Inclusion Matters


Mentor Spotlight

Melissa Crowe

A Mentor Worth Crowing About

“There’s no one I’d rather trust with my son, Daniel, than Melissa.” This is a complimentary statement from any parent towards their child’s Mentor. However, because of Beth Henderson’s unique perspective of being a parent of someone with a disability and her years of experience in the field, this sentiment carries even more weight.

Melissa Crowe and the mentorship she provides have been nothing short of a gift to the Henderson family and everyone else she’s supported in her ten years with Advocates. Her passion and exuberance for being a Mentor, in addition to the exceptional job she does, demonstrate just how valuable she is to those she works with and to Advocates as a whole. “I see her dedication and person-centered approach on all fronts,” Beth said. “She has a unique touch, but also a deep respect for everyone she supports.”

The respect Melissa has for people with disabilities traces back to the close relationship she had with her late aunt, Carmella (pictured right), who had a disability herself. The outward consideration shown by her family members towards people with disabilities served as model behavior for Melissa all her life. “My family never treated my aunt…or anyone with disabilities for that matter…any differently than anyone else,” she said.

Because of her personal experience and a previous work experience in the YMCA’s Inclusion Department for children with disabilities, Melissa felt she was destined to work in the human services field. At the YMCA, she worked at its summer camp, taught swim lessons, supervised recreation time, and played a role in various other aspects of the program – all of which deepened her interest in and passion for the field. This is evidenced by her pursuit of psychology, which she chose to study while at SUNY Potsdam.

“When I was in school for psych, I gravitated towards person-first language and the nature of self-direction,” Melissa said. “Advocates was a trendsetter in this area, and I’ve always really appreciated that.” She also appreciates the one-to-one service model Advocates has used since its inception, because it necessitates Mentors devote their undivided attention to one person at a time.

It’s no wonder then, that Daniel Henderson has developed as much as he has under Melissa’s caring tutelage, which has now spanned almost a decade. “He’s grown up so much,” Melissa said, smiling at the thought of it. “He’s so much more vocal and engaging now compared to when I first started working with him.” Beth agreed that this has been one of Daniel’s greatest progressions. “There’s been a lot of skill-building and working towards goals over time, but she’s been absolutely huge with helping with socialization and building his confidence,” she said.

Melissa’s impact has reached more than just the Henderson family, and she’s been equally impacted by the other families she’s supported over time. “People like the Galvagnos and Mirandas certainly shaped my early days at Advocates,” she said. “Walking into their homes every week felt like walking into my own. They’re just awesome families.”

Whether it’s with day-to-day tasks or life-altering events, Melissa has offered her unwavering support to people like Daniel every step of the way. “We simply couldn't have gotten through COVID without her; there’s just no way,” Beth said, thinking back on how turbulent and uncharted a period it was. “Daniel began exhibiting some really challenging behaviors because of the loss of his routine, seeing his friends, and doing things he wanted to do in the community.” 

Though virtual mentoring sessions with Melissa early in the pandemic helped to some degree, Daniel’s mental health still suffered because of the drastic changes in his life. One thing that Daniel had an especially hard time accepting was the obligation of wearing a mask. When he and Melissa were able to resume in-person services again, Daniel’s outlook on masks changed the moment he saw Melissa for the first time in what had seemed like eons. Leading by example, Melissa arrived at the Henderson home already wearing her mask, and then encouraged Daniel to put one on himself. “Daniel was so happy to see her that he didn’t even flinch at her recommendation,” Beth recalled. “His acceptance of wearing a mask was a life-changing moment because we knew he would be able to venture into the community safely.”

When we asked Melissa to share something about herself that people may not know, she responded, “I want people to know more about Daniel than about me. I wish people knew him like I do, and that there’s so much more to Daniel than meets the eye. He’s hilarious and very smart!” Though Melissa’s responses help shed more light on who Daniel is, she inadvertently shed more light on who she is as well. If you’re fortunate to spend even a few minutes chatting with Melissa, you’ll see that she is caring, humble, and selfless, almost to a fault. And so, with these admirable characteristics and more, it’s easy to see why she epitomizes the ideal Mentor. “Having Melissa means peace of mind…knowing that Daniel is out and about and in good hands,” Beth said.

When Melissa isn’t providing critical supports and top-notch mentorship to people at Advocates, you may catch her spending time outdoors, often near water. By her own admission, Melissa doesn’t have much free time these days. She is pursuing a secondary degree in nursing from SUNY Morrisville, all while acting as a volunteer EMT in what spare time she does have.

“Melissa told me that wherever life takes her, she wants to be a part of Daniel’s life,” Beth said. “As a parent, what more can you ask for? We really feel like she’s a part of our family, and we couldn’t do what we do without her.”

The same can be said for all of Advocates – we couldn’t do what we do without our Mentors and their constant dedication. On behalf of all of us at Advocates, we are indebted to Melissa and all our devoted Mentors, and truly appreciate the heart and soul they put into their work!

Do you have a friend or family member who possesses

many of Melissa's admirable qualities and

would make a great Mentor?

If so, please encourage them to apply on our website.

We look forward to meeting them!

Agency Updates

Skaneateles Middle School Student Council Holiday Shopping Spree 

Advocates would like to thank the Skaneateles Middle School Student Council for selecting Advocates as one of their charities of choice for their Holiday Gift Shopping Spree!

Skaneateles Middle School Student Council’s annual holiday shopping spree is one of the most wholesome events of their school year. Thanks to generous funding from the CNYCentral Foundation, Todd’s Fund, and the Middle School Student Council, the students were afforded the unique opportunity to shop for local charities and provide gifts for children in need.

This year, the students shopped for 53 families receiving services from Advocates, making it an extra special holiday season for many households. The students from the Skaneateles Middle School opened up their hearts to give back in a big way, and we are especially proud of their efforts!

Now Open For Reservation:

Advocates Community Space at Our Liverpool Office

The community space at the Liverpool office is now open for use! Reserve the space for activities of your choice such as working on art or volunteer projects, socializing, and more!

Located at Liverpool office:

290 Elwood Davis Rd.

Suite 101

Liverpool, NY 13088

Guidelines for using Liverpool Community Space

  • Reservation must be in place prior to using community space

  • The community space can be reserved for up to 16 people maximum at a time (8 people receiving services and 8 Mentors).

  • Space can be reserved once per month during office hours per group.

  • One group leader will reserve the space and be responsible for ensuring all steps are followed for reserving and using the space.

  • Group leader must complete a checklist indicating that the area used was cleaned and disinfected and drop completed checklist off to reception at the end of reserved time.

  • Food and other items cannot be stored at the office.

How to Make a Reservation

Use the link below to sign up and reserve a time.

Please reach out to Brittany Jewell with any questions:

We are here to help!

Click Here to Reserve

Advocates Annual Appeal

Advocates' Annual appeal is coming to a close, but there is still time to make a donation!

We appreciate our families, donors, community partners, and employees that have celebrated and supported Advocates throughout the years.

If you are grateful for the supports and services Advocates provides, please consider making a gift to this year’s Annual Appeal. Your gift will make a profound impact on people with disabilities.

To donate, please click here to donate securely via PayPal.

For more information or questions, please contact

On behalf of Advocates' families whose lives will be

touched by your generosity, we sincerely thank you.

Please know how much we appreciate your support!

Upcoming Events


Syracuse Crunch Game

Join us for Advocates night at the Syracuse Crunch!

The Syracuse Crunch

is offering discount tickets to people/

families receiving services from Advocates along with employees.

Join us on Saturday, Jan. 21st at 7pm as the Syracuse Crunch take on the Utica Comets.

Discount tickets ($20) can be purchased by contacting Emily Kissinger: (315) 473-4444 ext. 126 or online at: using promotional code: ADVOCATES

Advocates Virtual Trainings

Advocates 2023 training lineup to be announced

Our 2023 schedule of Advocates trainings is being finalized, and we will be providing additional information soon. We're excited to roll out a new, streamlined way to register for our training events. Stay tuned!


The holidays may be over, but you can still support Advocates through AmazonSmile! Did you receive an Amazon gift card for the holidays or have online shopping to do anyway? If so, simply shop on as you normally would, and designate Advocates as your charity of choice by searching for Advocates Inc

With every eligible purchase, AmazonSmile will donate 5% to Advocates. It's that easy! Thank you for your support!

This past year was one of growth and progression for us as individuals and as a collective family at Advocates. To read some of the many recent success stories of the people we support,

please click here.

To the people we support and their families -

we thank you for inspiring us to provide you with the best

supports and services possible.

To our dedicated staff - we thank you for your tireless efforts

in supporting the families we serve. We couldn't do it without you!

From the Advocates family to your family,

we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!