Friday, December 27, 2013

Photography Class Ignites A Lifetime of Creative Pleasure for Many

Several individuals jumped at the opportunity to participate in a photography class taught by professional photographer and community partner, Joe Damone. Joe is a graduate of New York Institute of Photography who hails from NYC and is also a resident of Andes, NY. He shared his love of the art of photography with others by providing 2 sessions of 6 workshops each at The Arc of Delaware County. 

Photo “rookies” as well as more experienced photographers whom have exhibited works in local galleries and other venues gained knowledge about the art of photography during the workshops. They learned the basics of digital photography, including picture composition, lighting, cropping, taking portrait photos, and many other techniques. The class visited several locations to experience taking photos in natural settings such as a farm and a covered bridge in Hamden, NY.

The photography program is so successful that a third workshop program is scheduled to begin on January 6th. With the colder weather, this class will be having indoor opportunities for photo shoots including a church in Delhi, the Delaware County Historical Association and the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society.

Photography can provide a lifelong conduit for creative expression and offers personal satisfaction and appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. Bring some sunshine into your winter day by viewing photos taken during the summer/fall session of the photography class: Gems from Photography Class 

Thursday, December 26, 2013


George Suess, CEO from The Arc of Delaware County, continues to captivate audiences across the nation, including those at a recent conference hosted by The Arc of California.
“It has been a life-changing experience and process!” enthusiastically shared Lori Ramirez, CEO of The Arc of Fresno and Madera Counties, CA, when speaking of the training they have received from The Arc of Delaware County, NY.  This training, known as Shift Happens, has helped organizations across the nation shift from traditional reactive approaches to positive, proactive approaches in supporting people with disabilities, and guided them in making comprehensive, culture strengthening improvements.
With proven success in increasing the positives, such things as learning and growth, self-esteem, and productivity, and  reducing the negatives, such as incidents of abuse, neglect, assaults, and violence,  The Arc of Delaware County, NY, was engaged by The Arc of California to bring the Shift Happens training to organizations throughout the Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Oakland areas.  “We’ve taken our message how through caring and positivity you can improve productivity and performance to staffs as diverse as Alaska, Georgia, California, and of course New York among others, and have found our message resonates whether the setting is urban or rural, institutional or community based.” reflects George Suess, CEO of The Arc of Delaware County.
Embraced with firsthand knowledge gained from their roles and experiences at The Arc of Delaware County, Life Coaches Heidi Friedman, Valarie Stafford, and Katie Backus, together with George Suess, traveled to California to teach Boards of Directors, leaders, and direct support staff about this positive, proactive approach they use every day. 
The first day, the training they provided began with a focus on the importance of caring, and how even people who have devoted their entire careers to caring for others can take caring to an even deeper level by following the principles in the person-centered, positive, and proactive Shift Happens approach.  The second day walked people through building such an approach through specific HR practices, beginning with hiring the right people and then providing them with proper training, coaching, and ongoing support.  “It seems that everywhere we go, organizations are experiencing budget cuts or underfunding.  Simply telling people to do more with less doesn’t work.  They feel they have been doing more with less for years and there is no more room for their budget to accommodate cuts.  Part of the solution, we believe, is by increasing individual and team productivity through proactive strategies to improve accountability, cooperation, and teamwork.  We show organizations how to do this, and with a smile.” shared George Suess.

To learn more about The Arc of Delaware County’s unique approach, go to, or call 607-865-7126 and arrange for a consultation or visit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wishes Are Granted

When The Arc of Delaware County learned that they would be receiving a $6,000 grant from the Trustees of the NYSARC Trusts to support recreational opportunities for people they provide services and supports to, excitement filled the air.  Receiving this money has facilitated the granting of wishes for several people supported by The Arc who may otherwise not have had these opportunities.

 One such person is Kelly Piskacek.   She is an effervescent woman who has only dreamed of traveling from her small, country hometown to the glowing city of New York, where everything sparkles and the stars shine not only in the sky but on the stage.  This grant made Kelly’s wish come true.  She recently hopped on a bus, with her support staff, Life Coach Heidi Friedman, and was on her way to the big city.  Though the experiences were all very new to her, she navigated her way around like a superstar. She spent hours just walking around taking in the scenery and was in awe of all the tall buildings, she was pampered at a beauty salon, and of course did some Christmas shopping.  But perhaps her favorite part of the trip was to Radio City Music Hall. When the Rockettes started dancing Kelly was literally on the edge of her seat.  “I remember when the Santas started to appear 1 by 1 and Kelly was staring at the stage saying ‘Heidi look, Heidi look’--but she couldn’t take her eyes off of them. When the nativity set was performing a low but clear ‘WOW’ was heard. She was transformed into another world.” recalled Heidi.  At the end of the day Kelly returned to the hotel exhilarated, exhausted, and ready to do it all over again.

The NYSARC Trusts administer supplemental needs trusts that enable people who have disabilities to remain in their home and community and retain their Medicaid eligible services. The Trustees utilize remainder funds to benefit other persons with disabilities including unfunded Chapter guardianship programs as provided by statute.  In addition to the Recreation Grant, the Trustees awarded $1,225,500 to support Chapter Guardianship programs. Information on how you may benefit from a NYSARC Trust is available by calling 518-439-8323 or 1-800-735-8924 or by emailing  To learn more about The Arc of Delaware County, visit; to see more photos from Kelly’s NYC trip, click on the Flickr link on the homepage.