Inclusion Matters

JUNE 2023

Lives of Distinction

Josh Miner

Comedian, Historian, and Companion All in One

If you’re to spend any amount of time with the affable Josh Miner and his Mentor Dee, be prepared to laugh…a lot.  

Josh, 30, has always had a great sense of humor and enjoys making jokes and puns. Because life is too short to be serious all the time, he prides himself on being able to make people laugh. His sense of humor is known to benefit other people and Josh himself. “We’re always cracking people up, and it makes our working together even more enjoyable,” said Dee Barch, Josh’s Mentor of nearly 8 years. “You basically get paid to laugh all day,” Josh whimsically chimed in. Though they can be seen as a modern-day Abbott and Costello, this dynamic duo does far more together than simply tell jokes.

“There’s nothing Josh likes more than researching and facts,” said his mother, Jenn. Josh has utilized his gifts in these areas in multiple ways.

Josh’s love of research and history led him to pursue a dual major in history and photography from Syracuse University’s School of Education’s InclusiveU program. There, Josh received three notable accolades, including the Living History Channel Award. His recent graduation and experience as a valued volunteer have fostered a new goal – one that may not have been possible had it not been for his hard work and dedication. “I would like to get a paid job in this field,” Josh said. Those who have seen Josh’s work all agree that it’s only a matter of time before he achieves this goal. “The head Research Librarian at SU told me that she and her peers can see him thriving in a role like this as a career,” Dee said.

As if his many ongoing contributions to history aren’t enough, Josh also volunteers at Meals on Wheels. “I used to work in the kitchen where everyone absolutely loved me,” Josh said with a big smile, only half-kidding. These days, you can find him delivering the meals to local seniors, thanks in part to his positive demeanor and ongoing support from his Mentors. “We wouldn’t have known about many of the opportunities that have come our way if it weren’t for Advocates,” Jenn said. “Advocates has given him the freedom to explore all of these extracurricular things and lead his own life,” she continued. “Not to mention, you also get a break from me for a few hours!” Josh interjected.

As independent and productive as Josh is in his daily life, there are naturally challenges he faces due to his disability. “Sometimes, he’ll get so involved in his research work that he’ll go down a rabbit hole,” Dee (pictured left) said. “But I like to be Alice in Wonderland; that’s a good movie!” Josh said with no hesitation, reminding us that his sense of humor is never far off. “Historically, Josh has a great long-term memory, but his short-term memory is a little rough,” Jenn added. “Wait, what did you just say?” Josh asked facetiously. “I forgot.” 

In addition to needing reminders to stay on task and refreshers for his memory, Josh also requires support with things like navigating the community and money management. Though there is always room for improvement, Josh has taken strides in these and other important areas, thanks in part to Dee’s mentorship. “Both her professional and personal experience have helped Josh and our family immensely,” Jenn said, noting Dee’s unique perspective of being both a Mentor and a fellow parent of a child with a disability. “I had so much trust and faith in her from the start, but that’s only gotten stronger with time,” she added.

“The relationship definitely goes both ways,” Dee said. “I’ve reached out to Jenn many times when it comes to parenting or if I’ve ever needed advice.” Showing just how close a relationship has been formed over their extensive time together, Jenn acknowledges that she is often the one tapping into Dee’s advice when it comes to Josh. “I have Josh’s best interest in my heart,” Dee said in a most genuine tone. “His companionship, his intellectual mind, his sense of humor…everything about him makes working with him an honor and a privilege.”

When he’s not immersing himself in history or volunteering his time to the community, you can find Josh spending time with his family, friends, and Australian Shepherd, Jack. Josh and his family are known travelers, and love camping in the Adirondacks in the summertime and going on cruises to warm destinations in the winter. But whatever Josh has on his agenda, whether it’s for leisure or for work, he does it with the full support of everyone who cares about him.

“Seeing Josh’s growth is why I do this,” Dee said. “Being a good mentor means paying attention to the person’s strengths, working hard on those things, and ultimately setting that person up for success for the rest of their life.”

With all that he has accomplished and a strong circle of support around him, Josh is most certainly set up for success. We are proud of Josh’s accomplishments and community work, and are equally proud of our dedicated Mentors like Dee, who work tirelessly to help the roughly 1,000 people we support achieve their self-directed goals.

If you have a caring family member or friend who is looking for meaningful work and the opportunity to support someone as inspirational as Josh, please encourage them to apply on our website. We look forward to meeting them!

Upcoming Events

FLAME Concert

Advocates and ARISE are co-hosting a concert featuring FLAME the Band, which is comprised of talented musicians who have a disability. The FLAME concert will coincide with an inclusive evening of great music, dancing, and food provided by local food trucks that the whole family is sure to enjoy! 

FLAME truly inspires people of all ages! They tour throughout the United States, performing classics and some of their own originals. Their mission is to change the world through their music and performances. "FLAME’s performances help change how the public perceives people with disabilities and increase the awareness and acceptance of all people, regardless of their differences.”

Formed 20 years ago, FLAME gained popularity in several notable publications and television broadcasts. We hope that you, your friends, and family are able to join us for what's sure to be an unforgettable experience! This event is open to the public. Please be sure to bring your appetite and your favorite lawn chair! 

Click here today for your tickets!

Advocates-Sponsored Syracuse Mets Game

Dine For Dollar$

Our first Dine for Dollar$ fundraiser for Advocates was a success, as we welcomed families, employees, and friends to Stingers in Manlius. Thank you to everyone that came out to support Advocates!

Our second Dine for Dollar$ is scheduled for Wednesday, June 21st at Panera, located at 3815 Route 31 in Liverpool.

Stop in for a healthy and delicious meal, or try some of their freshly baked cookies, pastries, bagels, and a range of breads. You, your family and friends can enjoy an evening out while making a difference for the individuals and families we serve at Advocates. Panera will donate back 10% of all pre-tax sales to Advocates.

Our host, Nicholas Courgi, will be available that day to hand out coupons at the door for dine in or take out meals. Check out their menu below.

On behalf of our individuals, families and employees, thank you for your anticipated support! We hope to see you there!

Panera's Menu

Advocates Trainings

Preventing Parent Burnout: Stress Management for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Presented by:

Barbara Hoffman & Sharon Linne | Parent to Parent of NYS

June 12th @ 6pm

Extraordinary parenting responsibilities create extraordinary pressures on parents. Join us for this virtual training to discover positive ways to cope with and effectively manage stress.

Click here to register for this training
Click here to register for any of the trainings above

Advocates Annual Family Picnic

Mark your calendar!

Advocates' Annual Family Picnic will be held on Wednesday, July 12th from 4-7pm at Onondaga Lake Park's Willow Bay Pavilions. Please mark your calendars and save the date. Stay tuned for more information to come in future communications and on social media!

We hope to see you there!

Advocates Partners with American Red Cross

Last call to help save a life!

Advocates is partnering with the American Red Cross and hosting a blood drive on Thursday, June 22nd from

1-6pm in the Board Room, located at 290 Elwood Davis Road in Liverpool.

As a bit of a "thank you" from the Red Cross, all participating donors will receive a $10 e-gift card to the merchant of their choice, as well as a coupon for a pint of Stewart's ice cream or gelato!

We thank you in advance for considering participating in this critical mission!

To help save a life, please click here
Agency Updates

Advocates 5th Annual Stroll & Roll

This year's event was our biggest and best yet!

Advocates' 5th Annual Stroll & Roll 5K was our most successful to date! More than 300 people joined us at Onondaga Lake Park on May 7th and strolled and rolled to help raise awareness and support for people with disabilities. Participants were treated to our 5K, which allows people to participate at their desired pace, trophies for the top performers & medals for all participants, a grilled lunch, various games, live music, and much more. The icing on the cake was the gorgeous weather! We were thrilled to see so many smiling faces!

Click here for more photos from this event!

Our event would not have been possible without our many participants or community supporters! We are so appreciative to everyone who registered for the event, as well as our most generous sponsors, donors, and other community supporters. We are indebted to you, and hope to see you back for next year's event! Thank you again!

LGBTQ+ Family Day of Visibility

May 7th was a busy day in the community!

Also on this date, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo hosted their LGBTQ+ Family Day of Visibility in honor of International Family Equality Day.

The event showcased local resources for those in the LGBTQ+ community and artisan vendors as well. The beautiful weather brought many vendors, sponsors, and attendees! Advocates was a proud sponsor of the event, and provided volunteers for face painting, recruitment, and informational purposes!

Click here for more photos from this event!

Advocates John Wolford Coffee House

New location, same great time!

On May 26th, Advocates held its first John Wolford Coffee House at its new location - Pope John XXIII Church in Liverpool. People receiving services from Advocates and their Mentors or family members joined us for an evening of music, dancing, food, and friendship.

We're already looking forward to our next Coffee House, which will take place in later in the year. More details on our next event to follow in upcoming newsletters. Check out the video below for a small sampling of the fun we have at our Coffee Houses!

Advocates would like to send a special thanks to Mark D'Alberto, who graciously devotes his time as our DJ at many Advocates events, including our Coffee Houses! We thank you, Mark!

A small snapshot of the fun we have at Advocates Coffee Houses!

Reasons to Smile

Check this out!

It's not every day we get to meet someone considered to be the very best in the world at something. David Grygiel, however, got the chance to do just that with one of his idols not long ago!

David's favorite pro bowler has always been Jason Belmonte AKA "Belmo." David is such a fan of Jason's, that whenever he bowls at Green Lakes Lanes, he will put Jason's name on the scoreboard instead of his own. David had always dreamt of meeting Jason one day, but knew it would be a long shot due to most tournaments taking place in Las Vegas, the costs associated with trips across the country, and the natural elusiveness of meeting the world's "number 1."

When David's parents learned that the PBA Players Championship Finals were to be held in New Brunswick, NJ, they jumped at the opportunity to have David watch Belmo in person. On May 1, the Grygiels drove more than 4 hours to attend the highly anticipated tournament. Not only did David get to witness Belmo compete, but he got to meet him as well!

David gifted Belmo a Green Lakes Lanes t-shirt and was able to have his photo taken with the 7x PBA Player of the Year. As if that wasn't enough, David got to bowl with four different professionals and bowled an impressive game of 183, tying him with two of the pros.

The ProAm tournament was a great experience for David, and one he will remember the rest of his life. We're happy for David, and appreciate the his parents' efforts in helping transform a dream into reality!