Director’s Report 2007
“Isn’t it always true – a fearless and determined heart will get the gold medal. Heart is what drives us and determines our fate.”
Novelist Isabel Allende
When I first came across this quote I thought, “she took the words right out of my mouth.” At the Golisano Foundation we try to “go for the gold” every day because we see individuals with disabilities going for the gold with “a fearless and determined heart.”
Another one of my favorite quotes is, “Imagine it’s a perfect world. What would “it” look like?”
This question usually elicits strange looks or the all too familiar response - “but it isn’t a perfect world.” Yet I persist with my question because I want to know - from individuals with disabilities, their parents, and organizations that offer services for people with disabilities. They deserve no less from us or than for us to create, enhance and advance a more perfect world for individuals with disabilities.
In our passionate endeavor to go for the gold and make the world a better place for people with disabilities, I’m pleased to report that we have made significant progress during the past year in many areas.
We have contributed to improving services for students with developmental disabilities who are transitioning from high school to the world of adult services, employment and/or a post-secondary experience.
Community education and engagement, which began last year, continues in full force under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Martha Mock and Susan Hetherington, faculty from the University of Rochester Warner School of Education, and Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities.
Their efforts have yielded strategic partnerships with Finger Lakes Developmental Disabilities Services Office, the Midwestern Regional Transition Coordination Site (funded by NYS Education), and special education leadership at both Monroe 1 BOCES and Monroe II-Orleans BOCES.
Partnerships were solidified with a number of human service providers, local school districts and parent and youth group. Additionally, a road trip to Albany in October 2007 to meet with representatives from NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and the NYS Education Department resulted in an invitation to return this spring with a plan for collaboration and local implementation here in Rochester.
Another important milestone on the state level is the official recognition of the history of people with disabilities. By unanimous vote, a resolution designating “Disability History Week” was passed by the NYS Legislature in June 2007. I witnessed the historic signing of the resolution by Lt. Governor David Patterson on October 18 at the Museum of disABILITY History, a program of People, Inc. in Buffalo, NY. The Golisano Foundation provided financial support to the Museum and its companion curriculum, which is currently under development for teaching disability history in schools across New York State. For further information, please visit the Museum’s Web site. Enjoy your tour!
Taking our message on collaboration to others around the country that can benefit from similar approaches, two locally funded programs, Future Care Planning Services and the Partnerships in Transition, were accepted for presentation at national conferences last year. The first, “When Funders, Evaluators and Service Providers Work Together a Good Idea Gets Better,” was presented at the American Evaluators Association conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The second, “From the Ground Up – Community-Based Transition Coalition Building,” was presented at the TASH Conference in Seattle, Washington. Congratulations!
Closer to home, the Foundation was pleased to provide support to an array of exemplary programs in 2007. Foundation grants helped construct the new Life Transition Center at Continuing Developmental Services (CDS); enabled Future Care Planning Services to add guardianship services; expanded Pet-Assisted Therapy at Lollypop Farm to include more individuals with developmental disabilities; and established Emergency Assistance Funds at several organizations to meet urgent needs.
It is befitting to conclude with a quote from our chairman, Tom Golisano, words that continue to inspire us and guide in our efforts every day to make this world a better place for people with disabilities: “Everyone should have an opportunity to be treated with respect. I believe that if you can run, then you should take care for those who can only walk.”