NYSARC Volunteers "Give Back" as Part of Statewide Campaign

President's Project Week in late March assists hundreds of families

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NYSARC President John A. Schuppenhauer, his daughter, Hilary, and Ontario ARC pet therapy dog Albert kick off the Chapter's food drive for a local animal shelter.

DELMAR, NY (04/08/2014)(readMedia)-- Strong communities rely on the gifts and contributions of all its members. That's the message volunteers from NYSARC, Inc. Chapters, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, recently sent by participating in an annual statewide campaign to "give back" to the communities where they work and live. From food drives to Meals on Wheels to blood drives, NYSARC and its 54 Chapters around the state joined together the week of March 24 in celebration of community called the NYSARC Gives Back President's Project Week.

In western New York, two NYSARC Chapters together collected more than 1200 pounds for the Food Bank of Western New York. Volunteers at three day habilitation sites operated by Heritage Centers, the Erie County Chapter of NYSARC, Inc., collected over 830 pounds of food. Meanwhile, employees from Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, the Niagara County Chapter of NYSARC, Inc., joined together with two Self-Advocacy groups to collect and deliver more than 407 pounds of non-perishable food donations for the Niagara Community Action Program (NCAP) of the Food Bank of Western New York.

Kimberley O'Grady, Family Development and Nutrition Supervisor, Niagara Community Action Program Inc. said, "On behalf of the Niagara County Food Providers I would like to thank Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara in collecting and donating non-perishable food products to assist Niagara County residents who are in need. Partnerships like this make our community stronger."

Elsewhere, the Madison-Cortland, Allegany, Fulton (Lexington) Livingston-Wyoming, Montgomery (Liberty), Seneca-Cayuga and Wayne Counties Chapters all participated in food drives in association with local food pantries or Meals on Wheels agencies. In particular, NYSARC Chapters were able to organize food drives thanks to the Food Bank Association of New York State and its affiliated food banks. Together they collected more than two thousand pounds of food, benefiting hundreds of families.

"It makes me feel happy to give back through an activity like a food drive," said Lisa Irwin, President of Advocates Coming Together, the Livingston-Wyoming Counties Chapter of NYSARC, Inc.'s Self-Advocacy group. "The people who will get the food will feel happier knowing that somebody cares about them. Just because someone has a disability doesn't mean they can't make a difference for people who could use some help."

Still other NYSARC Chapters opted to help their canine and feline friends in their communities during President's Project Week. Volunteers with Warren-Warren-Albany Counties Chapters of NYSARC, Inc. donated food and their time at SPCA of Upstate NY. The Westchester, Rockland and Delaware Counties Chapters conducted food drives at local animal shelters.

NYSARC, Inc. President John A. Schuppenhauer, who initiated the NYSARC Gives Back President's Project in 2012, also kicked off this year's event with a pet food drive at his local Chapter in Ontario County. "As NYSARC has developed for the past 65 years, the people the Organization supports have been quietly going about the business of supporting each other and their communities through countless acts of volunteerism. NYSARC volunteers have long been committed to doing their part to make the world around them better for other people and for other causes," he said.

NYSARC's Orleans County Chapter contributed in their own way, conducting a blood drive that collected 14 units of blood, enough to save the lives of 42 people. Other Chapters held community clean-up projects and volunteered at homeless shelters. The St. Lawrence County Chapter conducted clean-up campaigns at nearby towns, state parks, and churches.

As Susan Limongello, Executive Director, PARC, the Putnam County Chapter of NYSARC, Inc., noted, NYSARC Chapters' volunteer efforts do not begin nor end with the President's Project Week. "We are proud of the work of our program participants to support our local community," said Limongello. "The 60 hours of work to support our neighbors this past week is just a fraction of the thousands of hours of volunteer work we provide throughout the year. We are an essential force for a number of our non-profit partners throughout the community."

About NYSARC, Inc.

NYSARC, Inc. is the largest not-for-profit organization in New York State and the United States supporting people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families. The 54 Chapters comprising the family-led Organization provide services in every County in New York State. NYSARC, Inc. supports over 60,000 individuals, employs 30,000, and has a membership of more than 102,000.