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March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, giving us the perfect opportunity to educate our community about the unique talents of the people we support.

This year’s theme is “See Me, For Me,” which encourages everyone to focus on each person and get to know more about them as an individual. The theme calls on our community to recognize people for their abilities. Here at Community Services, we celebrate the people we support all year long. Our Agency accepts people of all abilities and promotes their inclusion in the community. We’re committed to providing quality, person-centered services that are tailored to each person’s needs and creating individualized plans to help every person we serve accomplish their goals.

For example, our Jefferson Career Center offers hands-on learning suites where the people we support can explore different career paths and develop job skills to connect them with employment opportunities. The learning suites offer training in a variety of fields, including hospitality, office work, and automotive detailing.

We’ve also had countless examples of those that we support achieving a greater level of independence. Jason, a participant at one of our Day Habilitation programs, worked hard to gain the skills and independence to be able to go to the store and walk around without needing someone there to hep him.

Our mini-grant program, which fills gaps in funding, is another way we help the people we serve celebrate their talents and discover what they’re passionate about. Mini-grants have helped fund several programs and experiences, including camping trips, an indoor garden, a recording studio, transportation supports and more.

We also celebrate and thank our employees, advocates, families and partners for helping raise awareness in the community and for making a difference in the lives of the people we support.

If you’re interested in hearing our success stories or want to learn more about the Agency, follow us on social media and sign up for our e-newsletter here.



Why businesses should hire more people with developmental disabilities

Businesses who are looking to hire capable, reliable and committed employees should consider hiring people with developmental disabilities. Employers will be hiring someone who is dedicated and hardworking while at the same time enabling that person to become more independent and involved in their community.

Some of the benefits of a hiring a person with a developmental disability include, but are not limited to:

  • A more diverse workforce
  • Increased productivity
  • Motivated employees
  • Less employee turnover
  • Reduced recruiting times
  • Fewer training costs

There are also tax credits available for businesses that employ people with developmental disabilities. The first potential credit is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). Employers can receive up to $2,400 in federal tax savings for hiring people with low incomes. The Workers with Disability Tax Credit (WDTC) can earn employers up to $5,000 for hiring people with developmental disabilities to full-time positions and up to $2,500 for part-time jobs.

According to the 2016 Disability Statistics Annual Report conducted by the University of New Hampshire, only 35% of all people with disabilities are employed. By employing more people with disabilities, their dependence on governmental supports decreases.

At Community Services, we know a job is so much more than a paycheck. It’s about learning new skills and being a part of the community. Our Vocational Services provide a wide range of opportunities to ensure people who want to work are prepared and have the supports necessary to succeed.

Read more about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities here as well as the possible tax credits here.


Community Services Launches New Career Exploration Center

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.

Jefferson Career Center officially opens

After several years of planning and developing, Community Services officially opened our Jefferson Career Center on October 30th, 2017.

The center offers hands-on learning suites to help people with developmental disabilities develop skills for the jobs they want. These suites focus on specific job industries, including hospitality, automotive detailing, culinary, and office work. The Jefferson Career Center will help the people we serve explore different career paths, develop the specific skills needed for those careers, and connect them with competitive employment opportunities.

The center will also provide after-school respite programs for the children we support. Our respite spaces and playground will give children a safe, engaging place to spend time while giving parents and guardians personal time.

We would like to thank all of our sponsors and partners for their support of this project: Basil Family of Dealerships, Buffalo State College School of Hospitality, Community Services Support Foundation, Copier Fax Business Technologies, Delaware North, Eaton Office Supply, First Niagara Bank, Hyatt Regency, James H. Cummings Foundation, John R. Oishei Foundation, KeyBank, M&T Bank, Northwest Bank, NYS Dormitory Authority, Spring-It-On donors, and VSP Graphic Group.

Thank you to everyone who has helped and will continue to help make this center a reality! We can’t wait to share all the amazing success stories with you.


You can learn more about the opening of the Jefferson Career Center from the following news links:

Businesses team up to help people with disabilities find jobs

New Jefferson Career Center offers job training for developmentally disabled

Disabilities service provider opens career training center

Community group opens new job training center

New career center will help people with developmental disabilities with employment


Employee Holiday Party

Celebrate the holidays with us at our annual Employee Holiday Party! The event will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, December 18, at Foundry, 1738 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo.

The party is free of charge for Community Services’ employees and $15 for guests. There is a limit of 1 guest per employee. You can RSVP to Colleen Sullivan at or register below.

To purchase a guest ticket, click here.


Holiday Party Registration



Community Services presents the 10th Annual Monster Bash Ball

Come celebrate with us at our 10th Annual Monster Bash Ball from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, October 20th, at 1420 Main Street, Buffalo. The event is for people ages 18 and older. The venue is wheelchair accessible and parking will be available across the streets.

Tickets are $15. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Kymalie Smith at 896-2180 ext. 316.

Official Jefferson Career Center Opening

Jefferson Career Center Opening

After a very busy and successful 2016 and early 2017, we are set to open our Jefferson Career Center in the early fall. Located on the East Side of Buffalo in the former Bethel Head Start building on the corner of Jefferson and East Ferry, the Jefferson Career Exploration Center will offer pre-vocational services and employment services for adults with developmental disabilities. Our Respite services will also be offered within the Jefferson building. Respite services are offered to families we serve in a variety of degrees, such as after school care, over school breaks, and even on the weekends.

Jefferson Career Center will give those in our pre-vocation and employment services a chance to learn in a hands-on fashion. Throughout the building there will be different “suites” that will offer the people we serve a chance to learn more about different career paths. These suites include a culinary suite, an auto detailing suite, a mock hotel room and an office, all of which will give the people we serve an opportunity to explore career options and train in a variety of ways. We have several different community partners throughout Western New York who are helping to make Jefferson and the vision we have for it, come alive!
When the Jefferson Career Center opens, Community Services will be inching closer to our mission and vision of helping individuals with developmental disabilities in Western New York achieve their highest level of independence and promote their fullest participation in society. Through the partnerships established, Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled hopes to advance and expand employment opportunities for those we serve. The goal is ultimately for the Jefferson Career Center to become a go-to place within the community!

We would like to thank those who attended our 3rd Annual Golf Tournament in July 2016, and those who attended our 2nd Annual Buffalo Inspired Art, Far and Beer event in November 2016. Funds raised at both of these events went towards the Jefferson Career Center.