OPWDD Launches Values-BasedWorkforce Recruitment Campaign

Unveils Day-in-the-Life Video of Direct Support Professionals

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ALBANY—As part of the agency’s overhaul of its policies and procedures to ensure that individuals are safe and that employees have the skills and resources they need to successfully do their jobs, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) today announced a workforce recruitment campaign that is based on the rewards and realistic challenges of being a direct support professional (DSP). OPWDD’s campaign seeks to attract new applicants by stressing the values expected of all DSPs—dignity, equality, and respect for everyone—and includes a web video featuring DSPs currently in state and nonprofit service.

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The video can be found online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfr3nUcEttM&feature=youtu.be.

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“Few careers are more rewarding, or more challenging, than those of direct support professionals,” said Commissioner Courtney Burke. “We have implemented many positive changes to step up our role in providing oversight and guidance. Providing trainings and supports to our workforce is front and center in terms of making the system safer and strengthening the quality of services we provide. Our recruitment campaign will complement these changes well, as it is based on the values of our workforce and provides a realistic view of a career in direct support.”

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Since April 2011, OPWDD has overhauled virtually every aspect of its operations, including raising hiring standards and standardizing the trainings and supports that employees need to succeed, for the first time in the agency’s history. By committing to this new workforce recruitment campaign, the system will benefit from more applicants and a broader applicant pool, which will help alleviate issues that create stress within the workforce, such as staff vacancies and increased overtime.

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Raymond Bowman, an OPWDD DSP from the Capital Region said, “Being a DSP is one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors that I’ve embarked on. I’m so thankful that as a DSP I’ve had the opportunity, on a daily basis, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people I serve. Helping people grow to live richer, fuller lives and to become more independent brings me great joy and personal satisfaction, and is what I like best about being a DSP.”

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Joseph M. Macbeth, executive director of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals said, “On a daily basis, direct support professionals are asked to navigate a maze of ethical dilemmas and must often respond by making critical decisions at a moment’s notice. The outcomes of these decisions can literally be a matter of life and death for the person who is receiving supports. There is no other profession in this industry that demands universal, competency-based skill standards and a code of ethical practices. I applaud New York State OPWDD for recognizing the immense responsibility of the direct support role and providing them with the tools to build long, successful, and rewarding careers that secure freedom, justice, and equality for people with disabilities.”

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Juanita Crisp, a DSP with the Developmental Disabilities Institute on Long Island said, “Working as a DSP takes time and patience. Knowing the difference I make in someone’s life is rewarding and a privilege.” 2

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Juanita’s colleague, Philbert Badresingh, added, “Genuine love is hard to come by, but when you work as a DSP that is exactly what you get from the people we serve. ”

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Joseph C. Faraci, Sports Great At Grover Cleveland High School, Has Passed

Joe Faraci passed away Feb. 4, 2012 at age 69.  Joe and I went to Grover Cleveland high school and graduated in 1960.  He was a good friend and a very special person.

Joe was a quiet guy who loved sports.  At Grover he lettered in baseball and basketball.  He pitched and played shortstop, earning All High status during his sophomore, junior and senior.  He was a standout high school athlete who also played baseball for the farm teams of the New York Yankees.

Visiting hours on Wednesday from 2-4 and 7-9  at GRECO FUNERAL HOME, 2909 Elmwood Avenue (near Sheridan Drive),Kenmore.

Please share condolences at www.GRECOFUNERAL.com

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Thursday in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 200 St. Gregory Court, Amherst.

May he now rest in the arms of our Lord.

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Higgins Calls for Action to Protect Great Lakes

Brian Higgins

Congressional Task Force Calls for Expediency to Block Invasive Species

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) is among 31 members of Congress, representing the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, sending a letter asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging the use of newly released data to shorten the timeframe for action to protect the Great Lakes.  Higgins and his colleagues cite the report released last week by the Great Lakes Commission which makes recommendations toward the goal of stopping the spread of invasive species, including Asian carp. 

The Army Corps is currently conducting a Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS).  Completion of the feasibility study is not anticipated until 2015.  Congressman Higgins and others on the Great Lakes Task force would like to see the devastating hazard to our Nation’s fresh waterways be addressed with greater expediency. 

“The quickly approaching threat of invasive species is an urgent one, posing a danger to both our environmental and economic existence,” said Higgins.  “We can’t afford anything less than serious attention and swift action to address this critical matter.”

To access video click HERE. 

Congressman Higgins also addressed the issue on the House Floor.  The text of his remarks is below:

Mr. Speaker, the Great Lakes are the largest source of fresh water in the world, and they also support vital shipping and recreation jobs.  The fishery alone accounts for $7 billion in annual economic activity.

But the Great Lakes face a very real threat from the Asian carp, which are progressing from the Mississippi River to the Illinois River and are nearing Lake Michigan. If this invasive species enters the Lakes it could decimate Great Lakes fishing and recreation.

Last month, the Great Lakes Commission released a report recommending the construction of a barrier to separate the Mississippi River from Lake Michigan in order to protect the Lakes from Asian carp. I joined my colleagues from the Great Lakes Task Force in sending a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers asking them to consider this report as they study into the best ways to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Mr. Speaker, Asian carp have not yet entered the Lakes but there are very real reasons for concern as scientists say that conditions in Lake Erie are perfect to support this species of fish. It is essential to our economy and our environment that we all work together to protect and restore this underappreciated asset.

Congressman Higgins’ district borders Lake Erie.  He has been a staunch advocate for protection of the water and investments on the waterfront.  In 2008, the Brookings Institution released a report which concluded that Great Lakes Restoration efforts have the potential to create jobs, development, and increased property values that generate between 600 million and 1.1 billion dollars in the Buffalo region alone.  The Great Lakes represent the largest surface source of fresh water on this planet.

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WNY Delegation Offers House Resolution To Remember Flight 3407 Victims & Honor Families

Days From Flight 3407 Third Anniversary, WNY Lawmakers Push for Full Implementation of Flight Safety Reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Kathy Hochul (NY-26), Brian Higgins (NY-27), Louise Slaughter (NY-28), and Tom Reed (NY-29) introduced a House Resolution to remember the victims of Continental Connection Flight 3407, honor and thank their families and friends who have worked hard to pass flight safety reforms, and call on the Administration to finally implement those reforms to ensure safer skies for the flying public.

“Three years after this avoidable crash, the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of Flight 3407 are still fighting for ‘one true level of safety’ for the flying public,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “The Administration must fully implement these flight safety reforms to ensure no one ever experiences a tragedy like the one that took place in the heart of my district.”

“It is people who truly influence policy – people like the Families of Flight 3407,” said Congressman Higgins.  “They are persistent, tireless, and driven.  Their courage to put aside pain and put forward purpose is remarkable and inspiring.    The Flight 3407 Families are building a bridge to better flight safety, in memory of their families, for our families and future families.”

“This is one more important opportunity for us to thank the families who we’ve worked with time and time again for their heroic work to make many of the improvements we’ve seen so far possible,” said Congresswoman Slaughter.  “After almost three years, we continue to stand with them collectively pushing to improve safety in the skies for everyone who steps onto an airplane.”

“Thanks to the constant effort of the families of the victims, the FAA is moving in the right direction with regard to pilot fatigue rules,” said Congressman Reed. “Hopefully this will be the last resolution of this type ever introduced in the House.”

A copy of the resolution can be found here.

Yesterday, Members of the Western New York Delegation and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand held a news conference with the families and friends of Continental Connection Flight 3407, where they called for the full implementation of flight safety rules.

Photos from yesterday’s news conference can be found here.

Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence Center on February 12, 2009 claiming the lives of everyone onboard and one person on the ground.  In August 2010, Congress passed new flight safety reforms through the “Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.”  In December 2011, the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a new rule to prevent and address fatigue amongst pilots of commercial passenger carriers.

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Walmart to Label Healthy Foods

A Wal-Mart store in Chicago. The company is planning to add labels on food items it determines are healthy.

As part of its promise last year to improve the nutritional quality of the food it sells, Walmart said on Tuesday that it had devised standards to determine what is healthy and would label the foods that meet those standards.

The new label, bright green with the words Great for You, will first appear on the retailer’s own Great Value and Marketside food items this spring, as well as on signs around fresh fruits and vegetable displays. But Walmart executives said the company planned to allow other brands to use the label without paying any licensing fee on products that meet the criteria.
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Fact That No One Likes Him May Be Hurting Romney

Could Foil Bid to Become First Openly Assholic President

DENVER (The Borowitz Report) – Exit polls from last night’s Republican contests reveal that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s key obstacle to gaining the GOP nomination is the fact that voters cannot stand him.

According to Davis Logsdon, who conducted the polls for the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, “Despite his superb organization, funding, and ground game, Mitt Romney is having trouble overcoming the perception among voters that he is a ginormous dick.”

Mr. Logsdon said that these obstacles “could prove fatal to his historic bid to become the nation’s first openly assholic President.”

Exit polls taken last night bear out that theory, with a majority of voters agreeing with the statement, “I think Mitt Romney is so odious, I would rather vote for a random doofus I’ve never heard of who goes around in sweater vests.”

The beneficiary of that sentiment last night was former Sen. Rick Santorum, who told supporters at a victory rally in Missouri, “I support the rights of the unborn child until it’s born and wants a gay marriage.”

Speaking to supporters in Denver, Mr. Romney uttered what some political experts are calling a possible gaffe: “I don’t care about all the people who didn’t vote for me.  They just envy my massive wealth.  And poor people?  They can curl up die, and I won’t lose a wink of sleep.  I bet you a million crisp dollars from my vault in Geneva.”  

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Santorum Revives Campaign

Mitt Romney looked like he was going to waltz into the GOP Presidential candidate spot until  yesterday.  The voters in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri had a different idea.

Rick Santorum had a breakthrough night Tuesday, winning GOP presidential contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, all of which is expected to breathe life into his struggling campaign and slow Mitt Romney’s march to the Republican presidential nomination.

The Santorum triumphs promise to, at least temporarily, alter the face of the campaign going into the crucial “Super Tuesday” contests, as the caustic tone of the primaries is expected to continue and intensify.
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As Third Anniversary Of Flight 3407 Tragedy Nears, Congresswoman Hochul Recognizes Accomplishments Of Victims’ Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly three years after the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul today met with the families of the victims of Flight 3407, as well as Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representatives Higgins and Slaughter, and called for “one true level of safety” for the flying public.

“Three years ago this week, an unspeakable tragedy occurred when a plane full of people crashed into a home in Clarence Center, in the heart of my district,” said Congresswoman Hochul.  “Out of those ashes, arose an indomitable spirit among these families that united them in their grief and brought their quest right here to the halls in Washington, where they have fought to ensure no other family has to endure having their hearts ripped out the way they all had.”

Following the news conference, Congresswoman Hochul hosted an individual meeting with Flight 3407 families from Western New York to discuss the work yet to be done to fully implement pending new flight safety measures.

Hochul added, “Until the will of Congress, and the families we serve, are translated into new rules, we will not give up the fight, because the families are counting on us and they never gave up the fight.”

Photos from today’s news conference are available here.

This afternoon, Congresswoman Hochul spoke in memory of the plane crash victims and in honor of their families on the House Floor, where she announced that she and her Western New York colleagues are introducing a resolution marking the third anniversary of the crash and calling on the Administration to fully implement the new flight safety law.

The video of Congresswoman Hochul’s speech can be found here.

Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence Center on February 12, 2009 claiming 50 lives.  In August 2010, Congress passed new flight safety reforms through the “Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010.”  In December 2011, the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a new rule to prevent and address fatigue amongst pilots of commercial passenger carriers.

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Message From Governor Cuomo’s Office

Dear Fellow New Yorkers,

Governor Cuomo understands that our state’s high property taxes are driving people from their homes and businesses. That is why he made lowering property taxes a top priority and, last year, he led the successful fight to enact the first-ever property tax cap in the state.

We now need to relieve local governments of burdensome state laws that drive up their costs. That’s why the Governor is proposing sweeping reforms to lower the cost of government by removing state-imposed mandates.

Among the proposals is relieving counties and NYC from the costs of Medicaid growth. The Governor has proposed a state takeover of the costs of Medicaid growth over the next three years. This would save local governments $1.2 billion over the next five years.

We also have to focus on reforming the public pension system — one of the most expensive mandates for local governments. Pension costs are growing at an unsustainable rate, projected to increase 185% from 2009 to 2015.

We must act now to control growth. That’s why the Governor has called for changes in the public pension system for new employees. This would save local governments $79 billion over the next 30 years.

The Governor’s pension reform plan is fair to employees and taxpayers, and no current employees will be affected by it.

Click here to learn more the Governor’s proposals for pension reform.

To engage the public in discussion about further changes to lower government costs, a joint Legislative Executive Mandate Relief Council has been established and begun meeting. It will hold public hearings around the state and then issue a package of recommendations to be voted on this legislative session.

Join Governor Cuomo in making the government work for the people again: Click here to encourage friends and family to get involved.

Together, we are Building a New New York.

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Fredo And Campbell Return To The Road Less Traveled Theater

Artie Award-Winning Team Reunite for World-Premiere Play

BUFFALO, NY , February 7th, 2012 – Actor John Fredo and director Derek Campbell will reunite to bring to life the world-premiere production of Darryl Schneider’s Clean Break, beginning Friday, March 9th, 2012, at the Road Less Traveled Theater. The actor-director duo previously collaborated on Road Less Traveled Productions’ (RLTP’s) version of Edward Albee’s The Goat: Or, Who Is Sylvia? , which garnered the 2010 Artie Award for Outstanding Production of a Play.

Clean Break is the newest play by RLTP Resident Playwright Schneider. The storyline details the desperate efforts of an inveterate gambler (played by Fredo) to salvage a damaged relationship with his estranged daughter (played by actress Andrea Andolina).

Campbell will direct the play, remarking he is “delighted” to be working with Fredo again. “I was drawn to this project by the power of Darryl’s script, but getting a chance to work with John again is icing on the cake,” said Campbell, adding that he considered Fredo to be “open and receptive, generous… and a true partner in the collaborative process.” Fredo has been attached to the play’s development since the fall of 2010, appearing in a public reading of Clean Break for RLTP’s Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop.

RLTP Literary Director Jon Elston, who guided Clean Break through the workshop and helped to attach Fredo to the project, stated he is ecstatic about the package RLTP has assembled for Clean Break. “We consider The Goat to be one of the high-water marks in our company’s history,” said Elston, “so we couldn’t be happier to have Derek and John back in our theater to collaborate on another outstanding piece of dramatic literature.” “And we’re especially excited,” Elston added, “that, in this instance, the effort involves a new play by one of Western New York’s finest writers.

“I went back to my roots for this one,” reports playwright Schneider on the inspiration for his latest work. “The neighborhood of Lovejoy… my Italian friends, the BigTimers Club, the bocce ball courts, the stories of big wins and losses, the ‘If Onlys…’.” Ultimately, Schneider said, Clean Break is about “the desire for something that only the roll of the dice or the flip of a card can bring.”

Clean Break will be the fourth world premiere of a Darryl Schneider play to be produced by RLTP, following Two To The Head, Twice Around, and the 2007 Artie Award winner for Best New Play, War Room.

Clean Break opens March 9th, at the Road Less Traveled Theater in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, and runs through Sunday, April 1st. Showtimes are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Tickets are available online at www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org or through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.

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