The Rivershore Foundation presented Rivershore Inc.'s third annual gala dinner on Wednesday at the Niagara Falls Country Club.
Zach Anner, host of "Rollin' with Zach," formerly on the Oprah Winfrey Network, was the keynote speaker. WGRZ Channel 2 news anchor Maryalice Demler served as mistress of ceremonies.
The event focused on Rivershore's recent successes (including its 10th year as a Consumerism, Outcome, Management Plan and Agency Self-Survey designee), and paid tribute to the Lewiston-based agency's mission to support people living with disabilities as they pursue and achieve a meaningful life.
following comments were made by Rivershore Inc. Executive Director
Jeff Sanderson at the 2012 Rivershore gala dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 12:
Good evening and welcome everyone!
At Rivershore we support people living with disabilities as they pursue and achieve a meaningful life. On behalf of the entire Rivershore family, I wish to express our deepest appreciation to all of you for joining us tonight, and for your on-going support of Rivershore.
Tonight we celebrate 10 consecutive years as a Compass agency! Compass is New York State's prestigious quality designation given to agencies who meet the most comprehensive and rigorous standards for quality management practices, and who consistently deliver the highest quality services to people living with developmental disabilities.
Of the more than 700 provider agencies state-wide, only 7 are Compass agencies, ranking Rivershore in the top 1% in New York State, and Rivershore is the only Compass agency based in Niagara County.
Rivershore achieved Compass status 10 years ago and we have been improving ever since. To maintain our Compass status we must undergo and pass a rigorous New York State validation every year. A state official who conducted this year's Compass validation at Rivershore last visited Rivershore 10 years ago. Here is what she had to say during this year's exit conference:
"You are growing, innovative, and moving forward."
"Your Strategic Plan is fascinating; usually these types of plans are boring, but not yours".
"You are constantly evaluating and transforming".
"Your staff morale level is something we just don't see other places. They know the Mission and they live it".
"The last time I was here was 10 years ago. The growth and change is absolutely amazing. I am blown away."
As we reflect on our success as a Compass agency, it is most fitting that we recognize Len Wrona, currently serving as Rivershore Inc. Board of Directors Vice- President:
Len Wrona has served on the Rivershore, Inc. Board of Directors for over 20 years.
In 1995 Len pioneered the now renowned Rivershore Quality Plan. Organizations from all over the state come to Rivershore to learn more about it. The Rivershore Quality Plan is a comprehensive Mission aligned approach to achieving continuous quality improvement in everything Rivershore does. Len has championed the implementation of the Rivershore Quality Plan over the past 17 years, and the impact has been monumental.
At Rivershore, when we think of quality we think of Len. Len is the driving force behind the quality movement at Rivershore. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary as a Compass agency we recognize that our pathway to excellence was the Rivershore Quality Plan that Len Wrona pioneered and nurtured.
So many lives have been altered for the better because of what Len has done here, and many more will be impacted for years to come. Tonight we pause and take a very important moment to say "thank you Len for all you have done".
A lot of people say that during hard times like these all you can hope to do is survive. At Rivershore we just don't buy it. We continue to provide all of the same services; Life planning services, Self-Advocacy services, Residential services, Employment services, Day services, and Clinical services. Rivershore is now serving more people than we ever have before.
Started last year, our wildly popular and innovative Artisan's Edge service is projected to double in size by next year. Just a few weeks ago an artist supported through this service placed 3rd in the Lewiston Art Festival for his sculpture. This is already the second time we have seen an artist supported by this service place in the Lewiston Art Festival.
We have just recently been approved to dramatically expand our employment services through the New York State's Ticket to Work program.
We are energized and moving forward on a variety of fronts.
This year, based on anonymous surveys from our employees Rivershore was honored as a Silver Winner in the Buffalo Business First Best Places to Work competition!
And due to our progressive wellness initiatives, this year Buffalo Business First named Rivershore one of Western New York'sHealthiest Places to Work.
As many people know Rivershore has already been recognized an unprecedented five times by the Self Advocacy Association of New York State for our exemplary and progressive practices in promoting and supporting self advocacy: 3 time Agency of the Year, Self Advocacy Group of the Year, and Self-Advocacy Advisor of the Year.
This year, Rivershore was honored with the Western New York Partnership Award for our self advocacy practices. This award is given out by the Western New York Partnership Coalition to just one agency throughout the eight counties of western New York! Rivershore is the only agency in Niagara County to ever win this award, or to ever be recognized for any reason by the Self Advocacy Association of New York State.
Rivershore is once again out in front, being the change leader in our field.
Earlier this year we were the first agency and the largest partner to join a new innovative seven agency collaboration led by our friends at Family and Children's Services on Main Street in Niagara Falls. Known as The Niagara Family Center, our outreach, life planning and referral services are now based in this beautiful new facility, making Rivershore more visible and accessible to the people we support, and more collaborative as a community partner. This important change is already succeeding beyond our highest expectations.
This year we have seen dramatic and sweeping changes in our external environment. New York State is rapidly charting a new course that will bring unprecedented changes to our service system. During these changing and challenging times we must forge new and more formal partnerships. We must come together with other organizations in ways that are more far reaching than ever before.
Our objective to establish a new central Rivershore building must now take in to account these new realities, and new possibilities. The contraction of NFTA services will lead us to consider a new location for our building; a location that will achieve all of our current objectives, as well as some important new ones.
In the coming months we will identify the best possibilities and we will invigorate our central building plans. Our goal will be to further enhance access and community impact from a service delivery standpoint, and from a community revitalization standpoint.
Our plan will more strongly feature collaboration with existing, and new partners.
We will establish the clinic that is so desperately needed. We will establish progressive new services that bring about increased employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for people living with disabilities. We look forward to updating you regarding these exciting new developments in the coming months.
Now in our 32nd year, Rivershore remains the most innovative, progressive, and highly regarded agency supporting people living with 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.
We so greatly appreciate the support Rivershore receives from our community. Your support sends a strong message that Rivershore matters; that you believe in what we are doing, and striving for. 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.