Easy Eats for Every1 kicks off

Easy Eats for Every1 kicks off

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Easy Eats for Every1 kicks off

With our new Culinary Arts Coordinator in place, Meredith Schork, we have hit the ground running. Our project is layered with learning opportunities for both people we support and our DSPs.

We have launched Easy Eats for Every1, which is our take on Hello Fresh. It offers healthy meals available in one of three options:

  • Heat and Eat – Ready for the microwave/oven.
  • Prepped just Prepare – Everything is measured and chopped, it just needs to be  put together. Great for people who want to learn to cook but haven’t mastered some of the basics.
  • From Scratch – Raw ingredients typical to the Hello Fresh model.

Each healthy meal kit comes with written instructions and a QR code to our Easy Eats for Every1 YouTube channel. Here, Chef Meredith provides a tutorial for people we support on how to prepare your kit. This allows anyone we support to try a healthy meal while working on skills for independent living.

All of this is done within our culinary classroom with those we support in Employment Services. Having a true demand for prepping, cooking, and portioning allows for authentic learning and work experiences.

Our first Easy Eats kit was 150 Thanksgiving meals for people we support. It was delivered to those living in the community that were alone for the first time, families that didn’t have the means to cook all the fixings, and to some of the folks and staff in our IRAs. The menu included: turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, roll, and homemade sweet potato pie.

We recently featured a two-ingredient pizza dough packed with protein. We have 50 people we support receiving the Heat and Eat option and 148 people receiving the Prepped just Prepare kits.

Recently, Community Prevoc made 1,200 cookies to be packaged into cookie kits just in time for the holidays. In addition to the traditional sugar cookie cut-outs, there was a gluten-free/vegan option.

We hope to continue this model and expand the kits being available to all the people we support and staff.

Chef Meredith shows a completed Thanksgiving meal kit
A person we support works on packaging a meal kit in our culinary prep classroom
A young man poses with the pizza he prepped in our culinar prep classroom

Adopt a Family Campaign brings cheer to families

Adopt a Family Campaign brings cheer to families

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Adopt a Family Campaign brings cheer to families

Like many events this year, our Adopt a Family campaign looked a little different. To follow safety guidelines, we did not do the Holiday Store this year, but had each of our families adopted by our generous donors. Donors adopted more than 50 families this holiday season to help more than 200 people have a brighter holiday.

We would like to thank our amazing individual donors as well as M&T Bank, Molly and Kate, and Hamburg Schools. We would also like to thank Barb Burgstahler for once again donating her beautiful handmade blankets.

Our Adopt a Family Campaign is one of our favorite traditions at Community Services, and we are thrilled that the WNY community has once again shared their generosity to make this holiday season merry and bright for so many families. We cannot thank you enough!

Residents get into the holiday spirit

Residents get into the holiday spirit

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Residents get into the holiday spirit

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the residents at our two of our Southtowns IRAs recently got into the holiday spirit! At one site, our residents spent time together setting up their Christmas tree and decorating it with lights, garland and ornaments. Another site made gingerbread houses, baked cookies and made homemade gifts for their families. Happy holidays from all of our residential sites!

A decorated Christmas tree
A young man smiles and poses with his gingerbread house
A young man shows off his gingerbread house

Hospitality cohort completes hybrid course with amazing results

Hospitality cohort completes hybrid course with amazing results

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Hospitality cohort completes hybrid course with amazing results

On October 5, we continued our partnership with The Service Collaborative of WNY, Inc. (TSC), and began a hybrid model hospitality course, teaching a certified curriculum through the American Hotel and Lodging Education Institute (AHLEI) in Guest Services Gold: Golden Opportunities.

The course was 10-weeks and 11 students were enrolled. Students were in the classroom one day a week, and then participated in remote learning for the rest of the week. The instructor taught a small morning class and a small afternoon class on Mondays, each with 5 or 6 students. This was to ensure the appropriate health and safety COVID protocols were being followed. Students completed a health assessment when entering the Jefferson Career Center, wore masks while in the classroom, and worked to keep their assigned desk areas clean.

In the classroom, focusing on concepts such as personalization, inclusion, and commitment, students were not only learning the skills necessary to provide outstanding Guest Services but also the skills needed to be successful in the workplace. Students were given opportunities to participate in fun and creative assignments that reinforced these concepts and skills. During the rest of the week, students were given weekly work packets to complete at home and participated in weekly one on one phone and/or Zoom calls with the instructor. While this was a new and different situation for everyone, the students excelled. They worked hard, always communicated with the instructor, and never complained.

When the November 18th announcement came that we were entering the Orange Zone, students went fully remote. This was incredibly sad news but, again, the students were so resilient. They worked with the instructor and TSC staff to coordinate drop-off times for their work packets, participated in weekly class Zoom calls, tried their best to ensure their work was completed on time, and quickly learned the online learning system through AHLEI in order to take their certification exam. These were no easy tasks with all of the changes happening around them.

Not only did the students find ways to work through the challenges the world threw at us and complete the course, but all of them passed the online certification exam with amazing results.

We are so proud of their accomplishments and are grateful to them for giving us a fun sense of normalcy during a very challenging and odd time in this world. We wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors and have no doubt that they will continue to add to their list of accomplishments.

Service Collaborative students pose for a picture in their classroom
A classroom at our Jefferson Career Center

Making strides toward achieving goals

Making strides toward achieving goals

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Making strides toward achieving goals

​Our Community Habilitation Team has helped several people they support become more independent within the last few months. From finding new homes to the freedom of getting their driver’s licenses, people we support are achieving their goals!

Managers and staff have helped multiple people move to new homes. They have moved throughout the community  to better areas, desired homes and more financially attractive locations. Our Community Hab Team has also continued to support people in looking at apartments. They have helped with filling out paperwork and applications, and making new community connections.

Staff are also assisting individuals in getting their driver’s permits as well as their driver’s licenses and vehicles for some.

Congratulations to those we support on achieving your goals! Thank you to our Community Hab Team for helping those we support make these strides toward independence!

A picture of a person we support opening the door to their new home
A picture of a person holding key to their new home
A person we support holding up their driver's permit

Virtual Rockin’ with Every1 fundraiser a success

Virtual Rockin’ with Every1 fundraiser a success

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Virtual Rockin’ with Every1 fundraiser a success

Our second Rockin’ with Every1 event certainly looked a little different this year, but the amazing support from the community remained the same! Due to the pandemic, we held a virtual fundraiser with a free live concert that participants could stream and a digital silent auction. Local band The Strictly Hip played a live show at Lakeward Spirits and viewers were able to place bids on some wonderful prizes, such as a trip to Italy.

Funds raised from the event will go directly toward enhancing our services and supporting the people we serve. We would like to thank our platinum sponsor Parkview Health Services, our gold sponsor Northwest Bank, our silver sponsor M&T Bank, and our bronze sponsors Wegmans, Independent Health, KeyBank, and Rusiniak’s. We would also like to thank all our generous donors, community partners, The Strictly Hip and Ripe Audio for making this event possible!

A picture of The Strictly Hip playing a virtual concert