On Sept. 21, Rivershore Inc. held it second annual gala dinner. At the event, Executive Director Jeff Sanderson shared the agency's plans for the future, which include the construction of the Rivershore Center for Learning and Growth in 2012.
The following is an edited copy of his remarks.
At Rivershore, we support people as they pursue and achieve the things we all want in life: loving relationships, meaningful and fulfilling work, a satisfying home, and good physical, emotional and spiritual health. We all want to live a meaningful life.
Tonight we celebrate art and innovation. Earlier this year, Rivershore proudly launched a new service to support a group of artists in their daily work. The group is known as "Artisans' Edge." I am so pleased to report that this endeavor is succeeding well beyond our expectations. Encouraging and celebrating artistic expression in all forms is crucial as we advance through these challenging times in our society. Art allows us to explore, document and observe our human experience in ways that move, inspire and enlighten us. Art, by its nature, is innovative, and everyone seems to agree that today innovation is not only desired, but imperative.
Rivershore was named a Compass Agency in 2002 by New York state. Rivershore is highly regarded as one of the most innovative organizations serving people living with developmental disabilities in our field. We are one of just seven Compass agencies statewide, placing us in the top 1 percent for progressive and innovative quality practices in the state of New York.
Many organizations today are pessimistic about the future, fearful of what lies ahead. Through our innovative spirit at Rivershore, we see a future filled with opportunity and promise. It seems, in fact, that Rivershore is just right for times like these. We are confident because of our unwavering belief in people. We will energetically act on our vision for the future, and we will encourage every person we support to do the same toward the vision they hold for their own life.
We so greatly appreciate the support Rivershore receives from our community. The support you provide encourages and sustains us as we work toward a world where every person is living a self-determined life. Your support sends a strong message that Rivershore matters; that you believe in what we are doing, and striving for.
Tonight we celebrate art and innovation.
I want to tell you about the launch of "Artisans' Edge," a new Rivershore service.
Artists work alongside and study with other fellow artists:
•Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls
•Lewiston Council on the Arts - Opera Hall
•Niagara University Theater
Artisan's Edge is new, innovative and progressive. It is unique; there is nothing just like it in all of Western New York.
Thank you, Artisan's Edge, for your artistic contributions tonight.
Now in our 31st year, Rivershore has established itself as the most innovative, progressive and highly regarded agency, supporting people living with developmental disabilities in Niagara County today.
At Rivershore we believe that personal success is directly impacted by the degree to which a person is empowered to determine the direction of his or her own life.
This is why the concept of self-advocacy is at the center of everything we do.
Due to our success in supporting self-advocacy, we have been recognized an unprecedented five times by the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State:
•Agency of the Year (three times)
•Self-Advocacy Group of the Year
•Self-Advocacy Advisor of the Year (Richard Hermanson)
We are the only Niagara County agency to ever be recognized by the Self-Advocacy Association.
Due to our commitment to self-advocacy and our renowned Rivershore Quality Plan, we were named a Compass Agency by New York state in 2002. We have maintained and strengthened Compass certification every year since
Of nearly 800 provider agencies statewide, only seven are Compass agencies, ranking Rivershore in the top 1 percent in New York state.
Rivershore is the only Compass Agency based in Niagara County.
We are successful because we have:
•Meaningful involvement, input and feedback from the people we provide services to/families
•Outstanding, committed staff
•Committed board members who are invested in our success
We are also successful because we have support from our community to make it all possible.
As you know, Rivershore provides a range of supports and services including:
•Self-advocacy support services
The time has come for Rivershore to establish a new universally designed, accessible, central location that more effectively supports all that we do, and all we will do in the near future. With the support of our community, we plan to establish the Rivershore Center for Learning and Growth in the fall of 2012 - one year from today.
The Rivershore Center for Learning and Growth will be located a few miles from here, on 4255 Witmer Road, on the border of the towns of Lewiston and Niagara. The center will provide 17,000 square feet of space. The projected total cost is $2.6 million.
The Rivershore Center for Learning and Growth will feature a new clinic that will once and for all address the mental health needs of people living with developmental disabilities in Niagara County. Ultimately, we believe the clinic can evolve to serve our whole community.
There will be a self-advocacy center and a state-of-the-art community center to support:
•Employment training for people we serve
•Family education and training
•Staff training and development
•Collaboration with our many community partners
•A place for events and gatherings
The Rivershore Center for Learning and Growth will signal an exciting new future for Rivershore for people living with developmental disabilities in Niagara County and our entire community.
We so greatly appreciate the support Rivershore receives from our community.
On behalf of the people served by Rivershore, I ask that you consider helping us to establish the Rivershore Center for Learning and Growth.
On behalf of the people we support, our board members, and our staff, I thank you for your support, and for celebrating with us tonight.
Click here to see photos from the Rivershore gala.