Dear Families and Friends,
There is a significant philosophical shift occurring across the nation related to supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. I want to share this information with you and explain the impact that it is having on how we provide supports to you or your family member.
Providing the opportunity to live in a community-based setting as independently as possible with adequate safeguards for the person's wellbeing has always been at the heart of what we do at The Arc of Schuyler. What is changing is what is meant by "community-based" and "providing safeguards".
The question being asked is: Can we respect people's rights, provide supports, ensure safety, and not overprotect all at the same time? Some people are seeing what is happening as one of the most important civil rights issues of the decade as they call for self-managed care, relief from overly protective laws and regulations, and the closure of sheltered workshops. Others see a loss of vital safety net services that will never be regained because government is limiting service options and disregarding waiting lists while building managed care bureaucracies and instituting cost cutting measures. All of these issues are being debated within New York State and across the nation. Regardless of where you stand in the debate, we all need to acknowledge and accept that major change is underway.
What does any of this mean to us in Schuyler County? First, we all need to be prepared to weather the storm of changes and the messy process of transformation. In some cases we will be building the plane while flying it, because much of what is being discussed has never been done before and there is no clear roadmap to get from here to there. What the system of supports for people with developmental disabilities may look like in the end is unknown other than that we should expect managed care agencies will play a bigger role in approving and funding services and the government will play a bigger role in regulating those services.
Within the next five years, agencies like The Arc of Schuyler will be expected to develop transformation plans for programs they operate that meet the definition of sheltered workshops. These programs will need to be less segregated and more community-based. They need to offer more opportunities for people with disabilities to interact with people without disabilities. To remain sustainable, they need to act as businesses and profit centers with less government funding.
What are the alternatives? We will need to evaluate whether people with disabilities have equal access to employment, housing, and transportation as do people without disabilities. We need to ask whether schools and adult programs have prepared people adequately to be successful in these environments. Have well-meaning regulations that emphasize safety over dignity of risk had the unintended consequences of not giving people with disabilities the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes? Have we sheltered people too much from both life's freedoms and the responsibility that goes with it? And what are the alternatives for people who aren't interested or able to be employed? Do they have choice and access to other meaningful activities to be participants in their communities so they are not left behind? The answer to these questions must be very individualized - one size does not fit all.
Over the next five years we will begin the process of developing a locally based transformation plan that takes into account what we know about each person needing and receiving supports through The Arc of Schuyler. We will begin discussing Personal Outcome Measures and Person Centered Planning - tools to get to know each person even better so we can work together to devise those individualized future plans. We will look for new teaching methods and curriculums to be sure we are teaching the right skills that challenge people to learn skills and be successful. We will also be refining our organizational structures so we can provide the most efficient and value based services possible.
The recent staffing changes in our Glen Industries vocational training programs are a good example. We are in the process of building a new staff team that will focus on these new initiatives. Marie Scott, known by many at The Arc, has been promoted to Director of Community Services with responsibility for individualized planning supports including vocational, community, day, and residential habilitation services. Marie brings great skills, knowledge, and compassion to this position. She is well adapted to changing environments and has been instrumental in other transformation and quality improvements at The Arc. In April of this year we also welcomed Tom Thomason's return to The Arc. Tom has a strong manufacturing and customer service background and will now be heading up our industrial operations in Glen Industries. This includes co-packing, light assembly, janitorial, auto detailing, mailroom, and maintenance services. We continue to have a strong team of administrative staff to support each other as the national trends and change agenda unfolds.
I also want to thank all of our direct support professionals who work very hard each and every day to honor people's choices, look after people's health, and work to keep people safe. September is the month that we recognize our Direct Support Professionals locally and across the nation for the valuable roles they play in other people's lives. Please consider extending and offering your own personal thank you to them.
I've heard it said that everyone wants change, but no one wants to change. We all need to remain open to this fact. We need to acknowledge how difficult some of our discussions may be as we transform the supports and services provided to be more community-based. With a renewed emphasis on freedom of choice we will be placing more expectations on people with disabilities and their families to take on responsibilities that accompany those freedoms.
CHALLENGE RUNS SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 5
Seven counties in Central New York, including Chemung, Cortland, Herkimer, Oneida, Schuyler, Steuben and Tompkins, are working together to launch a Car-Free Challenge on Car Free Day – an international event that encourages drivers to leave their cars at home for a day on Tuesday, September 22. Observed in over 2,000 cities in 44 countries, Car Free Day is celebrated in different ways, but with the common goal of taking cars off the road to reduce traffic, improve the environment and conserve energy.
The 2015 Car-Free Challenge, a regional effort to promote driving less and replacing trips in a car with carpooling, public transit, biking or walking, will run for two weeks, from September 22 to October 5. Anyone who lives or works in the counties can participate in the challenge by registering on the Car-Free Challenge website and submitting a written entry each time they take a car-free trip.
Mail-in entries are also accepted and should be received by October 5 to Schuyler County Transit Office, c/o The Arc of Schuyler, 210 12th Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.
Participants living in Schuyler County must log at least three entries to be eligible for the grand prize drawing. The winner will be randomly selected in October and receive a gift basket of Finger Lakes products.
Due to the tremendous success of last year’s first Car-Free Challenge in Cortland County, Mobility Managers and transportation officials in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and neighboring counties decided to collaborate on a regional Challenge this year.
“The Car-Free Challenge helps us all start to think about a healthier, greener way of getting around. It’s an opportunity for more people to participate and realize the tremendous benefits of using transportation alternatives,” said Amber Simmons, Mobility Manager for Chemung and Schuyler Counties.
Transportation Resources in Schuyler County:
Public Transit: Schuyler County Transit operates M - F. View the schedules here. The Schuyler County Transportation Call Center is open M - F, 9:30 AM - 2:30 PM to explain public bus schedules and transportation options. Call 607.535.3555.
Bicycling: Bike share is available at Seneca Harbor Park. It's free and easy to use!
Carpool: Arrange a carpool on your own or use one of the regional carpool sites like Zimride or
As the operator of Schuyler County Transit, The Arc of Schuyler is a partnering agency in Schuyler County for the Car-Free Challenge.
Schuyler County Transit celebrated its 5th anniversary on Tuesday, August 25 with a public event at its operation headquarters, The Arc of Schuyler. Members of the Schuyler County Coordinated Transportation Committee, the team responsible for the long range planning and implementation of the public transit system gathered for a celebration with legislative officials, bus drivers, and riders.
In five years, Schuyler County Transit ridership has tripled with about 18,500 passenger trips in the last year. Public transit opened in 2010 under a contract partnership between Schuyler County and The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization serving people with developmental disabilities.
“With thirty years of experience training drivers, providing specialized transportation service, and maintaining a fleet of vehicles, The Arc was a clear choice for partnership,” Schuyler County Administrator, Tim O’Hearn said.
Public transit launched in August 2010 with a fixed route service to the villages of Burdett, Montour Falls, Odessa, and Watkins Glen as well as a Dial-A-Ride service.
“The transit service is an important asset to Schuyler County. Senior citizens and many others need transportation to supports at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, the hospital, health care facilities, shopping, and more. This is an economical mode of transportation that is essential for our residents,” Montour Falls Mayor, John King said.
The system made modifications over the years for rider convenience, installing bus shelters, adding stops, and adjusting the route to accommodate frequent riders, including people with disabilities and seniors. Schuyler County Office for the Aging Director and member of the Coordinated Transportation Committee, Tammy Waite commented, “The public transit system is a safe, reliable and affordable means of getting to and from destinations. It is a great alternative when one must make that difficult decision to give up the car keys and allow someone else to transport them.”
Beth DeCaro, Property Manager for Jefferson Village Apartments in Watkins Glen agreed and added, “Schuyler County Transit has allowed our tenants to maintain their independence for a longer period of time.”
In February 2014, the system opened additional routes to rural areas of the county, transporting riders from Bennetsburg, Hector, Reynoldsville, and Valois to stops in Watkins Glen. The Corning Connections route was introduced later that year and has been utilized by Corning Community College students and employees of Corning businesses. Schuyler County Transit has also been contracted to offer shuttle services for events such as the annual Seneca Lake Wine & Food event at Clute Park and the recent Phish festival at Watkins Glen International.
“This is a time when public transport has never been more important in supporting growth and job creation,” SCOPED Executive Director, Judy McKinney Cherry said. “For communities that can attract the right talent, the resulting wealth can be spread out across the economy. This is a win-win since there is a $4 economic return to a community for every $1 invested in public transportation.”
Speakers at the event included: Jeannette Frank, Executive Director of The Arc of Schuyler; Schuyler County Administrator, Tim O’Hearn; Representatives from the Offices of Congressman Tom Reed, Senator Tom O’Mara, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano; and frequent rider, Debbie Ball of Watkins Glen.
“Schuyler County Transit has demonstrated ability to serve riders and maximize existing transportation systems to benefit the whole community,” Frank said. “Public transit is a symbol of a community that is working together and that’s what we’re celebrating.”
Photo Caption: Schuyler County Administrator, Tim O'Hearn enjoys a cupcake at Schuyler County Transit's 5th Anniversary event. Schuyler County Legislature Chairman, Dennis Fagan looks on.
The Arc of Schuyler’s 15th annual golf tournament, held on Friday, August 21st at Watkins Glen Golf Course, netted more than $22,000 to support programs and services provided to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
Completing the tournament in first place was the Watkins & Nichols Team – Bill Spencer, Rocco Scaptura, John Robinson, and Josh Robinson. The team is the second to be added to a new Arc Golf Tournament Champions plaque, created in honor of Dave and Marilyn Dalrymple. The Arc recognized the Dalrymples for the role they have played in the success of the tournament over the years and for their ongoing outstanding support. The plaque hangs at the Watkins Glen Golf Course club house.
The second place team included Chris Schoemaker, Jode Schoemaker, Jared Hammond, and Michael Stamp sponsored by Hill & Markes and the third place team was Lisa and Donald Crouch and Milt and Wendy Brooks.
Winners of the contests held on the course were: Josh Robinson for men’s longest drive, Colin Scott for men’s closest-to-the-pin, and Lisa Crouch for both women’s longest drive and women’s closest-to-the-pin. Dave Reynolds won the 50/50 raffle prize and generously donated $100 back to The Arc.
The Bonadio Group and Relph Benefit Advisors returned as Presenting Sponsors of the event. Birdie Sponsors were Empire Access, Garage Floor Coating of NY, Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. These sponsors and more than 90 other businesses, wineries, restaurants, and retail stores generously contributed through sponsorship or product donations.
The golf tournament planning committee includes Tournament Chair, Dominick Franzese, 2015 Honorary Chair, Susan Buchtel, Nick Anagnost, David Dalrymple, Greg Gavich, Doug Hagin, James Wilson, and Jeannette Frank, executive director and Holly Baker, director of community relations of The Arc of Schuyler.
“The committee is sincerely grateful to the generous sponsors, tournament supporters, golfers, and many volunteers who demonstrate great support of The Arc and of people with developmental disabilities through this tournament,” Dominick Franzese, Tournament Chair said. “Thanks to their generosity, this is one of the best tournaments in Watkins Glen and it supports a great cause.”
The Arc of Schuyler conducts fundraising activities to support its mission in providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism.
Photo: Arc Executive Director with Jeannette Frank, Honorary Chair Susan Buchtel and Direct Support Staff, Pat Wilcox. SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE.
Click the image left to see our 2015 Tournament Souvenir Journal. Please support our sponsors!
Jeannette Frank, Executive Director of The Arc of Schuyler and Amber Simmons, Mobility Manager of Chemung and Schuyler Counties, an employee of The Arc of Schuyler, spoke at the NYS Senate Forum on the Future of Rural Public Transportation on July 22, 2015 in Cooperstown, NY. As operator of Schuyler County Transit and the Schuyler County Transportation Call Center through a contract with the county, The Arc plays an active role in transportation coordination in Schuyler and surrounding communities.
Jeannette and Amber's comments at the forum can be viewed here:
The Arc of Schuyler will hold its 15th Annual Golf Tournament at the Watkins Glen Golf Course on Friday, August 21, 2015. The tournament raises funds to help provide services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism and their families.
Dominick Franzese of Watkins Glen returns for his second year as Chair of the tournament. Franzese is an avid golfer and has served on The Arc’s golf tournament committee for many years.
“I’m thrilled to be involved with The Arc as they celebrate fifteen years hosting this excellent tournament,” Franzese said. “It’s one of the best golf events in Watkins Glen and it supports a great cause.”
Franzese will greet golfers and sponsors and volunteer at the event alongside this year’s Honorary Tournament Chair, Susan Buchtel of Horseheads. Buchtel receives supports through The Arc and is an energetic volunteer in the Schuyler County area. She delivers for the Office for the Aging Meals on Wheels program and assists with planting, weeding, and harvesting at Cornell Cooperative Extension Teaching Garden. Buchtel also visits with and performs music for residents at Seneca View Skilled Nursing.
“Susan is a hard worker and serves her community always with a smile on her face,” Franzese said. “An Honorary Chair helps our participants and sponsors focus on what this tournament is all about – supporting people to achieve their goals. The committee is proud to honor Susan for her contributions to her community.”
“I love volunteering. It makes me feel proud to help," Buchtel said. "I’m excited to ride the golf cart and thank everyone for helping." Buchtel also enjoys gardening and baking with her mother.
The Arc’s Golf Tournament is supported by dozens of local and regional sponsors including its Presenting Sponsors: The Bonadio Group and Relph Benefit Advisors and Birdie Sponsors: Empire Access, Garage Floor Coating of New York, and Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
The Arc of Schuyler awarded its Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship to Odessa Montour High School graduate, Hailie Searles at the June 26 commencement ceremony.
This $1,000 scholarship honors Joanne Hayes, former board member and president of The Arc of Schuyler's board of directors who passed away in 1987. The award is given annually to a graduating senior pursuing an education in human services, special education, or a related field for a career providing supports to people with developmental disabilities.
Hailie Searles, daughter of Sadye Halpin of Odessa will attend Tompkins Cortland Community College to study biotechnology and Liberal Arts - Math and Sciences. Hailie intends to transfer to a 4-year school to major in Nutritional Sciences in pursuit of a career asa nutritionist.
"I believe through nutrition I can have a positive impact on people with disabilities by providing nutritional supports, information, and encouragement to help people make healthy choices," Searles wrote in her application essay.
Hailie is the salutatorian of her graduating class and three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball, and track). She has demonstrated excellent leadership skills through her role as President of her class, National Honor Society, and as Vice President of Rotary Interact. She was also a member of Student Council, the Principal Leadership Team, and a representative for the New York State Counsel on Leadership and Student Activities.
Hailie has been recognized with multiple awards including: Watkins-Montour Rotary Student of the Month, Top Drawer 24, New York State Triple C Award, University of Rochester George Eastman Leadership Award, and the Clarkson University High School Leadership Award. In addition to her academic and athletic achievements, Hailie is an active member of Schuyler County 4-H, and the Odessa-Catherine United Methodist Church Youth group. She has also held various part-time jobs.
The Joanne S. hayes Memorial Scholarship is made possible through donations to The Arc of Schuyler.
Our brothers and sisters are often our first friends.
For people with developmental disabilities, a brother or sister is often a lifetime friend who assumes caregiver responsibilities after their parents are gone. Christopher Locke, who has received services through The Arc for more than 30 years, lived with his parents until they could no longer care for him. Fortunately, Chris has three siblings involved in his life including younger brother Alan who shared his story:
The Arc has been so helpful to me.
I’ve always felt my brother Chris deserved the opportunity to be a responsible, independent adult, and in the years he’s been with The Arc I’ve seen him change for the better.
I’m completely at ease knowing Chris is in a safe, good home with his friends. His social calendar is full and I’m 100-percent confident that the staff who work with my brother are exceptionally well-trained and experienced enough to provide the best support to him.
My brother was diagnosed with a developmental disability at three years old. A lot of families placed their children in institutions at that time, but my mom and dad refused to do that - they kept Chris at home.
It was hard for our parents to raise five children while they were both working, and it was hard growing up with Chris. There was a stigma then about developmental disabilities, so we had a lot of challenges in school and with friends. Chris demanded a lot of our parents’ attention.
We all grew up, but Chris was the only one who didn’t leave the house. He was receiving services and making friends at The Arc, but mom and dad weren’t ready to let him go.
Then my father passed away in 2000 and my mother had to go to a nursing home. That’s when Chris found his home at The Arc just down the street from where he grew up. His transition was easy and he was able to spend time with mom for a few years until she passed too.
Now it's up to me and my brother and sister to make sure Chris has a home, a purpose, friends, and family.
Alan is one of numerous siblings ensuring a quality life for their adult brother or sister with The Arc's help.
Your gift helps make valuable supports and services for people with developmental disabilities and their families available locally through The Arc of Schuyler. Thank you!
The Arc of Schuyler's Annual Membership and Fund Drive ends July 2015. This is the perfect time to renew your membership with The Arc or join us as a new member and be an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the local, state, and national levels. Whether you are a person with an intellectual or developmental disability, a parent or family member of someone with a disability, a staff person, a friend in our community, or someone interested in offering support, The Arc of Schuyler welcomes you.
You can make a tax-deductible gift online by clicking the Donate button below. Thank you for your continued support!