Know the Facts
As we learn information about COVID-19 and how it is affecting Aspire and our community, we will continue to post resources and updates on this page. Please check back often and if you have any questions please feel free to call us at 716.838.0047, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form online and someone will respond to you as quickly as possible.
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to our Helping Hands basket raffle!
Are you looking for a fun way to support Aspire of WNY? Well, do we have one for you!
Aspire of WNY’s Helping Hands program, which assists families/individuals with disabilities in emergencies, is putting on its annual Chicken BBQ, and this year, they have a basket raffle AND 50/50. We’re encouraging anyone in Chautauqua County to let us cook you dinner on May 11 while you support a great cause. Dinners are $15 each. Raffle tickets are $10 for 1 sheet, $25 for 3 sheets, and special basket items are $5/ticket.
For those interested in tickets, for dinner AND/OR the basket raffle, you can click here to purchase. If you are buying physical raffle tickets online, you will receive an email before the raffle to indicate where you would like us to put your tickets. Or, if you come to pick up your dinner, you can put the raffle tickets in the baskets at our Mall Boulevard location. Either way, we’ve made it easy for all to participate and enjoy. If you have any questions, feel free to email Tracy Flagella, at email@example.com
Here are the baskets with descriptions:
21. MyStErY bOx, Donated by Aspire of WNY’s Maintenance Department
Nobody knows what it could be!
20. Family Game Night, Donated by Carrie Spence
3 Family-Friendly Games, Soda, Snacks, and $20 Gift Card to Dominoes
19. Summer Fun, Donated by Aspire of WNY’s Intake & Outreach Department
Blow Up Kiddie Pool, Bunch of Balloons, Watershooters, Float
18. Strike a Pose, Donated by Megan Rechin
Two-Hour Photography Session on Agreed Upon Date and Location
17. Feeling Lucky Lotto, Donated by Aspire of WNY Day Services
16. Shots Happen, Donated by Aspire of WNY’s Chautauqua HR Team
(Debbie, Donna, and Amanda)
Motivational Sign, Different Flavored Liquor, Jello Mix, Jello Shot Instructions, Shot Cups
15. Do you feel bonita? Donated by Jennifer Vacanti
Mary Kay Satin Hands Bag including Satin Hands Products and $10 OFF a $50+ Purchase
14. Time to Unwind (Self-Care), Donated by Natasha Peterson & Stier Resident Managers
Wine, Skin Care Masks, Essential Oils, Lotions, and More!
13. Handcrafted by iXpress, Donated by Sabrina Parsons & Aspire of WNY’s iXpress Art program
Jewelry, Playing Cards, Knit Hat, Ceramic Dish, and More!
12. Dare to Self-Care, Donated by Melissa Roth
Non-Alcoholic Bubbly, Wine Glasses, Candles, and Chocolates
11. Buffalo Swag Home Basket, Donated by Beth Bergstrom and Aspire of WNY’s Behavior Department
Home Basket with Large Buffalo Bills Shirt, XL Buffalo Bills Shirt, Buffalo Bills Hat, Socks, and Josh Allen Hurdle Ave. Sign
10. Money Grows on Trees, Donated by Danielle McMullin & the American Legion Auxiliary
Light Up LED Birch Tree with Lotto Tickets
9. Heaven Scent, Donated by Heather Raymond
Wax Burner, Scented Wax Cubes, Candles, and Chocolates
8. Office Utility Drawer, Donated by Aspire of WNY’s CILS Department and Jennifer Wren
Stapler, Calculator, Pencil Sharpener, Tissues, and More!
7. Summer Sizzle, Donated by Heather Raymond
17.5 Inch Charcoal Grill, Charcoal, 5 BBQ Sauces, Grill Utensils, $25 Tops Gift Card
6. Relax & Write, Donated by Pat Long & Christine Hawkins
Tea, Mug, Reading Lamp, Stationary Cards, Puzzle Books, and More!
5. Fixer-Upper Utility Drawer, Donated by Aspire of WNY’s CILS Department and Jennifer Wren
Flashlight, Duct Tape, Tools, and More!
4. Rainy Day Zen, Donated by Beth Bergstrom & Aspire of WNY’s Behavior Department
Lotion, Chocolates, Mug, Fleece Blanket, Hydro Masks, Adult Coloring Books & Colored Pencils
3. The American Dream, Donated by Jenny M. and Aspire of WNY’s Fiscal Department
2. Ultimate Utility Drawer, Donated by Jennifer Wren & Aspire of WNY’s CILS Department
Lint Roller, Cleaning Gloves, OxiClean Pen, and More!
1. Beer from the Southern Tier, Donated by Michelle Dodson & Aspire of WNY Day Services
Southern Tier Brewery T-Shirt, $50 Gift Card, and Beer
SPECIAL RAFFLE: $5/ticket for your chance to win an entire Cricut experience,
including the Cricut, accessories, and more!
Touching Bases Softball League for Adults with Disabilities is a HOME RUN at Aspire of WNY
There’s nothing that says summer like hotdogs, sunshine, and softball! The team at Aspire of WNY is proud to be a supporter and partner of the Touching Bases Softball League, a co-ed softball league made up of amazing adults with a wide variety of “disABILITIES.” Many athletes reside in residential group homes, including those operated by Aspire of WNY. The individuals who play on the team come from all over Western New York, playing Monday and Tuesday evenings at Walden Pond in Lancaster throughout August.
Registration for Touching Bases opens in April and is now accepting new athletes! To register, click here.
“Touching Bases is proud to work with WNY human service agencies to provide adaptive softball for adults. We have been proud to have Touching Bases as part of the I/DD community since 2005,” said Laura Beth Makowski, Board Member of Touching Bases and Associate Director of Day Programs with Aspire of WNY.
Aspire of WNY has three current team members in board positions with Touching Bases: Laura Beth Malkowski, Dawn Kaufman (Director of Finance), and Robyn Repman (Coordinator of Day Services). Additionally, one of Aspire of WNY’s Board of Directors, Eileen Nosek, is the founder of Touching Bases.
“This team has a really wonderful time coming together and playing softball, just like everyone else does in the summer,” says Dawn Kaufman. “The missions and visions of Touching Bases and Aspire of WNY align as we work to help individuals with disabilities in WNY live, work, and play as independently as possible.”
We encourage anyone interested to submit an application for Touching Bases and PLAY BALL!
To learn more, visit their website: www.touchingbaseswny.com
Aspire of WNY Promotes Bob Pettit to Executive Vice President of Regulatory Compliance & Technology
APRIL 6, 2023, GETZVILLE, NY | In an effort to strategize compliance, quality, and technology, Aspire of WNY has promoted Bob Pettit to Executive Vice President of Regulatory Compliance and Technology (EVP), effective March 6, 2023. The position and promotion were conceived by Aspire of WNY’s current leadership team, including Renee A. Filip (President & CEO), Jen Ball (CFO), and Melissa Roth (CHRO). In dealing with the current environment of information technology and compliance, they thought it best to have an overarching leader to connect both sides of the agency. In this role, Bob will oversee the alignment of the Information Technology and Quality and Compliance divisions at Aspire of WNY.
“The people we support are our number one priority. And the data, systems, and infrastructure we control to help support them is critical from an IT standpoint and a compliance standpoint,” said Renee. “Bob’s experience, exceptional work, and commitment to the people we support from every angle showed us he is the right person to bring together these two divisions.”
Bob has been a valuable member of the Aspire of WNY team for over 20 years. He began working at Aspire of WNY in 2001 as a Team Coordinator for one of Aspire of WNY’s group homes. He has also served as a Residential Program Coordinator, Compliance Coordinator, and most recently the Vice President of Quality and Compliance. In his position as VP of Quality and Compliance, Bob provided oversight to incident management, internal reviews, compliance investigations and audits, the behavior rights and individual consent committees, and records retention. He has also been leading the agency-wide strategic plan goal of digitizing processes and creating various dashboards that will house data to drive quality initiatives, enhance regulatory compliance, and increase customer satisfaction. Bob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration.
“The merging of quality, compliance, and technology under the oversight of one leader is an example of the progressive approach to agency operations by the Aspire of WNY leadership team. I am incredibly excited to have been chosen for this position and look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders within and outside of the agency,” said Bob.
Congratulations to Bob on his promotion! We are excited to see the future of Aspire of WNY with Bob in the EVP of Regulatory Compliance and Technology role.
ABOUT ASPIRE OF WNY: At Aspire of WNY, we are driven by the core belief that children and adults with developmental disabilities have the right to realize their full potential and live as independently as possible. Aspire of WNY compassionately and relentlessly works toward facilitating this end.
Our total commitment is to the development of innovative, individualized programs. We continually strive for the integration of the developmentally disabled within the WNY community. Aspire of WNY is proud to provide full-service solutions to the populations we serve, making Aspire of WNY the leading agency of its kind and a true asset to the Western New York Community.
Aspire of WNY is celebrating their 76th year of supporting 3,000+ individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the WNY area. Aspire of WNY is a large employer with 1,500+ associates.
Pierogis? That’s Right! Aspire of WNY’s First Annual Pierogi Masterclass Raised $3,000+ for Individuals with Disabilities!
As we’re counting down the days until Dyngus Day, Aspire of WNY is excited to share that our first annual Pierogi Masterclass event at Sto Lat Bar was a huge success, raising over $3,000 for Aspire of WNY programming for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Participants purchased tickets that included food from Sto Lat and a pierogi making class from the head chef of Simply Pierogi, also located within the Sto Lat Bar market.
“We are excited to partner with Aspire of WNY because we have a lot of people on our staff who have family members or loved ones with disabilities. Supporting a great cause like this means a lot to us and makes a huge difference in the lives of the individuals supported by Aspire. We can’t wait to host it again next year!” said Sto Lat’s head chef, Ben McBride.
The crew at Sto Lat even donated all of the mini rolling pins as souvenirs for each class member. Other highlights included an auction of custom painted aprons from Aspire of WNY’s iXpress Art Program and customized, souvenir aprons for each guest.
“These days, you have to get creative when it comes to fundraising. We know WNY loves pierogis and supporting a great cause. We said, why not combine those?” said Megan Rechin, Vice President of Communications at Aspire of WNY. “We’re excited to host more of these innovative events in the future as part of our “Innovation Fund” where our sponsors support non-traditional initiatives. Ultimately our goal is to raise as many funds as possible to give back to the individuals we support. And, to educate the WNY community about the amazing work our individuals do as employees, volunteers, and community members. They are the reason we go to work everyday.”
You can check out the entire photo gallery from the Pierogi Masterclass by clicking HERE.
Here are some highlights!
Frosty Fun at Winterval 2023
With nearly 300 people, curling, ice skating, fun, and prizes, the City of Good Neighbors came out to support the 2023 Winterval event for Aspire of WNY.
A huge thank you to our sponsors: Independent Health, Toshiba, Parkview Health Services, NCAComp, and WB Mason. We couldn’t have put on the event without you!
With sponsorships, ticket sales, and event raffles, we were able to raise over $8,000 for individuals with disabilities in WNY.
Take a look through our photo gallery to see the frosty fun that was had at Winterval 2023. For all of the event photos, click here.
We hope to see you there next year!
Aspire of WNY’s Spirit of Giving Program Helps Support 175+ People During the 2022 Holiday Season
It goes without saying that the donations, time, effort, and thought given to the individuals supported through Aspire of WNY’s 2022 Spirit of Giving Program have contributed in priceless and infinite ways to families across Erie and Chautauqua counties.
In an effort to provide scope to the Spirit of Giving, we are proud to have supported 67 individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families, totaling 175+ people.
On top of all the donated gifts that were received, a total of $8,934.32 was raised in support of the 2022 Spirit of Giving program. Additionally, $625 was donated in gift cards.
We can’t begin to say enough thanks for the generosity, support, and community we felt during the 2022 Spirit of Giving. Individuals, some pictured above, and their families wanted to pass along their heartfelt thank you. Without you, these families would not have had the holiday they deserve.
To download this recap as a PDF, click here!
To donate to Spirit of Giving, click here!
The Spirit of Giving Story
For over 25 years, Aspire of WNY has been making the holiday wishes of those we support come true through our Giving Tree Program. Through much consideration, the program was rebranded as Spirit of Giving in 2021.
Every year, during the holiday season, we call on our community to help us identify the individuals and families supported by Aspire of WNY, living in the community, that would otherwise not be able to provide a holiday for themselves or their families (we support everyone living in the household of the supported individual).
Over the years, Spirit of Giving has grown, and recently we extended the eligibility for this program to individuals receiving OPWDD services in WNY and their families who applied for support but did not receive a service from Aspire of WNY.
All gifts are shopped for and/or supported by generous friends inside and outside of Aspire of WNY.
365 Days of the Spirit of Giving
Although the holiday season is the main focus for our Spirit of Giving program, the planning, fundraising, communication, and orchestration of the event is strategized and executed all year round. Our formal giving season begins in October, however, we ask that, if you are able, to consider supporting Spirit of Giving ahead of the end of the year so we can better budget for the hundreds of people we support.
Thank you in advance for your continued support of Spirit of Giving! We couldn’t do it without you!
Committee of Last Resort is now Helping Hands!
Aspire of WNY’s Committee of Last Resort is a small grants program that has supported the needs of individuals with disabilities in the Western NY community for over 20 years. In order to better align this program’s format with Aspire’s mission, vision and values, Committee of Last Resort will now be known as Helping Hands.
Aspire Center for Learning Revised Reopening Plans
In preparation for the reopening of Aspire Center for Learning, the Leadership Team of Aspire of WNY has compiled an Education Reopening Plan.
Download the plan and related attachments by clicking the links below.
Aspire Education Reopening Plan
COVID-19 Vaccine Q & A Webinar
The Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York recently presented a question and answer webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn from a medical professional, as well as personal experiences from human service staff and advocates.
Click here for more information.
Temporary Suspension of Programs & Services
Amid changes and restrictions from the New York state “zone” strategy for COVID-19, Aspire of WNY has announced a number of changes to programs and services.
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 www.aspirewny.org.
Saturday Respite Programs Reopening Safety Plan
Aspire of Western New York has released its Safety and Reopening Plan for Saturday Respite Programs. Access the plan at the link below.
Aspire Reopening Safety Plans
Aspire of Western New York invites you to review the following Safety and Reopening Plans.
Community Based PreVoc Programs
Community Based Supports- Community Habilitation and In-Home Respite (Self-Directed and Traditional), Community Pre-Vocation, SEMP
Safety Plans below are for Day Hab, SVLE and Co-Op Tech Buffalo in Erie and Chautauqua Counties:
7 Community Drive Habilitation
COVID-19 Resources for Self-Advocates
Here are some great resources made by and for people with developmental disabilities about COVID-19.
Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center
Click on the underlined words to see the resources:
Informational Video on COVID-19
What You Need to Know About COVID-19 (Video)
Learn all about COVID-19 in plain language. Made by Rooted in Rights in collaboration with Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Video Series – Critical COVID Information for Self-Advocates
Four-part video series from English- and Spanish-speaking self-advocates giving critical COVID information. Produced by California DD Council.
- Episode 1: How to Stay Healthy
- Episode 2: What Should I Do If I Think I’m Sick?
- Episode 3: What I Should Do If I Get Sick
- Episode 4: What To Do If a Caregiver or a Family Member Gets Sick
- Episodio 1: Cómo mantenerse saludable
- Episodio 2: Lo que debo hacer si creo que estoy enfermo:
- Episodio 3: Lo que debo hacer si estoy enfermo
- Episodio 4: Lo que debo hacer si mi familiar o persona que me cuida se enferma
New Toolkit – A Self-Advocate’s Guide to COVID-19
Below you can download any of the eight parts or the entire toolkit.
- Part 1: Basic Covid-19 Information By And For People With Disabilities
- Part 2: Tips For Working With Support Staff During Covid-19
- Part 3: Sample Advocacy Letter About Patients with Intellectual Disabilities Having a Support Person With Them When in the Hospital
- Part 4: COVID-19 Medical Information Form for People With Disabilities
- Part 5: How People On SSI And SSDI Get A Stimulus Check
- Part 6: Getting Unemployment Benefits During the Coronavirus Emergency
- Part 7: Developmental Services During the Coronavirus Outbreak
- Part 8: Coronavirus Plain Language Glossary or Words To Know
- You can also download the entire toolkit by clicking here
Because of Coronavirus most hospitals are not allowing visitors. New York self-advocates and families spoke up and got hospitals to allow patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have a support person with them when in the ER or staying in a hospital.
- New York Tips: Dealing with Hospitals during COVID-19
- New York Tips: What to Say to Protect Your Rights in the Hospital
- A Sample Advocacy letter written by Vermont Self-Advocates
- Tips On How To Advocate For Changes To COVID 19 Hospital Visitation & Support Policies In Your State
Plain Language Information on COVID-19 (in 11 languages)
A basic eight-page booklet about the Coronavirus written by and for people with developmental disabilities. It focuses on “need to know” information (not “nice to know” information). Our goal is to keep people with disabilities healthy during this national crisis
Aspire Health Center Provides Update on Telemedicine, In-Person Visits
Martha Farewell, Vice President of Clinical Services for Aspire, has provided an update for Aspire Health Center patients.
Governor Cuomo’s PAUSE Program
(updated April 17)
Governor Cuomo’s PAUSE Program has been extended through May 15, 2020. Please see full details on this program below.
- Effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
- Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
- Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
- When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
- Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
- Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
- Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
- Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
- Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
- Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.
“Matilda’s Law” includes the following rules for vulnerable populations:
- Remain indoors;
- Can go outside for solitary exercise;
- Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms;
- Do not visit households with multiple people;
- Wear a mask when in the company of others;
- To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask;
- Always stay at least six feet away from individuals; and
- Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary.
Key helpful links to keep you informed during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Erie County Health Department – www2.erie.gov/health
Office of People with Developmental Disabilities – opwdd.gov
New York State Education Department – http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/schoolhealth/schoolhealthservices/coronavirus.html
Protect Yourself and Your Family from Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities has published a comprehensive guide with recommendations and information on how to help protect yourself and your family during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Residential Opportunities is open and providing our full array of services in all of our community based homes (IRAs). We are carefully following national and local directives to ensure we are keeping our residents safe and healthy. We are strictly limiting visitors and community outings per the guidance we have received from regulatory agencies. We will keep you abreast of any changes or updates that need to be made in the future.
Suspended Services at Aspire
Effective March 19th, Community and Independent Living Supports has temporarily suspended Pre-Vocational Supports, Free Standing Respite, After School Respite, Saturday site based Respite.
We are continuing limited Community Habilitation, In home Respite, Self-Directed Services and employment supports to ensure people living in the community with minimal support have the needed supplies and services they require.
The Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has released the below guidance related to visitation at Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs), Community Residences and Private Schools. Please click on the link for details.
Aspire of WNY Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
We have received a directive from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) that we are to temporarily suspend our services for all Day Habilitation, Day Treatment and Prevocational Programs, effective 5 p.m. today.
After appropriate COVID-19 screening, we will be working to provide alternative programming for families that are negatively affected by the suspension of these services. Please note these are temporary suspensions.
We ask you send all questions regarding the impact of services due to COVID-19 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support as we work to remain current in this ever-changing environment.