Arc GLOW celebrates first awards banquet since 4-county agency merger
Press Release, Arc GLOW
BATAVIA — Friends, families and community members gathered at the Batavia Downs Wednesday evening to celebrate Arc GLOW’s 1st annual Awards Banquet and Annual Meeting since their merger in 2021.
Over 250 people came, including Erik Geizer, chief executive officer for The Arc of New York; Merle “Skip” Draper, from state Sen. Rob Ortt’s office; Greg Torrey, from state Sen. George Borrello’s office; Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes; and John Deleo, Genesee County legislator.
There was an art display from Elba Day Habilitation, and the centerpieces which people could take home were provided by the staff and individuals at the Washington St. Day Habilitation in Albion with the help of Pam Lamar, a retired Orleans County Day Habilitation coordinator. After dinner, Julie Johnston sang “Let it Go” from Frozen to a roaring standing ovation.
After speeches from local officials, the awards presentation began.
The Supported Employment Person of the Year award honors a person with a disability supported by Arc GLOW who has demonstrated a strong work ethic, dedication to their job, ability to learn new community employment skills and maintain successful employment.
This year it was given to Michael Cuttitta.
“Mike worked in the work center at Hilltop for over 12 years before moving on to Arc GLOW’s supported employment program. He takes pride in his work and is focused. He always gets his job done with quality and efficiency,” said Kellie Kennedy, vice president of Day and Employment Services with Arc GLOW. “Last summer in July, Mike took a chance and decided to try out a contracted work opportunity at Bristol ID Technologies in Lima. This chance transitioned into a permanent placement with Bristol ID this past fall.”
Day Habilitation Person of the Year honors a person with a disability supported by Arc GLOW who participates in day habilitation activities, strives to learn, and demonstrates effort and commitment to be included in their own communities. With her constant jokes and contagious smile, Dusty Sanford was given this award.
“Dusty loves attending the Elba Day Habilitation, and when she returns home she tells her house staff that she wants to return to day habilitation — even if she has to walk,” Kennedy said.
Pre-Vocational Person of the Year honors a person with a disability supported by Arc GLOW with a dedication to learning about the world of work including: new job skills, completing quality work and showing attention to the task of learning. A worker at Orleans Enterprises and a participant at the HUB in Batavia, Larry Anderson was chosen for this award.
“He is dedicated to learning about the world of work, including new job skills, striving to complete quality work and showing attention to the task of learning,” Kennedy said. “Larry represents the best of what the pre-vocational program has to offer. He takes advantage of what the program offers and the experiences in the community.”
Community Services and Self Direction Person of the Year honors a person with a disability served by Arc GLOW who shows outstanding participation and contribution to their community. The awardee shows the initiative in trying new activities and gain leadership potential through community involvement, and with her outstanding participation and contribution to her community, Aaries Fitzsimmons was given this award.
“Many would agree that Aaries is community. With the support of her self-directed staff, Andrea, Aaries finds unique ways to give back to others one smile at a time,” said Jill Pegelow, vice president of Self Direction and Community Services. “The biggest impact in her volunteerism has been with the Batavia Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. The staff and veterans always look forward to her seasonal handcrafted kindness and conversation.”
Aside from the VA, Aaries volunteers at Godfrey’s Pond, her church, and bakes for various fundraisers.
The Self-Advocate of the Year honors a person with a disability served by Arc GLOW who has grown and is meeting their personal outcomes. They also have positively influenced the lives of others. A member of the Self-Advocacy All Star group for years, Robert “Bobby” Greer of Albion was chosen for this award.
“He is very knowledgeable about advocacy and teaching new members what self-advocacy is all about,” Pegelow said. “Bobby participated in the in the Self-Advocacy Talent Show Fundraiser and attended the Self Advocates of New York State Conference in Niagara Falls. Bobby also volunteered at the Orleans County Fair Arc GLOW booth. He served on the agency incident review committee, he was engaged and provided great feedback.”
Pegelow said Greer is a great self-advocate, demonstrating the very essence of what staff are charged with doing and what Arc GLOW’s services are supposed to accomplish.
KidStart Employee of the Year honors an employee who demonstrates exceptional support to children and families, and is committed to assisting in all areas of their growth and education. With her exceptional support to children, Holly Green was chosen for this award.
“As the Head Start family advocate, she is often the first face families see and remains a pillar of support throughout their enrollment. Holly shows the same dedication and support to all of KidStart’s staff by stepping in when needed and assisting with KidStart’s many programs and events,” said Stephanie Metz, vice president of Children Services.
Green started in 1992 as an intern through college, and helped to set up the very first Head Start classroom in Dansville. She was hired as a substitute for the classroom and did the building cleaning for a period of time. Eventually she applied for a position as a teacher’s assistant in Head Start.
Green took a break to go on maternity leave for her second child, and when another position became available, she returned full-time in September 2001 as the Head Start family advocate.
Green also works part-time as a direct support professional.
Residential Person of the Year honors a person with a disability supported by Arc GLOW who resides in residential services, grew in their independence and learned life skills. A resident of Turtle Rock IRA in Lakeville, Matthew Willson received this award.
“Matt has certainly come a long way in the time he has lived with us. He has grown in his independence, he’s learned life skills, made friends, and he enjoys being helpful,” said Deb Tuckerman, vice president of Residential Services. “Matt participates in the WOW program, and he and his habilitation staff have attended many events and fairs around the community.”
Direct Support Professional Person (DSP) of the Year honors a DSP who provides a variety of activities to adults with developmental disabilities within a home setting, day programs or recreational activities in the community. The DSP would provide excellence in support in living skills, personalized goals, arts and crafts, sensory activities, and facilitates individuals to take their active role in the community. With 19 years at Arc GLOW, Amy Beiswenger has been chosen as DSP of the Year.
A DSP at Senior Open Road Day Habilitation in Mt. Morris, Beiswenger always provides activities in a home setting, day programs or recreational activities in the community.
John Prospero, vice president of transportation and master of ceremonies, said, “Amy is the definition of an excellent DSP — she is someone whose dedication, advocacy, compassion, competence, person-centered approaches and collaboration results in improved quality of life, health and wellness, and/or opportunities for all that we serve. Amy makes this role look simple with her kind, no day is a bad day attitude. Amy used our services at ARC GLOW to bridge into the direct support professional world.”
Employee of the Year recognizes an employee of Arc GLOW who is committed to the mission and vision. They demonstrate the values of diversity, respect, integrity, visionary, equality, empowerment and excellence. Kristie Rada, nurse supervisor, the award recipient, is committed to Arc GLOW’s mission and values.
“She has demonstrated the values of diversity, respect, integrity, visionary, equality, empowerment and excellence. Kristie always goes above and beyond for this agency and for the individuals Arc GLOW serves,” Prospero said. “Her dedication, knowledge, professionalism and commitment are only exceeded by her compassion, grace and caring heart.
“One of her peers said, ‘I have never seen any nurse as devoted to both the health care agency and individuals that are cared for — she is such an asset to this organization.’”
The Friend of Arc GLOW Award is for a community friend and supporter of Arc GLOW’s mission and vision, and everyone at Arc GLOW knows of the Touhey family and Case-Nic Cookies.
“The Tuohey family is the true definition of a community friend and supporter of Arc GLOW’s mission and vision,” Prospero said.
The Touhey family always can be found volunteering at Arc events or organizing fundraisers to benefit Arc GLOWs programs and other communities. Mary Lou Touhey constantly provides cookies for Arc GLOW’s fundraisers and events, and Nicole Touhey heads her own fundraisers. Her Have a Heart Campaign raised over $2,300 this year that benefited many programs within the agency.
The Business Partner of the Year is for a business who supports Arc GLOW’s mission and vision through excellent customer service or providing work opportunities for employment. Casella Waste Management received this year’s award.
Martin Miskell, CEO, said over 40 years ago, the Arc of Genesee opened its trash recycling center to fill a need for the City of Batavia to help create jobs and produce a positive revenue stream for the organization. However, business models change and recycling was no longer providing the number of jobs it had in the past.
Selling the business was an easy financial decision, but a difficult one emotionally, but after months of negotiations the decision was made to sell the business to Casella Waste Management.
Casella kept everyone who had a job, the transfer station open and operated by Arc GLOW’s work crew with a job coach, and free trash pick-up at all of Arc GLOW’s Batavia locations in perpetuity and a large discount at other locations served by Casella. Casella also gave Arc GLOW their lease at Apollo Drive in Batavia for their transportation department, which still has three and a half years on it for free.
“Casella is the true definition of a partner who supports our mission and vision through excellent customer service and providing work opportunities for employment,” Miskell said.
Finally, Volunteer of the Year honors a person who is committed to Arc GLOW, volunteering their time by serving the local community and supporting the Arc GLOWs mission and vision. This year, it goes to Chuck Keenan, who serves on Arc GLOW’s Board of Directors as its secretary; is the chairperson of the Compliance Committee; and sits on the Vocational Committee, the Incident Review Committee and Community Services. He also volunteers his time on various boards within his community such as the Developmental Disability sub-committee for Livingston County Community Services Board and for the Town of Groveland.
“Chuck wants to see Arc GLOW become a world class agency in our field. As a result, he is very interactive with all of his committees/boards. He takes his role seriously,” said Cheryl Englert, Board of Directors president.
At the annual meeting, Cheryl Englert was re-elected board president, John Huber was elected vice-president, Charles Keenan was re-elected secretary, Eric Parker was re-elected treasurer and Ken Barchet was elected assistant treasurer.