Community Services for Every1

Silver Anniversary Gala “Cheers to 25 Years”

by Dinorah Santos

On November 7th, Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled celebrated its 25th Anniversary at Templeton Landing. It was an evening filled with great food, jazzy music, and laughter as we reminisced about the early days of the Agency and how far we have come. Laura Daniels from The Mix Morning Rush on Mix 96 was our emcee for the evening. She engaged our guests with her quick wit and sense of humor. Mark R. Foley, President & CEO was presented a gift from the Chair of the Agency Board, Rebecca Boyle and the Chair of the Foundation Board, Scott B. Vahue. This commemorative gift was given to Mark to celebrate his 25 years as President & CEO of Community Services.

We would like to thank our Platinum sponsors, Wegmans and Key Bank. We would also like to thank our Silver sponsors, Parkview Health Services, Dopkins & Company LLP, Bouvier, First Niagara, AAA of Western and Central New York, Mobile First Media and Independent Health.

To view photos from the Gala, please visit our Facebook page at

First Annual Golf Tournament

by Dinorah Santos

Chipping in for Community Services

On July 21, 2014, the Community Service Support Foundation held their first annual golf tournament at the East Aurora Country Club.  Golfers who participated did so through sponsorships from several different companies including Tops, Parkview, Lawley, and Deltex Electric.

It couldn’t have been a better day to golf! There was not a cloud in sight.  If you haven’t seen them already, please take a moment to look at the photos from the event on our Facebook page and Instagram.

The shotgun start began at 12:30 p.m. For those who are not familiar with golf terms, a shotgun start is when all groups of players tee off simultaneously from different holes. This allows all golfers to finish playing about the same time, regardless of their skill level.

The Silent Auction began at 4:00 p.m. with several exciting items that were generously donated through our community partners and local businesses. Some of the items were Airline ticket vouchers, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra tickets, several gift cards, Darien Lake tickets, limited edition hockey stick signed by a Buffalo Sabre and much more.

We are happy to say that everyone left with a smile on their face and a better understanding of the work we do at Community Services. Contributions made during the event, as well as the funds earned through sponsorships go directly to the Community Services Support Foundation. This means more funding for mini-grants which are used for program or service enhancements.

Thank you to all of our volunteers: Kym Smith, Cheryl Houston, Vijay Kodan, Shannon Petrusek, Melanie Dutschman, Michelle Zangerle and Sean Farrell.  We hope you will consider volunteering again for the 25th Anniversary Gala in November.  If you are interested in volunteering for future events (volunteers attend for FREE), please contact Julie Marzolf at

Snack Attack Opens For Business

by Dean Stresing

Small Convenience Store Provides Valuable Training

March 7, 2014 marked the Grand Opening of the Community Services Supported Employment program’s “Snack Attack” convenience store at the 452 Delaware Avenue Community Services offices in Buffalo, NY.   The small snack shop, located in the waiting area of our 452 Delaware Avenue offices, provides valuable retail and customer service training to the people that Community Services supports.

Creation of the “Snack Attack” program and shop was funded by generous grants from the East Hill Foundation and the Community Services Support Foundation.  Michelle Schmidt and Ami Greatbatch from the East Hill Foundation attended the opening and were one of the first official customers at the shop.

Community Services Support Foundation Board of Directors Members, Stephen E. Mayo, Christyn Newlin and Karen A. Silver joined Community Services CEO Mark R. Foley for a cup of coffee from the shop along with many other customers.

At the “Snack Attack” convenience store, waiting room patrons and Community Services employees can get warm lunch, a light snack, sweet treats or a “pick-me-up” coffee or soda.  Business has been brisk as the shop trained and readied for the Grand Opening in the last few weeks.

The Agency intends to expand the program to additional locations in the future.

To Learn more about the Community Services Supported Employment Program, visit

The Grand Opening Ceremony

The Grand Opening Ceremony

Snack Attack Trainees Barb and Ken with Community Services Staff Michelle Zangerle (right) and Rekeem Greene (back)

Snack Attack Trainees Barb and Ken with Community Services Staff Michelle Zangerle (right) and Rekeem Greene (back)

L-R - Michelle Schmidt, Ami Greatbatch (East Hill Fndtn), Stephen Mayo (Comm Servs Support Fndtn), Mark R. Foley (Comm Servs CEO), Christyn Newlin, Karen Silver (Comm Servs Support Fndtn), Michelle Zangerle (Comm Servs for DD); Front - Barb and Ken (Snack Attack)

L-R - Michelle Schmidt, Ami Greatbatch (East Hill Fndtn), Stephen Mayo (Comm Servs Support Fndtn), Mark R. Foley (Comm Servs CEO), Christyn Newlin, Karen Silver (Comm Servs Support Fndtn), Michelle Zangerle (Comm Servs for DD); Front - Barb and Ken (Snack Attack)

Community Services Support Foundation Board Member Stephen Mayo Buys a Snack from Ken

Community Services Support Foundation Board Member Stephen Mayo Buys a Snack from Ken

Customers Line Up For The Grand Opening of the Snack Attack

Customers Line Up For The Grand Opening of the Snack Attack

PlaySpace Dedicated at Respite Open House

by dstresing

Several Donors Made Project Possible

In late October 2013, an open house for donors and volunteers with a short dedication of a new children’s outdoor play space took place at the Children’s Guild Foundation Mildred M. Seegler Respite House run by Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled on Dixon drive in the Town of Tonawanda, New York.

Three local foundations were honored for their generous grants for the Respite House. KeyBank gave a total of $30,000 towards renovations and supplies for the house; the Maria Love Convalescent Fund provided $10,000 toward sensory, medical and adaptive equipment; the M&T Charitable Foundation donated $1,500 for teen and young adult transition program supplies.  Additionally, The Baird Foundation recently announced a $3,000 contribution to renovations at the house.

The new outdoor fenced in play area at the Respite House was also dedicated.  The playground was made possible by a grant of $7,275.00 from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western New York.  The grant monies used to support this award were raised through the efforts of the local McDonald’s Restaurants in the Western New York community, and in part by national McDonald’s promotional programs.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities funds were used to purchase playground equipment for The Children’s Respite House.  As project momentum grew, the play space attracted the attention and the funding of other area businesses and charitable organizations to provide additional resources for the house and play space.

Lowe’s Heroes, a charitable branch of the home improvement store, provided fencing, landscaping, a gas grill, picnic tables and other supplies.  Other donations and work were provided by Just Fences, Capital Fence and American Eagle Fireplaces & Playsets.

Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled officially opened the respite center in April 2013 and has dedicated the home to serving the children and residents of the City of Buffalo, and surrounding areas.

In the immediate Buffalo area, there are hundreds of families that seek overnight respite services for children with developmental disabilities.  The new Community Services respite site is the first of its kind to offer overnight and after school respite for these families in a location in or close to the city limits.  Currently, nearly all of Western New York’s respite sites are located in suburban areas not easily accessed by public transportation.

Ronald McDonald House Charities provides lodging, comfort and emotional support to families of children receiving medical treatment at area hospitals and reaches out to families in the community by supporting programs that benefit children.

If you would like to donate to Community Services, please visit our donation page at:

3rd Annual Friend Raiser Builds Foundation and Friends

3rd Annual Friend Raiser Builds Foundation and Friends

by dstresing

Friends of Community Services, corporate sponsors and
their employees gathered at the Buffalo waterfront’s
popular Templeton Landing for the 3rd Annual
Community Services Support Foundation’s
Friend Raiser on Thursday, September 12th. The
cocktail hour event showed how funds donated to
the Foundation are used and the sorts of things that they
do for the people that Community Services supports.

Michelle Zangerle and Carlton Jackson spoke
about how their 2012 mini-grant helped to fund
the creation of a soda vending machine opportunity.
The Pre-employment Experiences = Prepared
Successful Individuals (P.E.P.S.I.) project successfully
completed its first year and is actually expanding
to other locations with new machines. Michelle
submitted the grant application, worked to bring
the program into reality with Carlton working
alongside from the beginning.

This year’s Community Services Support Foundation Mini-
Grants seek to help Community Services departments
and staff create and enhance opportunities for the
people that Community Services supports. The
2013 mini-grant awards are listed at the right.

Thanks to everyone that came to our 3rd Annual
Friend Raiser. What a great night! Thanks to all of the
sponsors including Tops Markets, ParkviewHealth
Services, Brown and Brown Insurance, Independent
Health, Dopkins & Company Accountants, West-Herr
Automotive Group, Bison Fleet Specialists, William L.
Long Associates Architects, Bouvier Partnership, LLC
Attorneys, Key Bank, Walsh insurance, Philadelphia
Insurance and Calamar Builders and Developers.

We’ve been hearing good things and we’re glad
that everyone had a good time. See you at our
25th Gala next year!


Community Services “Public Report” TV Interview

by dstresing

Earl Cohan and Julie Marzolf Talk About Residential Services

On Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm, our Director of Residential Services, Earl Cohan and Foundation Fundraising Coordinator, Julie Marzolf, appeared on the television program “Public Report” on the TCT Network.  The 15-minute segment was in the second half of the show, after a group from the University of Buffalo.

Earl and Julie recorded the segment in mid-July 2013 at the local studios located on Big Tree Road in Orchard Park, NY.  They talked about the Agency overall and focused some on the Residential side of the organization and the 2013 Friend Raiser on September 12.

The segment broadcast stations are as follows:

Buffalo Time Warner – City – Ch 23
WNY Time Warner – Suburbs – Ch 12
Antenna – Ch 26.1

Others fill gap after agency that served developmentally disabled closes

by Jay Tokasz | News Staff Reporter

Community Services Accepts Individuals and Staff of Closing Agency

The Buffalo News  [ View Original Article ]

In the wake of a Buffalo human service agency’s bankruptcy last week, other organizations scrambled to ensure more than 200 clients with physical and developmental disabilities or traumatic brain injuries continued receiving services, officials said Tuesday.

Debt-ridden Phoenix Frontier Inc. shut its doors Friday as a result of its Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District of New York.

By Monday, several other agencies stepped in to accommodate most of Phoenix Frontier’s clients.

“No one was left in an unsafe condition. That was really critical,” said Rhonda Frederick, president of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York, a collaborative of about 45 area agencies. “As a community, Western New York really rallied and made sure people were safe.”

Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled took over operation of a day program for about 70 clients at two sites, one on Leroy Avenue and another in Wheatfield.

Clients in those programs continued to show up as usual on Monday.

Nineteen former Phoenix Frontier employees were hired to keep the programs going, said Mark R. Foley, president and chief executive officer of Community Services, which also operates day habilitation sites on Genesee Street and in Lackawanna.

“We basically had four days or so to step in and take over what was going on,” Foley said. “We were hoping to have complete continuity of the services.”

Goodwill Industries of Western New York, meanwhile, assumed contracts that will keep 80 people with developmental disabilities working at the agency’s William Street workshop, where they can perform light manufacturing work, packaging assembly and collating. Some of the workers will report to Goodwill’s facility as early as today.

“It’s a sad story that a nonprofit agency had to shut down. But the good news story is the rest of the nonprofit community came together to help out,” said Thomas Lynch, president and chief executive officer. “The amount of cooperation was unbelievable.”

People Inc. arranged for new providers to take on 52 people who participated in Phoenix Frontier’s traumatic brain injury program under a contract with the state Health Department.

“It was quite a little scramble, but we were able to do it,” said Frederick, chief operating officer at People Inc., one of the area’s largest human services providers.

Phoenix Frontier listed debts to more than 100 creditors – totalling $1 million to $10 million – in its filing.

The agency’s financial problems came to light earlier this year in a lawsuit by Jack K. Manganello, its former president and chief executive officer, who was fired in March.

The case revealed an agency in fiscal turmoil, with $133,000 owed to the Internal Revenue Service in overdue taxes, $164,000 owed to the state Office of the Medicaid Inspector General for overcharges to the state’s Medicaid program and $175,000 owed to Key Bank.

“The losses were continuing even with extreme belt-tightening,” said William F. Savino, an attorney representing Phoenix Frontier. “The board had the foresight to close down the doors before it was unable to pay its own payroll or was locked out of its bank accounts.”

Some employees said they first learned of the closure last Tuesday, when chief executive officer Sandra Heath made an announcement alongside representatives from the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, which signed off on the transfer of clients to other agencies.

“I don’t feel that the board gave us a chance. We did ask to go Chapter 11 to reorganize,” said one employee, who spoke on the condition her identity be withheld. “It’s really sad. That place has been there since 1965. We had some very angry families.”

Employees received their final checks on Friday, but some said the checks bounced.

Morris Horwitz, trustee in the bankruptcy case, said the judge in the case will be asked to direct Key Bank to honor all the payroll and health insurance premium checks issued to employees.

“Those people are entitled to pay,” Horwitz said. “We’re aware of it and we’re working on it.”


Community Services Direct Support Professional Receives Award

by dstresing

DSP George Miller Selected for Annual Award

From left: Community Services' Joe Pendergast & George Miller with NYSACRA's Helen Hanes

From left: Community Services’ Joe Pendergast & George Miller with NYSACRA’s Helen Hanes

Community Services is honored by George’s recognition of his service and support to people with developmental disabilities.

George received his award on Friday, June 14th at the Western Region 2013 Direct Support Professional conference in Kueka Park, NY.   The conference was co-hosted by the Direct Support Professional Alliance of New York State (DSPANYS) and NYSACRA (New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies).

Each June, employees from voluntary agencies similar to Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled from all around New York State descend upon Keuka College for the annual Keuka Lake Conference.  The conference, which has been operating for the past 31 years, selects one Direct Support Professional that has gone above and beyond in the performance of their job.

George has been employed with Community Services since June 2012 as a Day Hab Instructor at Community Services 1377 Abbott Road program. In his time at CSDD, George has worked to provide those attending the Abbott Day Hab with numerous opportunities to become more actively involved in their community.

George recently connected some of the folks that had an interest in cars and trucks with Basil Chevrolet. In addition spending some time at the dealership, they were able to participate in creating a commercial with the dealership.

George has also worked to connect those attending the Abbott Day Hab with their local politicians; including the Buffalo Mayor, Byron Brown; Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski and NYS Senator Tim Kennedy.  These meetings created an opportunity to learn about the things that were happening in the community and point out the importance of continued state funding of agencies like Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled.

Thank you George for you dedication and for truly Living the Community Services Mission.

A Grand Start for Disabled Child Respite Home

by By Jessica Bagley

Tonawanda News  [ View Original Article ]

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — A local organization celebrated the opening of a town respite home Tuesday morning that will serve as an overnight and after-school care center for developmentally disabled children.

“What this home will do in the future is help those who need it,” Mark R. Foley, of Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled, said during the ribbon cutting of the center. “As we know, this is one of the few respite homes in Western New York.”

Community Services purchased the home last year — thanks to a $200,000 donation provided by the late Mildred M. Seegler, who was a special education teacher and donated her estate to four different charities. With numerous other donations in hand, the organization began renovating the home in the fall.

The home, located at 52 Dixon Drive, now has four large bedrooms, one of which is wheelchair-accessible. Children ages 5 to 18 will be able to stay at the home once the overnight program begins later this month. And next week, older individuals, ages 17 to 21, will begin making use of the home during an after-school program.

“They’ll be learning things you don’t learn in school — like how to prepare for an interview, and how to do laundry,” Kari Heigl, of Community Services, said. “It will help them transition into adulthood.”

The home is one of a handful in Western New York, and will be the closest respite center to the City of Buffalo, which the organization hopes to serve.

“This one is so much closer, and will help families who can’t make the drive way out to the others homes, which are either way north or way south,” Foley said.

Heigl, who spearheaded the project, said the other homes have wait lists of up to four years — making it hard on families who may need a break from 24/7 care of a disabled child.

But despite the celebratory mood Tuesday, the project didn’t come without controversy. In the fall, after the organization purchased the home and announced their plans, a group of town residents who live near the home publicly objected to the plans for the home.

Residents spoke out against the project at town board meetings and signed a petition against the proposals. They argued the home would cause more traffic in the neighborhood, and that the home violated zoning codes.

Although officials attempted to address the group’s concerns, board members and Town Attorney John Flynn said both the codes and state law allowed for the purchase and use of the home.

But months later, some residents are still concerned.

“We are worried because of the congestion,” Dorothy Merzacco, of Dixon Drive said. “This is a real residential neighborhood, very quiet … we figure it was going to become noisy, with more traffic. And I live in the second home from that location.”

But Heigl said many other neighbors have reached out to her to show their support for the project.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support, with neighbors saying they are for it — that they have children of their own with disabilities,” Heigl said. “I chalk the worries up to concerns about the unknown.”

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150