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.”
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.
“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.
Transitions and the State University of New York at Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FMCC) are excited to announce a partnership to offer a Certificate of Completion in Career and Life Studies. The new certificate program combines credit-bearing courses at FMCC with a non-credit curriculum at Transitions to help students develop executive functioning skills, learn how to be successful at work and in life, build independent living skills and strengthen self-management, advocacy and leadership skills.
“We are grateful to the partnership and support that the State University of New York at Fulton-Montgomery Community College has provided in developing and offering this new Certificate in Career and Life Studies,” said Jennifer Feagles, LMSW, Director of Transitions. “This will provide a certificate to the young adults who are ready to pursue their independence and career goals after high school.”
The Certificate of Completion in Career and Life Studies will assist students such as Marybeth, an active, social and career-minded 22-year-old who was very different before she joined the program. Back then, she was quiet, cripplingly shy and lacking direction or job prospects.
“I didn’t have many friends,” Marybeth said. “I was shy. My mom would have to find ways to get me out of the house.”
When she joined Transitions, Marybeth gained access to internship opportunities in a variety of businesses as well as classes that helped her improve her social, organizational, time management, executive functioning and independent living skills. With the help of those classes, career success courses at FMCC and her current internship at Harvey’s Home, Garden and Pet Center, Marybeth is well on her way to achieving her goal of obtaining a job in her dream field of working with animals.
Transitions, a post-secondary program that helps young adults with autism and other learning differences achieve success after high school, helped Marybeth overcome all her personal obstacles and more. And now, through this partnership with FMCC, Transitions can do even more to prepare her for success in life beyond the program.
“This partnership with FMCC will provide life-changing opportunities for our students,” said Shaloni Winston, founder of Transitions and Executive Director of Lexington - Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc. “Pursuing a Certificate of Completion in Career and Life Studies will give them not only a quality education that truly prepares them to live and work independently, but also the invaluable experience of being part of college campus life with peers in a similar stage in life, with all the same goals and challenges. Everyone deserves a career they love and a life they control themselves. This certificate program will help realize that dream for many young adults.”
To obtain the Certificate of Completion in Career and Life Studies, students will take credit-bearing classes in career exploration and preparation, resume and cover letter preparation, job interviewing and professional self-presentation at FMCC, and non-credit bearing classes in time management, organization, social success, wellness, self-advocacy and independent living skills at Transitions.
A minimum of 250 hours of on-the-job internship experience at community businesses with graduated levels of responsibility will be required for each student. Transitions staff will provide job coaching, liaise with employers and encourage communication skills that will lead to success in future employment. They will also liaise with the college staff to assist the student in receiving academic support and learning skills needed to complete schoolwork and interact success fully with peers and professors. All students will have full access to the college’s library, gym, clubs and other resources.
“FMCC is proud to partner with Transitions to provide this certificate program for their students,” said Dustin Swanger, Ed.D., president of FMCC. “We believe that education enhances everyone’s life, and receiving a validation of that education in the form of an official certificate not only provides a conclusion to any given program, it becomes a symbol of pride for the learner for years to come.”
This program is suited but not limited to students with learning differences, such as autism spectrum disorder, learning differences and ADHD. Students may attain their certificate on a full-time or part-time basis. Student apartment living with a focus on learning independent living skills is also available for full-time students.
In the two years since its creation, Transitions has already made a significant difference in the lives of dozens of young people who have enrolled in camps, events and full-year programs at its Mayfield campus. This certificate program is an opportunity to marry the immersive lessons of Transitions to FMCC’s fully integrated college environment, giving students a life-altering experience that will set them on the path to success throughout the rest of their lives.
Lexington - Fulton County Chapter of NYSARC, Inc., was proud to join John Robinson, CEO of Our Ability, Inc., on July 5, Day 9 of his fifth annual Journey Along the Erie Canal. Riders from Lexington have participated in a portion of this event every year, and their group has grown each year. This time, 25 riders and support team members from Lexington biked more than 34 miles from Little Falls to Amsterdam. They raised $250 to support the efforts of Our Ability.
The Journey Along the Erie Canal is 12-day bike ride along the Erie Canalway that aims to increase awareness for the benefit of employment for all New Yorkers, promote Our Ability’s New York Business Leadership Network, a coalition among businesses in New York State interested in hiring people with disabilities and supporting businesses owned by people with disabilities, and raise funds toward building employment opportunities and empowering people with disabilities. The 2017 Journey also celebrated the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal.
Our Ability is a business dedicated to building employment opportunities through job platforms, employment webinars, a digital profile system and personal empowerment. Robinson is a 2014 White House Champion of Change and the author of “Get Off Your Knees: A Story of Faith, Courage, and Determination.” For more information, visit www.ourability.com.
Lexington, a not-for-profit organization supporting people with disabilities in Fulton County, has been awarded $28,500 in grants from the Trustee management Board of NYSARC Trust Services to support Lexington’s guardianship and recreation programs.
NYSARC Trust Services administers supplemental needs trusts (SNT) that can make dramatic improvements to the lives of people with disabilities while enabling individuals to maintain eligibility for public benefits programs, such as Medicaid and SSI. For 2017, NYSARC Trust Services is proud to fulfill its commitment to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by awarding a total of $2,793,500 in grants to NYSARC Chapters statewide.
This year, Lexington received $28,500 to provide guardianship services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who would not otherwise have a legal guardian or advocate. Supported by Chapter staff and community volunteers, the Lexington Guardianship program currently provides guardianship supports and services to five people and is ready to assist three more as a Standby or Alternate Standby guardian.
NYSARC Trust Services has administered supplemental needs trusts since 1972, helping more than 16,000 people with disabilities protect their eligibility for government benefits and improve their quality of life. Our trust programs give people with disabilities the opportunity to remain in their communities with greater comfort and independence while providing peace of mind to their family and loved ones.
NYSARC Trust Services administers first- and third-party supplemental needs trusts, pooled trusts for income and resource (asset) protection, and individual trusts. When protecting settlement proceeds with a NYSARC Community Trust, we can also administer Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) accounts. For more information, please call (518) 439-8323 or visit us online www.nysarctrustservices.org.
Lexington is pleased to announce that it has been named one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York State for 2017. It was recognized for this honor at a public awards dinner at the Hilton Albany on Wednesday, April 19. Lexington ranked among the top companies in the category for large employers with 250 or more employees.
It is featured in a special publication profiling all 70 winning businessesfrom across New York State and what makes them unique employers. The agency is honored to be recognized for one of the things that matters most to it: creating a welcoming and nurturing environment in which its valued employees can thrive.
“We are grateful to our employees whose work each day makes a difference in the lives of the men and women we support. They made this award possible and we are proud of each of them and their commitment to Lexington,” said Shaloni Winston, Executive Director of Lexington, Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc.
Lexington relies on more than 1,700 full-and part-time employees to fulfill its mission of providing the best possible supports to children and adults with disabilities and their families, as well as to contribute to the community through volunteering, fundraising and patronizing local businesses. Lexington serves nearly 1,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, mental illness, cerebral palsy, physical disabilities, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries and more, in Fulton and Albany counties. Though their jobs are not always easy, each Lexington employee is fully dedicated to helping the individuals they support lead fulfilling lives.
Lexington works hard to create a supportive and nurturing environment for everyone who walks in the door. Their Nurturing Environment Program, which promotes quality, ownership, relationships, support and communication, sets a high standard for excellence not only in the care of the individuals they support, but also in employee morale and workplace improvement. Lexington promotes an open door policy, transparency and open lines of communication so each employee knows they are supported professionally and personally.
In an agency of Lexington’s size, it can be difficult to connect with all the employees on a personal level. To help ensure that connection, Lexington offers a wide variety of benefits, opportunities and special events that encourage its employees to build a community around working together and having fun. Lexington is enormously grateful that its employees choose to work for them, so it prioritizes letting them know how much their time and talent is appreciated every day.
It is Lexington’s pleasure to provide such welcoming and supportive atmosphere for the people it supports and its employees, and it is an honor to be considered alongside so many other fantastic businesses across the state. The 2017 Best Companies to Work for in New York State awards is a partnership of the New York State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management, The Business Council of New York, Best Companies Group and BridgeTower Media. For more information on the Best Companies to Work for in New York State program, including the entire list of winning companies, please visit www.BestCompaniesNY.com.
The Best Companies to Work for in New York State awards are celebrating 10 years of recognizing the best employers in the state. This distinctive program evaluates and ranks the best places of employment based on employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as workplace practices and policies.
Transitions alumnus Chris Shook, an aspiring journalist, interned in the Lexington Communications Department during his time at the program. One of his assignments at the internship was to write an article about a Lexington topic, and he chose the adaptive sports program. Read on to hear his take on how Lexington gives the people it supports new and exciting athletic experiences in the outdoors!
Lexington Center Adaptive Sports Programming
By Chris Shook
Having a physical or developmental difference shouldn’t prevent anyone from having fun or participating in sports. Lexington believes this wholeheartedly, and for that reason they provide two related athletic programs to the people they support: adaptive sports and the Special Olympics.
The adaptive sports are regular sports modified to fit individuals who are differently abled. The adaptations cater to individuals who are blind or have problems with mobility – namely, those who are in a wheelchair. The program at Lexington takes its participants sailing in the summertime and skiing in the winter.
The Special Olympics are typically for people with intellectual differences. Today Special Olympics programs provide year-round training and competition to people in 170 countries around the world, but the organization started out much smaller. In 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver noticed that people with intellectual differences had few opportunities and felt they were being treated unfairly. She began it that summer as a day camp in her back yard. Similar camps started growing across the country and by 1968, the program had spread to Canada as well. The first international games were held that year in Chicago. Now, more than 4 million athletes compete in Special Olympics games internationally each year, with events held every day at every level on every continent.
Lexington incorporates their adaptive sports program into their Special Olympics games. In addition to sailing and skiing, Lexington Special Olympic athletes compete in softball, basketball, volleyball, hula-hooping, 125-meter dashes, bobsled, Frisbee, and track and field. There are some adaptations in the other sports as well; for example, the baskets are lower than typical in basketball and softball uses larger bases. The games take place at Lexington’s location at the former Bishop Burke High School. Eighty-five percent of the athletes who participate earn a medal.
In past years, there have been about 30 athletes in the sailing program and about 15 in skiing. The skiing began 10 to 12 years ago, while sailing was added to the program 8 years ago. Skiing is available from January until April at Windham Mountain Ski Resort in the Catskill Mountains and sailing takes place from June to September at Lake George.
“The athletes receive help from people who are trained by people who specialize in helping people with disabilities,” said Bonnie Reuss, the administrator of the adaptive sports program at Lexington. She added that she is “proud of the accomplishments of the athletes.”
According to Reuss, sailing is a bit easier for the athletes than skiing. Staff use Hoyer Lifts to get the athletes onto the boats, which have to be very stable, and they go sailing in the afternoon.
The skiers, who are a bit more adventurous, navigate the slopes in the mornings on bi-skis. These special pieces of equipment, which look like chairs with skis on the bottom, are specifically designed for individuals with mobility challenges. Other individuals can ski behind the bi-skiers and help guide them down the slopes.
Athletes who participate in adaptive sports must practice frequently and exercise patience. They do compete with each other, but it’s really more about fun. Lexington’s adaptive sports have all been successful – in more than ten years, there have been no injuries and everyone has been well prepared. Lexington is looking to add more sports to the program so athletes can have even more opportunities to experience the gratification and exhilaration of sports.
The athletes seem to enjoy participating in the adaptive sports program, too. Crystal White has done adaptive sailing as well as the Special Olympics, and she loved her experiences. White competed in beanbag throwing and finished second in the wheelchair races last spring’s games. She said the Special Olympics coaches and volunteers are absolutely essential to the success of the competition.
“The way they help us compete is by setting up practice rounds,” she said, “and they require us to do 12 practices to see what level we’re on.”
One of those coaches is Lynette May. She was a volunteer for 15 years until 2011, when she decided to become an official coach. May coaches the Frisbee activities and the 125-meter dashes. Teams are separated not by gender, but by level of skill and capability. May said the age group of athletes ranges from 20 to 80 and older – whoever wants to participate is welcome.
Lexington has many adaptive sports athletes, all of whom had to overcome their challenges to play sports. Lexington has had a lot of success getting these unique individuals who wanted to participate in sports the chance to shine, an opportunity they don’t often get.
The benefit of this program isn’t just in fitness goals achieved or medals won. More than that, it’s the sense of pride and confidence the experience gives the athletes. If they see that they can participate in these sports despite their differences, it proves to them they can do anything they want.
The NYSARC Trust Services Board has provided Lexington, Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC Inc., with a remainder fund grant of $8,000 to provide recreational opportunities for people supported by Lexington. Last year, Lexington received a similar grant from NYSARC Trust Services for $10,000 that went toward purchasing recreational game equipment such as foosball tables, ping pong tables, air hockey tables and pool tables.
The funding is providing for Encounters, a social club that brings together young people from all over Lexington, the community and other agencies and helps combat the isolation that often follows graduation from school. Funds from the grant will be used to purchase long-lasting materials such as video game equipment, snow shoes, art supplies and games. The grant will also support other, less durable expenses that generate excitement and keep the group engaged, such as promotional items, catering and gift certificates to defray the costs of some activities.
In addition, remainder fund grants totaling $1,466,000 were awarded to support NYSARC guardianship programs statewide and a total of $1,874,000 in remainder grants were awarded in 2015 to support recreation and guardianship statewide. NYSARC Trust Services administers supplemental needs trusts that enable people with disabilities to remain in their home and community while retaining Medicaid services and other government benefits. Information about how NYSARC Trust Services may benefit you is available by visiting www.nysarctrustservices.org, calling 1-518-439-8323 or 1-800-735-8924 (toll-free), or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Encounters, Lexington’s members-only social club, please contact Katherine Ehle at email@example.com or (518) 736-3909.
Lexington's own Victor Colon was recently elected by the self-advocates at the 2015 SANYS Capital District Regional Conference to be their new board member. Victor will represent the Capital Region and attend 4 board meetings throughout the year with the Self-Advocacy Association of NYS’ Statewide Board. Victor will serve on the board for a 3 year term during which time he will assist with the overall operations of SANYS. He will also be afforded many exciting advocacy opportunities such as participating in Legislative Day, meeting with the Commissioner of OPWDD and providing input on concerns or issues that affect individuals with disabilities in the State of New York.
Victor is very much looking forward to joining the board and participating in their important advocacy efforts. "I can help the people Lexington supports speak up for themselves," said Victor. "If they have any problems or concerns, they can see me. I'm always here for them. I'm so grateful they voted for me and I believe that I'll do a good job representing the Capital Region. I'm so glad to be a part of SANYS. I can't wait to work with them for three years."
Cynthia Gilchrist, the Capital/Upper Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator of Sanys said, "We are very excited to have Victor represent the self-advocates in our Capital Region."
Congratulations on this awesome accomplishment, Victor!
October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, a chance for us to celebrate people with Down syndrome and let people know about their abilities and accomplishments! Because it’s always about what someone can do, never about what they can’t.
There are many extraordinary individuals with Down syndrome in the Lexington family. For example, Ross Carangelo is an accomplished artist in the Creative Expressions program. His paintings are both beautiful and in high demand – sometimes they sell before he even exhibits them at the many art shows he has taken part in. In 2013 he won the Curators Award at the “Through My Eyes” exhibit at Saratoga Bridges and in December 2014 one of his paintings was accepted into the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie’s Annual Juried Art Show, one of 37 chosen from artists of all kinds across New York State.
Shawn Lehr is a member of Flame. His dancing and comedy acts are valuable additions to the band’s charming stage appeal. As part of Flame, Shawn has toured all over the United States and performed overseas, spreading a message of inspiration and awareness to an international audience.
Check out this special message from the people we support and their families about how much they appreciate Lexington's Direct Support Professionals!
On Friday, April 24, 2015, the New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Inc. (NYSSLHA) honored Lexington with the 2015 Distinguished Clinical Service Award in recognition of its clinical supports to Lexington’s band, Flame. Lexington was honored during the Honors and Awards program at NYSSLHA’s 55th Annual Convention, which took place at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, NY.
About Lexington, NYSSLHA said, “It is clear that your organization has a staff of dedicated individuals who should be very proud of Lexington’s accomplishments. NYSSLHA is delighted to recognize your organization and the phenomenal work that brings Flame’s music and message to help change how the public perceives people with disabilities.”
For more than 10 years, Lexington’s clinical team has supported Flame band members in various ways as they have developed into the professional and renowned musical sensation they are today. Speech and language pathologists have worked with lead singer Michelle King on her vocals and have helped percussionist Scott Stuart adjust his wheelchair tray so that he can play the drums. They have also coached band members on the social and communication skills necessary to navigate the many situations their fame has thrust them into ― everything from national events with huge audiences, such as the Special Olympics, to performances at college campuses. Occupational and physical therapists have worked to ensure the band members are able to access stages, hotels and other potentially challenging environments. Lexington’s therapists even helped with retrofitting the band’s tour bus.
Michelle King accepted the award along with Flame band manager Maria Nestle. King spoke about her childhood autism diagnosis and the struggles she has had as a result. She credited Flame for giving her the confidence and opportunity to share her story of ability and gift of music with thousands of people. She thanked Lexington for supporting her as she lives her dream.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and to celebrate, Lexington sent daily emails to the entire agency that celebrated the ABILITIES of several individuals that we support. There are many fantastic stories - we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have!
Kim has been an awesome member of our Lexington family since 1995. Kim is a hardworking and dedicated team member of “The Crew” Cleaning and Janitorial Services. She has successfully progressed through the enclave employment readiness program and acquired the requisite skills required for competitive community employment through Employment Resources. Kim will be pursuing a position in the Food Service or Retail Industries.
Vanessa is an endless source of creative energy. Her artistic ability explodes on paper. She sees beauty everywhere and captures it in her artwork as well as through digital imagery. She has sold $925.00 in artwork to date. She was the recipient of the Spirit Award at VOICE 2013. Vanessa’s painting titled “Zebra” was selected as the Call for Artist brochure for VOICE and also took third place at the 2013 NYSACRA Exhibition at the Sagamore Hotel in Bolton Landing, Lake George, NY. Vanessa truly SHINES!
David reached the peak of Vroman’s Nose in Fulton, NY with Pathfinders Day Hab last summer. David doubted himself at first; he said he could never climb that high. He then successfully climbed to the summit, a 700 feet elevation! Congratulations on your accomplishment!
Shireen has been employed at Encore Kids since May 2014. She is definitely manager Ann Nicolella’s “girl Friday” as she can do all the computer work, book work, register work, and close everything out at the end of her shift. The best part is that all those things are her favorite things to do. She is an outstanding employee and an absolute joy to work with. She is great with the customers and always has a smile on her face. She is everything that a retail manager hopes for in an employee. Shireen is a valuable asset to the Encore Kids team.
During the Family Services Summer Bash, Athena became very interested in joining the Twin City Twisters after watching the group and her peers perform. Athena began attending practices with the special needs group. This became a great motivator for Athena. Athena is now not only a part of the special needs group, but the tumbling group and competitive teams as well. She has even gotten her whole family to join her! Athena is very proud of accomplishments. She has performed at halftime shows for local high school sporting events as well as the Schenectady Legends, a professional basketball team. Great Job Athena and keep up the good work!
Carmen has been working on gaining more independence. Recently, she has been able to purchase her own food and prepare her own meals. She really enjoys being able to pick out the food that she would like to eat and preparing her food the way she used to. Carmen loves making the house smell delicious with her creations.
Olivia was recently selected by the Student Affairs Committee at Schenectady County Community College to be part of this year’s Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. This honor is bestowed upon students from 2,842 institutions in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Selection for this distinguished award is based on cumulative GPA as well as involvement in campus and/or community activities. Congratulations on receiving this honor, Olivia!
Levi had a special day at Adaptive Skiing at Windam Mountain. His entire family took the day off to join him on the slopes. Having his family alongside of him meant a lot.
Andrew is a fun, energetic guy who loves to help and be involved with everything! He loves to read and is super helpful. Every morning Andrew helps out by taking lunches out of the fridge, reading the names on the bag and putting them in the right lunch box.
Michael began attending the Fonda Reformed Church in the beginning of 2014. He has handed out church bulletins and has hosted coffee hour as a service to the church. He is pictured here with his friend Joan who always makes sure to greet Michael every Sunday. Recently, a member of the congregation approached Michael to see if he would like to become a member of the church. Michael responded “yes,” and the congregant approached the pastor to inquired on Michael’s behalf about him becoming a member. Michael will be meeting the requirements to be a member of the Fonda Reformed Church next month, he will meet with the elders on April 26, and he will become an official member on May 3. It has been an amazing experience to see Michael become a valued member of his community. He has a true community family with the members of his church.
Adrienne is best known as a member of Flame, but, as impressive as that is, this young woman has many other accomplishments under her belt. She went to a Blind and Visually Impaired School in NYC and then moved to upstate NY when she was a teenager. She received a certificate from Vo-Tech Cooking College in Culinary Foundations of Foods. She dreams of being an astronaut, and is looking into taking Astro Physics courses. She skis, roller blades, ice skates, and likes to be physically active. She plays guitar, for which she took lessons, but taught herself piano and the Tonette, a type of recorder.
Linda mentioned that she had a nice poem book to share during spiritual/religious learning activities at Kaleidoscope. She brought in the book and unbeknownst to anyone it was her own personal collection. Linda has been writing poetry for over 40 years! Kaleidoscope is currently helping her with looking into having some copies bound and maybe even published.
Dr. Peter F. Diamond, co-founder of Amsterdam Family Practice, along with provider of disability services Lexington, and highly-regarded Associates from St. Mary’s Healthcare were honored at the 19th annual Celebration of Healthcare Excellence, on Monday, February 23 at the Holiday Inn, Johnstown.
The event, hosted by the Foundation of St. Mary’s Healthcare, was established in 1996 as “a community expression of appreciation for bringing healthcare of compassion and excellence to the people of Fulton and Montgomery counties.”
This year's honorees included medical professional Dr. Peter F. Diamond, Lexington and several St. Mary's Associates.
Lexington was honored not only because our services touch people from every age and with a wide range of needs, but because the essence of Lexington is highlighted by creativity and compassion for all we serve, and our strong presence in the community thanks to our rock band, Flame; the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts and Transitions; and our many unique programs and partnerships with agencies and companies around the region.
It was a fantastic night and we were thrilled to be honored.
Lexington, Chapter of NYSARC, Inc. and The Arc, has announced “Transitions,” a supportive Apprenticeship program for high school graduates and young adults with learning differences including Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia, nonverbal learning disabilities, visual or hearing impairments and other medical conditions who want to attend college and/or prepare for a career but may require academic, social, medical and/or emotional support. The Transitions program’s curriculum focuses on building academic, employment, life and general independence skills.
“Young adults with learning differences and disabilities often require extra preparation and dedicated supports to live independently and achieve college and career success,” stated Shaloni Winston, Lexington’s executive director. “Transitions offers Apprentices this opportunity by providing valuable skills, tools and support needed for each and every one of them to learn, thrive and live a life of independence that they and their parents hoped for but never thought was possible.”
Through evidence-based approaches and services and a careful partnership with Lexington, a provider with over 60 years of award-winning disability services, Transitions students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, an experienced staff including mentors and coaches, and a uniquely designed curriculum that will provide individualized attention and training in skills students will use for the rest of their lives. They will be trained in executive functioning, self-advocacy, safety, healthy living and wellness, as well as learn social skills and set goals, putting them on the path toward college and career success, and ultimately independence.
Transitions will be located in Gloversville, NY, in the foothills of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, and will share space with The Lexington Foundation’s Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, a year-round arts center that will provide a rich assortment of art and hobby-related classes for artists of all ages and interests. These new programs will be hosted in state-of-the-art buildings, which were recently purchased and are currently undergoing renovations to accommodate the particular needs of both Transitions and the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts.
Transitions has collaborated with several elite institutions including the Savannah College of Art and Design, University of Washington’s DO-IT program for students with disabilities, Mayo Clinic, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence and the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts to provide an exclusive experience for students who are interested in successful career and life outcomes. Transitions also offers many socially rich recreation opportunities, such as memorable Adirondack experiences, trips and entertainment.
“As the mother of a child with Turner syndrome and nonverbal learning disabilities, I know how overwhelming it feels when faced with decisions that affect your son or daughter for life, and the choices that face them after high school regarding college, a career or living independently, and whether or not resources and supports are available to make that happen,” added Winston. “At Transitions, your child will be safe, well cared for and will come out of the program prepared for opportunities that life offers beyond high school, including college and a career. We can help them transition from a life of constant support to a life they control themselves. This was what inspired me to create the Transitions program, and is what sets Transitions apart from other programs.”
Both full-year College Apprenticeship programs and Career Apprenticeship programs are offered by Transitions. Applications are now being accepted for these full-year sessions, which start in August 2015. Additionally, Transitions is offering a three-week Summer Immersion Experience that will introduce attendees to the Transitions curriculum and college or life experience. Summer sessions are available from June 14–July 3, July 5–July 24 and July 26–August 14, 2015, with applications currently being accepted. For more information, call (518) 775-5374 or visit Transitions online at www.TransitionsUSA.org.
Paul D. Zuckerwar, conga player in Lexington’s rock band, Flame, died Monday, January 12, 2015, at Albany Medical Center after suffering a sudden medical event on Saturday, January 10. He was 54 and a resident of Mayfield, NY.
Paul was born May 23, 1960, in Gloversville, NY. In 1988, Paul began receiving services from Lexington - Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc., and it was at Lexington where he began his career as a musician. Prior to joining Flame, a rock band whose talented members all happen to have disabilities, Paul didn’t feel like he had a purpose. But all of that changed in 2003, when he became a member of the band and suddenly had a platform from which he could spread his message of hope and acceptance. “Paul was a talented musician. His warmth and smile made everyone feel welcomed and inspired. He was a wonderful role model and lived out his dreams to the fullest. Paul will truly be missed, and we are blessed to have learned so much from him,” said Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston.
Paul loved performing, traveling and meeting new people. He touched the lives of everyone he met and will be sorely missed by both those who knew him and those who knew his music. “Those of us who shared in Paul’s life shared his love and sense of humor. Paul’s unconditional love for those in his life was very real and without limit. He was very social and loved meeting new people when he traveled with Flame. He loved telling jokes and hanging with his friends. His band mates will remember Paul for being a practical joker and always giving good advice. He knew how to make people smile and laugh. Performing with Flame was one of the greatest joys in Paul’s life. He was very proud that he was able to inspire others and teach them to treat everyone with respect,” said Maria Nestle, who has worked with Flame for 11 years. About her friend, Michelle King, Flame’s lead singer, said, “Paul was like a big brother to all of us and a great friend. We will miss him.”
There will be a time of remembrance for Paul from noon until 1 p.m. on Friday, January 16, 2015, at the Walrath and Stewart Funeral Home located at 51 Freemont St. in Gloversville. A memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. and will be officiated by Pastor Patty Bush, Paul’s cousin. Flame will perform during the funeral to honor their dear friend. A private burial will follow directly after the funeral. Following the service, there will be a gathering of friends and family at The Center at Lexington, 465 N. Perry St., Johnstown.
Memorial contributions in Paul’s name may be made to The Lexington Foundation, 465 N. Perry St., Johnstown, NY 12095, for the development of the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts.
The NYSARC Trust Services Board has provided Lexington, Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC Inc. with a remainder fund grant of $10,000 to provide recreational opportunities for people supported by Lexington. Last year, Lexington received a similar grant from NYSARC Trust Services for $6,000 that went toward the purchase of adaptive wellness equipment. This funding is providing for a variety of recreational games such as foosball tables, ping pong tables, air hockey tables and pool tables. These new games will allow the men and women supported by Lexington to be further engaged in activities that interest them. Each of the game options will provide new opportunities for social interaction and fine and gross motor skill development, both of which are goals of Lexington’s health and wellness program, Engaged & Empowered.
In addition, remainder fund grants totaling $1,660,500 were awarded to support NYSARC guardianship programs statewide and a total of $2,207,880 in remainder grants were awarded in 2014 to support recreation and guardianship statewide. NYSARC Trust Services administers supplemental needs trusts that enable people with disabilities to remain in their home and community while retaining Medicaid services and other government benefits.
Information about how NYSARC Trust Services may benefit you is available by visiting www.nysarctrustservices.org, calling 1-518-439-8323 or 1-800-735-8924 (toll-free), or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lexington Foundation is pleased to announce the development of two very unique and innovative programs: The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts and Transitions, an apprenticeship program designed to foster college and career success for students with learning differences.
The Lexington Foundation has signed a contract and intends to purchase the former Tetra Tech property and facilities located on 66 picturesque acres at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 30A in Mayfield. “Our new programs will be hosted in the property’s existing buildings which will be updated and renovated in order to accommodate the particular needs of the Paul Nigra Center and the Transitions program,” said Shaloni Winston, Executive Director of Lexington – Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc. “The Paul Nigra Center’s location is both beautiful and inviting and offers the best of what our region has to offer. We really wanted a Center that would not only attract those from outside our region, but would make our community proud.”
The Lexington Foundation has partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) Collaborative Learning Center (CLC). Under the guidance of professors, twelve graduate students from SCAD’s interior design, graphic and media design, and arts administration programs have worked together to study the unique needs of The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts and the Transitions program, and then presented ideas about how to best design and adapt the existing space to suit those needs. The professors leading the project, Chance Farago, Professor of Arts Administration, and Meghan Woodcock, EDAC, Faculty, Interior Design, flew in from Savannah, Georgia to visit Lexington and learn about the services and support Lexington provides, meet staff and the individuals supported by Lexington, and visit the proposed property.
“At SCAD, collaborative learning is a core element of the university’s mission to help prepare students for professional creative careers,” said Josh Lind, director of the CLC. “The opportunity to work with an organization like the Lexington Foundation on a real world, deadline-driven project provides invaluable experience to our students. In just the first few weeks of the quarter, the students have demonstrated significant enthusiasm for this project – especially given how meaningful the result will be for the individuals supported by Lexington.” SCAD’s Collaborative Learning Center’s current and past partners include companies like Adobe, Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, General Electric and Microsoft. Lexington is proud to collaborate with SCAD and join this esteemed list.
The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts was named for Lexington’s former Executive Director of 42 years, Paul Nigra. It will be a beautiful, year-round arts center which will provide a rich assortment of art and hobby-related classes for emerging artists of all ages and interests including, but not limited to, culinary arts, performing arts, visual arts, quilting, woodcarving and yoga. It will also house premium art venues, host fun family events and provide educational opportunities for the entire community (both the general public and individuals supported by Lexington). The very best of Fulton County’s local talent will teach classes and give presentations at the Paul Nigra Center and noted artists from beyond the county’s borders will visit and share their expertise and talent. The Paul Nigra Center will also proudly offer employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
“Paul Nigra worked tirelessly to support people with disabilities and believed that every person could achieve success and fulfillment. We believe that both the Center for Creative Arts and Transitions program will allow Lexington to celebrate this vision and continue providing exceptional services and programs to the community and individuals with special needs,” added Winston. Nigra founded Lexington’s world-famous rock band, Flame, a group of musicians who refuse to let their disabilities be a barrier to success. The Paul Nigra Center will be a “home base” for Flame, continuing Nigra’s legacy of cultivating and celebrating the artistic endeavors of people of all ages and abilities.
The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts will be wholly owned and operated by The Lexington Foundation and will be funded by contributions, grants and fees for services. Lexington ARC funds will not be available for this project as they are dedicated to the care and support of the people Lexington supports. As The Lexington Foundation embarks on a capital campaign in order to pay for the purchase and renovations of the property, we have sought out community leaders and partners to serve on The Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts Advisory Board, which will be chaired by local businessman and Johnstown resident Brian Hanaburgh. Design and renovations are expected to be completed for the opening scheduled for June 2015. For more details about the project, please contact Wally Hart, Executive Director of the Lexington Foundation, at (518) 736-3917 or email@example.com.