Lexington SELF-Advocates Meet Senator Charles Schumer!

On Wednesday, March 30, several staff and Lexington Self-Advocates traveled to the Wildwood School in Schenectady for a press conference where United States Senator Charles Schumer, NY spoke about his new Bill, The Disability Integration Act of 2015.

Lexington Self-Advocates Zach Durkee and Jose Kemp in the front row

Lexington Self-Advocates Zach Durkee and Jose Kemp in the front row

Lexington Self-Advocate Dennis Hoyer shakes Senator Schumer's hand

Lexington Self-Advocate Dennis Hoyer shakes Senator Schumer's hand

Senator Charles Schumer   

Senator Charles Schumer

 

Lexington Self-Advocate Grace Rhodes meets Senator Schumer

Lexington Self-Advocate Grace Rhodes meets Senator Schumer

According to a press release issued by his office, this new legislation will help individuals with disabilities live more independently by providing necessary at-home and community-based services and supports. Specifically, the legislation ensures that any individual who is found eligible for institutional care must also be given the option to receive the same necessary services and supports at home, or in a setting of their choosing, that would have otherwise been provided in an institutional setting. This legislation gives individuals with disabilities the option to live more independently, and in the comfort of their own home, rather than in an institutional facility away from their friends and family. This legislation will also help ease the financial burden of those who do not want to live in a facility and may be paying high out-of-pocket insurance costs for in-home services and supports. The bill will help alleviate the emotional burden that family members are often faced with when taking care of their loved ones with disabilities who are not receiving the necessary services and supports.

“Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independent, fulfilling lives amongst their families and friends – but right now, they are often denied the kind of at-home services and supports that then keep them in institutional settings, far from their loved ones and communities. We need to be doing everything in our power to make sure they have the resources needed to live and thrive in the comfort of their own homes,” said Schumer. “This legislation will finally give individuals with disabilities the option to receive these types of services at home, so that they can continue living life to the fullest in their own communities.”

The Disability Integration Act ensures that any individual with a disability who is found eligible for institutional care must be given the option to receive the necessary services that allow them to be more independent. If passed, this legislation would prohibit public entities and insurance providers that pay for long-term services and supports (LTSS) from using waiting lists, screening people out, capping services, under-paying workers for services or taking any other actions that would restrict the home- and community-based services provided to people with disabilities. The Disability Integration Act specifically defines LTSS as the assistance provided to individuals with disabilities in accomplishing, acquiring the means or ability to accomplish, maintaining, or enhancing activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, health-related tasks or other related functions, tasks or activities. For example, LTSS programs might include help with eating, bathing, dressing, preparing food, managing medication and housekeeping.

 

Victor Colon Elected to SANYS Board

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!

Second Annual OUR VOICE Self-Advocacy Conference

Last week, Our Voice, Lexington's Self-Advocacy Committee, held their second annual conference. It was very well attended and featured several inspiring and thoughtful speakers who presented topics important to self-advocates such as wellness, CQL Personal Outcome Measures and self-management. In addition, there was a performance by Flame, Cynthia Gilchrist and Mike Brooks from Self-Advocacy of New York State gave a great talk about the importance of self-advocacy and the 2014 Our Voice officer election results were announced.

Here are a few pictures of a great day!

Outgoing President Victor welcomes newly elected President Andrew.

Outgoing President Victor welcomes newly elected President Andrew.

Doug, Public Relations Officer, reminds his fellow conferees to vote!

Doug, Public Relations Officer, reminds his fellow conferees to vote!

MaryBeth Schneider, Assistant Executive Director for Training and Self-Advocacy,  NYSARC, Inc.  gives the opening remarks.

MaryBeth Schneider, Assistant Executive Director for Training and Self-Advocacy, NYSARC, Inc. gives the opening remarks.

Lexington's Jennifer Feagles and Erin Hollenbeck give a presentation about how wellness affects our lives and brings us an improved quality of life.

Lexington's Jennifer Feagles and Erin Hollenbeck give a presentation about how wellness affects our lives and brings us an improved quality of life.

Flame  gives a rocking performance during lunch.

Flame gives a rocking performance during lunch.

Dennis and Stacy enjoy Flame's performance.

Dennis and Stacy enjoy Flame's performance.

Joshua enjoys lunch with his mom.

Joshua enjoys lunch with his mom.

Maggie and Madeline dance to Flame's music.

Maggie and Madeline dance to Flame's music.

Outgoing President Victor is thanked for his service by Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston.

Outgoing President Victor is thanked for his service by Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston.

Dana Reinecke, PhD, BCBA, Chair and Assistant Professor of Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges , gives a presentation about self-management called "How to Take Responsibility for Yourself."

Dana Reinecke, PhD, BCBA, Chair and Assistant Professor of Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges, gives a presentation about self-management called "How to Take Responsibility for Yourself."

Thanks to all who helped make it such a special event!

Check Out the Video NYSARC Put Together for Michelle!

NYSARC congratulates Michelle King, 2014 Self-Advocate of the Year, who was recently honored at NYSARC's 65th Annual Convention. Michelle is lead singer for the band Flame with Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC. The Self-Advocate Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated leadership and personal growth and who has positively influenced the lives of others.

Michelle King and Rodney Frenyea Honored by NYSARC!

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 copy.jpg

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!