Inclusion Matters


Lives of Distinction

Jay Gelormini

The Sky is the Limit

Meet Jay Gelormini! Although Jay lives with a disability, it in no way defines his life. Jay is a terrific example of how one can overcome challenges to live a fulfilling life. His resiliency is unwavering as he focuses on what he can do and what he hopes to accomplish for his future. With the help of his brothers, Jay makes decisions in all areas of his life. His brother John, who supports him to self-direct his services, embraces Jay’s decision-making about his services, as he responsibly manages them with assistance provided by Advocates.

As Central New York’s largest provider of individualized services, Advocates offers children and adults with developmental disabilities the ability to design, implement, and self-direct their own individual support plans. Self-directed plans are customized to best meet the needs and interests of an individual with a disability, allowing for greater choice and control over the supports they receive. Jay, like so many other individuals, opts for self-directed services, which provide people with the autonomy and freedom to make choices that shape their destiny and enhance their quality of life.

Jay lives life just like anyone else without a disability. He is independent, lives in the family home, has meaningful employment, volunteers his time to important causes, and participates in activities within his community. Jay is also responsible for making choices in his daily life, including meal selection and preparation and exercising to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

By self-directing his services, the unconditional support he receives from his brothers, plus the supports he receives from Advocates, Jay is able to live in the place of his own choice – a home that he is familiar with, feels safe in, and that is filled with fond memories of growing up with his family. Jay was first introduced to Advocates 15 years ago when he lived with his mother in the family home in East Syracuse. After her passing, it was Jay’s desire to continue living in the family home that he had known for most of his life. Jay and his brothers knew his mother would want Jay to have the opportunity to remain in the family home for life. Taking into consideration Jay’s desire to live independently, he and his brothers evaluated the likelihood of whether he would be able to live alone, albeit 45 years of age, because he had always lived with a family member. Ensuring that Jay’s needs were met, his brothers recognized that it was important to allow Jay to be as independent as possible for his well-being. Putting the necessary supports in place to assist Jay has allowed him to remain in the home that reflects his personality and makes him feel the most comfortable. Jay surrounds himself with an array of family photos in the living room that captures his love for his family. Jay has also added his own touch to the home by repurposing a bedroom to create a designated space for him to work on crafts and special projects. Jay is supported to make his own choices about his present and future goals with the assistance from his brothers and his Mentors. 

Though responsible for many things at the house, Jay still finds time to work, socialize, and travel to places like Hawaii, the Bahamas, Disney World, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Angel Rock in Cape Vincent. Jay has even taken a spin around the NASCAR track, a dream fulfilled. Working two days a week satisfies Jay’s needs to reach his personal goals. With a plethora of past and current employment opportunities, Jay has been able to explore new career directions over time. 

He has held positions that reflect his preferences by working in maintenance and housekeeping environments, and now the food service industry, earning competitive wages. What he likes best from his current employers - first and foremost - is “working with people” and secondly, “eating the food!” His brother John boasts that Jay “wants to know how other people are doing, is very empathetic, has a wonderful memory, and is fun to be around.” Using support strategies, such as employment in an integrated setting, is the perfect formula for being an ideal employee; and Jay is just that!

When he is not working, Jay loves to spend his time visiting with family members, socializing among his peers, working out at the YMCA, and participating in recreational activities, such as Advocates’ Holiday Party and Annual Family Picnic. Although Jay has had two surgeries within the last two years, these barriers do not seem to hold him back, and he continues to make the most of his time despite his medical challenges. However, regardless of how independent he is and how much he is willing to undertake on his own, his family is there for him at a moment’s notice. “Jay’s to-do list is very long,” John stated, acknowledging that his brother needed additional support while recovering from his surgeries. “Jay tells me what needs to be done around the house.”

Jay and his family have seen the barriers and attitudes towards people with disabilities that persist throughout our society. But they have also seen many positive changes. “Advocates’ Mentor program has been great for Jay,” John (pictured left) remarked. “He can live independently and do whatever he wants. Fearful at first, Jay has really progressed a lot.” Being self-sufficient is important to Jay, and his Mentors encourage and foster his personal growth by assisting him in making choices that will lead him to actualize his dreams. 

While there are many commonalities regarding the impact of disabilities on families, Jay’s brothers, and the services he receives from Advocates have encouraged and embraced greater independence for Jay which has empowered him to develop a greater identity and autonomy. “Advocates is a tremendous organization,” John continued. “Jay is fortunate to live on his own with resources provided by the state and from Advocates’ Mentors who assist Jay during the day, and everyone is extremely helpful.”

Jay’s story demonstrates that anything is possible when everyone is united in expanding a person's supported opportunities to live independently in the most integrated community-based setting. Living in his family’s home, making choices, having a job, earning an income, and participating in recreational activities are all prerequisites for achieving a holistic and fulfilling life. “Jay has amazed us all, and I tell him often how proud his mother would be of him,” said his longtime friend, Stephanie Keans. On behalf of the Advocates’ team, we thank Jay and his family for demonstrating how people with developmental disabilities can lead full and meaningful lives based on their own goals, dreams, and support systems…the sky’s the limit when we all work together!

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

Upcoming Events

Advocates-Sponsored Syracuse Mets Game

Join us for the final Advocates-sponsored game of the season!

Advocates 18th Annual

Charity Golf Tournament

Join the fun of our online auction!

An exciting part of Advocates Annual Charity Golf Tournament (Sept. 20th) is our online auction. Whether you are participating in our tournament itself or not, you can bid on over $60,000 worth of restaurant gift cards, sports memorabilia, merchandise, trips and activities, and much more! There's something for everyone! Proceeds will benefit children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Just click on the tab below to join the fun!

Click here to bid on our exciting packages!

Dine For Dollar$

Our next Dine for Dollar$ fundraiser to benefit the people we support is next week! We welcome families, employees, and friends to join us on Thursday, September 14th at Tully's Restaurant, located at 520 Towne Drive in Fayetteville.

Known for their delicious chicken tenders, super nachos, or buffalo chicken wings you, your family and friends can enjoy an evening out while making a difference for the individuals and families we serve at Advocates.

Tully's will donate back 10% of all pre-tax sales to Advocates. Sales generated through their take-out window, online ordering, and in the restaurant dining room will be credited to Advocates. Please be sure to tell the cashier that you are with Advocates.

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

Click here to print your coupon!
Click here for Tully's mouth-watering menu!

Advocates Trainings

Understanding and Accessing Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits

Presented by: Alice Webster | Food Bank of CNY Outreach Manager

September 20th @ 6:00pm | Virtual event

Join us for a discussion on the programs and services offered by the Food Bank of CNY, as well as other benefits you may receive just by getting SNAP benefits, such as HEAP and farmer market incentives. Learn how you can stretch your grocery dollars through programs such as Food Sense, your local food pantry, fresh foods distributions, and SNAP.

Alice will be available to prescreen and assist families residing in Onondaga County, with the application process for SNAP (food stamp) benefits. Those who live outside of Onondaga County will be referred to their counties NOEP. For those who are interested in applying, please contact Niki Dreis prior to the event, for a list of necessary documents.

Click here to register for this training

Advocates Kickball - Fall Session

Indoor kickball is back!

We are happy to announce that Advocates' kickball league is resuming! The 10-week fall session will run from September 27th - December 13th to for people ages 11+ who receive services from Advocates. The session will be held on Wednesdays from 4-5pm at CNY Family Sports Centre (7201 Jones Road; Syracuse, NY 13209).

The fee for this session will be $45 per person. Payments will be accepted at the Liverpool office. Please make your check payable to Advocates Incorporated and mail to:

Advocates Incorporated

Attn: Finance – Kickball

290 Elwood Davis Road

Suite 101

Liverpool, NY 13088

We will once again be able to sign up the first 60 people that register. A virtual registration form and payment must be submitted by Sept. 23rd in order to reserve a spot. To register, simply click the tab below. For questions, please email [email protected]

Please provide the best phone number to receive text message notifications on the registration form. We will send a text message if we must cancel due to weather or other circumstances. If you feel the weather is not suitable, please do not feel obligated to attend. Safety comes first!

We look forward to seeing everyone back on the field!

Click here to register for our fall kickball session!
Agency Updates

Direct Support Professional

Recognition Week

You are the heart and soul of what we do!

From September 10th through September 16th, 2023, we pay special tribute to Direct Support Professionals, whose critical supports for people with disabilities enables them to live, work, and thrive in their communities.

It is through the hard work of the more than 1,200 Advocates Mentors and Residential Coordinators that we are able to provide individuals with disabilities and their families with the highest level of supports and services.

Help us celebrate by showing your appreciation to our Mentors - whether they are coworkers, support a loved one, or simply make a difference in your community.

To our Mentors and Residential Coordinators: we are beyond grateful for your work - not only during Direct Support Professional Week, but every day!

As a token of our appreciation, we will be holding five daily drawings for $50 Amazon gift cards. Additionally, we will be sharing previous newsletter spotlights on just some of our dedicated staff members and the vital role they play at Advocates. Please visit our Facebook page during Direct Support Professional Recognition Week to see if you are one of our lucky winners, and to read about the inspiring work done by some of our amazing teammates!

Reasons to Smile

Meet the happy couple!

In July's edition of Inclusion Matters, we told you about Terry Hicks' inspiring story and her much anticipated wedding. On August 19, 2023, Terry and her soulmate, Jamir Chambers, were wed in Syracuse in the presence of friends, family, and community supporters.

We wish Terry and Jamir a future of love, success, and happiness together! We thank their family members, friends, and Mentors for helping to make it a day they'll never forget!