one-of-a kind services for one-of-a kind people


Aspire of WNY Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Center for Learning Update

Under the guidance of the Erie County Department of Health and the Center for Learning’s Safety Plan, we have determined that our School Aged and On-Site Preschool will transition to remote learning. The families and caregivers of our students have been contacted. Additionally, teachers and therapists have followed up with their individual students.

The building will also be undergoing a deep cleaning. We are scheduled to return to in-person classes on Oct. 19th.  The Center for Learning Safety Plan can be viewed on

Voting Rights for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities has released a memorandum on voting rights for persons with developmental disabilities. Read the full release below, or visit the OPWDD website for more.    

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as “The Motor Voter Act”) made it easier for all Americans, regardless of ability, to exercise their fundamental right to vote. The Motor Voter Act requires all offices of State-funded programs that are primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities to provide all program applicants with voter registration forms and to assist in their completion and submission.

OPWDD is committed to ensuring that voting rights are upheld for the people we serve, and that every person is given the opportunity to register to vote. Every effort should be made to discuss with individuals their right to vote and to encourage and assist with any interest in doing so.

This year’s general election will be held: Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

In NYS, the deadline to register to vote is: Friday, October 9th, 2020, and it can be done online, in person or by mail.

Additionally, if registered to vote, mail-in ballots can be requested by Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Several early voting days will be available, beginning October 24th.  

A safe way to vote must be discussed with every individual seeking to exercise this right.

Mental Hygiene Law 33.01 provides for equal provision of civil rights to persons with developmental disabilities and specifically includes the right to register for and to vote in elections “if in all other respects qualified and eligible.” New York State Election Law sets forth the qualifications for eligible voter participation. Section 5-106 prohibits those who have been convicted of a felony and those who “have been adjudged incompetent by order of a court of competent judicial authority” from voting. Interpretation, implementation and monitoring of eligibility criteria is left to the Local Boards of Elections and questions regarding specific individuals’ eligibility and registration statuses should be directed to the Local Boards of Election.

Counsel’s Office Bureau of Service Delivery may be contacted at (518) 474-7700 with additional questions.

Aspire Reopening Safety Plans

Aspire of Western New York invites you to review the following Safety and Reopening Plans.

Free Standing Respite

Community Based PreVoc Programs

Community Based Supports- Community Habilitation and In-Home Respite (Self-Directed and Traditional), Community Pre-Vocation, SEMP

CFL – Center For Learning

Safety Plans below are for Day Hab, SVLE and Co-Op Tech Buffalo in Erie and Chautauqua Counties:

7 Community Drive Habilitation 


Co-Op. Tech 


Mall Blvd Day Habilitation

SVLE Central 


SVLE South


Aspire Owned Vehicles and Transportation 


Demetrius Brooks

Aspire Announces Appointment of Chairperson to Quality Partnership on Diversity & Inclusion

Demetrius Brooks, Associate Director of Residential Opportunities

Demetrius Brooks

“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” -James Baldwin

Demetrius began his career at Aspire in 2011 as a Direct Support Professional in residential.  Demetrius joined Aspire while he was pursuing a Master’s Degree of Science and Criminal Justice from Buffalo State College.  He felt Aspire’s Mission aligned with his own, protecting and serving people who have been marginalized.  In 2012, he was promoted to Team Coordinator at the Borden IRA.  He was promoted again to Program Coordinator in 2015.  When the Agency reorganized in 2018, he was promoted once again to his current position, Associate Director of Residential Opportunities.  Demetrius also graduated from Leadership Buffalo’s Rising Leader Program in 2018, where he made community connections and developed his leadership skills.

In addition to the positive contributions Demetrius lends every day to his division, he is an agency investigator and Co-chairs a Quality Partnership focused on program planning and implementation. Demetrius exemplifies the best of us by supporting and empowering our workforce and the individuals we support to create opportunities for success.  He listens, values, and respects others and through his actions and communications, we are a better organization.

When asked why the Quality Partnership on Diversity and Inclusion was important to him, Demetrius shared “I have been discriminated against and judged for the color of my skin and other personal traits/characteristics on countless occasions, yet I have not let that stop me from trying to overcome obstacles and work towards success. My personal experience has only heightened my passion to fight against social and racial injustice, whenever and wherever I may. Change is needed and I want to be a part of that change here at Aspire – no matter how big or small.”

Passion, Inspiration, and Connection | A Busy Week for Aspire!

What a wonderful week for everyone in the Aspire of WNY family! Here is a recap of what happened all around Western New York.

June 22- Aspire Center for Learning Graduation Ceremony

A lifetime of memories were made at the Center for Learning, when 26 students and their proud families were able to celebrate all of their hard work and dedication at the graduation ceremony. Two graduates received their diplomas and everyone participated in a program which highlighted the successes of students. Oh, and of course there was cake!

developmentally disabled graduation

Job Opening – Center for Learning – Art Teacher – Summer Session

June 23- Aspire Teams Up for Chase Corporate Challenge

Aspire of WNY continued its regular participation in the Chase Corporate Challenge and does so as part of its comprehensive Corporate Wellness program. Over 30 Aspire employees chose to run/walk in this year’s event held at Delaware Park.

Aspire joined staff from People Inc. and The Summit Center to collectively educate the community on “Disabling the Label” seeking to end any derogatory terms when referencing the developmental disability community. Kudos to all participants!

aspire of wny corporate challenge team

June 24- 5th iXpress Annual Art at the Athenaeum

Aspire of WNY and its iXpress program held the 5th annual Art at the Athenaeum at the Chautauqua Institution last Friday. The annual event is an opportunity to showcase paintings from iXpress artists and to make the art and related products available for sale. A beautiful evening in a beautiful setting.

developmentally disabled allegheny county art show

June 29th- iXpress Gallery Opening at SUNY Fredonia Incubator Gallery

Individuals, staff, families and friends celebrated wonderful collection of artistic expression. Aspire of WNY is proud to announce that members of iXpress were honored with an extensive exhibition at the Fredonia Technology Incubator. 29 artists blessed with unbridled creativity share a multitude of drawings and paintings with the public.


What a wonderful week of celebration of individuals making the most of their opportunity all over the region! This busy week is but one representation of just how much passion, inspiration, and connection being brought together by everyone affiliated with Aspire of WNY. From Allegany County, to Chautauqua County up to Niagara County, the difference can be felt all over Western New York! Stay Tuned to the Aspire of WNY blog for continuous stories of inspiration and connection, & stay tuned to our Facebook page, which has updates each and every day!

Fathers Who Love Unconditionally: We Salute You!

Being a father means something different to every family. Some fathers may excel in teaching their son how to throw a baseball. Some fathers may provide a shoulder to cry on. Some fathers may take on a role of disciplinarian. Some fathers help pick out the perfect prom dress.

When a child is born, a man’s life eternally changes, as does his role in life. When a child is born with a developmental disability, fatherhood takes on a completely different form. Aspire of WNY would like to pay homage to all of the fathers in Buffalo and Western New York who commit their lives to the unconditional love of their children, but extend special appreciation for those who unconditionally love their developmentally disabled children.

Fathers of children with developmental disabilities face many of the same issues as any other Dad, but the emotional strength they hold in coping and working each and every day to make their child live a happy life cannot be understated. Despite the tribulations that disabilities cause for their children, their wives, and themselves, they stand strong and provide unconditional love.

In 2014, America was given a closeup look at this unconditional love and devotion, when Dick and Rick Hoyt were featured by several major media outlets.

Rick was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His father was told by doctors that his son was hopeless, unable to walk or talk. The words no father wants to hear. Despite the emotional burden, Dick fought to include his son in all different kinds of activities. Rick would eventually be outfitted with a communication device which showed he was intelligent, and allowed him to attend public school.

At the age of 15, a local lacrosse player was paralyzed and Rick asked his Dad if he would push him in the 5-mile fund-raising road race.

It was then when Dick heard the words every father of a quadriplegic child wants to hear.

“When I’m running I don’t feel handicapped.”

The Hoyts would go on to run, bike, swim together, father pushing son, in over 1,000 road races, marathons, and triathlons, gaining a following all over the world for their inspiring relationship.

The 2014 Boston Marathon marked their 32nd and final Boston Marathon race as a duo. Today Dick is 75 and Rick is 54, and after almost 40 years, over 1100 endurance events, their love remains, and continues to inspire others. Though Dick’s age has prevented him from running every race, Team Hoyt still runs today.

Team Hoyt Official Website

Despite being deemed “hopeless” at birth, Rick was able to graduate from Boston University in 1993 with a degree in Special Education, and later work at Boston College in a computer lab, helping to develop systems to aid in communication and other tasks for people with disabilities.

Had it not been for the unconditional love that Dick and his wife provided for their son, Rick couldn’t have experienced the joy and success he has in life.

This is a truly remarkable tale of what it means to be the father of a developmentally disabled child. For the fathers in Western New York who love their sons and daughters unconditionally, despite what they are forced to endure in life, everyone at Aspire of WNY salutes YOU!

Happy Father’s Day Gentlemen!


“Dinner for a Difference” | Buffalo Bills Helping CP Community

cerebral palsy benefit

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that doesn’t discriminate, it truly affects a cross section of life.  While no community, race, gender or socioeconomic class is spared, it’s when communities come together that real understanding and progress can be achieved.

Buffalo Bill Eric Wood knows the perils of CP all too well.  While the hulking 6’4, 310-pound Center focuses on battling fellow behemoths on Sundays, he has experienced the emotions — struggles and victories that accompany supporting a family member with the condition.  His younger brother suffered from severe CP and unfortunately passed away when Eric was just 14-years-old.  

His first-hand experience of how CP affects families served as the inspiration for his philanthropic efforts through the Eric Wood Foundation, founded in 2014.  The organization works to both raise aid to give individuals with CP “exciting experiences” and provide financial relief to their families in Buffalo and Louisville, KY where Wood attended college.  

4 Things to Know About Cerebral Palsy

Wood held his second annual “Dinner for a Difference” this past Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in Downtown Buffalo.  The event serves as an outlet to give back to both communities that have influenced his life.  

The 3-course dinner provided opportunity to converse over cocktails, bid on select memorabilia and meet other members of the Buffalo Bills — all while raising money to support the CP community.  Several of Wood’s teammates, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Richie Incognito, and Sammy Watkins, served Hors d’oeuvres as diners were treated to live music along with the memorable evening.  

Wood’s initiative spotlights Individuals with special needs in Buffalo, NY as he remembers what kind of issues members of his family worked through.

“My brother spent the majority of his life in a home or at the hospital. so when I meet families with sick children, I feel like I can relate,” Wood said.  “The times that my brother was at home, we had a nurse in our house 24-7—that’s invasive on a family. I understand a lot of the struggle financially and emotionally that happens. So when I set out to start a foundation, we had a few goals.”

Bills Center Eric Wood Hosts 2nd Annual ‘Dinner For A Difference’ | TWC News

Wood’s foundation augments community efforts and brings additional positive attention to developmental disabilities in Erie County.  Assistance is available including therapies, assistive technology/devices and vocational training for  the developmentally disabled in WNY     

Last year’s event alone raised $60,000 that has and will continue to make a difference in the lives of thousands of ill children.  Whether an individual suffers from Cerebral Palsy personally or has been affected by a  family member who does, Eric Wood’s outreach continues to teach important lessons.  Specifically that community is an integral part of establishing support, understanding and most importantly….progress.