Niagara Gazette — Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, the Niagara County chapter of NYSARC, celebrated Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month this March with a month-long special project that led to the donation of several hundred pounds of donations.
Under the banner of “NYSARC Gives Back” our program participants (adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities) and employees joined together, with the leadership of two self-advocacy groups from Niagara Falls and Lockport, to collect non-perishable food donations for the Niagara Community Action Program (NCAP) of the Food Bank of Western New York.
“The goal of the President’s Project Week is to have all NYSARC chapters participate in a volunteer program during the week, reflecting our collective ability to give back to the communities who give us so much throughout the year. NYSARC has partnered with the Food Bank Association of NYS,” said Jack A. Schuppenhauer, NYSARC president (a volunteer position). All food donations will help families across Niagara County through the Niagara Community Action Program and the Food Bank of Western New York.
Added Kellie Spychalski, executive director/CEO of Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, As Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families from across Niagara County, it was a priority to partner with an organization like the Niagara Community Action Program that served people county-wide as well."
Letitia Stephens, a member of the Niagara Falls Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara Self Advocacy Group, and Spychalski delivered more than 407 pounds of donations to representatives from the Niagara Community Action Program at their Niagara Falls Distribution Center on Monday.
Upon receiving the donation, Suzanne Shears, executive director of the NCAP, presented a certificate of appreciation.
“This is the fourth year of receiving such a large food donation from the employees and participants of Opportunities Unlimited," she said. "On behalf of the board of directors for Niagara Community Action Program, Inc., we are truly grateful to them for their support and dedication.”
Kimberley O’Grady, family development and nutrition supervisor with NCAP added, "Partnerships like this make our community stronger."
Also on hand to accept the donations were representatives from two of the 40 providers who receive food each year through NCAP: Ellen Maloney, Director for Divine Mercy Food Pantry in Niagara Falls, Bonnie Shaffer, coordinator for North Tonawanda Inter-Church Food Pantry and MaryAnn Cox, wutreach Worker for Niagara Community Action Program, Inc. in Lockport.