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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

Ridgeway Commons provides affordable, quality housing

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Earlier this month, we held a ribbon cutting for our brand new affordable housing complex, Ridgeway Commons, located on Ridge Road in Lackawanna. This complex offers 32 units to families and individuals, as well as 8 set aside for people with developmental disabilities. Handicapped accessible apartments are also available.

Joel, a tenant at Ridgeway Commons, spoke during the ceremony about how Community Services has helped him and his wife get settled in the Buffalo area. They had previously lived in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit. Joel said it was devastating, and they had no electricity or water. His daughter brought them back to Buffalo where they eventually heard about Ridgeway Commons. They were able to move in earlier this spring.

“I love it here. My wife and I are so happy and grateful,” Joel said about their new apartment.

The new complex has also helped Shanon and Charlene. Shanon had lived in a group home his entire life. Now he has moved into Ridgeway Commons, his first apartment! Charlene also moved in, becoming more independent and is “loving her new place.”

This project was made possible by NYS Homes and Community Renewal, with funding from the Federal Low Income Housing Credit program, NYS Housing Trust Fund Corporation and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

We are so thankful to our partners who helped make this project possible and are thrilled to be able to provide this wonderful new place to people in our local community.

Ridgeway Commons’ applications are available here.

 

You can read news stories about the opening by clicking the following links:

New affordable housing comes to Lackawanna

New housing complex opens in Lackawanna

 

 

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

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.