Community Services for Every1

Celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Back in 1987, the month of March was designated “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month” by then President Ronald Reagan.  The push towards deinstitutionalization in the 70s and 80s provided the bedrock for incredible and needed social advancement.  Reagan’s proclamation asked Americans to offer  individuals with developmental disabilities “both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.

A Changing Landscape

As the narrative continued to shift, and those individuals impacted began to live and transition into an increasing part of the general community, programs aimed at career coaching, planning and placement started to emerge as well.  The notion that individuals with developmental disabilities could transition into productive and valuable members of the workforce was new to many Americans and as such, work to deconstruct long-established preconceptions and stereotypes had to be approached head on.

Just a few years later, in 1990, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, significant ground was made towards mitigating discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace.

With Reagan’s proclamation and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the realistic expectations of individuals with disabilities began to change and autonomy, perseverance and community involvement increasingly became an achievable goal.  Simultaneously, along with better health care, individuals with developmental disabilities started living longer and cultivated a wide spectrum of support needed to live fulfilling lives.   

In 2004, the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) further clarified the perseverance, importance and abilities of individuals with disabilities.  While promising early interventions, special education and services to help high schoolers transition into adulthood, IDEA continued to open doors.

Forging Forward

While there has been significant and positive change three decades after the establishment of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, many challenges remain and we at Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled remain committed to continue working and advocating for our community.  Our 40 different programs provide a full range of services to meet the personal, social, vocational training for developmentally disabled in WNY needs and to meet the goals of the people we serve.  

We celebrate achievements and diversity  during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and hope you take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate with us.  We emphasize our commitment to working with developmentally disabled and community efforts to ensure the availability of support services to advocate for individuals with disabilities to live, work and participate fully in society.

Continuing the Fight for a Fair Wage

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Below is a statement from the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition on the governor’s failure to include living wage funding for Direct Care Workers in the executive budget. You can continue your support of the Coalition by sharing your stories on social media and tagging #bFair2DirectCare.

“#bFair2DirectCare could not have been clearer in what’s needed in this year’s budget to help direct care workers achieve a living wage – the very kind of economic justice Governor Cuomo has championed for other working New Yorkers – $45 million.

“What Governor Cuomo proposed can be simply described as ‘bupkis.’ It’s an old Yiddish phrase gently translated as ‘nothing.’

“In a budget where he called $163 million for his college tuition program ‘a rounding error,’ it’s baffling that he could not offer a fraction of that to help non-profits take a fist step toward providing a living wage for people whose job it is to bathe, feed, dress, medicate and serve people with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, brain injury and other developmental disabilities.

“If $163 million is a rounding error, as the Governor stated last night, then what’s less than a third of that? Barely even a typo in a $150 billion-plus budget.

“Governor Cuomo fails to recognize that non-profits provide this service on the state’s behalf and for less than the state can provide the same services. Yet he endorses and perpetuates a state funding scheme that leaves non-profit providers no leeway in paying workers a salary that provides for their families, which is why many direct care workers must work second or third jobs or are tempted to leave the field for better paying jobs in fast food and big box stores. In addition, he even proposes to eliminate the statutory cost of living adjustment.

“Many direct care workers work full time and still qualify for food stamps. That’s justice?

“The time is now for Governor Cuomo to widen his ‘middle class’ focus to support these New Yorkers who support others.

“Yesterday, direct care workers and the good people they support stood outside the Governor’s Mansion in freezing temperatures while he briefed legislators on the budget. Governor Cuomo still has a chance to become their hero, instead of leaving them out in the cold.

“#bFair2DirectCare is more than a half a million strong and we are New York.”


Building Our Future

We are excited to share recent developments on our Jefferson Career Center! Recently, Community Services received a grant of almost $1 million from the State to help build our Jefferson Career Center. Please help us spread the word to help build valuable connections to ensure those we serve are given every opportunity to find meaningful employment. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project and those who will help in the future.

For more information, go to



300 Days to Better Pay Campaign

This past spring, the #bFair2Direct Care Coalition launched the “300 Days to Better Pay” Campaign, just 300 days prior to the next State Budget adoption. The Coalition has been working with policymakers in Albany and the state to secure funding in the budget to increase wages for Direct Support Professionals and other direct care staff.

Here at Community Services, we need your help to spread this message. DSPs deserve to make a living wage. We need to speak up so our voices are heard by our government officials. You can help by:

  • Liking the bFair2DirectCare Facebook page
  • Following the bFair2DirectCare Twitter account: @Fair2DirectCare
  • Calling, emailing or tagging your NYS Senator, Assembly Member and Gov. Cuomo on social media

Download (PDF, 342KB)

A Cabaret of Talents

Community Services recently held a talent show to highlight some of the incredible musical and theatrical skills of the people we serve. We were fortunate to have Sabretooth visit which created a stir of excitement.  Thanks to everyone who participated or volunteered to make this awesome event happen!


Journey Along the Erie Canal

Today we celebrated the start of the 4th Annual Journey Along the Erie Canal.  Leading the group was John Robinson, CEO of Our Ability, Inc.   The group who attended from Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled was thrilled to send the cyclists off with loud cheers and ringing cow bells.

A special thank you to Senator Ortt for showing his support today.  For more information on the ride and Our Ability,  go to

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Day of Caring

by Julie Marzolf

Today our employees, friends and people we support volunteer their time and talents to United Way’s Annual Day of Caring.  Stay tuned for photos and updates!

Kinderman Promoted to Vice President

Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled is proud to announce the promotion of Kelly E. Kinderman, a longtime employee of Community Services to Vice President of Program Support and Development. She will be replacing Sharon Chmielnicki who has recently been promoted to VP of Programs and COO. We are fully confident that Kinderman’s skills, experience, passion and dedication for our mission makes her the ideal candidate for this position.

As Vice President of Program Support and Development, Kinderman will oversee the planning and implementation of the Agency’s quality assurance and quality improvement program, program development, strategic planning, and staff development. She will ensure compliance with all government and contractual rules and regulations. Kinderman will also serve as a Corporate Compliance Officer and HIPPA Compliance Officer. We look forward to what Kinderman will contribute to our Agency as one of our newest Vice Presidents.