#ABLETOSAVE: Information from the ABLE National Resource Center!

The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) has launched their month-long #ABLEtoSave grassroots campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to educate and inform the general public about Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. The goals of the #ABLEtoSave campaign, which runs throughout the month of August, are to increase awareness about ABLE accounts and to increase the amount of ABLE accounts opened across the country.

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ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts that have the potential to significantly increase the independence and quality of life of individuals with disabilities without jeopardizing benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Informational Webinars on ABLE-related topics will be held on Wednesday each week. To see the calendar and sign up to participate, visit our events page. To learn more about the #ABLEtoSave campaign and ABLE accounts, visit the ABLE National Resource Center website (www.ablenrc.org)and be sure to “like” the ANRC on Facebook and Twitter (@theABLENRC).

Lexington's Shaloni Winston on News Channel 13!

Did you catch Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston on WNYT NewsChannel 13 this past weekend? If not, click on the image below to check out the video and see her talk about our Transitions program, #AutismAwarenessMonth and more! To learn more about Transitions, visit www.transitionsusa.org! #TransitionsUSA

Rock for Abilities Concert!

Flame, Lexington’s world-renowned rock band, will perform a concert for the community on March 16, 2018 at Lexington’s Gloversville facility, 127 East State Street, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The concert is open the public.

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Flame will present the concert as Lexington celebrates National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Flame performs around the state and country and last year were the headliners of a concert celebrating abilities in Carpi, Italy, in northern Tuscany. The band performs more than 75 concerts a year, traveling on a specially designed motor coach that has racked up several hundred thousand miles and is due for replacement. Having produced six albums featuring their own music and cover pieces, the band of talented musicians is dedicated to sharing their music and helping people see that everyone has both abilities and disabilities. Celebrating abilities is what motivates the band and makes them sought after as performers.

Lexington celebrates National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to showcase not only Flame, but the success of many men, women and children with different abilities. Lexington is very proud of the accomplishments of the many individuals whose success in daily life, work, volunteerism, school and college work, and raising families shows how capable they truly are. Flame’s concert is part of this month-long celebration highlighting all that the men and women supported by Lexington do to give back to their community.

Tickets for the community concert cost $5 each and are available at Lexington’s Johnstown location, 465 N. Perry Street; Lexington’s Gloversville location, 127 E. State Street; Lexington’s Oppenheim location, 405 County Highway 114, St. Johnsville; the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2 N. Main Street, Gloversville; and Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, 20 N. Main Street, Gloversville. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of the event. Audience members are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to donate in exchange for the chance to win a door prize. All donated non-perishable food items will benefit local food pantries. Lexington participates in fundraising and food collection throughout the year to benefit a variety of community agencies. Proceeds from this concert will go to the fund to purchase a new Flame tour bus.

In addition to the concert, Lexington is sponsoring a poster contest to help raise public awareness for the importance of equality in our society. Students at Fulton County elementary, middle and high schools are welcome to submit art that celebrates equality and differing abilities. This year’s theme is “Together We Have No Limits.” Entries will be judged and top winners chosen from each age group. Winners will receive two free tickets to the Rock for Abilities Concert, where they will be publicly recognized, receive a gift basket and get the opportunity to meet the members of Flame. Top posters will be on display at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in the Flame recording studio until April 25. In addition, the school with most entries will win a free Flame concert. For information about the contest and how to enter, contact Lynette May at (518) 661-9932 or MayL@lexcenter.org. Entries are due by March 8.

Andrew Carpenter Accepts International Award

   Andrew, standing on left, with his family in Tampa.        

Andrew, standing on left, with his family in Tampa.       

Andrew Carpenter, a student at Transitions of the Fulton County-based The Arc, Lexington, NY, today accepted a “Yes I Can” award from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Andrew was one of only 12 students who received the prestigious international award. The presentation took place this morning at CEC’s annual Special Education Convention & Expo in Tampa. 

Andrew, who is affected by Autism, attends Lexington’s renowned Transitions program and is studying communications at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. He enrolled in Transitions after graduating from Gloversville High School in 2015. Andrew says Transitions is helping him learn a variety of skills to prepare for independent living, including organizational skills, managing money, cooking and social skills.

His success in the program earned him the “Yes I Can” award.

 “So many things are different now. I have more friends than I ever had in high school,” Andrew said. “I have improved my social life and can talk to people with confidence, use the bus, and go to professors for help if I need it. Autism doesn’t define who I am or who I will be. I have so much more to look forward to in my life and I am only 20. I can’t wait to see what is next for me.”                

CEC is a professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the educational success of children and youth with exceptionalities. The “Yes I Can” program recognizes the accomplishments of students with exceptionalities in six categories: academics, arts, school and community activities, self-advocacy, technology, and transition. Andrew’s award is in the transition category.

Andrew has had an enriching experience since arriving at Transitions in 2015. In July of 2016, he joined Lexington’s immensely popular band Flame as a vocalist after he was overheard singing in the hallway at Transitions. The group is made up of people with disabilities and has played on world stages, last traveling to Carpi, Italy, in May 2017 to perform at the 19th International Festival of Different Abilities.

“We are so proud of him, as we are with all of our students. Everything changed when Andrew enrolled in Transitions,” said Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston. “After just a few weeks in this post-secondary program for young adults with learning differences, Andrew embraced the curriculum and gained a wealth of new skills. Through self-advocacy and leadership classes, he learned how to speak up for himself, advocate for his needs, set long-term goals and identify the steps he needs to take to accomplish those goals. He is a true success story. We can’t wait to welcome him home.”

FLAME TO DEBUT SIXTH ALBUM, “CHRISTMAS CLASSICS,” AT RELEASE PARTY

The band Flame will celebrate the release of their new album, “Christmas Classics,” on Thursday, December 7, with a CD Release Party. The party will take place 6-7:30 p.m. at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, 2736 State Highway 30, Gloversville. There is no cost for admission.

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At the party, Flame will perform songs from their new album. Attendees will be the first to have the chance to purchase “Christmas Classics” at a one-time special price of $10. There will also be snacks, raffles, autograph opportunities and more. 

Flame recorded “Christmas Classics” in April at SUNY Schenectady County Community College’s (SCCC) School of Music’s Vianna-Brignola Recording Studio. Hailey Lozier, at the time a Music Audio Technology major at SCCC and intern with the band, acted as lead engineer under the direction of Sten Isachsen, assistant professor in the SCCC School of Music. The album’s six-song track listing includes classics such as “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” “Run, Run Rudolph,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Santa Baby” and “Where Are You Christmas” as well as the original song “Wide Awake.”

This is Flame’s sixth album and second Christmas album. “Christmas Classics” and the rest of Flame’s discography are available for purchase at the Nigra Arts Center’s gift shop and online at www.flametheband.com. It is also available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby and for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Napster.

Flame is a ten-piece band comprised entirely of musicians who happen to have disabilities. They formed in 2003 at a talent show put on by Lexington, a chapter of The Arc New York. Flame has a repertoire of more than 100 classic rock, pop, country and blues songs from the past 50 years as well as some original tracks. In the past 14 years, they have produced six albums and a single. They tour the northeastern United States in a custom bus and play more than 70 shows per year. Some of the biggest venues they have played include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the House of Blues in Cleveland, New York City’s Apollo Theater, Harvard Law School, the Greek Ministry of Education building in Athens, Greece, the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, and the 19th International Festival of Different Abilities in Carpi, Italy. Flame has received press from Good Morning America, People magazine, Metroland magazine and the Daily Mainichi News in Tokyo, Japan.  

For more information about Flame, please visit www.flametheband.com or contact Maria Nestle at (518) 661-9932, ext. 164 or nestlem@lexcenter.org.

Creative Expressions Artists Selected to Exhibit in Arkell Juried Show

Local artists Richard Freeman and Francis Dempsey were selected into the Arkell Museum and Canajoharie Library’s 2017 The Art of New York: Annual Juried Art Show. Freeman is exhibiting “Silver Dollars,” a mixed media piece, and Dempsey is exhibiting “Cosmic Pool,” an acrylic and silicone painting.

 Francis Demsey and Richard Freeman

Francis Demsey and Richard Freeman

Both artists have honed their skills through classes at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts and the Creative Expressions program at Lexington, a chapter of The Arc New York, through which they have already participated in many other local exhibitions, won awards and sold their art. The Nigra Arts Center is an organization that hosts art exhibitions, special events, concerts, programming for children and classes in every type of art media. Lexington founded the center in 2015 to help bring the community together and support people to achieve success and fulfillment through the arts.

Each year, artists living in New York State are invited to submit entries to The Art of New York: Annual Juried Art Show hosted by the Arkell Museum and Canajoharie Library. The show is open to artists working in any media. The 2017 show, juried by Ann Larsen, artist, teacher and past president of American Women Artists, will be on exhibit from November 3rd, 2017 through January 3rd, 2018 in the Regional Art Galleries. The Art of New York exhibit features work from artists from across New York. It will be on display through January 3 at the Arkell Museum and the Canajoharie Library at 2 Erie Boulevard, Canajoharie, NY. For more information, visit www.arkellmuseum.org or call (518) 673-2314.

FLAME TO PERFORM AT LIVE AID PUERTO RICO FUNDRAISER

Flame, a ten-piece band comprised entirely of musicians who happen to have disabilities, will join four other community bands to perform at a radiothon to benefit hurricane victims in Puerto Rico on Thursday, November 30. Flame formed in Gloversville in 2003 at a talent show put on by Lexington, a chapter of The Arc New York.

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This concert is part of the LIVE-AID: Fulmont for Puerto Rico Taste of the Mohawk Valley and Hurricane Relief Concert at Amsterdam High School, 140 Saratoga Avenue, Amsterdam, NY. Since the community has many direct connections to the areas of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria, this event is bringing together local businesses, organizations and acts to collect much-needed donations and supplies to assist the relief effort. The evening of food, fun, silent auctions, raffles and live music begins at 5 p.m. with Taste of the Mohawk Valley, a family-friendly event that showcases the food of the region. A variety of vendors will present samples of a wide variety of food favorites.

The Hurricane Relief Concert begins at 7 p.m. In addition to Flame, other artists to take the stage include Skeeter Creek, Bronte Roman, Louie and Lisa Velez, and MedRock. Together, they are all preparing an evening of music filled with heart, soul and everything they can give to help and heal.

Tickets to the event cost $15-$25 and may be purchased at www.liveaid.eventbrite.com

Flame has a repertoire of more than 100 classic rock, pop, country and blues songs from the past 50 years as well as some original tracks. In the past 14 years, they have produced six albums and a single. They tour the northeastern United States in a custom bus and play more than 70 shows per year. Some of the biggest venues they have played include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the House of Blues in Cleveland, New York City’s Apollo Theater, Harvard Law School, the Greek Ministry of Education building in Athens, Greece, the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, and the 19th International Festival of Different Abilities in Carpi, Italy. Flame has received press from Good Morning America, People magazine, Metroland magazine and the Daily Mainichi News in Tokyo, Japan. 

Lexington Holds its 23rd Annual Family Services Conference

Lexington, Chapter of The Arc New York, will hold its 23rd Annual Family Services Conference on Tuesday, November 14, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 465 N. Perry Street, Johnstown.

This conference is an opportunity for individuals with disabilities, their parents and families, and professionals who support individuals with disabilities to meet and share stories, strategies and resources for supporting young people with disabilities. This year’s theme is “Dream Big.” 

The conference will feature several guest speakers presenting on a variety of topics about parenting and supporting young people with differences. It will begin with opening remarks from Assemblyman Marc Butler of New York State’s 113th District. After that, Shaun Evans, DPT, will give the keynote presentation, titled “Dream BIG … ANYTHING is Possible.” Evans is the Vice President of Education at Ainsley’s Angels of America Foundation. He will share his family’s story of extreme persistence, love and togetherness as they supported his oldest son’s dream of running across the USA, 3,200 miles in 60 days, despite being born with cerebral palsy.

Concurrent breakout sessions will follow the keynote presentation. Tina Beauparlant of Parent to Parent of NYS will present “Planning for a Successful Transition from High School to Achieve Your Child’s Dream.” She will share a parent’s perspective on how to help your child have a successful transition from high school while supporting their dreams.

Joy Stockwell, who has worked for OPWDD for 30 years as a direct support professional, Self-Direction professional and Self-Direction liaison for the Capital District, will present “Exploring Self-Direction.” Her presentation will offer insight on the OPWDD Self-Direction program, which offers people who are eligible for OPWDD services the flexibility to choose the mix of supports and services that are right for them and let them live the life they want.

After lunch, Keith McCauley, Region III Deputy Director of OPWDD, will give a keynote address, in which he will provide updates from the past year at OPWDD. Two more concurrent breakout sessions will follow.

Renee Carr will present “Mental Health and Wellness.” Carr is the Coordinator of Education and Information-Referral Services as well as a certified mental health first aid instructor at the Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties. Her presentation will provide an overview of mental health-related diagnoses. It will incorporate tools to help manage some of the symptoms related to mental illness and provide a better understanding of their impact on one’s wellness. 

Dr. Kristin Knapp-Ines, a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA-D) who regularly conducts trainings, presentations and workshops at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), will present “Supporting Individuals with ASD to Meet Their Full Potential in Meaningful Employment.” This training will briefly describe the definition, characteristics and misconceptions that are common to individuals with ASD, some of the challenges they may face in the workplace due to social deficits, and suggestions and tips for working with individuals with ASD in the workplace so that they may reach their full potential.

Attending any two sessions will qualify an attendee for one FET annual required training, which allows people to maintain their status in the Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver Service.

There is no cost to attend for individuals with disabilities or their parents and families. For professionals, the cost is $75. For more information, to register or to arrange for transportation and respite/childcare, please call Lexington Family Services at (518) 773-2014. Attendees may pay at the door or mail registration and payment to Lexington Family Services at 43 Harrison Street, Gloversville, NY 12078.

LEXINGTON’S NIGRA ARTS CENTER RECEIVES AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts in Gloversville, New York is being honored with a 2017 Award of Excellence by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. This award acknowledges their creation of an inclusive environment where artistic expression and diverse creativity can flourish for all aspiring and established artists, both with and without disability. The community-based facility offers classes, exhibits, productions, concerts, camps, workshops, and other enrichment experiences where all participants are respected as artists, actors, dancers, musicians, and aspiring chefs.

  Angela Rapp Kennedy, Vice President, CQL; Mary Kay Rizzolo, CEO, CQL; Shaloni Winston, Executive Director, Lexington; and Daniel Richardson, Deputy Executive Director, Lexington

Angela Rapp Kennedy, Vice President, CQL; Mary Kay Rizzolo, CEO, CQL; Shaloni Winston, Executive Director, Lexington; and Daniel Richardson, Deputy Executive Director, Lexington

“The Nigra Arts Center has a genuine attentiveness to each person as an artist. Instead of focusing on disability as being the context for their creation, each artist’s work stands on its own, just as it should. It’s a refreshing approach,” says Mary Kay Rizzolo, President and CEO of CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership. CQL is presenting five recipients with the 2017 CQL Award of Excellence at the 2017 CQL Conference, themed ‘Blueprint for Person-Centered Practices,’ in recognition of best practices in human services.

The Lexington Foundation, of Lexington, a chapter of the Arc of New York, owns and operates the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts. Following numerous Personal Outcome Measures® interviews, Lexington discovered that many people had interest in the creative arts and wanted more opportunities to enjoy and express themselves. This center is unique in that community members take part in program activities, right along with those receiving more formal supports. The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts also does not differentiate artists based on diagnosis during juried exhibitions, as there is no reference at all to an artist’s disability. 

“We are most proud to see people with disabilities recognized for their individual talents and abilities by everyone who comes to the arts center.  Every day they are learning and sharing experiences with others who have common goals and aspirations. This has helped them feel respected and to be true members of the community,” said Shaloni Winston, Executive Director of Lexington and the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts. “We are grateful to CQL for this honor and recognition.”

The mission of the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts is to provide a creative educational resource for people of all ages and abilities while celebrating the arts through classes, entertainment, exhibitions, and special events. Additionally, they are committed to offering accessible art programs for adults and children with developmental and physical differences.

Northville Library Art Show to Feature Lexington and Transitions Artists

Artists from Lexington’s Creative Expressions program and the Transitions program will be featured in a Sacandaga Valley Arts Network (SVAN) art show at the Northville Library Gallery, located at 341 S. Third Street, Northville. The show will run from October 31 to December 28, 2017. The public is welcome to attend a Meet the Artists reception on Tuesday, November 14, from 6-8 p.m.

The show features collaborative splatter paintings based on the work of Jackson Pollock, a 20th century American painter who helped pioneer the abstract expressionism movement of spontaneous, emotional, abstracted art. The Transitions students were inspired to research and study the movement and Pollock’s technique after a docent-led tour of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, where they saw original pieces by Pollock and many of his peers.

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The artists who collaborated on the Creative Expressions piece include Bobby Carr, Richard Freeman, Dennis Hoyer, Caroline Pendlebury, Adrienne Phillips, Thelma Senecal, Taylor Skinner, Debbie Woodruff and Mikyle Woodward. The artists who collaborated on the Transitions piece include Zen Anderson, Lacy Brower, Maria Bucholtz, Greg Clicquennoi, Josh Corbett, Olivia Esposito, Joe Magliocca, Eric Noonan, Noah Pappas, Maggie Roarke, Marybeth Sefcovic, Bethany Sweet and Kristen Troy. 

The Northville Library Gallery is open to the public Monday, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to noon; Tuesday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is free of admission. Visitwww.svanarts.org or call the gallery at (518) 863-6922 for more information about this show.

Lexington’s Creative Expressions program is committed to creating inspired living through the arts. The program promotes independence and choice through outcome-based programs and involvement in the community. Goals focus on social activity, creativity, talent, choice, exercise, self-worth, skill-building, and health and wellness awareness. Creative Expressions artists have participated in many local exhibitions, won several prestigious awards and sold more than 100 pieces of art. For more information about Creative Expressions, call Lexington at (518) 773-7931 or visit www.lexingtoncenter.org

Transitions is an apprenticeship program that supports young adults with learning differences ages 18-27 as they attend college, get their first jobs and live independently for the first time. Its innovative curriculum covers social skills, health and wellness, independent life, self-management, and self-advocacy and leadership. The program also offers career success and exploration classes, coordinates internships in local businesses and provides job coaching and mentorship opportunities. For more information about this unique program, visit www.transitionsusa.org or call (518) 775-5384.

People with disabilities find meaningful employment in the local area

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and at Lexington’s Employment Resources, we are happy to recognize the individuals we support to find meaningful and lasting employment in our community. Most importantly, we are very grateful to the businesses that provide jobs and opportunities to people with disabilities.

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The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 and we are so proud to celebrate the abilities of the workers we support at Lexington.

Having a disability does not mean that someone does not want to or is not capable of working; it is just the opposite. They want to earn a living, they want to be productive and they want to be part of the team. A few of the local employees made the following statements about their jobs: “I like my job because it is very rewarding to me. My job has given me a place to be part of, to grow and succeed as an individual,” and, “If I didn’t have this job, I would be nowhere. This job is my life, my friendships and my enjoyment.”

At Lexington’s Employment Resources, we have a dedicated team of job developers, employment specialists who assist individuals to find both full- and part-time employment. Our applicants are experienced, pre-screened, educated and motivated to establish lasting careers. Our staff of trained professionals is available to assist employers to match the individual with the job. The employment specialists then assist the individual with learning tasks, helping him/her blend into the workforce, become successful in the job and become a valuable member of their team.

The Employment Resources team has partnered with businesses in our region that make every effort to employ and support people with different abilities. We are grateful and appreciate their willingness to help fulfill the goals and dreams of these men and women. The following are businesses that employ and provide opportunities to men and women supported by Lexington’s Employment Resources: Amsterdam Mohawks, ACCES-VR, Brennan Human Society, Burger King, Catholic Charities, Carousel Kids Daycare, Century Linen and Uniform, Chartwells Dining @ FMCC, EVMI Chocolates, Encore Kids, FLAME, Fulton Center for Rehab and Healthcare, Fulton Montgomery County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Fulton County Tax Map, Gloversville School District, Gloversville Transit Department, Hannaford, Harrison Document Services, Harvey’s Home and Garden, HFM BOCES, Home Helpers and Direct Link of Amsterdam, Italian Bistro, Johnstown Police Department, Johnstown Public Library, JAVAC, Kasson and Keller, Keymark Corp, Kingsboro Catering, The Leader-Herald, Lexington, Liberty, Lowes, McDonald's – Johnstown, Mohawk Harvest Co-op, Mohawk Sign, Nathan Littauer Hospital, New Process Cleaners, NYSID Warehouse, Price Chopper – Amsterdam, Gloversville, Johnstown, The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, Pizza Hut of Gloversville, Putman Enterprises, Railside Cafe, Ruby & Quiri, Salvation Army, St. Johnsville Rehab & Nursing Home, Schine Building, Shirley J. Luck Senior Citizen Center, SW Spa, Sunset Bay Resort, The Eccentric Club, Tops Supermarket, Universal Warehouse, Visiting Nurses, Walgreens, Walmart DC, Wade Tree Service, Walgreens of Gloversville, Wal-Mart of Gloversville, Wells Nursing Home, Wendy’s, WENT 1340, WGNA 107.7, YMCA Daycare and Fulton County YMCA.

Employment Resources is committed to helping people lead successful lives. Any business interested in partnering with Employment Resources to explore a viable, pre-screened and motivated applicant pool, please contact us. Employment Resources is located at 465 North Perry Street in Johnstown, New York. Kathy Simone, the director of Employment Resources, can be reached at (518)736-4266 or simonek@lexcenter.org.

WALLY HART, Lexington’s Division Director of Business and Community Development,
and KATHY SIMONE, Lexington’s Director of Employment Opportunities