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  • The Resource Center has again been named one of the healthiest employers in the United States.

    For the eighth straight year, The Resource Center was included on the list of the “Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America” by Springbuk, a health analytics company that has conducted the annual Healthiest Employers competition since 2009.  This year The Resource Center is ranked No. 35.

    The Healthiest Workplaces in America program honors people-first organizations that prioritize the well-being of their employees.  These Healthiest 100 companies were recognized because of their commitment to workplace wellness and their exceptional health and benefits offerings.  They were chosen out of the national pool of applicants from all regions, size categories and industries.  Award applicants were evaluated across six categories: vision, culture/engagement, learning, expertise, metrics, and technology.

    The Resource Center was eligible for the Healthiest 100 Workplaces competition after finishing atop the other finalists among Extra Large companies (those with 500 to 1,499 full-time employees) at the annual Western New York employer wellness competition in August.  It marked the seventh time in the last eight years we claimed the top spot in our division at that event, which is coordinated by Buffalo Business First.

    The key to The Resource Center’s inclusion as one of the country’s healthiest workplaces is our STARS employee wellness program.  STARS assesses each person along five life dimensions: basic needs, physical health, mental wellness, family/social relationships, and employment issues.  STARS participants meet with a certified health coach to develop and monitor a personalized wellness plan.  STARS members receive discounts on their health care costs and wellness activities, and they can earn incentive points they may redeem for prizes.

    Participation in the STARS program is voluntary.  Many of the wellness activities are open to all TRC employees, not just those who are enrolled in STARS.

    We congratulate our STARS team for their continued excellent operation of the program and for making TRC one of the nation’s healthiest workplaces.

    Click here to read more about the Healthiest Employers program.

    Smiling proudly after The Resource Center finished first in the Extra Large category at this year’s Western New York Healthiest Employers competition are, from left, STARS wellness team members Heather Courtney, Donna Trusso and Jon DeSantis.

    The Resource Center recently honored employees who have done an outstanding job of supporting people with developmental disabilities.

    During the national observance of Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, The Resource Center held its annual “Everyday Hero Celebration.” The event recognizes the efforts of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who were nominated by co-workers or supervisors for the jobs they have done supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in TRC’s homes, day programs and the community. This year, nine people were honored as Everyday Heroes: Britnie Barmore, Cassidy Birt, Briana Green, Melissa Lauffenburger, Daniel Lutgen, Donna Matheson, Shanon Odebralski, Cheryl Stow, and Matthew Strom.

    Here are profiles of the 2023 Everyday Heroes:

    Britnie Barmore is a Self-Determination Assistant who has worked for TRC since 2014. She supported an elderly couple to conduct DNA research to find relatives they never knew existed. When the wife was in her final days this summer, Britnie provided comfort and care to her and the woman’s husband, then supported the husband to arrange the funeral. Co-workers described Britnie as being a compassionate and determined advocate for the people she supports. She also put in the time and effort to obtain the highest level of certification from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. “She is always on the side of the individual no matter the fight or struggle. She always finds a way, showing respect, integrity, justice, fairness, and equity,” said one of the people who nominated Britnie for the award. Click here to watch an interview with Britnie.

    Cassidy Birt is a DSP at one of The Resource Center’s homes in Busti. Co-workers admire Cassidy’s ability to come up with creative ideas to keep the home’s residents busy and engaged, both at the home and in the community. She has taken residents to many school plays and arranged for them to attend a professional wrestling show. Cassidy gets along well with all of the residents and is familiar with each person’s schedule and preferences. “Cassidy goes above and beyond for the individuals,” said the person who nominated her. “She is in this job for all the right reasons.” Cassidy has worked at TRC for several years. Click here to watch an interview with Cassidy.

    Briana Green is a DSP Lead at one of TRC’s Day Habilitation Programs in Jamestown. Bri possesses keen depth and insight about the people she supports. A co-worker shared a story about a time when a participant in the day program was upset because the woman had a hole in her stocking. Bri knew that wearing stockings with a hole would cause the woman to be upset all day, so she took the time to let the woman vent, and then they found a solution to the problem. “Bri knew it was a big deal to this lady, which directed her response,” said the person who nominated her. “Little things like holes in stockings are really big things, like respect.” Bri has been employed with TRC since 2021. Click here to watch an interview with Bri.

    Melissa Lauffenburger is a Licensed Practical Nurse at one of TRC’s homes in Busti. She was praised for her attention to details regarding the physical health of the people she supports, making sure the residents receive scheduled medications and reminding the home’s other staff of the adaptive equipment used by some of the residents. “Melissa works tirelessly to ensure all of our residents receive the highest level of care possible,” said the fellow staffer who nominated her. “She is the best co-worker who you can have a laugh with but still ensures you do your job at the end of the day.” Melissa has been with TRC for 10 years. Click here to watch an interview with Melissa.

    Dan Lutgen is a Community Coach who supports people with disabilities through TRC’s community habilitation program.  Each week, Dan supports 12 people to become integrated into the community. Though he has been with The Resource Center for slightly longer than 18 months, Dan already has achieved the highest level of certification through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. “Dan is always a staff that can be called upon to flex his hours to help support an additional individual with services,” said the co-worker who nominated him, adding that he is one of the department’s most valuable employees. Click here to watch an interview with Dan.

    Donna Matheson is the Instructor for the Project SEARCH initiative, a new program in which The Resource Center partners with UPMC Chautauqua to train people with developmental disabilities to work in medical settings. To help ensure the program’s success, Donna forged strong relationships with the interns, their families and UPMC staff. “She also expertly coaches UPMC staff to become comfortable interacting positively with people who have disabilities,” said her supervisor. Donna also was praised for organizing the classroom in a way that promotes learning and for utilizing community resources to plan activities outside of UPMC to enhance the interns’ learning experience. Click here to watch an interview with Donna.

    Shanon Odebralski is a DSP at one of TRC’s homes in Fredonia.  The home’s residents enjoy Shanon, and when she’s not there they often ask when she will next be working. Shanon is a hard worker and is admired by her fellow staff members. “Shanon is an exemplary employee, always asking what can be done after completing her daily duties,” said the person who nominated her.  “Shanon supports her team and often is a motivation to other co-workers she works with.” Shanon joined TRC last year.

    Cheryl Stow is a DSP at one of TRC’s homes in Jamestown.  The person who nominated Cheryl said she is admired by the home’s residents and by her fellow staff. “Cheryl always comes in with a positive attitude and motivates her co-workers every shift. She is always willing to move her schedule around to benefit the house and what we need. She also has an excellent rapport with the people we support and knows them, their families and their plans very well. She is extremely knowledgeable, and we can always count on her.” Cheryl has worked for TRC since 2004.

    Matt Strom is a Behavior Technician who works with residents at several of TRC’s Intermediate Care Facilities.  While co-workers say Matt performs well in his regular job duties, several nominated him because of his commitment to support people with developmental disabilities to enjoy great lives by integrating them into the community. Matt often devotes evenings and weekends to taking people to restaurants, concerts, movies, sporting events, and musicals. His co-workers say it is obvious the people Matt supports appreciate the opportunity to get out and do things. “Taking people out to different events isn’t in his job description, but he makes an effort and genuinely shows how much he cares about the people we all support,” a co-worker said.  Matt has been a TRC employee for 13 years. Click here to watch an interview with Matt.

    Pictured from left are Everyday Heroes Briana Green, Donna Matheson, Matt Strom, Dan Lutgen, Cassidy Birt, and Britnie Barmore.

    Twenty-two other TRC employees who were nominated for an Everyday Hero award received honorable mention: Kiyah Carpenter, Patricia Clark, Abby Counts, Jessica Crick, Debbie Dalziel, Jacadi Duman, Heather Ferguson, Monica Gassman Deborah Glover, Lilly Gordon, June Hillman, Matt Homan, Deseree Johnson, Jeremy Kaller, Brianna Kightlinger, Jenny Leeper, Jaycee Lupold, Ashley Raymond, Jeanne Slade, Jamar Smith, Trudy VanDette, and Doug Vetillaro.

    Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell provided certificates of appreciation for the Everyday Hero honorees.

    Other activities that took place at The Resource Center during Direct Support Professional Recognition Week included prize drawings and treating staff to ice cream at their work sites.

    Staff enjoy ice cream outside of our Michael J. Raymond Center in Jamestown during Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.

    The achievements of people with disabilities and the efforts of those who support them will be showcased when The Resource Center holds its 34th Ability Awareness Awards Celebration on Wednesday, November 15.

    The event will be held at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, 10 Dunham Avenue in Celoron, starting at 11:30.

    The awards recognize people with disabilities who have made significant accomplishments, as well as area residents and businesses that have improved the lives of people with disabilities. This year’s award recipients are:

    Advocate of the Year
    Vicky Lynn Johnson

    Business/Employer of the Year
    Mazza Chautauqua Cellars and Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing

    Community Partnership Award
    Gebbie Foundation

    Bruce Walford Community Service Award
    John Felton

    Health Provider of the Year
    Rosanna Hatfield, LCSW-R

    Edwin Roth Mental Health Award
    Michael Trusso

    Outstanding Achievement Award
    Josh Hart

    Personal Success Award
    Justin Moreland

    Elmer Muench Volunteer of the Year
    Kaiso Rugg

    In addition, Victor Karas will receive an award for being honored by New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. NYSID selected Karas for recognition through its annual William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award Program.

    Members of The Resource Center, people with disabilities, TRC staff and volunteers, and the general public are invited to attend the Ability Awareness Awards Celebration. A sign language interpreter will be on hand.

    The cost to attend the luncheon is $25. For their meal, attendees will choose from cavatappi primavera, parmesan-encrusted haddock and stuffed chicken breast. Reservations are due by Monday, October 30. Click here to make your reservation online. For more information, phone 716-661-1477 or e-mail vicky.bardo@fillingthegap.net.

    Click here to make a donation in honor of one of the award recipients, or mail a check to The Resource Center, 200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701.  Donations will be directed to The Resource Center’s TRC Excellence Awards Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

    The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, Inc., will pair two of their popular events when the Sprout Film Festival and Step Up for Autism take place Wednesday, September 27.

    The combined events will be held at The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts on Third Street in Jamestown.  An autism awareness walk will begin at 5:30.  Walkers will proceed west for about three blocks to the CHQ Plus store, then return to The Reg.  The walk is free, and everyone is invited to take part to show support for people on the autism spectrum.

    The theaters doors open at 6:00 for the Sprout Film Festival, with the movies scheduled to start at 7:00.  The festival features 10 short films that celebrate the diverse lives and creativity of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The films seek to challenge assumptions and break down stereotypes about people with disabling conditions.

    Sprout is a traveling film festival, and each host community selects the films that will be screened locally.  This is the seventh time The Resource Center has brought the Sprout Film Festival to Chautauqua County.  Most of this year’s films feature individuals who are on the spectrum.  People can view the festival’s trailer at www.resourcecenter.org/sprout to get a feel for some of the films.

    Admission to the film festival is free thanks to a grant from Filling the Gap, which works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Chautauqua County.

    This will be the 14th annual Step Up for Autism celebration, which is organized by Filling the Gap.  Two staples of past Step Up for Autism events will be incorporated into the film festival.  Patrons will have an opportunity to try to win donated prize baskets, as well as bid on items in a sweets auction.  The auction features cakes, pies and other treats donated by local establishments.

    Officials from The Resource Center and Filling the Gap are looking forward to presenting the Sprout Film Festival and Step Up for Autism on the same evening.

    “I am excited to have these two great events become one,” said The Resource Center’s Kevin Anderson, one of the film festival’s lead organizers.  “Sprout has always been a wonderful evening where the greater Jamestown community comes together to enjoy entertaining and enlightening films.  With the addition of Step Up for Autism, we are providing the opportunity for people to mingle before the films and help raise funds for important programs that support individuals on the spectrum.”

    “Bringing these two favorite events together gives us one action-packed event,” said Victoria Bardo, development and event manager for Filling the Gap.  “Please join us in front of The Reg at 5:30 for our walk along Third Street, enjoy the movies and don’t forget to participate in our raffles and spirited sweets auction.  This is a beautiful venue, so why not bring along your family and friends?  You will come out of this event with the best feeling and a new perspective on the cherished lives of persons with different abilities.”

    Sponsors of this year’s Step Up for Autism include Brown & Brown Insurance, Lake Shore Savings and UPMC Chautauqua.  Money raised through Step Up for Autism will stay in Chautauqua County to support people on the autism spectrum and others with developmental disabilities.

    “We would like to send a shout out to all of our sponsors for their continued support in making a difference in our community,” Bardo added.

    For more information about the Sprout Film Festival, phone Anderson at 716-483-2344.  For questions about Step Up for Autism, phone Bardo at 716-661-1477.

    People wishing to make a donation in support of the Step Up for Autism walk, or to help bring Sprout to our community again next year, may do so by visiting https://fillingthegap.net/donate.  People also can mail a check to Filling the Gap, 92 Fairmount Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701; make the check payable to Filling the Gap and write either “Sprout” or “Step Up for Autism” on the memo line.

    A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held August 18 to formally unveil the KeyBank Art House at Edgewater, the new home of The Resource Center’s art program for people with disabilities.

    The Art House, located on Eighth Street in Jamestown across the river from McCrea Point Park, was created out of an old garage.  The 1,700 square-foot structure will offer a variety of classes including painting, drawing, mixed media and ceramics.  A gallery space will allow those participating in the art classes to showcase their work.

    “We are excited to formally unveil the KeyBank Art House at Edgewater,” said Denise Jones, The Resource Center’s Chief Executive Officer.  “Today represents the culmination of our long-held dream to give more people with disabling condition the opportunity to express themselves through art.  We are grateful to KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation, Empire State Development, the City of Jamestown, and everyone else who helped make this facility possible.  We can’t wait to see the amazing art that will be created in this beautiful space, and we look forward to partnering with other local entities to expand access to the arts in the community.”

    Major funding for the project came from KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation, which jointly provided $225,000.  Empire State Development will provide a Regional Council Capital Fund grant of up to $134,440.

    “KeyBank is so proud to support the KeyBank Art House at Edgewater and the award-winning art programs it will provide to individuals with disabilities in Jamestown and the surrounding communities,” said Chiwuike Owunwanne, KeyBank’s Corporate Responsibility Officer. “The Art House will be a wonderful opportunity to allow people to express themselves and tap into their creative thinking. We look forward to the positive outcomes it will bring to Jamestown for years to come.”

    “Broadening access to art can change lives, and communities, for the better. The KeyBank Art House at Edgewater is a unique redevelopment project that provides an inclusive artist hub for individuals with disabilities and enriches everyone involved,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight.  “It also reflects Governor Hochul and the City of Jamestown’s ambitious efforts in waterfront revitalization and community development, aimed at creating a vibrant, mixed-use, residential, commercial and recreational river corridor.”

    The ESD grant was obtained thanks to the efforts of the City of Jamestown.  “I am excited to see this redeveloped waterfront space provide an inclusive artist hub for individuals with disabilities, as well as the community at large,” said Mayor Eddie Sundquist.  “This project adds to the strong momentum of further development of the Chadakoin River that will attract small businesses, entrepreneurs, visitors to the area, and will continue to support the progress of economic development and improvements in the quality-of-life for the residents of Jamestown.”

    He recognized Paula Pichon, the city’s Grants Coordinator, for submitting a successful application for the ESD grant, and he noted it had been Pichon’s first grant proposal.

    Additional grant funding was provided by The Lenna Foundation and Filling the Gap, Inc.  Employees and board members of The Resource Center, plus their family and friends as well as the families of people with disabilities who receive supports from TRC, collectively contributed more than $50,000 to the project.

    Preparing to cut the ribbon are, from left, Assemblyman Andy Goodell; Karen Utz from Empire State Development; Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist; Chi Owunwanne of KeyBank; artists Maria Jacobson and Taynisha Lynch; Susan Gutierrez, TRC’s Art Instructor; Christine McAllister, representing Congressman Nick Langworthy; and County Executive PJ Wendel.


    The project’s architect was LaBella Associates.  The lead contractor was Hayes Construction Services.

    The KeyBank Art House at Edgewater is situated on the waterfront of the Chadakoin River on Eighth Street, adjacent to the Riverwalk and across from McCrea Point Park.  This location is a favorite destination for waterfront path walkers as well as those using the park for recreation and or for boating and fishing on the lake.  The location will also allow indoor/outdoor classes to be held on a patio overlooking the waterfront.

    Art has been a hobby and a passion of people with disabilities at The Resource Center since the agency began offering educational classes in 1959.  Art has remained an important facet of The Resource Center over the years, and, since 2007, collaborations with area arts organizations and independent artists have broadened the center’s class offerings to encompass painting, mixed media, dance/movement, drama, music and song writing. The overwhelmingly positive response has resulted in staff additions and growth in class sizes and offerings, including individually tailored classes for people who need carefully structured environments and supports.  What began as simple painting projects has grown into ceramics, clay, printmaking, jewelry-making and more.

    Until now, The Resource Center’s art program had been based within a state-certified day habilitation program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and only people enrolled in the day program could participate in art classes.  With the establishment of the KeyBank Art House at Edgewater, other people with developmental disabilities and people with behavioral health challenges will be able to take art classes.  In addition, The Resource Center looks forward to collaborating with schools and area arts organizations, as well as making art classes available to community members.

    Other elected officials who attended the ribbon-cutting event included Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and County Executive Paul Wendel.  Also present were officials representing Congressman Nick Langworthy and Senator George Borrello.

    Though the Art House is completed, we still need money to buy equipment and supplies. Click here to make a donation and help us give more people with disabilities the opportunity to create amazing art!

    Five local residents became the most recent graduates of a program that helps people analyze the impacts of poverty on their lives and develop strategies to build their resources for a more prosperous future and to improve our community.

    The five – Yanira Castellano, Haydee Diaz, Bernard DuPree, Carmen Perez, and Rebecca Spinler – were honored during a ceremony held at Northwest Arena in Jamestown.  They were recognized for completing the “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World” curriculum, a 16-week workshop series that supports people with low incomes to build resources and achieve goals on the path to stability.

    Getting Ahead participants are called investigators.  The course calls on them to explore how poverty affects them, then identify and develop resources that will enable them to get ahead in their lives.  The local workshop is called Invest U because, by participating in the curriculum, investigators invest in a better future for themselves and their families.

    Their efforts also will improve their communities.  This is because, as part of their coursework, investigators examined how community institutions measure in areas such as the economy, housing, health care, employment, education, and banking.  Those stark assessments revealed where our community did not perform well, providing an opportunity for local leaders to address the gaps.

    Invest U is funded by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.  The program is operated by The Resource Center.

    During the graduation ceremony, Terri Johnson, The Resource Center’s Director of Employment and Community-Based Services, noted that the Invest U course is demanding, requiring participants to meet together for at least three hours per week for four months.  She said this year’s Invest U class started with nine participants but four left the program, and she praised the five graduates for their efforts in completing the course.

    “I want to congratulate you guys for all of the work that you’ve put in,” Johnson told the graduates.  “It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and I want to thank you guys for your dedication to Invest U, to each other, to the community, and to yourselves.”

    Invest U participants “examine their own experience of poverty barriers that could be keeping them in poverty, and they investigate the realities of the conditions in our community,” she added.  “They investigate the hidden rules of economic classes and study the different economic classes and how to build resources and make connections in their community and ways to deal with change and create stability in their lives.”

    Ray Pryce, who was a member of the first Invest U graduating class in 2021 and now serves as a facilitator for those going through the program, noted the impact the program has.

    “This empowering initiative is a beacon of hope for those who have chosen to participate, offering them a pathway to a brighter future.  Through this program, individuals are empowered with invaluable tools and resources to break free from the cycle of poverty and strive for a better life,” Pryce said.  “This program is nothing short of inspiring, as it equips individuals with life skills, financial literacy and the emotional support to overcome barriers and achieve personal growth.  It is heartwarming to witness the positive changes and success stories that emerge from this initiative, showcasing the true potential that lies with each participant.”

    Pryce referenced an observation by social justice activist Nelson Mandela that poverty is similar to apartheid and slavery in that the three conditions are manmade issues that can be removed through the actions of humans.

    Jacqueline C. Phelps, Assistant Executive Director at The Resource Center, also addressed the audience, and she too referenced a Mandela quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”  She said society needs people to have the courage to step up and become their best selves, and that Invest U “takes people who are willing to make a change and a difference in their own life, and allows them to make a change and a difference in their community.”

    Phelps said the community will reap the rewards to arise from the efforts of the Invest U graduates.  “What we are here to experience and celebrate is five people who have made an impact by investing themselves, their families and future generations.”

    Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist noted that he met with the investigators while they were doing their coursework, and they had asked how he defines a bad neighborhood.  Sundquist said the question got him thinking about how to redefine what a neighborhood is, and that if residents take pride in their neighborhood, issues like crime and derelict properties will start to improve.

    “Instead of saying, `Let’s look at bad neighborhoods,’ let’s look how we can support and create new neighborhoods in the city,” he said.

    The keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony was Amanda Gesing, the Executive Director of the YWCA Jamestown, which hosted the weekly Invest U classes.  She praised the graduates for having the fortitude to make the effort to improve their lives.

    “What an accomplishment it is as an adult to take that mirror and look internally and say that you would like to do something to enhance your skills,” Gesing said.  “So not only should you be proud of yourselves for graduating, but you should also be proud of yourselves for even taking that step of taking the class, because not everyone would be willing to do that.”

    She said that with the knowledge the graduates gained through doing the coursework, they are well prepared to make a positive difference.

    “You guys are the change-makers in this community.  You guys are the ones who are going to help us make a true impact in this community,” Gesing said.  “It is your voice and your vision that is going to change this community.”

    Pictured from left are Beth Jermain, Haydee Diaz, Yanira Castellano, Rebecca Spinler, Ben DuPree, and Ray Pryce.

    Several of the graduates took the opportunity to address the audience.

    “This class has helped me learn about my community and about myself.  I learned to identify my strength and my weakness,” said Diaz, crediting Invest U for “giving me the confidence and resources to make me feel like I can make a difference in my community.”

    She said that as a result of going through the Invest U curriculum, she started going out into her community and was struck by the poverty and isolation she noticed.  She said combating those issues starts by connecting with others.

    “Get to know who your neighbors are and watch out for them,” Diaz said.  “After all, change starts one small step at a time.

    Castellano, a Community Navigator with Jamestown Public Schools, looks forward to sharing what she learned in Invest U with school families and others.

    “Going through the classes, I learned many things about our county and what I can do to add onto the work that needs to be accomplished in Chautauqua County,” she said.  “This workshop/class is for everyone, in every social class.  I think that we can all learn from each other to make this county shine.”

    DuPree said he has made adjustments in his life to correct a “careless ignorance that thought society owed me for hardships in my childhood.”  He shared his belief that if more Chautauqua County residents were involved in church, it would help spur economic growth and security.

    Beth Jermain, Support Option Administrator at The Resource Center, served with Pryce, Johnson and CodyAnne Chambers, TRC’s Employment Facilitator, as facilitators for the Invest U workshop sessions.  She said the five graduates developed a strategy to help the community address poverty.  Jermain noted the graduates are willing to be a part of any community organization to begin tackling poverty.

    Invest U requires participants to examine their own lives and be willing to give frank assessments of themselves.  Doing so Is a necessary part of the growth process.

    “You guys all shared very intimate parts of your life with each other,” Jermain told the graduates.  “There’s been a lot of respect happening, and it’s been a really dynamic discussion and really dynamic conversation.”

    This marked the third graduating class for Invest U.  For more information or to learn how to apply to take part in the next workshop, contact Jermain at 716-483-2344.

    Representatives of Congressman Nick Langworthy and County Executive PJ Wendel attended the ceremony and congratulated the graduates.

    Nominations are being accepted for The Resource Center’s 2023 Ability Awareness and Recognition Awards.

    Every year, people with disabilities in Chautauqua County make tremendous strides in their quest to lead productive, meaningful lives. And every day, they are supported in their efforts by a wide segment of the community that appreciates and values the contributions those with disabilities can make.

    To recognize the efforts of people with disabilities and those who support them, The Resource Center holds a celebration to pay tribute to this deserving group by presenting the Ability Awareness and Recognition Awards. The public is encouraged to nominate people with disabilities whom they know, or people and organizations from the community that have had a positive impact on the lives of those with disabling conditions.

    Nominations are being accepted in the following categories:

    Advocate of the Year, recognizing extraordinary efforts in advocating for one’s own rights or the rights of other people with disabilities.

    Bruce Walford Community Service Award, honoring a person who demonstrates the following characteristics: a commitment to the community; selflessness; the initiative and the ingenuity to forge forward and make things happen; and enthusiasm and exuberance that inspire others. This award was established in memory of the late Bruce “Wally” Walford, who was the manager of TRC’s Dunkirk manufacturing facility.

    Community Partnership Award, given to a person, service group or business that has provided unique opportunities and experiences to people with disabilities.

    Edwin Roth Mental Health Award, recognizing a person with a behavioral health challenge, an advocate, an agency, a professional, or a community member, that has supported efforts to improve the lives of people with mental illness or substance abuse challenges. This award is named in memory of the late Ed Roth, a New York State Office of Mental Health official who was a strong advocate for people with mental illness.

    Elmer Muench Volunteer of the Year, honoring a person who has donated time, talents and/or expertise toward improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.  Volunteer service could include interacting directly with people with disabilities, assisting with special events or serving on a board or committee.  This award is named in memory of the late Elmer Muench of Fredonia, a longtime volunteer and advocate for people with disabilities.

    Health Provider of the Year, honoring an entity or professional that has enhanced the lives of people with disabilities by providing outstanding health services.

    Outstanding Achievement, saluting a person with a disability who has made significant advancements in developing personal skills.

    Success of the Year, praising a person with a disability who has achieved his or her goals in the areas of community integration and/or employment.

    Nominees do not have to be affiliated with The Resource Center. A selection committee composed of community volunteers will decide which nominees are most deserving of the awards.

    Nominations will be accepted until September 15. Each nomination must include a narrative explaining why the nominee is deserving of an award. Click here to submit a nomination online. If you want a nomination form sent to you, phone Victoria Bardo at 716-661-1477. Nominations can be mailed to the Awards Planning Committee, c/o The Resource Center, 200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701. Nominations also can be faxed to 716-485-4612.

    Award recipients will be honored November 15 at The Resource Center’s 34th Ability Awareness Awards Celebration.

    Terri Johnson has been honored as one of the rising leaders in the disability services field in New York State.

    Terri, TRC’s Director of Employment and Community-Based Services, received the Emerging Leader Award at the annual Future of Excellence Awards ceremony held by the Executive Directors Association.  The EDA is a partnership among the Executive Directors and Chief Executive Officers of the Chapters of The Arc New York.

    The award honors a management-level employee who has made significant contributions and impact; who is a thought leader, strategic thinker and inspirational leader; and who has the potential for increased leadership responsibilities and continuing service within the Chapter and The Arc NY.

    Among Terri’s responsibilities, she oversees our Supportive Employment, Driver Training, Community Habilitation, Community Pre-Vocation, Fiscal Intermediary, and Staff Assistance.  Last year, she spearheaded the opening of CHQ Plus, a retail store that sells merchandise made by local artisans and people with disabilities.  The store also provides retail experience for people engaged in Community Pre-Voc.

    Also in 2022, Terri launched the Project SEARCH employment training initiative.

    Additionally, Terri is active in the community.  For more than 20 years she has been one of the lead organizers of the U.S. Marine Toys for Tots drive in Chautauqua County, and she is active with the United Way.  These associations have helped strengthen TRC’s reputation in the community.

    “Terri is insightful and is able to stay strategically minded, while at the same time maintaining an operational focus,” Denise Jones, TRC’s Chief Executive Officer, wrote in nominating Terri for the award.  “She has developed a strong team, stays on top of ever-changing regulations, is connected with our community, and seizes opportunities that are presented which are congruent with our mission.”

    Terri was chosen for the Emerging Leader Award from among a total of 11 nominees.  Congratulations, Terri!

    Several other TRC employees were nominated for some of the other 2023 EDA Future of Excellence Awards: Steve Bulich, Safety Coordinator, was nominated for the Excellence in Support Services Award; Rosanna Hatfield, Assistant Director of Behavioral Health Clinical Services, received consideration for the Clinical Champion Award; and Jessica Smith, Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement Supervisor, was nominated for the Medical/Nursing Excellence Award.

    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.

    “On behalf of myself and the employees of The Resource Center and Filling the Gap, we are grateful to Lake Shore Savings for its commitment 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.”

    Lake Shore Savings Bank has sponsored the TRC Golf Classic every year since the tournament began in 1997, and since 2012 has been the event’s presenting sponsor.  This year marks 12 consecutive years of generous commitment.  One of the most successful one-day charity golf tournaments in Southwestern New York, the TRC Golf Classic has netted more than $1.7 million since it began in 1997.

    “On behalf of The Resource Center and the TRC Golf Classic Steering Committee, we applaud Lake Shore Savings Bank for stepping up as the presenting sponsor for the TRC Golf Classic.  Lake Shore Savings has been a major contributor to our charity event for 27 years.  And, for the last twelve years, as presenting sponsor, they have contributed a total of $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 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.

    The 2023 TRC Golf Classic is scheduled for July 24 at Moon Brook Country Club in Jamestown.  For more information or to sponsor, please visit www.trcgolfclassic.com.

    Each year, hundreds of people come together to show support for those with special needs.  The event is called the Laurel Memorial Run/Walk, and the 27th annual installment will take place July 14 and 15.

    The event was created in 1997 by Silver Creek residents Wayne and Elaine Hotelling in honor of their oldest daughter, Laurel, who had Down syndrome.  Though she faced many challenges, Laurel lived a full and productive life thanks to the support she received from her family, her community and The Resource Center.  Laurel passed away in 2017 at the age of 54.

    The Laurel Memorial Run/Walk is a two-day celebration of the potential that exists within people who have disabilities.  The event seeks to raise public awareness about people with disabilities while providing an opportunity for people with disabling conditions, and those without, to come together at a fun, family-friendly event.

    Activities begin Friday, July 14, with the traditional flag relay.  A kickoff ceremony will be held at 8:00 a.m. in The Resource Center’s facility at 75 Jones & Gifford Avenue in Jamestown.  At about 8:30, the first volunteer runners will set off on the initial leg of the relay run to Dunkirk.  Representatives from The Resource Center and area school districts, as well as the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Brocton, will run the various legs of the relay while carrying Laurel Run flags.  Patrol units from area law enforcement agencies accompany the runners to ensure their safety on the busy roads.

    Shortly after the first relay runners set out, Laurel’s Legacy Lap will take place up the street at McCrea Point Park.  For that event, people with disabilities take a lap around the park.  People without disabilities are encouraged to cheer the walkers as they make their way to the finish.  Laurel’s Lap will continue throughout the morning, so people can come and complete the lap at their own pace.

    The relay run ends in the parking lot of The Resource Center’s facility at 186 Lake Shore Drive West in Dunkirk.  As it has done for many years, the city of Dunkirk will host a celebration from 12:30 to 2:00 to mark the relay’s conclusion.  The community is invited to attend the victory celebration and to cheer on the last set of relay runners, who are expected to arrive between 1:00 and 1:15.

    For the 11th straight year, several people are planning to jog and/or bike the entire 31-mile relay route.  That event is called the Laurel-thon.

    Anyone wishing to run a portion of the flag relay, or to take on the Laurel-thon, is invited to do so.  Phone 716-661-4735 for information.

    Friday’s events are a warm-up for the main Laurel Run/Walk activities, which take place the following day in Silver Creek.  Check-in and registration begin at 7:00 a.m. in the village square.  At 8:30, a 5-kilometer run/walk and a 1-kilometer fun walk will begin, followed at 9:00 by an 8-kilometer running race.

    For the 5k run/walk and the 8k run, medals will be given to the top three male and female finishers in each age group.  Commemorative medals will be given to everyone who crosses the finish line.  The age-group medals and the commemorative medals were made by people with disabilities and their support staff at The Resource Center.

    Cash awards ($100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third) will be given to the top male and female finishers in the 8k run.

    Besides the individual competition, there will be a team challenge.  Awards will be given to the three fastest teams in both the 5k and 8k events, with each team’s time determined by the combined times of its first four finishers.  Teams must register their team members by Thursday, July 12, to be eligible to win the team awards.

    The registration fees for the 8k, the 5k and the 1k are $20 for children 17 and younger, and $25 for people 18 and older.  Those entry fees increase $5 on July 13.  All paid registrants will receive a 2023 Laurel Memorial Run/Walk T-shirt and the commemorative medal, and will be entitled to enjoy refreshments after completing their event.  People can earn free entry into Laurel Run by collecting $50 or more in pledges.  Click here to register and set up a personal find-raising web page.

    Saturday’s events also will include fun runs for children age 7 and younger starting at 10:00, followed by a Laurel’s Legacy Lap for anyone with a disability.  The cost to enter the fun runs is $5 per child or a total of $10 for families with two or more children.  There is no fee to enter Laurel’s Lap.

    Throughout the morning, there will be activities in the village square including music and prize drawings.

    Those who are unable to attend the Silver Creek events but want to do something to show support for people with disabilities can sign up to do a virtual run or walk. People choosing that option can register for free, or they can pay the standard registration fee if they want to receive a shirt and commemorative medal.

    Money raised through the Laurel Run/Walk goes to Filling the Gap, Inc., which works with The Resource Center to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families in Chautauqua County.  Event proceeds are directed to The Resource Center Laurel Run Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and are used to promote disability awareness initiatives and to enhance employment and work training opportunities for people with disabilities.

    This past year, the Laurel Run Fund provided startup money for the Project SEARCH initiative, in which The Resource Center collaborated with UPMC Chautauqua to provide a nine-month internship for three young adults with developmental disabilities.  The trio received training in a variety of departments at the hospital, and now they hope to use those skills to find jobs in a hospital setting.

    For more information, visit www.laurel-run.com or phone 716-661-4735.

    This year’s logo was created by Jamestown High School student Bradyn Stevens.

    200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701