On Friday, October 17, 2014, NYSARC, Inc. honored two extraordinary people from Lexington as part of their Annual Convention. Michelle King was named NYSARC Inc.’s Self-Advocate of the Year and Rodney Frenyea was the Northeast Region’s recipient of NYSARC Inc.’s Thomas A. Maul Direct Support Professional Excellence Award.
Michelle King, lead singer and guitarist of Lexington’s band, FLAME, has been receiving services from Lexington since 2003. Since she joined Lexington, she has amassed quite a list of accomplishments. She sang at Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s wake upon personal request from the Shriver family; starred in a documentary about Flame, the director of which was honored with the Loreen Arbus Scholarship at the 2014 College Television Emmy Awards; was profiled on the nationally-syndicated show, Good Morning America; performed in Greece and was recognized by the Greek Ministry of Education; was featured in People magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” profile, and has met with Senator Farley, Congressman Tonko and Mayor Bloomberg to advocate for the rights of persons with developmental disabilities. This all from a woman doctors once said would never talk. Since coming to Lexington and joining Flame, Michelle has used her fame as a platform to advocate for others and has inspired people all over the world with her message that “it’s not about disabilities, it’s about abilities.” At the awards ceremony, Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston said, “We’re so fortunate to celebrate Michelle King’s many successes, acknowledge her rightful place as an ambassador for developmental disabilities and to be at her side as she is recognized as NYSARC’s Self-Advocate of the Year.”
Rodney Frenyea has worked at Lexington in various support capacities for the past 20 years. Colleagues describe him as a strong leader who leads by example and a strong advocate for the people he supports. One colleague said, “He is a remarkable person who is adored by those who work with him and those supported by him. Rodney has such a gentle nature and is the calm in any storm. I have known Rodney for many years and he is the most creative and thoughtful person when it comes to helping make someone’s life better.” About his experience working at Lexington, Frenyea stated, “I started working at Lexington during college and I never left. I love my work supporting people and helping them to live the best lives they can.”
Victor Colon, President of Lexington's Self-Advocacy Committee was invited to provide introductory remarks at the dinner. He told his story of growing up and attending school in New York City, moving to Massachusetts and finally settling in Johnstown in April 2010 in order to attend programs at Lexington. He talked about his work in Lexington’s maintenance department, his important role in Lexington's Self-Advocacy Committee, how much he enjoys living independently in a supported apartment and the many friends he has made since he became a part of Lexington.
Congratulations to all on their much deserved recognition!