Challenge Works
 December  2016 

Executive Director  Joe Sammons
I am excited to share our most recent edition of the Challenge Works newsletter with you!
As we turn the corner into 2017, all of us at Challenge wanted to express our gratitude for your spirit and support for the important work that we do - thank you!

This is our dear friend Helen A.,  
who has been coming to Challenge 
for 43 years, starting in our 
Contract Production program at the
"Pink Building" on State Street in 1973.     E arlier this year, Helen was
beaming with pride when she 
  won an award for 
"Most persistent Participant".  
Just this week, while I was walking through and 
talking with  program participants, Helen  
again how the award sits on her 
dresser and 
she shows it to everyone!

When Richard P. came to Challenge this summer through our Job Club program up at the South Hill Business Campus, he completed the six week "classroom style" training, worked with a job coach, and then joined our Janitorial Services team.   
Richard P. is now on an incredible path to success, but it's a path that has taken a number of turns, some with negative consequences. In July, Richard came to Ithaca after his release from prison, and started down a different path, with the help of his sister and brother-in-law. At age 41, after serving more than a decade behind bars, he made the decision to turn his life around, and came to Challenge looking for "someone to believe in me," he said. Now Richard has found employment, has his own place, and has a car, Within a month of coming to Ithaca, Richard was hired as a cleaner at Ithaca College for Challenge, but he wasn't going to stop there. Just recently, Richard was hired as a cook at the new Marriott hotel in downtown Ithaca, but told me in my office that he wanted to stay on and help our Janitorial team because Challenge was such an important part of his effort to create a better life for himself.  And with all the changes in his life, Richard says he's also committed to re-establishing strong relationships with family, as he continues down a positive path. "My ambition is to move forward," he says with a smile on his face. He's also looking for ways to tell his story as a way to give back to the community to keep teens from making the same mistakes he did. As he settles into life in Ithaca, Richard is also looking into attending college to further his skills.

This year, Challenge served 1,200 people like Helen and Richard- people with disabilities and barriers who are pursuing meaningful work that gives meaning to life.  We provide the opportunity and support they need to grow and show their skills with over 250 private employers in Tompkins County or with Challenge itself.
Challenge has been dedicated to helping people with barriers to employment for almost 50 years.  The vision Robert Sprole had in 1968 to give people with disabilities access to meaningful employment lives on today in our dedicated staff and amazingly determined participants.  We are passionate about our commitment to the basic idea that everyone deserves a pathway to employment, and we've helped tens of thousands of people in our community to achieve independence and pursue their dreams.
This work is trans formative for the people we support, but our community as a whole benefits economically and socially.  We are all proud to live in a community that cares about all residents and supports inclusion and diversity.
This work simply wouldn't be possible without your generous support.
Challenge has a model that is unique in human services - we rely on a combination of public funding, community support and private revenue from programs like our Janitorial Service, Imaging, Contract Staffing and the Finger Lakes Fresh Food Hub.  It is our balanced funding model that helps Challenge survive and thrive even in the most difficult times.
Last year, Challenge raised over $200,000 from our generous community - funds that helped us expand our Summer Youth program, to create our Ability in Bloom project, and to pay for new equipment used in Contract Production and the Janitorial Service programs where Helen A. and Richard P. work every day.  We are incredibly grateful for this support - and so are the people we serve at Challenge and in the community!
This support makes a profound impact on the lives of many people in our community -- I invite you to our Facebook page at to view these stories and the incredible team at Challenge.  You can also hear testimonials from community employers on the media page on our website at w
There is no other organization in our area that does what we do, and your gift today will make a big impact on our ability to help everyone - regardless of disability or barrier - pursue their dreams.
Thank you for your continued generous support!
Joe Sammons

Challenge Starts the Journey to a Paper-Free Environment
In December 2016 Challenge began using a new system called "Precision Care", which is an electronic health record we will be using for our all of our services by the end of 2019, replacing our paper charts and current government billing.  Our Medicaid Service Coordination (MSC) team was the first of our programs to begin using the new system, and they have been using computer tablets that were funded through our generous BIP Grant received in 2015.  Of course, there is no perfect system (paper or electronic) and we know at Challenge that nothing can take the place of compassionate care and excellent communication with our program participants.  But this new electronic system will help Challenge keep pace with fast-moving changes in our service industry, and to prove the incredible value of the work that we provide to funders and insurance companies.

Ability in Bloom Completes Its Second Year
Ability in Bloom is a small business program of Challenge Workforce Solutions.  We grow and sell cut-flower bouquets through a Community Supported Agriculture program and at retail locations in Ithaca, New York.  We grow all of our flowers without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.  In 2016, we used our plot at the Groundswell Incubator Farm to plant about 2,500 seedlings that were eventually shared with CSA members or arranged by Challenge program participants and then featured at events, such as the Challenge Annual Dinner.

"Where there's a Challenge, We find a Solution"

Please help us continue to create pathways to employment for people regardless of disabilities or barriers, allowing them to experience the dignity of work and pursue their dreams! 

Visit our webpage to learn how you can make a 
donation to support Challenge!
Thank you!

Find Us On Facebook!

Some of you might be aware that Challenge has a Facebook page -- it can be found at

In the past few weeks, that page has started to fill with content. We have been sharing program participant success stories and highlighting staff members, as well as sprinkling in some motivational messages and a joke or two.

Consider liking our Facebook page, and sharing its content with your friends and family to help spread the word about all the great things going on at Challenge!

We also have Facebook pages for:
Ability in Bloom ( )
Challenge Imaging ( )