Empower, a Niagara County-based not-for-profit service provider, was awarded the 2019 Partnership Award by the Western New York coalition of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State Inc. at Developmental Disabilities Day on Thursday, May 30. Empower received this award for its involvement of people with disabilities in its daily operations, and creation of more opportunities for them to participate in the community.
Each year, Empower helps 1,000 people with and without disabilities through a variety of programs and services. With 300 employees and a $14 million budget, Empower is one of Western New York’s 60 largest nonprofit organizations. The administrative offices, preschool and community clinic are located on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara. The job training and day programs division is based in the Town of Niagara and in the Town of Wheatfield, while residential facilities are located throughout Niagara County. Licensed by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and the New York State Education Department, Empower is an affiliate of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.
The Self-Advocacy Association of New York State is an organization founded by people with developmental disabilities for people with developmental disabilities, which promotes their civil rights. Its chapters, including the Western New York coalition, are located throughout the state
“Since becoming an accredited agency in 2018, Empower has worked hard to ensure that the people we support and their families are involved in every aspect of our business, from serving on committees to interviewing prospective hires who will support them,” said Jeff Paterson, Empower CEO. "Now, the people we support and their families are not just recipients, but active participants in the care they receive. They feel empowered, and that is so important to us.”
According to the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Western New York Coalition’s Regional Organizer Mike Rogers "In a time of great change and need for organizations to step up to the plate, Empower has really worked to make sure people with disabilities are well represented internally and are included as contributing members of society.”
Empower also introduced new programming that affords people with developmental disabilities greater access to their communities. An inclusive golf program where people with and without disabilities learn golf basics alongside one another currently is underway and, for the first time ever, a person with a developmental disabilities is a member of the Leadership Niagara Class of 2019. This programming, combined with increased participation by people with developmental disabilities in Empower’s operations, were the reasons the agency was selected to receive this award.
Pictured, from left: Retired OPWDD Deputy Director Kevin Penberthy, self-advocate Dan Cecere, Empower CEO Jeff Paterson and Empower Board Chairman Tom Caserta.