Challenge Works
                                                       May 2016 

I'm pleased to share this inaugural edition of the Challenge 
E-Newsletter! We have much to share about our work here at Challenge, and our goal is to keep all of the people who are so important to that work as informed as we can. Please let us know how we are doing!

Whether you are a member of our hard-working staff, the Board of Directors, a community supporter or are connected with one of the amazing people we serve every day,  thank you for being a part of the Challenge family.  Together, we help thousands of people every year grow and show their skills on the path to dignity and independence.
We couldn't do it without you!

Joe Sammons,  Executive Director
Our Most Recent Success Stories

At Challenge, we measure our success with each job we place the people we serve in -- and in each day the people we serve spend training, learning and growing.  Here's a few success stories from the last few weeks:

Todd D.
Todd, who is deaf, had gone through the BOCES automotive course and undertaken an internship, but was looking for a job at a repair shop. Job Developer Maureen Curtis connected Todd with Taber Street Auto and it was a perfect match.
The repair shop staff has incorporated written communication to work with Todd, while he has provided them with a positive attitude and good work ethic.

"He's doing great here, he's willing to do anything that needs to be done," said Jim, the owner of the shop, "and we've learned a lot."
"He has exceeded their expectations," added Maureen. "He is making great strides and I've see a lot of growth. He never expected more than a part-time job, but he's working full time and they are teaching him a lot." 
Doug F.
Doug came to Challenge five years ago with little self-esteem and low confidence working a dish room position at Ithaca College through Challenge's Contract Staffing business. With job coaching and supports in place, Doug's confidence grew and he took on increased duties as the years progressed, to the point he was mentoring new employees and showing them the ropes. Today, Doug is working for Contract Staffing's newest client - Wegmans, in their dish room operations.

"The kid is just spectacular," said Larry Workman, general manager of Challenge Contract Staffing. "He has shown a lot of growth from where he was when he started when he couldn't look you in the eye, to where he is now, proud to be wearing his Wegmans uniform and working there."

Ryan W.
After 7 years of hard work in nearly every program and service offered here at Challenge, Ryan W. was offered a position as a cashier at Wegmans in Ithaca on March 30. 

"Ryan's biggest struggle was overcoming his own self-doubt," said Job Developer Christopher Pike, "and all of us can identify with that.  I'm honored to know him."

On Wednesday, May 4, Challenge will proudly be taking part in the annual "Giving is Gorges" campaign, presented by Community Foundation of Tompkins County, the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Finger Lakes Chapter and Give Gab.
This one-day fundraising event gives our community an easy way to support the amazing work that we do at Challenge all throughout the year. Last year, our agency raised more than $6,000 on this single day of fundraising, and we hope to equal that amount this year!
Here are some examples of how gifts of every size are used to improve the lives of every person we serve:
  • A $50 donation would pay for a week of transportation for program participants taking part in a volunteer experience.
  • A $100 donation would pay for a computer training course for job applicants.
  • A $250 donation would pay for a youth with disabilities to have the opportunity to take part in an afterschool or summer work experience.
Last year, Challenge provided employment, training, job coaching and other vocational supports to over 1,200 people with a wide range of disabilities and other barriers in Tompkins County. 

Here is the link to the Giving is Gorges campaign.


How Challenge Is Changing 
to Meet Growing Needs

Since 1968, Challenge has been the region's largest provider of employment and vocational support for people with disabilities. We still are, and will remain deeply committed to this mission for many years to come.

As our knowledge grows about the best way to deliver that mission, Challenge has grown as well. Our goal today is not just to provide jobs to those with disabilities and other barriers, but to link them to jobs in our community, emphasizing an integrated workplace and a constant process of learning and growing. More than 75% of the people we serve get jobs outside of Challenge, the vast majority in 300 businesses and organizations in Tompkins County we call our Challenge Partners. 

And those struggling with employment and vocational support needs aren't just people with disabilities -- the largest growing population served by Challenge faces economic or situational barriers to employment, and participate in our Job Club, Pathways to Employment or other programs.

Challenge will always be there for people with disabilities and their families, offering employment opportunities and vocational skills, so they can live the life of dignity that each one of us deserves. And today, we bring that same mission to those facing real barriers who need support on their journey.
Challenge Quality Passes a Tough Test!

We are incredibly proud that Challenge performed perfectly on a surprise inspection from the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in early April.  These quality audits involve the careful review of our documentation and program quality, and OPWDD staff were very pleased with their review, finding ZERO deficiencies during their visit.  

Special thanks to all of our Employment and Vocational Services team, and especially to
Sherry Ponton, our Quality Assurance Specialist.  Great job, everyone!