Arc ‘Best Friends’ are happy to serve senior citizens

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Rob and Debbie Monnier are pictured on Friday night at the Hickory Ridge Golf and Country Club, where they were honored as The Arc of Orleans County’s ‘Best Friends” for 2014. The couple is active in the Meals on Wheels program.

ALBION – An Albion couple who recently retired was looking for a way to give back to the community. Rob and Debbie Monnier heard The Arc of Orleans County could use volunteers for the Meals of Wheels program.

They figured they would help once a week, delivering meals to home-bound senior citizens. The Arc runs the program from the former grammar school on East Academy Street.

The Monniers have gone far above their initial commitment. They typically volunteer five days a week. They have befriended many of the seniors, who wouldn’t otherwise have a visitor on many of those days.

The Monniers will make return visits or call the seniors to check on their well-being. Often they will get their mail or newspapers for them.

“Sometimes, we’re the only ones they will see all day,” said Mrs. Monnier, a retired home health aide. Her husband is retired from Kodak and as a school bus driver.

She and her husband were honored as the “Best Friends” for The Arc of Orleans County on Friday night, when the agency recognized other volunteers and supporters.

The Albion couple started volunteering in October 2013 with The Arc. The agency has long been close to their hearts.

Their son Matthew had epilepsy and The Arc was helpful in providing him services with physical and occupational therapy at Rainbow Preschool.

Matthew was born in 1997 and had his first seizure at 6 months. The Arc bought the family a generator, which provided backup power for a machine to suction when Matthew was having a seizure and foaming at the mouth.

Matthew lived until he was 8 ½ years old. The family remains grateful for the services from The Arc.

“We’re just trying to give back because they did so much for us,” Mrs. Monnier said.

The agency praised the Monniers for their willingness to reach out to so many senior citizens and fill in on routes throughout the county.

“You meet a lot of interesting people and they look forward to seeing us,” Mrs. Monnier said.

The agency also presented the following awards on Friday:

Heritage Award – Keding Automotive in Albion for being a long-time supporter of the agency, sponsoring many Arc events.

Business Partnership Award – Tillman’s Village Inn, which hired a person with developmental disabilities in 1986. That person worked there until retiring in 2012. The Village Inn continues to hire some staff who are served by The Arc through the agency’s Supported Employment Program.

Self-Advocate of the Year – Shelley Hilbrand, who encourages her friends, works hard at her job and pushes to fulfill her dreams.

Community Worker of the Year – Jessa Pollock, who works as a teacher aide at Rainbow Preschool.

Enclave Worker of the Year – Brittany Marciszewski, who worked at Associated Brands in Medina before taking a job with the Ford Gum Enclave. She is a highly productive worker, Arc officials said.

Mobile Crew Worker of the Year – Donna Biaselli, who has worked full-time with the Medina mobile crew since 2007. “She is always ready to help wherever she is needed.”

Orleans Enterprises Worker of the Year – Benjamin Litchfield, who is dedicated to his work, performing it with a positive attitude.

Community Service Award – Emily Sorta, who volunteers in an Albion classroom, helping with crafts and other projects.