Genesee ARC’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to those who have made a difference to Genesee ARC over the past year.
In addressing guests at Friday’s event at the Clarion Hotel, Executive Director Donna Saskowski described the last 12 months as challenging.
“We have faced the loss of a major contract (trash and recycling) as well as state budget reductions that may change how we do business in the future,” Saskowski said. "However, through all of that I continue to see a very dedicated group of staff and supportive families working to help guide our way."
Looking to the future, Saskowski said, “We are not going anywhere; we are here for the long haul. I can say this with conviction because our mission is to provide supports and services to individuals with disabilities and their families.”
The 2013 Spirit of ARC Award was presented to the Genesee County Office for the Aging and Director Pamela Whitmore. This award was established eight years ago to recognize an organization, business, family or individual that exemplifies the mission of ARC. Genesee ARC’s relationship with the Office for the Aging began more than three years ago when they reached out to ARC’s vocational department to request assistance in setting up tables for various activities at the Senior Center on Bank Street. This has resulted in part-time employment for three or four people several times per week ever since.
Earlier this year, Genesee ARC’s Culinary Arts Program was awarded the contract to provide meals for Genesee County’s Meals on Wheels program.
“This was the beginning of four new jobs for people we support,” Saskowski said. “Ten months later we are producing more than 100 meals daily and this contract maintains employment for those four people who are also doing something they love.”
Additionally, the Genesee County Office of the Aging provides support to some ARC seniors and assistance with tax preparation each year for many people served by ARC.
Volunteer of the Year honors were presented to Dawn Fisher, a Human Services teacher at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership.
Saskowski said, “Dawn embraces the values of integrity, honesty, and independence and is always looking for integration opportunities for people with disabilities.”
Fisher coordinates many activities involving her human services students and individuals from ARC. The Volunteer of the Year is also active in the Challenger Sports program, is a key volunteer for the Challenger Winter Fun Day and is a longtime member of the Down Syndrome Parent Support Group of Genesee County that has been supportive of Genesee ARC’s mission.
In the youth category, the spotlight was on Ashley McCormack, 12, of Darien as she was presented Youth Spotlight Award. ARC Director of Development Shelley Falitico presented the award and shared that when Ashley has a goal in mind, she does everything she can to accomplish it!
“Last fall Ashley raised $875.00 for Genesee ARC through the Challenger Sports Bowling Party. In 2010, she raised $610,” Falitico said.
Ashley has been involved in Challenger Sports since ARC’s collaboration with the YMCA began seven years ago.
“Whether soccer, dance, bowling or baseball, Ashley always gives 110 percent,” Falitico said.
Friend of ARC Awards were presented to:
Laverne Bates, for helping develop a golf program for individuals with disabilities served by Genesee ARC and for enlisting the enthusiastic volunteer support of his family;
Ben Bonarigo, in recognition of his longtime support and commitment of Genesee ARC programs and services;
Deirdre Pehrson, a special education teacher at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership for going above and beyond to help her students excel and succeed;
Mosman Paint & Wallpaper for the difference they make in the lives of individuals with disabilities at the Genesee ARC Day Habilitation Center by donating items used for arts and crafts;
Brandon Armstrong, owner of City Styles Barber Shop, was recognized for his welcoming ways with individuals from one of ARC’s residences, who are customers of the shop;
and Cory Weber, a volunteer who has helped out with Special Olympics Track & Field, Softball and Snowshoeing competitions.
The following received Genesee ARC Achievement awards: Tyler Kreutter,
Stacy Gill, Deborah Lehman, Sarah Dieck, Jennifer Pawlak, Betsy Hamilton, Valerie Penepent, Terry Warters and Samuel Russell.
Genesee Staff Shining Star honorees for 2013 are: Vanessa Dempsey, Medicaid Service coordinator; Theresa O’Hearn, Day Habilitation specialist; Catherine Pangrazio, bus aide; Rebecca Podlasek, Culinary Arts specialist and Karen Roesch, residential assistant.
Longevity awards went to the following individuals: Dan O’Grady, Joe Barone and George Hughes -- 40 years; Madaline Cleveland, Jeff Glazier, Liana Harding -- 35 years; Julieanne George, Sherry Markle -- 30 years; Judy Chapell, Ben Conwell, Paul Alexander -- 25 years; William, Joseph Mergler, Paul Miller, Alan Nygard, Cheryl Squires, Dolores Wanser, Rebecca Ritz and Marguerite Rodriguez -- 20 years.
Staff longevity award recipients were: Sandy Konfederath -- 20 years; Joseph Hoak, Teresa Hodge, Nicole Mudrzynski and Traci Manes -- 15 years; Andrea Anderson, Leoti Cudney, Jennifer Elmore, Sandra Moskal, Catherine Schultz and April Zeilman -- 10 years.
The Master of Ceremonies was Assemblyman Steve Hawley. There were more than 325 guests in attendance at the banquet, which also serves as Genesee ARC’s official annual meeting.
Board Officers for the upcoming year are: Candie Pocock, president; Debrah Fischer, vice president; Jane Scott, treasurer and Deborah Riggi, secretary.
Photo from Genesee ARC. Pictured are, Pam Whitmore, representing the Genesee County Office for the Aging -- Spirit of ARC Award; Dawn Fisher -- Volunteer of the Year; Assemblyman Steve Hawley -- Master of Ceremonies; Donna Saskowski -- ARC Executive Director, and (seated), Ashley McCormack -- Youth Spotlight Award.