The Friends of the Watkins Library, FOWL, was honored Oct. 13 with the Grass Roots Award, presented by the Southern Tier Library System.
The #bFair2Direct Care Coalition expresses its thanks to 15 state legislators and candidates for State Senate and State Assembly from Central New York, the Southern Tier and Northern New York for their support in ensuring direct service professionals receive a living wage for the outstanding work they do in caring for and supporting New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
In Central New York, the Southern Tier and the North Country, the #bFair2DirectCare Coaltiion recognized:
- Senator David Valesky – Incumbent – 53rd S.D.
- Pat Helmnig – Candidate – 54th S.D.
- Senator Thomas O’Mara – Incumbent – 58th S.D.
- Leslie Burke – Candidate – 58th S.D.
- Senator Michael Ranzenhofer – Incumbent – 61st S.D.
- Assemblyman Dan Stec – Incumbent – 114th A.D.
- Kevin Mulverhill – Candidate – 115th A.D.
- Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush – Incumbent – 117th A.D.
- Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi – Incumbent – 119th A.D.
- John Salka – Candidate – 121st A.D.
- Bill Batrowny – Candidate – 124th A.D.
- Assemblyman Gary Finch – Incumbent – 126th A.D.
- Vince Giordano – Candidate – 127th A.D.
- Assemblyman Brian Kolb – Incumbent – 131st A.D.
- Assemblyman Phil Palmesano – 132nd A.D.
These legislators and candidates are among more than 80 from across the state who have to date responded to a candidate survey sent by the Coalition. By doing so, these legislators and candidates demonstrated a commitment to the "300 Days to Better Pay" campaign, which is aimed at ensuring that direct support professionals receive an increase in salary to allow them to earn a living wage to provide for themselves and their families.
Susan Constantino, President and CEO of Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, said: “These legislators and candidates are true champions. They understand the amazing care and support provided by dedicated, trained, conscientious direct service providers for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We cannot thank these legislators and candidates enough. We need champions like them in Albany fighting for our workers and for the people we serve and support.”
In his response to the survey, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, “It is imperative that the Executive include funding for these wages in the budget so these agencies can attract and maintain the best possible workforce.”
In his response to the survey, Assembly Minority Leader Kolb said, “The men and women who care for our most vulnerable provide invaluable services, and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. Their commitment to provide life-saving assistance to people with developmental disabilities is among the most needed and most noble of professions.”
Michael Seereiter, President & CEO of the New York State Rehabilitation Association, said: “From now until Election Day, the #bFair2DirectCare coalition will be conducting statewide voter participation education directed at people with disabilities, their families and our employees as part of the ‘300 Days to Better Pay’ campaign. Our goal is to ensure that voters know who supports these valued members of our community.”
As part of the “300 Days to Better Pay” campaign, the #bFair2DirectCare coalition is bringing attention to the potential crisis in community care for New Yorkers with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.
“The Governor and the State Legislature need to take action in the next state budget. A modest rate increase for the next five years will let us pay a competitive living wage so we can retain good workers. The alternative is more vital jobs remaining vacant as more worker leave, putting at risk the services we provide to these special and valued New Yorkers,” Seereiter said.
A 2016 report on DSP staffing performed by the #bFair2DirectCare coalition found member agencies statewide had a 9.3 percent vacancy rate and 23.1 percent one-year turnover rate. DSPs at not-for-profit provider agencies are 73 percent women, 42 percent African-American and nine percent Latino. To provide them with a living wage ($17.72 in NYC/LI and $15.54 across the rest of New York) would require a 2.3 percent rate increase in each of the next six years.
The Arc of the U.S. Chief Executive Officer, Peter Berns, visited The Arc of Schuyler on Monday, October 10 to learn more about the agency’s programs, services, and supports for people with developmental disabilities.
The Campaign for Fair Pay
The #bFair2DirectCare Coalition, including our parent organization, NYSARC, Inc. is conducting a series of inspiring events as part of a year-long workforce funding campaign called "300 Days to Better Pay." The workforce shortage facing NYSARC Chapters in New York State is getting worse and in many communities is now in crisis proportions. According to a 2016 Vacancy and Turnover Survey by the coalition, competition from other employers has increased to the point where coalition agencies responding to the survey now have an average 10 percent vacancy rate and more than a 20 percent turnover rate for Direct Support Professionals. The "300 Days to Better Pay" campaign is a statewide series of events to constantly repeat for legislators and the Governor that direct care not-for-profit agency workers need a fair rate of pay which is commensurate with their vital support responsibilities. The campaign's goal is to have the Governor and the Legislature approve appropriate budget funding for these dedicated professionals when the 2017-18 state budget is finalized April 1, 2017.
Be Ready to Vote
The last day to register to vote for this election is Friday, October 14th!
On Tuesday, November 8th, every seat in the New York State Legislature will be up for election. It is vital that each of us vote and consider the position of candidates on the issues that are important to us. Do the candidates in your community support increasing state budget funding to provide a living wage for Direct Support Professionals and other direct support employees? Will they fight for the funding to be included in the next state budget on April 1, 2017?
To assist you with determining the position of candidates, the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition and NYSARC have sent a questionnaire on increased state funding for our workforce to every candidate for State Legislature. We will post the finds findings on this website when available to help guide you on Election Day, but today, make sure you, your families, and friends are registered to vote on November 8th. You can find your local election information here.
You Can Help
As someone who cares about people with developmental disabilities, you are part of a community of more than 200,000 New Yorkers. If you feel that Direct Support Professionals deserve fair pay, please support the #bFair2DirectCare Coalition.
- You can use this Sample Letter to draft a personalized letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Share your own story as a direct support professional, how a direct support professional has had an impact on your family, or voice your opinion on the importance of paying these important workers a living wage.
- You can follow #bFair2DirectCare on social media. Like and share posts to build momentum of this campaign.
- Stay informed about the candidates' positions on this issue and vote on November 8th!
- Candidates' Fair Pay Positions Sought (Odessa File; Letter to the Editor from Arc of Schuyler Board President, Michael E. Stamp) - 9/12/16
The Arc of Schuyler is joining agencies across the country in honoring direct support professionals during National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week beginning September 10, 2017.
The Arc of Schuyler’s 16th annual golf tournament hosted more than 60 golfers at the Watkins Glen Golf Course under sunny skies on August 19, 2016, raising more than $21,000.
The Arc’s annual charity tournament raises necessary funds to assist people with intellectual and development disabilities and their families. By sponsoring, supporting, and golfing in the tournament, individuals and businesses help provide critical services for people in the Schuyler County community.
Congratulations to the tournament’s first place team: Watkins & Nichols, including Bill Spencer, Rocco Scaptura, and John and Josh Robinson. The second place team included Dominick Franzese, Greg Gavich, Tom Gifford, and Gordon Perry, and the third place team was Bryan Christopher, Zac Young, Jeremy Nadeau, and Mike Woodard sponsored by The Bonadio Group.
This was the first year the tournament included a Hole-In-One putting contest, sponsored by Oswego County Mutual Insurance Company. The contest offered one golfer the chance to sink a 50 ft. putt for a $10,000 cash prize. John Robinson of Nichols, NY was the lucky winner of the raffle to take the shot. Robinson was just short of the hole.
Winners of other contests held on the course were: Jeremy Nadeau for men’s longest drive, Jeff Cook for men’s closest-to-the-pin, and Wendy Brooks for women’s closest-to-the-pin.
The Bonadio Group and Relph Benefit Advisors returned as Presenting Sponsors of the event. Birdie Sponsors were Empire Access, Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. These sponsors and more than 100 other businesses, wineries, restaurants, and retail stores generously contributed through sponsorship or product donations.
“Many thanks to all the sponsors, patron supporters, and local businesses who donated items to make this year’s tournament another success – we really can’t do it without their help,” Tournament Chair, Dominick Franzese said. “The Arc’s tournament keeps going strong and continues to be one of the best tournaments in the area supporting a wonderful cause.”
Michael Larkin and his many co-workers have been hard at work helping Watkins Glen International prepare for thousands of guests camping at Watkins Glen International when NASCAR returns Wednesday, Aug. 3 for the Cheez-It 355 weekend.
Larkin is one of many employees at Glen Industries who assembled 4,200 camping kits for Watkins Glen International. Each kit contains a trash bag, recycling bag, pamphlets and a weekend schedule rolled and banded into a neat bundle. Glen Industries is the business services and vocational training division of The Arc of Schuyler in Watkins Glen providing job skills development to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“This was a really fun job to do. It feels good that we’re helping the race track and all the NASCAR fans that are coming to town. We’re part of a big event in our community,” Larkin said. The group was proud they completed the project ahead of schedule.
Glen Industries provides assembly, packaging, professional cleaning, as well as other business services. Visit glenindustries.org for more information.