Jawonio Marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Jawonio Marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Nonprofit highlights advances, challenges in disability employment in New York and honors its working consumers

(New City, NY) October 1, 2014 – Jawonio, Inc., the premiere provider of lifespan services in New York and New Jersey for individuals with developmental disabilities and/or special needs marks the 69th annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month by raising awareness of its Employment Services for area adults, and honoring its consumers who exemplify employment excellence.

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

Jawonio is a leading nonprofit provider of employment training, job placement and meaningful employment opportunities in the Hudson Valley for adult individuals with special needs and disabilities.

The organization provides a range of services and programs for adults that supports them through all stages of employment: Job Development (tailored job opportunity identification and development of job seeking skills such as interviewing); Intensive Supported Employment (assistance and coaching that promotes stability and success on the job); Extended Supported Employment – ongoing training, support or crisis intervention; as well as employment services specifically for deaf consumers.

Additionally, the organization has a string of unique business partnerships that provide additional opportunities for employment in a safe and supported environment. These include Jawonio Document Imaging in Collaboration with eBizDocs, the Jawonio Cleaning Company, and the Thrift Store at Jawonio (coming next year). Workers gain independence through the development of responsibilities and life skills while earning a fair wage.

Marc Chindemi, a Jawonio consumer who works at both the Jawonio Cleaning Company and Jawonio Document Imaging in Collaboration with eBizDocs – has been named among the 2014 William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award recipients by New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID) for employee excellence. Chindemi defines employee excellence and we congratulate him wholeheartedly on this special recognition.

“Marc is always eager to try new things and whatever he does, he gives 100%. It is exciting to see Marc thriving and his future is bright. He has a real passion for movies, video editing and production and is currently working with Jawonio to obtain his GED to pursue a career in this field. We have no doubt that when he is ready, he will excel at this as well.” – Stacey Kantrowitz, Program Director of Community Employment Services, Jawonio, Inc.

While there is much to celebrate, there is great room for advancement. We encourage employers to hire people with disabilities and discover the benefits of an inclusive workforce. The public is encouraged to get involved in disability advocacy efforts in New York and nationally.

“ This is a very important time of year to recognize the fact that people with disabilities are willing, and most importantly able, to work. When healthcare agencies like ours are funded appropriately and operate efficiently, we are able to give staff the tools they need to train and support these loyal and productive workers. As the leading employer of people with disabilities in Rockland County, I share the pride in this national recognition event, and am very proud of Marc Chindemi and our staff who support his work. I would also like to publicly thank those progressive employers in the Hudson Valley who hire people with disabilities resulting in an inclusive culture and a positive bottom line for their business.” – Jill A. Warner, CEO, Jawonio.

To learn more about Jawonio Employment Services visit http://www.jawonio.org/employment-services/

To learn more about Jawonio Businesses visit http://www.jawonio.org/for-businesses/

To get involved in Disability Employment Advocacy visit http://www.jawonio.org/get-involved/disability-advocacy/

About Jawonio Inc.
For over 60 years, Jawonio has provided support and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs throughout Rockland County and Westchester County, New York, and Northern New Jersey. We invite you to explore our website and learn more about Jawonio’s unique ability to provide you and your family with answers to your questions, solutions for your loved one with special needs and most importantly, opportunities to foster growth and independence. Visit www.jawonio.org or call (845) 708-2000.


Gov. Signs Order to Help Workers with Disabilities


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order to establish the Employment First Commission, tasked with creating an Employment First policy for New York, which makes competitive, integrated employment the first option when considering supports and services for people with disabilities. The initiative aims to increase the employment rate, and decrease the poverty rate, for New Yorkers who are receiving services from the State, as well as register 100 businesses as having formal policies to hire people with disabilities as part of their workforce strategy.

“Equality and inclusiveness play a central role in the history of New York State, and today we are continuing that legacy by standing up for the employment needs of people with disabilities,” Governor Cuomo said. “This Executive Order relays what we stand for as New Yorkers—it will help provide fair opportunities to all people, and I am proud to move our state forward by signing it.”

The Employment First policy is part of a national movement to support the employment of people with disabilities. The employment rate for a New Yorker with a disability (aged 18-64) is 31.2% compared to 72% for a person without a disability, resulting in a gap of 40.8 percentage points. In addition, the poverty rate for New Yorkers with disabilities aged 18-64 living in the community is 28.6%, which is more than twice that of people in New York State without disabilities (12.3%). The Governor has set a tentative goal of a 5% increase in the employment rate and a 5% decrease in the poverty rate among this population.

The Executive Order can be viewed at http://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/default/files/documents/EmploymentFirstCommissionExecutiveOrder.pdf

According to a Cornell University study, “A Review of Recent Evaluation Efforts Associated with Programs and Policies Designed to Promote the Employment of Adults with Disabilities,” the low employment rates among people with disabilities have negative economic effects on the individual, their family and the macroeconomy. A person’s self-esteem may be lowered, the pool of qualified talent available to employers is reduced, tax revenue is lessened, and society loses aggregate productivity. The study notes that government policies aimed at increasing the employment of working-age people with disabilities can reverse each of these effects.

New York State Independent Living Center Executive Director Brad Williams said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for taking leadership on an issue vital to New Yorkers with disabilities. An Employment First Executive Order will provide a structure to reduce the employment gap for our peers.”

New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services Executive Director Harvey Rosenthal said, “Employment for New Yorkers with disabilities is the pathway out of poverty and towards fulfilling lives in the community. Once again, Governor Cuomo is leading the way on disability policy in New York State and across the nation.”

Coalition of Mainstream Employment Programs President Edmund O’Donnell said, “Making employment for individuals with disabilities a priority for New York State is a crucial first step in improving their lives. Unemployment and accompanying poverty are the millstones holding back lives of independence and dignity. Employers need to be the focus. They are the keys success. The Governor should be commended for his support and advocacy.”

New York State Rehabilitation Association President and CEO Michael Seereiter said, “As NYSRA’s recently issued white paper entitled “Getting the Job Done” outlines a series of actions state government can undertake to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities, we applaud the Governor for exercising this type of executive leadership, unprecedented in recent history. The Employment First Commission outlined by the Governor is an excellent step toward improving the deplorable employment rate among people with disabilities that has existed for decades.”​

Self-Advocacy Association of New York State Director of Policy and self-advocate leader Clint Perrin said, “Members of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State support the Governor’s Employment First initiative. We believe every New Yorker with a developmental disability has the right to work with the supports they need to be successful at a job in their community. We believe people should also be supported to engage in activities of their choice, including inclusive volunteering and community service, educational and vocational pursuits, and other meaningful opportunities that lead to connections with members of their community.”

NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare Executive Director Lauri Cole said, “The New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare applauds the Governor on taking this important step. All New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to engage in meaningful employment that enhances their sense of self-worth and dignity while also making valuable contributions to their local community. We stand with the Governor and all system stakeholders dedicated to improving work opportunities for New Yorkers living with physical or behavioral health conditions and we look forward to working with the Administration on this important endeavor.”

New York Association on Independent Living Executive Director Lindsay Miller said, “The New York Association on Independent Living strongly supports Governor Cuomo’s Employment First initiative. Access to quality and integrated employment is fundamental to achieving independence for all individuals. This Executive Order is a significant step towards addressing the longstanding barriers to employment faced by New Yorkers with disabilities.”

New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals Executive Director Melinda Mack said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for taking this important step toward providing New Yorkers with disabilities access not only to employment, but economic security. Employment is a critical factor in the health, wellness and stability of our local communities. The workforce boards and providers across the State are committed to supporting all New Yorkers, including those with disabilities, through the State’s workforce system, and working with the State’s employers to hire.”

Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, Inc. Executive Director Denise Figueroa said, “We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in creating opportunities for economic self-sufficiency for New Yorkers with disabilities. People with disabilities have the highest unemployment rate among protected classes. Employment is the key to economic freedom.”

Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York of People, Inc. President and COO Rhonda Frederick said, “Regularly, we hear from our business community in Western New York that individuals with developmental disabilities are some of their best employees – they’re dedicated and hard working. But unfortunately, there aren’t enough job opportunities for them. As his efforts continue to improve the economy in Western New York and New York State, Governor Cuomo again is on the right track in creating this commission so that more individuals with developmental disabilities will have greater employment opportunities. But more importantly, businesses in our community and across the state will see that they’re an asset to their workforce and our economy.”

The Employment First Commission is comprised of representatives from the Governor’s office and State agencies and will build on Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive plan for reclaiming New York’s leadership role in serving people with disabilities. Since 2011, fundamental changes have been implemented to help people with disabilities live more integrated and fulfilling lives, which include the State’s Olmstead Plan that prioritizes competitive integrated employment as a foundational component to community integration, the State’s Medicaid redesign efforts that focus on employment outcomes for people with disabilities, the creation of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, and the New York’s Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act, signed into law earlier this year. In addition, the State established the Governor’s Program to Hire Individuals and Veterans with Disabilities, an alternative hiring program for individuals with disabilities, which includes a new Recruitment Resources Center web portal that launched this year.

Governor Cuomo’s action today will strengthen New York State’s Disability Employment Initiative, which is currently in place to improve educational, training, and employment opportunities and outcomes for adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed, and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Initiative coordinates among individuals, employers, and the community using asset development programs implemented at State and local levels, in part to serve as Employment Networks under the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program. The Disability Employment Initiative is jointly funded and administered by the United States Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

This Executive Order also builds on the work that New York State has engaged in for nearly three decades through the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Today, nearly 10,000 individuals are enrolled in supported employment and 7,800 are engaged in competitive employment.

Employment services currently offered by Office for People With Developmental Disabilities include:

· Supported Employment, which involves the ongoing provision of job-related supports for people with significant disabilities to maintain their competitive employment in community settings.
· Pathway to Employment, which is a new service designed to assist individuals in developing pre-employment skills, engage in integrated community vocational experiences, and develop a vocational and career plan.
· Employment Training Program, which provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to learn skills through an on-the-job work experience and develop job-readiness skills in a classroom setting.
· Self-directed Service Options, which empower people with disabilities and their families to design and manage their services and hire their own staff based on the person’s individualized goals and abilities.
· Employment and Benefits Counseling, which promotes the understanding of New York State’s network of certified benefits counselors who are trained to give personalized planning and detailed technical assistance on benefits and work incentives.

The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities’ Transformation Agenda outlines strategies to increase competitive and integrated employment opportunities, and sets targets to transform sheltered workshops to models of integrated employment. The Office of Mental Health has reinvested funds from community-based sheltered workshops into vocational services and supports while partnering with local government and community agencies to help individuals attain and sustain employment in competitive, integrated settings.

The Office of Mental Health has expanded the Social Security Ticket to Work program and simplified the process for providers and recipients to participate in this program. The program is now the largest and most successful of its kind in the United States, providing access for people with disabilities to the mainstream employment supports available to all New Yorkers, and coordinating these supports so New Yorkers with disabilities have the opportunity to work, pay taxes, and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Additionally, the Office of Mental Health has:
· Increased training for mental health providers, recipients and families on a variety of social security work incentives.
· Partnered with the New York State Department of Labor to provide service recipients better access to job supports and training programs.
· Partnered with Cornell University to obtain a PROMISE grant that targets employment services toward youth with disabilities and their families.
The Department of Labor has committed to coordinating and better aligning workforce strategies within different State agencies to strengthen vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

New York State currently applies strict policies regarding discrimination against people with disabilities. The New York State Department of Labor Policy Statement on Discrimination against People with Disabilities is available at http://www.labor.ny.gov/careerservices/pdfs/ga810.pdf

New York has established the Workers with Developmental Disabilities Tax Credit, a tax credit that can result in up to $5,000, or 15 percent of qualified wages, for full-time employees of more than six months, and up to $2500, or 10 percent of qualified wages, for individuals employed part-time for more than six months. There is no limit the number of hires one company can make, and the employer ultimately decides who to hire. More information about the Workers with Developmental Disabilities Tax Credit is available at http://labor.ny.gov/businessservices/developmental-disability-tax-credit.shtm

Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has protected people with disabilities from discrimination in employment. In 2008, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act to broaden the definition of “disability” that had been narrowed by Supreme Court decisions. More information about the Americans with Disabilities Act and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act is available at http://www.labor.ny.gov/equal-opportunity/americans-with-disabilities-act.shtm

Thank You Letter To Our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs)

In Honor of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Week:

From September 7th through the 14th, Jawonio will join with many of our sister agencies around the region and our country to recognize a significant segment of our workforce during National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.

As a Direct Support Professional, you offer a wide range of quality and compassionate services on a daily basis so that individuals with special needs can live, work and play throughout the communities we serve. Most importantly, your role supports each individual’s right to be included as full and equal members of our society. Every Direct Support Professional has the ability everyday to make a positive contribution to the people who come to us for services –and You Do!

Out of respect for your work and profession, I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize you for the immeasurable difference you make each and every day in the lives of people in your care.

Therefore, on behalf of our board of directors, and all of us at Jawonio, thank you for your dedication and commitment to our most vulnerable citizens and for the vital work you do.

Jill A Warner signature




Jill A. Warner, LCSW Executive Director/CEO

Farm-to-Work Brings Fresh Food to Jawonio Employees

As part of our commitment to fostering a healthier workplace, Jawonio recently joined the Farm-to-Work Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program – a CSA designed to meet the needs of busy, working individuals who want to eat healthy, local food.

This is a new initiative offered by the “Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play” program of the Rockland County Department of Health that allows employees, groups of employees, and Jawonio collectively to buy seasonal food directly from a farmer (specifically, Wright’s Farm in Gardiner, New York, and Glebocki Farm in Goshen, New York). There will be a farmer’s market type spread and visits from the Farm-to-Work “food-truck” at lunchtime to various Jawonio Campus locations throughout the season.

Earlier this year Jawonio was the recipient of a “Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play” award for our new Employee Wellness Center – a fitness, wellness and education center at our Main Campus that encourages Jawonio employees to lead a fit and healthy life. Jawonio Human Resources Manager, Viola James, was specifically honored for her leadership in the project and her certification in a diet and nutrition program designed for workplaces. By engaging in healthy behaviors we can better encourage our consumers and community to do the same.

Healthy eating is key to our goals, and we are thrilled that our employees (and any community members who stop by) will have access to affordable, fresh, and locally grown foods – delivered right to the workplace! Many employees have already vocalized how excited they are to eat better ‘on the job’ and bring fresh produce and other foods home to their families.

Jawonio supports Farm-To-Work’s core values as part of our new health and wellness initiatives:

1. Freshness—Eat fresh fruits throughout the season, 
straight from the field to your hands. It tastes better and 
it’s more nutritious.
2. Variety—Opportunity to try new varieties of produce.
3. Knowing where your food comes from—Deepen 
your connection to what you eat by getting to know the 
people who grow it.
4. Supporting the environment—Eat produce that is 
grown with eco-friendly methods.
5. Cook more—The healthiest meals are those cooked at 
home with fresh produce. Weekly newsletter supplies 
some recipe inspiration.
6. Value—Save money compared to buying similar 
produce at a farmer’s market. About 20% compared to 
farmers markets.
7. Economies—Know that your support helps the local 
economy by creating jobs locally.
8. Farm—CSAs preserve farmland by supporting local 
9. Convenience- Delivered directly to your workplace.

Special thanks goes to Mia Wolinsky, Registered Dietician, who works in Jawonio’s Community Living Services and the Jawonio Health Center for her efforts in coordinating this initiative with the Department of Health and Wrights Farm.

(more dates coming soon– check back!)

Thursday, Aug 28th 12:45-1:45
New City campus (in front of Fisher residence)
Items available for purchase: Locally grown seasonal produce and baked goods.

Jawonio Health & Welllness Project Named “Regional Priority”

Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council Endorses 25 Projects as Regional Priorities for 2014 Competition

The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) today announced that it has endorsed 25 projects as regional priorities for Round IV of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. If awarded funding this fall, the projects have the potential to generate over $600 million in economic activity and the potential to create and retain more than 3,500 full-time jobs as well as create 3,700 construction jobs in the Mid-Hudson Region (Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties).

“The 25 Priority Projects endorsed by the Council today have the potential to transform cities and communities across the Mid-Hudson region by creating new jobs, generating significant investment, and expanding economic opportunities for New Yorkers,” said MHREDC Co-chairs Dennis Murray, PhD, President of Marist College and Leonard Schleifer, MD, PhD, President & CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “Over the last three years, the Mid-Hudson REDC has worked hard to successfully implement our Strategic Plan and it has paid off – to the tune of nearly $220 million of state investment in the region to support more than 230 projects that are creating jobs and spurring economic activity in the seven counties we represent. The slate of projects we are recommending today support our strategic economic development goals and will further implement our plan for economy prosperity the Mid-Hudson.”

As part of their ongoing efforts to engage the public, earlier this summer the Council issued a call for projects seeking consideration for endorsement and submission as regional priorities for Round III of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The MHREDC received 111 Priority Project proposals from across the region and, after conducting its due diligence and a thorough review, selected several applicants who were invited to provide a full presentation to members of the Regional Council. After 15 hours of presentations and several hours of deliberation, the Council identified 25 projects that had risen to the level of Priority Project designation.

Each of the Mid Hudson’s seven counties are represented, ensuring the diversity and needs of many communities are accounted for. Moreover, the projects advance each of the Council’s goals, as contained in the Strategic Plan, thus ensuring each project advances the implementation of the Plan itself.

The following project(s) have been endorsed by the Council as Priority Projects:

Jawonio Integrated Health Wellness and Work Project – A $24 million enhancement, consolidation and expansion of Jawonio’s New City campus, which will include substantial renovation/construction of a 97,000 square foot building, and IT infrastructure enhancements which will position Jawonio for the planned expansion of its employment services division, social enterprises, health center and provide a centralized headquarters for its multi-faceted agency. (Rockland and Westchester counties)

All Priority Projects are subject to the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) requests and information submitted by the project sponsor to their respective agencies. The Regional Council awards will be announced later this year.

The Governor has directed up to $750 million in State resources to be made available in 2014 to support the economic development priorities of all 10 regions and spur job creation across the state, including $220 million in competitive funds from Empire State Development. In the first three rounds of the Regional Council initiative, the Mid-Hudson region was awarded $219.4 million in state support for 232 projects across the region.

About the Regional Economic Development Councils

In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. After three rounds of the REDC process, more than $2 billion has been awarded to job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans, supporting the creation or retention of more than 100,000 jobs. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov