together to address the needs of people with intellectual disabilities and formed what would grow to become People Inc. Now the agency is so much – not only in numbers, but also in the programs and services offered for people of all ages and abilities, its employees and areas served throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester region, including Niagara County.
The variety of programs and services have evolved to support 10,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, families and older adults. Over the years, People Inc. has expanded these offerings to support even more people to live, work and thrive – to be independent, to have access to supports and health services and affordable, safe housing – all while promoting independence and fulfilling experiences. As other organizations affiliated with People Inc., services were preserved in the community and expanded to meet the needs of even more people.
To mark this milestone, landmarks were illuminated blue to recognize the occasion, including Niagara Falls! Check out the People Inc. Facebook photo album for photos. More information is included in an article by WBFO 88.7 (NPR).
People Inc. Debuts Inclusion Video
Inclusion has always been the fundamental purpose of People Inc. The agency’s longtime values of Improving Lives, Respect, Diversity and Inclusion are meant to guide everyday actions in very practical ways. They are especially important in times of uncertainty and distress. People Inc. strives to live these values every day, but there is still work that needs to be done. We can be part of the solution by becoming a more culturally-competent agency and standing together against racial injustice. View the People Inc. Inclusion video as part of the agency’s continued expression of its values and commitment. Let’s promote inclusion for all. Let’s work together.
Margaret Tretter posing with the bell wearing a mask.
Margaret Tretter Rings Symbolic
Bell for Opening of Golisano Medical Oncology Center

The Golisano Medical Oncology Center held a virtual grand opening on July 16, and Margaret Tretter, who lives in a People Inc. group home in Niagara Falls, NY, was proud to be part of the celebration. Located at the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center in Niagara Falls, NY, the ceremony was streamed live on Facebook and was restricted in the amount of attendees, in accordance with current health guidelines. Representatives from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center dedicated the new Golisano Medical Oncology Center, a member site within the Roswell Park Care Network. Margaret was safely escorted by a staff member to attend the event. At the end of the ceremony, Margaret rang the Victory Bell in a symbolic act demonstrating support for all cancer survivors that helped to officially open the new center.
In a statement, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo, said: “The expert cancer care provided at this new center is welcome news for all Niagara County residents and directly addresses health disparity issues that historically have impacted African Americans, Native Americans, people with mental health issues and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Last November, People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick, Margaret and others supported by People Inc. attended an event that announced this new medical center. We’re pleased that Margaret was able to celebrate the opening of this new facility.

Staying #PeopleIncStrong #RiveshoreFoundationStrong
Encouragement and Ideas

As these difficult times continue, community members,along with staff and people supported, have joined together – check out these examples of dedication.
Community Members Donate Masks
In response to a request for masks to help protect staff and the people we support in Niagara County, we’re grateful for community assistance. Special thanks to Ms. Caroyln McNamara, Niagara County Office for the Aging and government representatives of Niagara County, NY.
If you or someone you know creates cloth masks or has a supply of other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are able to help, your support is appreciated. Email or call 716.817.7269 to coordinate your mask donation.
staff working with shovels and buckets outside.
Prepping Trees for Planting
In recognition of Earth Day this past April, staff from People Inc. Artisan’s Edge, a fine arts day habilitation program in Niagara Falls, NY, prepped and potted trees. It was a great way to stay involved, while safely maintaining six feet of social distancing. The potted trees are scheduled to be planted in Hyde Park in Niagara Falls this fall season. Artisan’s Edge provides people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a balance of on-site activities that include painting, music and creative writing, as well as opportunities throughout Niagara County.
A group home resident making a bird feeder and another resident posing with a completed bird feeder.
Making Food for Feathered Friends
Housemates at a People Inc. group home in Niagara Falls, NY, came together to create bird feeders – they had fun making them by using peanut butter and bird seed!
A female recent graduate wearing a graduation gown throwing her cap into the air.
Now Hiring in Niagara County
If you’re starting out or considering a new career path – either temporarily or permanently – contact People Inc. today! There are immediate full time, part time and temporary openings for direct support professionals, LPNs, community-based instructors and behavior technicians to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A variety of
shifts and locations across Western New York, including Niagara County are available. Virtual interviews, paid training and great benefits are offered. If you know someone who may be interested, refer them to learn more or to view all employment openings, go to the People Inc. Job Board or call 716.322.7050 for more information.
Program Highlights
The kitchen of a Grant Street apartment.
New Affordable Apartments in North Tonawanda Available for Summer Move-in
People Inc. offers affordable apartments across Western New York, including its newest location at 25 Grant Street in North Tonawanda, NY. People Inc. Grant Street Apartments is open and accepting rental applications for a summer move-in. The head of household must be 18 or older and meet income eligibility. Located in a suburban setting, the apartments are ideal for a single person, couple or family. The one and two-bedroom apartments are spacious and have beautifully landscaped grounds. Features include: On-site management; kitchen includes stainless steel appliances, with a dishwasher; safety features; water and garbage removal included; on-site laundry facilities and air conditioning. Tenants may have one small pet. Some apartments are designed for people who have mobility and vision challenges or who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing. The smoke-free living apartment building is two blocks from a major bus route.
Rent subsidies and/or rental vouchers accepted. For more information about income eligibility and for an apartment application, email or call 716.693.4249.
Janitorial workers using a floor cleaner and other cleaning devices.
Business Solutions Services Continue through COVID-19 Crisis
Janitorial and Carpet Cleaning
Services Available

People Inc. continues to serve the business community, especially during this challenging time. All cleaning protocols follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to safely sanitize businesses. Experienced staff are here to help you reopen and stay open. People Inc. provides janitorial services, interior cleaning services, carpet cleaning, floor care and maintenance for commercial, business and government offices throughout Erie and Niagara Counties.
People Inc. works with businesses in Western New York, including Lewiston, Lockport and Niagara Falls, NY, 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 716.817.5750.
A senor living resident in his kitchen drinking coffee.
People Inc. Senior Living in Niagara County Accepting Apartment Applications
Whether thinking of downsizing or removing the worry of household maintenance, it is helpful to plan ahead. People Inc. Senior Living accepts apartment applications year-round for all of its locations, including apartment buildings in Lockport and Wheatfield, NY. Apartments are for independent older adults age 62 and over who are income eligible.
Two benefits are affordable rent based on income and safety features. As an added cost savings, some utilities are included. The apartments include a kitchen with appliances. Amenities ensure cleanliness and safety. Various safety features include stove fire prevention devices, grab bars in the bathroom, emergency pull-cords, a secure entrance and a 24-hour response system. There is also a daytime manager and a live-in caretaker for building emergencies. Tenants are welcome to have one small pet. Plus, the apartment buildings include a furnished community room and laundry facilities. Service coordinators are available to provide tenants assistance to services at no extra charge.
If you’re 62 or over and need affordable living or if you advocate for family members who may qualify, call for more information and an apartment application:
People Inc. Pine Senior Living
6231 Tonawanda Creek North, Lockport, NY (off Transit Road near Millersport Highway) 716.433.3381
People Inc. Willow Senior Living
3990 Forest Parkway, Wheatfield (North Tonawanda border)
For information about other locations, call 716.817.9090.
Support for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Deaf Access Services, an affiliate of People Inc., developed a creative video outlining the beneficial services they continue to offer during the COVID-19 pandemic. View the video and share with anyone who may benefit from these important services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. Formed in 1983 by a group of dedicated Deaf leaders and volunteers concerned about the welfare of the Deaf community, Deaf Access Services is the only local organization solely dedicated to serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. To learn more about these supportive services for yourself, a loved one or for your business, email
The Rivershore Foundation E-publication is for supporters of our mission.
Contact Rivershore Foundation:
Denise Bienko, Executive Officer
The Rivershore Foundation E-publication is produced by the
People Inc. Marketing Communications Department.
Newsletter feedback welcome:
Nicole Forgione, Assistant Director, Marketing Communications,
Designed by Michelle Richter, Graphic Designer
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