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  • Grab your bicycle and your helmet and join us for a fun ride Saturday, June 1.

    The Resource Center is collaborating with other organizations to hold a free community bicycle ride in Dunkirk. The ride will start at 1:00 in the parking lot of Taqueria Mexican restaurant, 296 Lake Shore Drive West.

    The ride is called the Dunkirk Pedal Party. Participants will follow a route taking them through various neighborhoods and through scenic Point Gratiot Park along Lake Erie. The total distance is about 12 miles, and the ride is expected to last about 90 minutes. For people who don’t want to do the full ride, there is an option to do a 2-mile loop that takes riders through Point Gratiot and back to the restaurant. The 2-mile loop was added to make it possible for people of all ages and abilities to participate.

    The full ride also will end at Taqueria Mexicana, where participants are encouraged to stay to enjoy refreshments.

    The Pedal Party is patterned after the Slow Roll Buffalo and Central Connection initiatives, in which cyclists gather to take bicycle tours of the communities. These rides are not races.  Rather, as the name implies, Slow Roll cyclists take a leisurely ride. Though the ride is free, those planning to participate are encouraged to visit the Slow Roll web site to sign a liability waiver.

    This is our fourth annual Pedal Party. About 100 cyclists participated in last year’s ride, and organizers anticipate a larger turnout this year. Participants will receive a free gift as a thank-you for supporting the event. The Pedal Party, which is an initiative of our STARS employee wellness program, is made possible thanks to a grant from Filling the Gap, Inc.

    For more information, phone 716-483-2344.


    In accordance with its by-laws, The Resource Center announces its General Membership Meeting and Election will be held Monday, June 10, at the Michael J. Raymond Center, 75 Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown.

    The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. with light refreshments.  All Active Members of The Resource Center who are in good standing (those who are current in their annual membership dues) are invited to participate in the meeting and to vote in the election and on any business items that may arise.

    All Active Members in good standing who are unable to attend the meeting are encouraged to vote in the election online. Click here to read about the candidates and cast your vote. Online voting will remain open until 1:00 p.m. Monday, June 10.

    The tentative meeting agenda is as follows:

    1. Call to Order – 6:15
    2. Approval of the minutes of the 2023 General Membership Meeting
    3. Board Chair’s Report – Richard Erickson
    4. Board Treasurer’s Report – Todd Jacobson, MD
    5. Executive Director’s Report – Denise Jones
    6. Presentation – “TRC’s Day Habilitation Programs: Keeping Busy, Having Fun!”
    7. Election (see nominating slates below)
    8. Recognition of outgoing Directors Richard Kimball and Patricia Perlee
    9. Adjournment by 7:15


    The Nominating Committee — composed of Kathy Field, Chair; Laurie Goold, Mary Jo Hamilton, Carole Johnson, and Gregory Krauza — has proposed the following candidates for Officers and Directors of the Board of The Resource Center, as well as candidates to serve on the Nominating Committee for the 2025 Election:

    Officers (one-year term)
    President — Richard Erickson
    Vice President — Dawn Columbare, DNP
    Secretary — Lisa Goodell
    Treasurer — Marie Carrubba, Esq.

    Directors (two-year term)
    Timothy Adam
    Doug Anderson
    John Felton
    Robert Goold
    Donna Haenggi
    Todd Jacobson, MD
    Barbara Stewart

    Nominating Committee
    Kathy Field
    Laurie Goold
    Mary Jo Hamilton
    Carole Johnson
    Gregory Krauza

    For more information or to indicate you plan to attend the meeting, phone (716) 483-2344, extension 90135.

    If you have not paid your 2024 TRC Membership dues, click here to make a secure, online payment.  Your membership demonstrates your commitment to The Resource Center’s mission.  In these challenging times, your support of TRC is extremely important.  People who pay the $10 Annual membership dues, or the $100 Lifetime membership dues, receive a Membership Card entitling them to discounts at more than 30 local businesses.

    Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union (SCFCU) recently announced it had made a $15,000 corporate sponsorship contribution to The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, Inc., a Jamestown-based non-profit organization that works with The Resource Center to support people with disabilities and other socioeconomic challenges in Chautauqua County.

    As a corporate sponsor, SCFCU will receive recognition as a sponsor of the annual fund-raising events put on by The Resource Center and Filling the Gap.  Those events include the Ability Awareness Awards, TRC Golf Classic, Step Up for Autism, Laurel Memorial Run/Walk, Sassy Baggs & Beyond Blingo, and Mark Pacheco WOW Fund Lip Sync Battle.

     “Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union is proud to make this contribution to The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, Inc.,” said John Felton, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our institution firmly believes in lifting up our community and we are pleased to support The Resource Center, an organization that touches so many lives in Chautauqua County.”

     “On behalf of myself and the employees of The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, we are sincerely appreciative of Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union’s sponsorship commitment,” said Denise Jones, The Resource Center’s Chief Executive Officer.  “The support of community organizations like Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union allows us to fulfill our mission of helping people with disabilities to enjoy meaningful lives. We also appreciate everything John and his staff do for the entire community.”

    Photo Caption:  l to r – John Felton, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, Denise Jones, Chief Executive Officer, The Resource Center, Cindy Hitchcock, Vice President, Filling the Gap, Inc., Heather Kerr, Chief Human Resources Officer, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, Jim Casini, Community Impact Officer, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, and Kelly Dimitri, Chief Operating Officer, The Resource Center.

    Photo: l to r – Kim Liddell, President, CEO & Director, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Chris Anderson, TRC Golf Classic Chairman, and Gregg Bender, TRC Golf Classic Chair Emeritus and Board President, Filling the Gap, Inc.

    Lake Shore Bancorp, Inc., the holding company of Lake Shore Savings Bank, announced that its Board of Directors has renewed an agreement to have Lake Shore Savings serve as the presenting sponsor of the TRC Golf Classic for three more years.

    The TRC Golf Classic is the major annual fund-raising event for Filling the Gap, Inc., a Jamestown-based non-profit organization that works with The Resource Center to support people with disabilities and other socioeconomic challenges in Chautauqua County.

    Lake Shore Savings has sponsored the TRC Golf Classic every year since the tournament began in 1997, and since 2012 has been the event’s presenting sponsor.  One of the most successful one-day charity golf tournaments in Southwestern New York, the TRC Golf Classic has netted more than $1.8 million since it began in 1997.

    “Lake Shore Savings Bank has been a proud supporter of The Resource Center for the past 27 years,” said Kim Liddell, President, CEO & Director. “We strongly believe in supporting organizations that do so much to help strengthen our community.”

    “On behalf of myself and the employees of The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, we are grateful to Lake Shore Savings Bank for its renewal as the presenting sponsor of the TRC Golf Classic,” said Denise Jones, The Resource Center’s Chief Executive Officer.  “We rely on the generosity of our local business community to make our events successful.  Lake Shore Savings has been one of our most treasured corporate partners over the last 27 years.  Their annual support allows us to fulfill our mission of helping people with disabilities to enjoy meaningful lives.”
    “The TRC Golf Classic Steering Committee applauds Lake Shore Savings Bank for once again agreeing to be the presenting sponsor for the next three TRC Golf Classics.  Lake Shore Savings has been a major sponsor of our event for 27 years.  And, for the last 12 years, as presenting sponsor, they have contributed $180,000.  Lake Shore’s motto is ‘Putting People First’ and they have once again lived their mission as a wonderful community partner.  We thank Kim Liddell, Taylor Gilden and the Board at Lake Shore Savings Bank for their generous commitment to The Resource Center and the people we serve,” said Chris Anderson, Chair, and Gregg Bender, Chair Emeritus, TRC Golf Classic and Board President, Filling the Gap, Inc.

    The 2024 TRC Golf Classic is scheduled for July 22 at Moon Brook Country Club in Jamestown.  For more information or to sponsor, visit www.trcgolfclassic.com or phone 716-483-2344 x90167.

    The Resource Center has a long history with Special Olympics, and three members of our TRC family recently were honored for their efforts with Special Olympics.

    Kevin Anderson, our Assistant Director of Employment and Community-Based Services, was named Coach of the Year by Special Olym­pics New York. Kevin received his award during Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics NY Winter Games, which took place in Syracuse. He was chosen from among nine coaches, representing differ­ent areas of the State, who were nominated for the honor.

    In announcing the Coach of the Year, Special Olympics NY President and Chief Executive Officer Stacey Hengster­man said of Special Olympics coaches, “They’re the ones who work with the athletes on a daily basis, bringing you to competitions, making sure that you’re not just there to compete but to get to your personal best.”

    She noted that Kevin has been coaching athletes at the local, regional and national levels in bocce, golf and swim­ming for more than 10 years. He also has directed events, and he serves on the state-wide Coaches Committee.

    As he came forward to receive his award, Kevin was showered with congratulatory shouts from the audience. “This has been a great journey. I love all of you guys. Thank you very much,” he said, tapping his right hand over his heart. “It means the world to me.”

    We congratulate Kevin on his award and thank him for being an inspiration to athletes and fellow coaches. Click here to watch the video of Kevin receiving his award. The Coach of the Year presen­tation begins at about the 23:45 mark.

    Kevin Anderson accepts his Coach of the Year Award from Stacey Hengsterman of Special Olympics NY.


    Meanwhile, an athlete whom Kevin coaches in bocce will be competing on a world stage in a different sport.

    Kyle Eddy, a self-advocate who receives supports from The Resource Center, was chosen to represent the United State in snowshoeing at the Special Olympics World Games next year in Italy.  An accomplished athlete in several sports, Kyle represented New York State at the Spe­cial Olympics USA Games in Seattle in 2018, earning a silver medal in bocce.

    “Kyle is a hard worker, a master snowshoer and an ex­traordinary teammate,” Casey Vattimo, Senior Vice President of External Relations for Special Olympics NY, said at the cer­emony announcing Kyle’s selection. “We are so proud to have him represent New York and Team USA at the 2025 Special Olympics World Games.”

    Pictured with Kyle are, from left, his father, Larry; his mother, Donna, who is a Supervisor at TRC’s Day Program at the Michael J. Raymond Center; and his brother, Mitchell.

    Kyle has been practicing his snowshoeing when there’s been enough snow. His mother, Donna, who is a Day Services Supervisor at TRC, said Kyle will work with the New York State team in March in Syracuse. She said that if there isn’t enough snow, then the team members will practice on sand.

    Congratulations, Kyle! To read more, click here to be taken to an article in The Post-Journal.

    Kyle Eddy holds a boarding pass for his flight to Italy for the 2025 Special Olympics World Games. Pictured with him at the ceremony announcing his selection to Team USA are his father, Larry; his mother, Donna; and his brother, Mitchell.


    Finally, we’re proud to share the news that the late Daniel Bryner recently was inducted into the Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame. He is the first Special Olympian to be enshrined in the Hall.

    Dan competed in a variety of sports when he was part of The Resource Center, earning more than 200 medals in Special Olympics competition at the local, regional, state, national, and international levels. At the 1995 World Games, he won a gold medal and two silver medals in roller skating. Dan also claimed a bronze medal in softball at the 1983 World Games and a silver medal in aquatics at the 1987 World Games. He also was a member of The Resource Center’s softball team that won the gold medal at the 1984 New York State Special Olympics Games. (Dan’s parents, Charles and Helen, were the team’s managers.)

    We are grateful to the Chautauqua County Hall of Fame for recognizing Dan as worthy of inclusion in the Hall. We hope he will be the first of many local Special Olympians who will be enshrined in the Hall in recognition of their athletic accomplishments.

    Click here to read more about Dan. Click here to watch a video of Dan’s brother, Michael, speaking at the induction ceremony.

    Dan Bryner displays the medals he won at the 1995 World Games.

    Stephen Bulich, Dana Ellsworth and Deseree Johnson recently were honored with The Resource Center’s top staff awards for 2023.

    Steve, who has worked for The Resource Center since 1995, received the Joseph Trusso Jr. Employee of the Year Award. As our Safety Compliance Coordinator, he ensures that TRC adheres to policies and protocols regarding the safety of staff and the people with disabilities whom TRC supports. He builds strong relationships with employees and people supported, which makes them comfortable confiding in him. Steve makes new staff feel welcome and takes the time to teach them to perform their jobs well so they become strong employees.

    He was nominated for the award by Jacqueline C. Phelps, Assistant Executive Director of Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement and Compliance, and Jessica Smith, Director of QA/QI, Compliance and Auditing. They noted that Steve is an effective ambassador for The Resource Center.

    “With his vast agency knowledge, ability to creatively problem solve, and mission-driven mindset and commitment to the people we support, Steve has earned the trust and respect of staff and individuals alike,” Jacqueline and Jessica stated.  “People believe in our mission after spending time with Steve, because they understand the `why’ behind it and how it impacts our entire agency.”

    The award is named in memory of the late Joe Trusso, who served on The Resource Center’s Board of Directors for 38 years and was a strong advocate for TRC employees and people with disabilities.

    Resa Rosen-Murray presents the Employee of the Year Award to Steve Bulich as Executive Director Denise Jones looks on. Rosen-Murray, a longtime TRC employee, is related to Joe Trusso Jr., for whom the award is named.


    Deseree, who has worked for TRC since 2007, received the Norma J. Smith Award for her role as a Direct Support Professional at several homes operated by The Resource Center. A co-worker, Britnie Barmore, described Deseree as a strong advocate who is kind and a good listener.  “She engages with each individual personally, always makes sure their needs are met and is a fun person to be around.  She takes her job seriously and pays attention to important details that may have been missed by others.”

    John Vogan, Day Services Administrator, nominated Deseree for the award because of her actions in the previous year as she supported two people during their final months. She worked with other staff to support a couple in taking their last vacation together, and she then supported the husband in grieving his wife’s passing and helped him plan the funeral. A few months later, Deseree supported a man in first moving to a new home, and then when he was in the hospital she visited him regularly and advocated for the best care for him until he passed.

    “I have known Desi for over a decade, and she has been an exemplary DSP during that time frame,” John stated.  “I’m convinced that she would do this job for free.”

    The award was created in memory of the late Norma Smith, who worked as a Direct Support Professional at The Resource Center from 1983 to 1991.  The honor recognizes excellence exhibited by an employee in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    Deseree Johnson, standing next to Denise Jones, accepts the Norma J. Smith Award from Melissa Rasmussen, a long¬time TRC employee who is Smith’s daughter. Also pictured is Joanne Bevan, Assistant Executive Director.


    Dana, a Cleaner with TRC’s Environmental Services, received the Allied Industries Employee of the Year Award. He has worked for Allied Industries, The Resource Center’s manufacturing and employment division, since 2008.

    “Dana has the respect and admiration of his peers, management and our customers.  Dana leads by example. He has a great attitude and takes pride in his work,” his supervisor, Harold Roberts, told the audience. “Dana is the go-to guy for his co-workers and management when issues arise.  He knows the strengths of each of our employees and assists management with daily assignments. With Dana’s help, management has been able to develop check lists and training aides for many of our existing and new employees.”

    Harold added, “In my 40 years of management experience, it is rare that you find a co-worker that reaches Dana’s level of dedication, experience and knowledge.”

    Dana Ellsworth holds his Allied Industries Employee of the Year Award while posing with Denise Jones and Harold Roberts, Production Superintendent.


    The three were honored during The Resource Center’s annual Employee Service Recognition Luncheon, which was held at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron.

    Other employees nominated for the Smith or Trusso awards were Sabrina Avery, Faith Baker, Jason Carnahan, Kiyah Carpenter, Debra Densmore, Wendy Doutt, Rick Gray, Cheyenne Green, Lisa Gross, Paul Hurley, Sommer Levandoske, Ladena Marks-Nalbone, Resa Rosen-Murray, Tammy Sawyer, Jeanne Slade, Mary Straight, Jean Thomas, Connie Truax, Margaret “Cookie” Wilson.  People who received an Allied Industries Employee of the Month Award during 2023 were eligible for the Allied Employee of the Year honor.

    Those who served on the awards selection committee were staff members Michele Albaugh, Victoria Bardo, Mark Constantino, Bonnie DeJoy, Melissa Rasmussen, Donna Trusso, and Evelyn Wright-Kegelmyer; and community members John Felton from Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union and Richard Kimball, Vice Chair of TRC’s Board.

    The contributions of more than 150 people were recognized when The Resource Center held its annual Employee Service Recognition Luncheon.

    The event, held at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron, honored employees and members of the board of directors who, during 2023, reached milestone years of service with The Resource Center.  Combined, the people honored have 1,980 years of service.

    The longest-serving employees recognized at this year’s event were John DePane, Staff Development Specialist, and Deborah Rapp, Day Services Supervisor.  They both have been working at The Resource Center for more than 40 years.

    John DePane and Debbie Rapp hold paintings they were given in appreciation of their 40 years at The Resource Center. The paintings were created by people with developmental disabilities who participate in our art program.


    Honored for 35 years of service with TRC was George Mitchell Jr., maintenance helper.

    George Mitchell


    Those completing 30 years of employment were Faith Baker, Debra Hall, Bruce Main, Cynthia Neu, Philip Opeil, Barry Simmons Jr., Donald Traynor, Steven Waterson, and Kristen Wilson.

    Pictured from left are Steve Waterson, Debra Hall, Cynthia Neu, Faith Baker, Kristen Wilson, Barry Simmons, Don Traynor, and Phil Opiel.


    Recognized for 25 years of service were Lela Berry, Leslie Fickling, Katrina Gibson, Wendy Giunta, Ke-Khee Greenough, Beverly Heglund, Kellie Lyons, Jessica Smith, Jill Suter, and Karen York.

    Pictured from left are Leslie Fickling, Ke-Khee Greenough, Kellie Lyons, and Jessica Smith.


    Honored for 20 years of service were Sondra Apperson, Joanne Bevan, Christine Burger, John Campbell Jr., Minerva Collazo, Angela Dalrymple, Mary Davis, Troy Hicks, Christopher Howard, Dr. Todd Jacobson, Richard Kennedy, Lynn Ling, Erin Lutgen, Thomas Mabes, Maria Martinez, Pennifer McCartney, Alberta Monagle, Brandey Oakes, Lisa Peterson, Regis Pratt, Christopher Rotunda, Tammy Sawyer, Kimberly Scoma, and Daniel Torres.

    Pictured from left are, front row, Tammy Sawyer, Brandey Oakes, Penny McCartney, and Alberta Monagle; and, back row, Maria Martinez, Thomas Mabes, Dr. Todd Jacobson, Christopher Howard, Joanne Bevan, Christine Burger, and John Campbell.


    Completing 15 years of service in 2023 were Dustin Allen, Romaine Bedford, Christopher Clark, Katie Cleland, Dana Ellsworth, Lori Lang, Cathy Lawson, Melissa Lawson, Tammy Mancuso, Danny Mealy Sr., Dr. Adnan Munir, Elizabeth Osarumwense, Kelly Patterson, Haeden Smith, Christian Stenander Tabatha Stenstrom, Connie Truax, Andrea Vullo, Tammy Whippo, and Philip Wright.

    Pictured from left are, front row, Andrea Vullo, Tammy Whippo, Cathy Lawson, and Tammy Mancuso; and, back row, Tabatha Stenstrom, Melissa Lawson, Phillip Wright, Katie Cleland, Dana Ellsworth, and Danny Mealy.


    Recognized for 10 years of service were Courtney Beckerink, Angelica Camacho, CodyAnne Chambers, Amy Curtin, Michelle DeBose, Jonathan DeSantis, Jennifer DeWolf, Jennifer Diaz, Leslie DiNapoli, Brittany Dorman, Kenley Goodwin, Paige Green, Valery Guerrero, Mary Hayes, Edythe Johnson, Charles Klenke, Joseph Koterass, Melissa Lauffenburger, Tara Nitkiewicz, Lynford Osgood, Michael Ostrye, Patricia Perlee, Jodi Sadlowe, Alice Sanchez, Ada Sommers, Joshua Straight, Shannon Studd, and Shelby Surrena.

    Pictured from left are, front row, Michael Ostrye, Alice Sanchez, Leslie DiNapoli, Jen Diaz, Jodi Sadlowe, Amy Curtin, Shannon Studd, and Mary Hayes; and, back row, Charles Klenke, Lyn Osgood, Jon DeSantis, CodyAnne Chambers, Angelica Camacho, Jennifer DeWolf, and Joshua Straight.


    Those who last year completed five years of service with TRC were Douglas Anderson, Brandi Ashdown, Biannca Balliet-Miranda, Brandi Barlow, Priscilla Barone, Lisa Beaujean, Jocelyn Bensink, Joshua Bostaph, Jon Culverwell, Renee Denson, Haydee Diaz, Denise Donelson, Richard Espin, Jacqueline Falto, Alyssa Fardink, Stacey Fardink, Randy Hallett, Beth Hayner, Casey Hetfield, Abigail Hooper, Daja Howie, Beatrice Karda, Melissa Komula, Becky Marsh-Nelson, Kaitlyn Martin, Abigail Matteson, Joseph Mazzurco, Allen McElwain, Jakob Meady, Richard Miller, Tracy Murphy, Julian Nitkiewicz, Damonn Park, Raymond Pfleuger, Douglas Philbrick, Emerson Pickert, Joseph Popielarz, Nefrettiti Ramos, Dylan Reed, James Reed, Ryan Rice, Brittany Rickerson, Pamela Robbins, Moraima Rodriguez, Sheilymar Rodriguez, Jessica Sayers, Harry Shelman, Jarod Smith, Merrie Smith, Lillian Story, Ryan Tarr, Linnel TeCroney, George Tedone, Stephanie Thomas, Amy Watson, Jody Weise, Bismark Woma, and Lucas Young.

    Those recognized this year were able to choose an article of clothing bearing The Resource Center’s logo.

    Welcoming remarks were given by Richard Kimball, the vice chair of TRC’s board of directors.  “We are here today to honor the dedi­cated and committed people who work for The Resource Center for their service in comprehensive capacities to en­rich the lives of persons with disabilities,” Kimball said.

    Remarks also were given by Executive Director Denise Jones.  “Everyone in this room is talented. You could have found work at other places. But you have chosen to work at TRC, and I’m so proud and grateful that you did,” Denise said.

    Lake Shore Savings Bank has awarded $10,000 to help fund startup costs of a new healthcare entity.

    The funding, provided by a Federal Home Loan Bank of New York small business development grant, will go to Community Inclusion, Inc, doing business as TRC Community Health Center.  The money will cover some of the costs of establishing TRC Community Health Center as a specialty clinic focused on delivering quality healthcare to all people in the community, regardless of ability to pay. The clinic will specialize in serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    The practice currently operates under The Resource Center’s auspices.  The Resource Center intends to transfer its primary care, school-based health center, dental and podiatry services to TRC Community Health Center as of May 1, 2024.  The Resource Center will continue to operate its other clinical services: behavioral health, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech/language therapy.

    While TRC Community Health Center will focus on serving people with disabilities, the practice also will treat non-disabled members of the community.  Current patients of The Resource Center’s primary care, school-based health center, dental and podiatry services will see their care automatically transferred to TRC Community Health Center.  The Resource Center’s primary care, school-based health center, dental and podiatry health care providers and support staff will become employees of TRC Community Health Center, so there will be no change in people’s care.

    The Resource Center and TRC Community Health Center will both operate out of the clinic’s current locations at 880 East Second Street in Jamestown and 186 Lake Shore Drive West in Dunkirk.

    The Resource Center, whose primary mission is to support people with disabilities, has been providing clinical services for more than 30 years.  The main purpose of offering those services was to ensure that area residents with disabilities who had complex medical issues would have reliable access to healthcare.  The Resource Center later made those services available to anyone, especially people who had difficulty accessing healthcare locally.

    Community Inclusion, Inc., which will operate the new TRC Community Health Center, is a Jamestown-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing high-quality, cost-effective and comprehensive primary and preventive healthcare with a goal of reducing health disparities, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.  As a specialty clinic focused on serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, TRC Community Health Center will be able to seek higher reimbursement rates and will be eligible to receive federal grants to support its operations.

    Resource Center officials look forward to the change in health care operations and the opportunities that will result.

    “We are very excited to move to the next phase of this project, which will allow for continued focus on providing high-quality, patient-centered healthcare in our community. We look forward to a bright future ahead,” said Heather C. Brown, assistant executive director for clinical services. “We thank Lake Shore Savings for providing much-needed financial support as we prepare for the opening of the new clinic.”

    Lake Shore Savings officials are pleased the $10,000 grant will help TRC Community Health Center be ready to meet the healthcare needs of people with disabilities and the general community when the clinic transitions operations from The Resource Center to Community Inclusion.

    “At Lake Shore Savings, we believe that the success of our community depends on organizations like The Resource Center that work to improve the lives of people in need,” said Kim Liddell, president and chief executive officer.  “We are grateful to support the establishment of TRC Community Health Center and look forward to the positive impact that it will make for our friends and neighbors.”

    Amy Harding, left, Vice President, Regional Sales Officer at Lake Shore Savings, poses with Lindsay VandeVelde, Practice Manager for TRC Community Health Center.

    The Resource Center was awarded $24,130 in grants from the Trustee Management Board of NYSARC Trust Services to support TRC’s guardianship and recreation programs in 2023.

    NYSARC Trust Services administers supplemental needs trusts and pooled trusts that improve the lives of people with disabilities by enabling them to maintain eligibility for Medicaid and other means-tested government benefit programs.  For 2023, NYSARC Trust Services fulfilled its commitment to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by awarding $2,697,980 to chapters of The Arc New York statewide.

    The Resource Center received $10,400 to provide guardianship services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who would not otherwise have a legal guardian or advocate.  Supported by staff and community volunteers, The Resource Center’s guardianship program provides guardianship supports and services to two people and is ready to assist one more person as an alternate standby guardian.  TRC’s guardianship program supports these people by giving them a sense of family and belonging, conducting person-centered planning and advocating on their behalf.  TRC’s guardianship committee oversees their care and assists with making critical medical decisions.

    Besides the grant money, there is no funding for TRC’s guardianship program.  As a result, TRC relies on financial support from families, particularly the families of those for whom TRC serves as standby guardian.  For more information about the guardianship program, phone 716-483-2344.

    In addition to the guardianship money, NYSARC Trust Services awarded The Resource Center $13,730 to support recreational opportunities for more than 240 people with disabilities.  Uses of the money included attending baseball, football and hockey games; visiting the National Comedy Center and the Lucy Desi Museum; going to the Buffalo Zoo; riding on a train; sponsoring a performance by the band Flame; and buying games and recreation supplies.

    The Resource Center has supported people with disabilities and their families in Chautauqua County since 1958.  To learn more about the services TRC provides, phone 716-483-2344 or visit www.resourcecenter.org.

    NYSARC Trust Services has administered supplemental needs trusts since 1972, helping thousands of people with disabilities protect their eligibility for government benefits and improve their quality of life.  NYSARC Trust Services’ programs give people with disabilities the opportunity to remain in their communities with greater comfort and independence while providing peace of mind to their families and loved ones.

    NYSARC Trust Services administers first- and third-party pooled supplemental needs trusts to help families plan for the future of a loved one with a disability, preserve income and assets for Medicaid planning purposes and long-term care, and protect unexpected monetary windfalls.  To learn more, phone 518-439-8323 or visit www.nysarctrustservices.org.

    Marcia Restivo, Guardianship Coordinator, poses with Heather, one of the people who is supported by TRC’s Guardianship Program.

    The accomplishments of people with disabilities were highlighted when The Resource Center held its 34th Ability Awareness Awards Celebration.

    The event took place at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celoron.  The celebration was an opportunity to recognize people with disabilities who have made meaningful strides in their lives, as well as honor community residents and organizations that have helped improve the lives of those who have a disability.

    Welcoming remarks were given by Denise Jones, The Resource Center’s executive director.

    “This is one of my favorite events that we hold each year, because it gives us the chance to highlight some of the success stories that happen every day at The Resource Center,” Jones said.  “It shines a spotlight on the fact that it takes all of us – people with disabilities, their families, our employees, and the larger community – to make these success stories a reality.  By working together, we are able to generate tremendous results that strengthen us as individuals, and as a community.”

    As part of the celebration, a video about each of the honorees was shown prior to the award being presented.

    The first award was for Advocate of the Year and was presented to Lynn Johnson.  Johnson, a community coach at The Resource Center who works in Northern Chautauqua County, was honored for her commitment to provide awesome experiences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  They have gone to lunch, concerts, a zoo, car shows, and the County Fair, and there has been an unexpected favorite outing – riding through a car wash.  Johnson, who has missed family occasions to take folks on adventures, also helps out at a TRC home when needed.

    “I love supporting people with disabilities,” she said.  “This isn’t a job, it’s a calling.”  Johnson said she enjoys the “aha moments” – the joyous reactions of people with disabilities when she supports them to experience activities for the first time.  Admitting that she prefers to stay out of the spotlight, Johnson said she was humbled by being chosen for the award and that everyone else who works at The Resource Center is worthy of recognition.  “I feel that everybody involved at TRC are ordinary people, but we are all doing extraordinary things.”

    The Personal Success Award was given to Justin Moreland.  Moreland survived the debilitating effects of a brain aneurysm, eventually regaining his cognitive and physical abilities.  Determined to help others facing disabling conditions, Moreland joined The Resource Center as a direct support professional working with people who have developmental disabilities at TRC’s day habilitation program in Dunkirk.  His own experience during his recovery – when he knew the answers to his healthcare providers’ questions but was unable to form a verbal response – made him realize that some people with developmental disabilities face similar challenges.

    Moreland credited his young age, physical fitness and resiliency with his ability to bounce back from the aneurysm, and he plans to keep improving.  One ongoing challenge caused by his injury is a problem with his memory.

    “To receive this award is very satisfying,” Moreland said.  “I’m going to use this as momentum and just kind of level up and continue to just grow.”

    The Elmer Muench Volunteer of the Year was Jeremy Rugg.  Rugg, who is associated with ALLABILITY Martial Arts Association, has been coming to The Resource Center to teach karate to people with developmental disabilities.

    Rugg, who has special needs, has been a Special Olympics volunteer.  When he realized there weren’t a lot of opportunities for people with disabilities to become involved in martial arts, he approached The Resource Center with his idea to teach martial arts.

    “I’ve always wanted to help out others with special needs.  You get more out of volunteering than you get from your own work.  It’s a lot of satisfaction,” he said.

    “Being a volunteer here has been awesome.  I love the warm reception that I get when I come into the class,” said Rugg, who encouraged others to volunteer to support people with disabilities.  “I’d recommend more people come to The Resource Center and help out.”

    In accepting his award, Rugg thanked his former teacher Robert Goold, who is a member of The Resource Center’s board of directors and a longtime Special Olympics supporter, for providing the support Rugg needed to be able to graduate from high school.

    The Volunteer of the Year Award is named in memory of Elmer Muench, a longtime Resource Center volunteer and former president of TRC’s board of directors.

    The Bruce Walford Community Support Award was presented to John Felton.  Felton, in his role as the executive director of the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, has endeavored to improve the financial situations of marginalized people.  In particular, he has provided financial education to people involved in Invest U, an anti-poverty program operated by The Resource Center and the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.  Felton and the credit union also focuses on supporting people living in ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families.

    “There are individuals who are hard-working individuals, good people, that have had bad things happen to them.  There is no better joy in life than taking somebody who is trying – who is not looking for a handout but looking for a hand up – there is no better joy than being that organization that can help them with that hand up,” Felton said.  “We’re here to change their standard of living.”

    He drew similarities between the ways in which TRC and the credit union operate.

    “There’s a lot of synergy between The Resource Center and Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union,” Felton said.  “The Resource Center has built such strong relationships with their clientele, that’s a model that we also embrace at the credit union.  Listening to people so that you can truly understand what is the problem, what is the hurdle in their life, will help you determine a better solution for those problems.”

    The Community Support Award was created in memory of Bruce Walford, former manager of The Resource Center’s manufacturing center in Dunkirk.

    The Community Partnership Award was given to the Gebbie Foundation.  Gebbie worked with The Resource Center and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce to open a downtown Jamestown retail store called CHQ Plus.  The store, which is operated by TRC, sells locally made items and provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to gain work experience in a retail setting.

    Greg Edwards, chief executive officer of Gebbie Foundation, said the idea for CHQ Plus sprang from the foundation’s desire to make full use of storefronts along downtown Jamestown.  He entered into conversations with TRC officials regarding the possibility of having TRC operate a commercial business.  Edwards said Terri Johnson, TRC’s director of employment and community-based services, helped convince him the project was worth undertaking.

    “Terri really helped open my eyes to the multiple levels of benefit that the region could achieve if CHQ Plus became a reality.  And what were those benefits?  For us, it was filling that space with a new, exciting commercial opportunity for residents and tourists alike,” Edwards said.  “But what quickly sold me and sold my board of directors at the Gebbie Foundation was the additional advantage and bonus of finding ways to employ people that have developmental disabilities and helping introduce that potential workforce to the rest of our community.”

    He said CHQ Plus, located at the corner of Third and Cherry Streets, has been a success since it opened in October 2022.  Edwards said CHQ Plus provides a venue for local vendors to market their products in a cost-effective way.  He said he has heard from area residents that the store is a go-to place to find unique items.  Edwards noted some people with disabilities who have been trained at the store have taken what they’ve learned and found retail jobs in the region.

    Edwards said the Gebbie Foundation has enjoyed its partnership with The Resource Center, and he encouraged other businesses to consider partnering with the agency.

    “How thankful we are to have had this opportunity to help promote the work that TRC does, the help it’s providing to those with disabilities and, simultaneously, hopefully open some people’s eyes about the prospects of hiring folks that come out of this training program,” he said.

    The Health Provider of the Year was Rosanna Hatfield, who is a licensed certified social worker and the assistant director of clinical Services for The Resource Center’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services program.

    “It’s important that we all have good mental health, because we all have mental health struggles that impact so much of our daily lives and the lives of our clients as well,” Hatfield said.  “In regards to how my work makes me feel, I really feel like a good part of the community in trying to help people and working with others to improve their lives, so it kind of fills my bucket to be able to help people.”

    Hatfield, who has worked for The Resource Center since 1999, said she began her TRC career working in one of the homes the agency operates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She said this experience prepared her well for her role as a social worker.

    “There are so many people that are non-verbal or can’t communicate, and you have to be their voice, and it really pushed me to be that voice,” she said.  ”It’s important to be able to advocate for others that are unable and unwilling to do for themselves.”

    The Business/Employer of the Year was Mazza Chautauqua Cellars/Five & 20 Spirits & Brewing in Westfield.  During the past few years, Mazza and Five & 20 have hired several people with developmental disabilities through The Resource Center’s Employment Services Program.  TRC officials have lauded Mazza’s commitment to its workers with disabilities and its willingness to make whatever accommodations are needed for the employees to be successful.

    Mario Mazza, vice president and general manager for Robert Mazza Inc., accepted the award.  He said Mazza and Five & 20 have welcomed the opportunity to employ people with disabilities, and that becoming an inclusive and accommodating work place has made the company stronger while giving its employees with disabilities the chance to thrive.

    “We had an opportunity to explore how we could modify our operations to be more accommodating, a bit more inclusive, and help fulfill some of our needs while also enabling somebody to help contribute to the work we’re doing,” Mazza said.

    He said one of the supervisors at the Westfield location believes that if a job applicant with a disability has a positive attitude, it can be more important than possessing the initial aptitude to perform the job tasks.

    “We’re happy to teach and train somebody, and if somebody’s interested and eager and has the motivation and willingness to work and learn, we’ll absolutely support that,” Mazza said, “whether that’s through training or whether it’s making accommodations to make work spaces more accessible.”

    Mazza noted that for businesses struggling to find workers in the current economy, expanding the number of potential employees by looking to hire people with disabilities makes sense.

    “There are challenges for organizations and businesses to find the work and labor that they need in some instances.  Broadening that pool (of potential employees) and being more inclusive has allowed us to maintain a solid and steady team of individuals here working to accomplish what we need to as we grow.”

    He praised the support offered by TRC’s Employment Services Office, especially job coaches who accompany new employees to the work site and help them master the job tasks.

    “We’re just happy to have some wonderful individuals that have joined the team, that are able to contribute.  Hopefully they’re feeling valued team members.  I know we greatly appreciate everything they’ve helped us with.”

    Mazza added the company recently bought a warehouse in Westfield and plans to expand its production and packaging capacity at the facility, and he expects to hire more workers with disabilities.

    The Edwin Roth Mental Health Award was given to Michael Trusso.  Trusso was chosen for the award for the way he supports peers in The Resource Center’s “Passages” PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) Center for Wellness in Jamestown.

    Trusso has attended group therapy and counseling sessions at The Resource Center since moving to the Jamestown area in the late 1980s.  “It’s been a wonderful journey,” he said.  “I’ve changed in leaps and bounds.”

    He was nominated for the award by staff at the Passages Center, who appreciate the compassionate way Trusso interacts with his peers.

    “I believe that helping others is the best thing I can do to improve my quality of life.  And I try to use my experience to relate to people who are going through similar things.  And we do that to help each other grow,” Trusso said.  “We share here on a peer level so that we can grow together.”

    He stressed that everyone needs to be mindful of their mental health.

    “Every person on the planet needs to work at their mental health.  And some people miss the boat.  Because of the stigma, they don’t think that they have to worry about their mental health,” Trusso said.  “If you’re mentally ill and don’t deal with it, it’s going to affect the entire rest of your life – your financial, your spiritual, your mental, social – all those parts of your life.”

    He recommended that when people experience emotional problems, they share their thoughts.

    “If someone’s going through struggles, I think the best suggestion I would have would be to tell somebody.  Don’t hold it in; don’t hold it back.  You can start with one person and trust them a little bit, and see that you can trust somebody.  And then over time you reveal more and more about the pain and sorrow you’re in, or the struggle you’re having.”

    Trusso added that just like when making other changes in one’s life, achieving emotional wellness is a process that takes time and commitment.

    “Losing weight takes time.  Strengthening your mental health is going to take time.  You have to take baby steps at first, and then build yourself up and work your way through.”

    The Mental Health Award is named in memory of the late Ed Roth, an official with the New York State Office of Mental Health.

    Victor Karas, who received NYSID’s Outstanding Performer Award, poses with Tamara Zofchak, who presented the awards to the Ability Awareness Award recipients.

    Also recognized at the awards celebration was Victor Karas III.  He was honored for having been selected by NYSID (New York State Industries for the Disabled) for recognition in its annual Outstanding Performer Program.  NYSID honored Karas for his job performance as a member of The Resource Center’s environmental services crew that maintains the Interstate 86 rest area in Ellery.

    Karas has worked for The Resource Center since 2010.  His supervisors describe him as an exemplary employee who will fill in whenever needed.  Karas also took the initiative to obtain his driver’s license so he could transport his team members to and from the work site.

    Karas said he enjoys his job and uses his earnings to buy items for himself and his daughter.  He was grateful to have been nominated for the award.

    “I am very happy to have this award, and I appreciate for people giving me this award,” Karas said.  “I want to thank everyone, like my co-workers and my bosses, for honoring me with this award.  I’m very excited.”

    Unable to attend the event was Joshua Hart, who was selected to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award.  With support from Resource Center staff, Hart has been able to overcome an anxiety disorder that had prevented him from relaxing enough to be able to travel places around the community.

    Via video, two Resource Center employees who work closely with Hart – his service coordinator, Tammi Blodien, and Brianna Ashdown, the nurse manager at Hart’s TRC home – discussed the progress he’s made.  Blodien said it has been a multi-year process that began with staff using a reward system to persuade Hart to be comfortable to get into a vehicle.  She described the first time Hart was able to walk to a store near his home and engage in conversation with a store employee, and how now he comfortably travels by vehicle to a variety of places in Jamestown and beyond.

    “To see him out, and interact with different people in the community, was just incredible,” Ashdown said.  “He’s come so far from where we started, it’s spectacular to see and be able to do it with him.”

    Ashdown said that when Hart becomes anxious when in a vehicle or out in the community, he is able to calm himself be reminding himself to be patient.  She and Blodien said the goal is to get to the point that Hart will be able to visit a zoo and make a trip to see family members who live about 150 miles from Jamestown.  The two TRC employees are excited with the progress Hart has made.

    “Josh, you’re doing an excellent job riding in the van,” Blodien said.

    “I just wish that he could understand how proud I am of him,” Ashdown said, “to take the kid that we knew when he first got here and see the man that he’s become now.”

    Hart’s mother, Pam. accepted the award on his behalf.  She said her son moved to The Resource Center at the recommendation of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which told her TRC had staff who possessed the training and expertise to address her son’s challenges.  She praised the members of her son’s care team at The Resource Center and added that they seem to be emblematic of Western New York residents.

    “I’m blown away by the depth of the team here,” she said.  “I couldn’t be more thankful for this place.  I pray every night for The Resource Center and the staff.”

    Closing remarks were prepared by Rich Kimball, the vice chair of The Resource Center’s board of directors.  “Thank you so much to each of today’s honorees, who inspire us to use our own abilities,” Kimball said.  “The abilities the recipients of this year’s awards possess cannot be fully utilized without another `A’ word – attitude.”

    Kimball added, “In addition to personal success and achievement, this year’s honorees utilize their ability in the areas of business, health, volunteering, and community networks that are intertwined in the fabric of this community.”

    The Awards Selection Committee was composed of Victoria Trass Bardo, development and events manager for Filling the Gap, Inc., who organized the awards luncheon; Kathy Field, a retired TRC employee who helped organize the awards celebration for many years; Melissa Klenke, a care coordinator at Person Centered Services; Charlotte Olson, retired from Brown & Brown of NY; and Barbara Stewart, a member of The Resource Center’s board and the mother of a man who receives supports from TRC.

    Tamara Zofchak, a self-advocate at The Resource Center, presented the awards to the honorees.  TRC’s Steve Waterson was the master of ceremonies, while TRC employees Chris Anderson and Austin Mitchell handled the photography and videography responsibilities.

    Remarks also were given by Senator George Borrello and County Executive PJ Wendel.

    “The Resource Center does great things every day,” Borrello said, “giving people the ability to have a better quality of life, a happier quality of life.”  He called the Ability Awareness Award recipients “everyday heroes” for giving people with disabilities the supports they need.

    “What people are seeing in the community is the great work you’re doing” to further The Resource Center’s mission, Wendel told the honorees.  “Thank you for The Resource Center, but also thank you for all the awardees today for what you do to bring this mission to life and make these dreams realities.”

    Borrello, Wendel and Assemblyman Andy Goodell provided congratulatory certificates for each of the award recipients.

    Click here to watch the video of the Ability Awareness Awards Celebration.

    Click here to make a donation to The Resource Center TRC Excellence Awards Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation in honor of one of the award recipients.

    Recipients of The Resource Center’s Ability Awareness Awards pose together. Pictured are, from left, Mario Mazza of Mazza Chautauqua Cellars/Five & 20 Spirits & Brewing, the Employer of the Year; Greg Edwards of the Gebbie Foundation, which received the Community Partnership Award; Kaiso Rugg, who was the Elmer Muench Volunteer of the Year; John Felton of Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, who received the Bruce Walford Community Service Award; Michael Trusso, who received the Edwin Roth Mental Health Award; Rosanna Hatfield, who was the Health Provider of the Year; Justin Moreland, who received the Personal Success Award; Lynn Johnson, who was the Advocate of the Year; Tammi Blodien, one of The Resource Center employees who supported Josh Hart to make such progress in his life that he earned the Outstanding Achievement Award; and Hart’s mother, Pam, who accepted the award on his behalf.

    200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701