BUFFALO, NY- October 30, 2017 – Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled, Inc. celebrated the opening of its Jefferson Career Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, October 30. Mayor Byron Brown and NYS Senator Tim Kennedy joined Mindy Cervoni, President & CEO of Community Services, in offering remarks on the crucial need for the center and similar initiatives that aid people with developmental disabilities in entering the workforce and in contributing to the vitality of Buffalo and Western New York communities. After the ceremony, assembled representatives from local businesses, private foundations, state/county agencies and community-based organizations were invited to tour the site to learn more about the center’s current and future services.
Located on Buffalo’s East Side at 1485 Jefferson Avenue, the Jefferson Career Center is designed to take a different approach in helping youth and adults with developmental disabilities to land rewarding job opportunities in their community. The center features a set of innovative career suites—hands-on, supportive learning environments that enable people to explore and embark on careers in fields of interest. Simulating authentic workplace settings, the center’s first career suites will enable people to learn the skills and tools necessary for holding competitive jobs in hotel housekeeping, automobile detailing, janitorial services, office administration, retail sales and hospitality services among other high growth fields. A culinary arts learning suite for careers in food services is planned as a major expansion to the center in early 2018.
To ensure that people acquire job skills that employers value, the center is working with local businesses and organizations to shape the center’s career-based learning experiences. As one example, Community Services has partnered with Basil Family of Dealerships to develop the center’s automobile learning suite. Through this partnership, Basil generously provided a skills building curriculum and donated supplies that will prepare people to secure car detailing jobs at dealerships, car washes and repair shops.
In addition to employment services, the Jefferson Career Center will be home to a respite program for school-age children that will provide parents with a break from caring for a loved one with a developmental disability. The respite program is vital to Buffalo’s East Side families, many of whom could not otherwise access or afford these essential relief services.
“We are thrilled to see this project come to fruition,” noted Mindy Cervoni. “The Jefferson Career Center will positively impact many of the people we support by helping them gain work skills and connecting them with competitive employment opportunities. This center will help people achieve their goals and lead more independent lives.”
“The Jefferson Career Center is more than a building for the people we support. It is a representation of our belief that every person, given the appropriate supports and opportunity, has the ability to contribute to their community. For those we support, a job is so much more than a paycheck. It is independence, inclusion and an improved quality of life,” said Michelle Zangerle, Assistant Director of Vocational Services.
“Along with the opportunity to expand our Respite program, Jefferson provides additional space for a gross motor room and outside playground with a recreational area. With the addition of these two spaces, children that utilize Respite supports will have more space to develop and grow,” said Ashley McLimans, Assistant Director of Day Services.
Community Services is grateful for the aid of its partners in launching this initiative. The initial development of the Jefferson Career Center was made possible through the generous support of a range of funders, businesses and community-based organizations, including, but not limited to, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), The John R. Oishei Foundation, M&T Bank, the James H. Cummings Foundation, First Niagara Bank, the Basil Family of Dealerships, Northwest Bank and the Community Services Support Foundation. Community Services continues to work with local employers, private foundations and community-based organizations to expand the ways the center can benefit job seekers with disabilities, local employers and the communities of WNY.