Batavia Downs wins Arc statewide ‘Employer of the Year’ for hiring people with disabilities

Posted 22 July 2021 at 9:37 am

Press Release, Arc of Genesee Orleans

Provided photo: Caleb Miller works as an environmental services technician at Batavia Downs Gaming.

BATAVIA – Batavia Downs Gaming has been selected one of four statewide recipients of

The Arc New York 2021 Employer of the Year Award, acknowledging the value of employing people with disabilities in their place of business.

Batavia Downs has been a longtime friend of the agency, hosting Arc Night at the Races and Arc’s annual awards banquet, said Arc of Genesee Orleans Director of Development Shelley Falitico.

In addition, through a partnership with Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, an onsite training on “The Benefits of Hiring a Person with a Disability” was held at the Arc Walnut Street location.  Several employees from Batavia Downs HR Department were in attendance and were excited to begin collaborating with Arc’s Vocational Services team.

“Our first request of The Downs was to allow us work with Community PreVoc participants at Batavia Downs to assess their skills,” said Melissa Cotter, Arc Director of Vocational Services.

“A true partnership for employment and opportunities for people we serve was definitely developing,” Cotter said.  “Unfortunately, Covid hit and Batavia Downs shut down along with some of our day services and the rest of the globe.”

When Batavia Downs reopened, Arc of Genesee Orleans picked up where it left off and had a perfect candidate – Caleb Miller, for an Environmental Services Technician position.

Caleb’s Mom, Debbie Miller, shared in a letter supporting the award nomination, “My son is 20 years old with a diagnosis of Autism. When Covid hit and shut the world down, Caleb could no longer attend college. He was attending Genesee Community College for graphic arts, but on-line classes did not work for him. Although he did try to find a job, Caleb also knew working directly with the public would not be easy for him.  Enter Arc of Genesee Orleans and Batavia Downs,” Debbie said.

Naturally, as a mother, Debbie Miller said she had fears of how the job was going to work out, but is thankful that Batavia Downs for took a chance on her son and supported him as he landed his first job.

“Batavia Downs has now hired Caleb directly – he is on their payroll now,” she said. “And he is continuing to do well. His schedule is set. He knows the busy days of the casino and the slower days. He knows some of his ‘regular’ customers and they know who he is. Batavia Downs has given Caleb a sense of pride and self-worth. Caleb is a normal, working 20-year-old adult. He has his own money now.  What a difference the Downs has made in Caleb’s life.”

One question in the award nomination asked how does the nominee ensure that employees with disabilities are fully integrated and supported in their company’s workforce.

The Arc’s Melissa Cotter said the people Arc supports at Batavia Downs Gaming are not separated by what they wear, ID badges, expectations or benefits.

“They wear the same uniforms, carry the same credentials and are expected to perform the duties that they were hired for,” she said.  “The supervisors and co-workers have been very warm and welcoming to the people we support. From day one, from top managers, to security guards, to every other employee, all employees have been receptive to our presence there and offer the people we support any assistance they can to be a successful employee.”

Arc of Genesee Orleans representatives will be on hand at the Downs on Thursday, July 29, at 6 p.m. for the Zoom award presentation from The Arc New York state offices. The award will be presented to Henry Wojtaszek, President & CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming.