Arc recognizes ‘Best Friend,’ other supporters during awards banquet

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 April 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Debbie Heuer addresses a crowd of about 300 people after being named the 2015 “Best Friend” for The Arc of Orleans County.

HOLLEY – The Arc of Orleans County held its annual awards program on Friday and recognized many of the agency’s key supporters, as well as developmentally disabled adults who have excelled in jobs and other roles in the community.

Debbie Heuer received the “Best Friend” award for her volunteer work with the agency for the past three decades. She is a former board president, and has served on numerous committees and efforts, including basket raffles, the golf tournament, 5K race, endowment fund and Signature Series. She also coached a soccer team for people with disabilities.

“Debbie is humble and gives of her time, talents and support to the Arc with no need for accolades,” said John Huber, The Arc board president.

He presented the award to Heuer in front of about 300 people during the 36th annual Best Friend Dinner at Hickory Ridge Golf Course.

Debbie Heuer receives a citation from Ed Morgan (representing State Sen. Rob Ortt) during Friday’s awards program. John Huber, The Arc board president, is in back. Eileen Banker, back left, also presented Heuer with a citation from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Heuer thanked the Arc, especially its many dedicated employees, for serving people with disabilities and their families. Heuer first connected with The Arc in 1988 when her son Tyler received early intervention services from Rainbow Preschool.

“They are kind and generous and underpaid,” Heuer said about The Arc staff. “On behalf of the whole Heuer family, I want to say thank you to The Arc for what you mean to us and all of the support.”

The agency presented several other awards on Friday, including:

Business Partnership Award: DeGeorge Property Group

File photo by Tom Rivers

The Arc of Orleans County celebrated the opening of the “Snack Shack” on Oct. 21 at the Arnold Gregory Memorial Complex at 243 South Main St. The Snack Shack sells baked goods, soda, coffee, ice cream, fruit, candy and breakfast and lunch sandwiches.

Ben DeGeorge of the DeGeorge Property Group was recognized for teaming with The Arc to start a snack shop at the Arnold Gregory Memorial Complex, which is owned by DeGeorge Property. DeGeorge upgraded the site with new plumbing, cosmetics and furniture, while giving lots of encouragement to The Arc in establishing the snack shop on Oct. 21.

Heritage Award: Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning

Bill Hayes, owner of Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, is congratulated with the Heritage Award by Eileen Banker (left) from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s office and Donna Saskowski (right), Arc executive director.

Bill Hayes, owner of Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, has been a long-time supporter of The Arc, sponsoring the golf tournament which supports Camp Rainbow. He also has been generous with the annual appeal and other fund-raising efforts.

Hayes lives in Batavia next to developmentally disabled adults. He said they are great neighbors. He also hires a crew through the ARC in Genesee County to clean his business.

“They are honest, they are diligent and they are hard workers,” Hayes said, encouraging other businesses to hire work crews through The Arc.

Community Service Award: John Hald

John Hald accepts the Community Service Award. He volunteers in many community efforts, including the Lyndonville Fire Department and Lyndonville Lion’s Club.

He also helps at Hospice of Orleans, PAWS Animal Shelter, and also cares for neighbors’ pets if his neighbors are away or ill. He also helps some of his neighbors when they are sick by taking out their trash and visiting them.

Self-Advocate of the Year: Phil Donoghue

Donna Saskowski (left), Arc executive director, congratulates Phil Donoghue on his award. Donoghue was recognized for his active role in the “Self Advocacy All Stars,” helping with fundraisers, incuding building a sleigh for the Strawberry Festival Parade and a winter dance. He also made the fireplace for the winter gala. He helps his peers in jewelry making classes and other projects.

Supported Employment Worker of the Year: Mike Grandin

Grandin has worked several jobs since joining The Arc in 2000, including six years with the Associated Brands enclave. He also worked at Fischer’s Newsroom for more than a year, stocking, pricing and cleaning. He started as a cleaner at Snap Fitness in Medina last June. Grandin has excellent work attendance and is a role model to others.

Orleans Enterprises Worker of the Year: Tom Popowych

Popowych has been working at Orleans Enterprises for 20 years, with nearly perfect attendance to the work site on Washington Street in Albion. He has demonstrated a tireless work ethic and keen attention to detail. He displays good manufacturing practices and daily workshop safety, as well as a friendly demeanor.