WNYIL ACCESS news Autumn 2018

ACCESS news Autumn 2018

Well, Look at What’s Coming for the Holidays!

Douglas J. Usiak, Chief Executive Officer, Western New York Independent Living, Inc.

‘Tis a month before the New Year,
And we’re working hard right here,
At the 3108 Main Street office,
When all of a sudden, 
Something just happened!
A new Family member for WNYIL,
A regional program,
Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service,
Has abruptly appeared!

Ahh! Enough of this poetry that isn’t really working, anyway! Mediocre introduction notwithstanding, we are really excited about the addition of another member to our Family of Agencies! The Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service (NFRRS), has joined as our sixth agency under the WNYIL banner.

For those who don’t know what NFRRS is, here is the scoop! Founded 31 years ago, it’s an audio news service for those who are unable to read print publications, such as the blind, dyslexic, those with certain traumatic brain injuries, or who have limited limb use that makes holding publications difficult, etc. This-24 hour/7 days-per-week service brings community newspapers, magazines, and books into the homes and ears of its constituents.

At present, a listener must have a special radio set to receive the side band audio channel that WNED-FM graciously provides to be able to enjoy it.A cadre of dedicated volunteers reads from The Buffalo News, USA Today, Niagara Gazette, Wall Street Journal, the Sunday New York Times, various popular magazines, a best-selling fiction and non-fiction books, one hour per week of old time radio, and, the most popular features: the Death Notices, Horoscopes and Tuesday supermarket ads!We at WNYIL are delighted to welcome them to the team!

I’m sure that you can see the importance of such an entity, advances in the Internet since 1987 notwithstanding. Individuals with the conditions listed above, perhaps Grandma and Grandpa, and people with other impairments that put the printed word out of reach, can all benefit from this valuable community service. This function makes NFRRS a natural to join a collaboration of agencies that work to bring knowledge to people with disabilities who wish to stay informed, make their own decisions, and participate in their neighborhoods.

NFRRS joins WNYIL with a professional staff of two, Nick Aldrich, our Program Manager, and a to-be-hired Director; plus hundreds of volunteers, without whose committed work and support the service could not exist. WNYIL and the other members of the Family of Agencies, (ILGR, ILNC, MHPC, OAHIIO, and ILC-Erie), are all excited about providing this service to every single person in Western New York and Southern Ontario who wants and needs it.  

So, what does this all mean for us?

That if you are interested in signing up as a service participant or volunteer reader, give us a call to learn how it all works. When you’ve got the big picture, talk the service up with your family and friends, and assist us in maintaining the high standards NFRRS has set. Also, share your ideas on reaching more people with the news and views of what’s happening in Western New York and Southern Ontario.

Please be alert for an upcoming survey we plan to conduct about what’s working in the service and what can be improved. We want to know from the listeners how we can better bring to you the information you need, and when in the broadcast schedule it should appear.

And, most of all, since WNYIL is an organization run and directed by people with disabilities, we want consumers who can read to be involved as volunteers, as well as consumers of the service.

NFRRS participants: similar to our other programs, it is vital to have your support for a program dedicated to you and others with print disabilities; only with your help will we make NFRRS the best Radio Reading Service in the Country. So tune in, and listen for more developments, as our newest member enters 2019 with a new family.

Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

By Cathie Campbell

Sadly, we live in a world where negative thinking (and its distorted and irrational way of looking at the world and those we share it with) has become the norm. At one point, I had to take a hard look at embracing this negative thinking and how it was impacting my life, my wellness and my ability to maintain employment.  

Of course, I worked on the negative thinking and changed it into a positive each time I was aware of my “Stinken Thinken” but the most powerful impact was when I made myself begin focusing daily on what I was grateful for – big and small. I take nothing for granted, even the little things most never think twice about. If I go to work and one of my co-workers is smiling a little extra big that day, it is going in my journal because I want to savor every special moment.

I began this about 15 years ago. I bought a journal for 1 dollar. Every morning when I wake, I list 5 reasons I am grateful to have made it to another day, that I was not promised. Each night before bed, I list 5 reasons to be grateful for the extra day I just lived.  

Over the years this has become a notebook I review often, especially when my depressions kicks in and I start feeling the darkness take over, my little Gratitude journal reminds me what I have lived each day for and all the countless ways I am blessed daily. Even on my darkest days, my gratitude journal is my strength. It shows me the light when I am trapped in the darkness. It helps me to move back to the light. 

This has now evolved in me posting all types of positive quotes, and pictures in my home and office. Everywhere I spend a significant amount of time I surround myself with all the people and love that I am so grateful for. Good Luck my fellow travelers and I hope this helps you to have a happier journey.

Voting 2018

By Cathy Colicchia

For the first time in our history, Western New York Independent Living’s Independence Express offered free rides to people with disabilities to vote in the 2018 election. It was a new experience for me and I would like to share it.

We made 2 vans available to transport people with disabilities to polling places in Erie and for 1 person, Niagara Counties. Our goal was to get as many people with disabilities as possible to their polling places to use the accessible machines that are available at every polling place. Two people called before Election Day to set up rides ahead of time, the rest called the day of and the vans were sent out dispatch style. We transported approximately 15 people between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. As I took calls from folks from all over Erie County, I tried to take time to speak to each person. What I discovered is that some people possibly had other options such as a family member or friend who may have been available to take them, but they were not able to get a definitive answer. Also, the people that I spoke to did not want to depend on other people but had no other way to get to their polling place unless they had the money for transportation. Many did not have the resources to pay for a ride.

As a result of our overwhelming response, starting November 5, 2019, we will be providing free transportation to as many people with disabilities as we have resources to accommodate every year. We will shut down our normal operations for the day and devote our entire fleet to getting people to their polling places. We will require people to call by November 1, 2019 for the ride, but it will be publicized earlier so that people are able to make arrangements beforehand. Rides will be assigned on a first come, first served basis and will be available in Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. There will be no rides scheduled between 1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m. so that the drivers will have a break. 

WNYIL strives to provide full inclusion for people with disabilities in their communities. This endeavor addresses one of the most fundamental rights that we enjoy as Americans, and we will do whatever possible to assist those who want to independently exercise their right to vote. There will be more information to come next year.

Holiday Appeal

Holiday appeal

Education, Empowerment and Equality for people with disabilities 

Dear Friends of Western New York Independent Living, 

We need your help! 

Western New York Independent Living, Inc. “Family of Agencies” invites you to contribute to our efforts this holiday season to help people with disabilities to remain in the communities of their choice and not have to face a future of institutional care.

You may already know that WNYIL:

  • Assists hundreds of people with disabilities to find a place to live that is barrier free, allowing full access to their homes. 
  • Assists over one-thousand people every year in obtaining the healthcare they will need to stay in their homes. 
  • Teaches scores of people with disabilities independent living skills so they can work, play, and contribute in their communities and homes. 
  • Has support programs that provide ongoing resources for over two thousand people with disabilities to find and network with community programs and services needed so people with disabilities can find what they need, when they need it.

In order to provide programs and services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities, we need your help! 

This holiday season you can choose to provide assistance to help us:

  • Assist people with disabilities pay for their basic household needs (up to $500 per grant) after institutional care and establishing themselves in our communities.
  • Expand the Dream Catcher Fund which provides last resort funding to assist in emergency housing needs (up to $500 per grant) for Native Americans with disabilities in the OAHIIO program.
  • Continue our Music for the Ages program ($60 per device), providing memorable tunes to stimulate memory for people battling Alzheimer’s. 
  • Purchase a new wheelchair accessible vehicle ($45,000) so people with disabilities can have an affordable, accessible way to go around town that is not restricted to bus lines and high fees.
  • Restore the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service building ($150,000), our newest member of our Family of Agencies, to become fully accessible and get a new roof.

Or you can choose to designate your donation to whatever program, or service you choose! To make this process easier for you, we have some suggested levels of donations, which you’ll find on the enclosed card. 

Remember, your contribution is tax deductible!

As a thank you for your generous donation and support of WNY Independent Living, you will receive a Delta Sonic gift card, good towards oil changes, car washes or detail shop services. Below are donation levels and their corresponding gifts that you will receive upon receiving your donation.

    $5—$15:  $5 Delta Sonic gift card
    $16—$29:  Two $5 Delta Sonic gift cards
    $30+:  Three $5 Delta Sonic gift cards 

Please help us meet our vision of ensuring that people with disabilities can get the Education needed to empower themselves to become contributing and equal partners in our community.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration and have a wonderful holiday season!


Dennis Kessel
President of the Board of Directors

ILGR starting the new year in our new location!


Independent Living of the Genesee Region is moving from 113 Main St. to

319 West Main St., Batavia, NY 14020

Open for business on Wed., January 2, 2019

Our phone number will not change
Call Donna Becker 585-815-8501 ext. 411 with any questions  

Holiday Shopping

Amazon Smile 

When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Western New York Independent Living, Inc. Bookmark the link
http://smile.amazon.com/ch/22-2316065 and support us every time you shop.

Embrace the difference

Thank you to our Night for Independence Gala Sponors!

Blue Cross Blue Shield  ProCarpet

Integrity Health Group  Wegmans  Miranda  ebc  EFPR Group  Main Mobility  Queen City Imaging  M&T Bank  Clauss & Company  KeyBank  HealthWorks

6th Annual A Night for Independence Gala


To benefit Independence Express Transportation

Saturday, May 4, 2019

5:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.

Events at the Wurlitzer, 908 Niagara Falls Blvd., North Tonawanda, NY 14120

$75.00 per Ticket • $125.00 for Two (2) • $500 Table of Eight (8)

(Basket, premium auction, and live auction separate costs)

  •  High end live & basket items 

  •  Music & entertainment 

  •  Sit-down dinner & a night of fun 

For more information and to RSVP by April 26, 2019
Phone: Marykate Waringa 716-836-0822 ext. 146 or email: mwaringa@wnyil.org

July 2019

Disability Pride