News at RCIL
Issue 1    March 2017
Tax Program Kicks Off Another Year

On February 9th, RCIL’s own Margaret Gallaway, Program Director, joined Assemblyman Anthony Bridisi, Robin Robinson from the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica, Michelle Duchowny from the New York State Tax and Finance Office, and Betty-Joan Beaudry and Brenda Episcopo also from the United Way to kick off this year’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.  This free service for residents with annual household income under $54,000 is a tremendous benefit to the community, helping people file accurate taxes and bringing millions of dollars back into the area.
Since 2004, RCIL has operated the free program in which local volunteers help people to file their income taxes online. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (315) 272 - 1888.

Business of the Year!

At the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Luncheon in December 2016, RCIL was honored as the Large Nonprofit Business of the Year. Zvia McCormick, RCIL Chief Executive Officer, received the award and recognition for the agency's commitment to providing good, local jobs in the Mohawk Valley.
New Chief Operating Officer
Holly Saupp has joined RCIL as its new Chief Operating Officer.  She comes to us from the Schenectady area and is making Utica her new home.  

Holly brings with her a wealth of both direct service and leadership experience in the non-profit industry. She spent the past 20 years serving in various capacities with Northeast Parent and Child Society; beginning her career as Therapeutic Support staff then progressing into Coordinator and Director roles before finally earning a place as the Executive Program Director of Community Services.

Holly, who is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), attained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Union College and then went on to SUNY Albany where she received her Master’s degree in Social Work.
Holly brings energy and enthusiasm to her new position as she learns about all of the programs and services here at RCIL and adjusts to her new role and responsibilities. Her dynamic personality and collaborative approach to leadership are a great fit for this community.  

We warmly welcome her to the RCIL team! 

  RCIL Leads NY Connects Project for Central NY

RCIL has been awarded funding from the NYS Office for the Aging for the Partnership to Expand and Enhance NY Connects: A Balancing Incentive Program. Six other independent living centers are partnering with RCIL to operate NY Connects in 13 CNY counties.

NY Connects is a locally based system that provides access to free, objective, comprehensive information and assistance to people of all ages who need long term services and supports and their caregivers. The intention of NY Connects is to be a one-stop resource throughout the area, providing assistance and managing transitions in service needs, with an overarching goal of assisting people in their desire to move to, or remain in, the least restrictive setting for as long as possible.

Mary Brognano is the Program Director for this project and will be adding staff to provide direct services to our participants.  Donna Gillette in the Herkimer office and Joe Franco in Amsterdam will be operating the same project in the Northeast Region under the leadership of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley.    


June 2017:  Watch for the announcement of a big event to support the Elderly Services program!! 

July 2017: (around July 26th) ADA Anniversary Celebration 

Saturday, October 22, 2017: 2nd Annual Character Breakfast 

Friday, October 27th: Wellness Fair 11:30am - 2:30pm All Staff Meeting 2:30pm

December 9th:  Staff Holiday Party


Saturday March 18th
10am - Noon
T he Community Room in the Smith Center
1607 Genesee Street, Utica

The Community Room is available to rent for Family Parties, Church Events, Group Meetings, and more and will be set up to showcase the space in a variety of configurations.

Come see this beautiful event venue  in the heart of Utica!

Housing Help for People Transitioning out of Nursing Homes
    The Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL) is pleased to announce it is participating in the new Olmstead Housing Subsidy initiative from the New York State Department of Health.  Adults who are enrolled in Medicaid, require nursing home level of care as determined by the Uniform Assessment System, are homeless or unstably housed, can live safely in the community, and have lived in a nursing home for at least 120 consecutive days in the past two years may be eligible to receive subsidies to support their choice to live in the community.

    RCIL has a staff member available to accept referrals and provide community transition services to assist participants through the process of finding suitable homes and navigating the subsidy system.  Subsidies include rental payments, security deposits, and the purchase of items needed to establish new households.  This program will work closely with Mary Clare Hatch-Pennello from the RCIL Open Doors program which provides transition services and peer support to people seeking to move out of nursing homes and into community living situations.

    For more information, contact Cliff Franklin, Housing Specialist, at (315) 797- 4642 ext. 2936.
    Ombudsman Mary Cohen
    and Oneida Resident
    Ombudsman Volunteers
    Support Residents 
    Navigating the long term care setting can be tricky for residents and their loved ones. The Ombudsman Program is often a voice for residents who are unable to advocate for themselves. Whether it be consulting, advocating, empowering, educating, or investigating, the powerful presence of an Ombudsman makes a difference in our local nursing homes. People residing in nursing homes are guaranteed more dignity, respect, and rights than those fortunate enough to live in the community. It’s about time we raise awareness of that. The nursing home is their home after all.

    For information about the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program or to apply to become a volunteer Ombudsman, call Krystal Wheatley at (315) 272-1872 or Cymil Hamilton at (315) 272-1873.
    Celebrating Black History Month
    Black History Month represents the indomitable human spirit!  The inventor, the entertainer, the politician, the school teacher, the father, the mother – making a way where there seemed to be no way, both yesterday and today.  That’s what makes America, America! The question is, how do we heal the deep wounds of the past and the present?  Well, I’ve decided to examine myself.  If we all come to the table knowing we need to change and grow, then an open and truthful dialogue can ensue - and real truth can bring about real freedom!

    Pat Brown 

    Assuring Access to Quality, Affordable Healthcare 

     If you are one of the thousands of individuals who were finally able to access health coverage in NYS through passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), promises by GOP leaders to repeal it are of great concern.  For the disability community in particular, elements within the legislation are critical for assuring access to community life and for allowing New York State to keep pace with healthcare needs of low-income individuals and families.  Important assurances aside from increased eligibility for low-income individuals includes consumer protections that forbid insurance companies from rejecting patients with pre-existing medical conditions and coverage of children on their parent’s policies through the age of 26.
    For individuals with disabilities whose medical conditions meet the nursing home level of eligibility, the Community First Choice Option (CFC) and Money Follows the Person (MFP) Programs as part of the ACA prioritize home-care services so that institutional placement is a choice of last resort. Any proposed national healthcare policy must assure these important programs are preserved and assure that everyone now covered continue to have coverage.  Important questions to legislators who support repealing the ACA include:
    1. Will any new bill lower the cost of healthcare premiums and deductibles while keeping the same benefits?
    2. Will current protections for people with pre-existing conditions be preserved?
    3. Can a woman be charged more simply because of her gender?
    4. Will any new bill fully cover preventive care like mammograms at no cost?
    5. Will mental health care and prescription drugs be covered at the same levels?
    6. Will Medicaid coverage remain the same without increasing costs for seniors, children, and people with disabilities?
    The ACA isn’t perfect but repealing it and sending the health care industry into chaos isn’t the way to improve it. Leaders in Congress should set aside partisan attacks on healthcare and work together to come up with ways to address gaps in the law and increase affordability by lowering profits allowed for insurance companies and their CEOs. Please reach out to Congressional leaders during the February recess and urge them to begin productive conversations about how we will improve healthcare access and quality for everyone. 

    Take Action –

    Electronic Action Alert to tell Congress to preserve disability-specific provisions of the ACA –
    Send your own letter to Congressional Leadership and the people that represent you in Congress:
    Congresswoman Claudia Tenney - (315) 732-0713 h ttps://
    Congressman Paul Tonko - (518) 843-3400