Steve Neelin

Why volunteer?

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Meet Steve Neelin who is an avid volunteer in the Rochester community.  Volunteering is a significant part of his life.  He enjoys helping people and encourages everyone to get involved with a non-profit and make a difference. Steve volunteers with the Special Olympics locally, initially getting involved through work.  The first woman he coached participated in the adaptive games.  “She stole my heart and I’ve been hooked ever since,” says Steve.  For 18 years he has coached soccer, basketball, track, softball, and floor hockey.  He is still volunteers with Special Olympics today. Getting involved Steve’s involvement with the Special Olympics inevitably led …

Ben Ibezim

A Career of Excellence

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Congratulations to Ben Ibezim for winning the Arc New York 2018 Thomas A. Maul Direct Support Professional Excellence Award!  The Arc of Monroe is so proud to have Ben Ibezim as part of our team for over 20 years.  He began his career as a Direct Support Professional and was quickly promoted to Assistant Manager.  He has been in his current role as Residence Manager for 15 years. Melody Johnson, Director of Educational & Professional Development says, “Ben shares his passion for work with others. He mentors people to understand the purpose of their work, being more than just a job. …

Professional Development at NADSP Conference

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I just got back from St. Louis where I was fortunate enough to attend the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) conference for professional development. There were many great presentations, new connections made, but mostly importantly, validation. Validation for who I am as a DSP, the work I do, and why I do the work I do. I came to the realization that while progress feels slow here in NY, it’s actually a lot more progressive than other states.  This was frightening to me. I realize that you can’t “know” better if you don’t learn better, and more importantly, …

Sign Language and Inclusion

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Recently while working on a video project, I attended a karaoke soiree at Ballantyne, a day habilitation program designed to support the specific needs of older adults.  I was curious how such an event was going to work given that there were several people in the room who do not use words to communicate or are deaf. I watched as the room lit up with smiling faces, people taking turns belting out their favorite tunes using words, sounds, facial expressions, or gestures. I noticed Kris, a Direct Support Professional, using sign language, translating the feeling and energy of the on-stage …

Shelley VanLare

Cholesterol: The Good and The Bad

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Your body makes all the cholesterol you need to stay healthy – yes, healthy!  We need cholesterol to help our bodies build cells, make hormones, regulate metabolism and help your body absorb Vitamin D (which we need to help us absorb calcium and for a healthy heart) – WOW! KINDS OF CHOLESTEROL LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein – also known as BAD cholesterol. Maybe you can remember this by thinking the first ”L” means LOUSY!!!! LDL is sticky stuff and that is exactly what it does in your blood vessels.  When we eat too many foods high in cholesterol LDL …

Autism: Gifts and Challenges of Living on the Spectrum

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I am an adult who is on the Autism Spectrum. I was diagnosed with autism when I was three years old and I have had thirty years experience of living with this condition. From what I know about living with autism it has its ups and downs. First, I will tell you about the gifts I feel I have because I have autism. Then I will tell you about the challenges of living with autism. Eight Gifts of Living with Autism Outstanding memory and memorization skills. I can remember lots of things that have happened in my life, especially from …

What is a Direct Support Professional?

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What exactly is a Direct Support Professional?  These are people in the human services field.  In the world of intellectual and developmental disabilities it is the person who supports someone with a disability. Direct Support Professionals, or DSPs, are helpers.  They are empathetic and caring.  They work in residential homes, day programs or vocational services. You will find these people advocating for the people they support, and helping them be as independent and integrated into their communities as possible.  This is a 24/7 job. What does a Direct Support Professional do? DSPs can be found coaching someone they support at …


Labor Day Tribute

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What is Labor Day?  Sure it’s the first Monday in September and it’s a bank holiday.  Why do we observe it? It’s a celebration of social and economic achievements in the United States.  Each person has something to contribute.  No job is too big or too small.  America is a leader in the free work partly because of our labor force. According to U.S Department of Labor we are the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years as of July 2018, that being 3.9%.  The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 8.5%!  Why? I think there are many misconceptions about hiring …

What is Person-Centered Language?

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Think of a time when you typed up an email or posted a comment on Facebook really fast. Before you hit send, you looked it over and thought “wow, that’s now how I wanted that to come across.”  You then found yourself going back and typing it all over again to send your message in the way it was intended. While the intentions in your remarks probably weren’t negative, the words that you used set the wrong tone for what you were trying to say.  Thinking about what you’re saying and how you’re saying are huge components of person-centered language. …

SummerFest: A History

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The very first “SummerFest”, or known back then as “Client Day”, was held on September 3, 1986.  This annual tradition was started by Eunice Hanson.  She had a vision that the event would be an opportunity for parents and family members of people supported, staff, community leaders, members of the Board of Directors to come together each year to celebrate people supported by the agency.  Mrs. Hanson noted that the day would serve as one to honor the “real heart and soul of the agency” –  people who receive services or reside in one of The Arc’s residences. From 1986 …