News at RCIL
Issue 4 November 2017
On October 21 st , RCIL hosted the 2 nd Annual Children’s Brunch and Character Party at the Dorothy Smith Center for Advocacy. Gracing the children with their presence were 17 characters including favorites such as Elsa and Anna, Belle, Dorothy and the Scarecrow, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spiderman, Batman, a Power Ranger, Cat in the Hat, Elmo, and even Cruella De Vil. Volunteers thrilled the children as they enjoyed a breakfast buffet featuring Chobani Yogurt, fruit salad, sliced honey glazed ham, scrambled eggs, and pancakes and waffles made to order by our very own Chef & CEO, Zvia McCormick.

With over 100 guests in attendance, The Smith Center was full of magical joy and excitement. Proceeds from the event support Seasons at RCIL , a safe and accessible outdoor garden space for individuals who attend the RCIL Adult Day Services Program, a place where they can garden, visit, and soak up the sun. The RCIL Adult Day Services Program provides an environment for people who are aging to socialize, participate in activities, enjoy a hot lunch, and receive door-to-door transportation.

Special thanks to our Magical Sponsors, Committee Members and Staff Volunteers whose hard work and dedication contributed to this Event being a success. We look forward to the 3 rd Annual Children’s Brunch and Character Party on October 20, 2018. If you would like to help with this Event, please contact Michael Yanney at 315-797-4642 Ext. 2986 or

See this video from the event: Elmo rocks the Character Brunch!
In a recent survey of RCIL staff members, two-thirds of respondents indicated interest in better self-care, healthier vending options, decreased stress, and increased opportunities for physical activity at work. To address those concerns, the Wellness Committee was formed and Subcommittees are currently working on four main topics: Self Care , Nutrition , Stress Management , and Physical Activity .

If you have a suggestion or question for the Wellness Committee, want more information about their activities, or are interested in participating in any of the Subcommittees, please contact Margaret Batson at 315-797-4642 ext. 2993 or

Stay tuned for new options and activities initiated by the RCIL Wellness Committee!
Colleen Geer, Georgie Sanges, Pam Allinger, and Arlene Eaton share health information and some delicious apples at the
RCIL Wellness Fair.
Aging By Design

Design Geniuses
Sylvia Bunce,
Lisa Mastracco,
and Donna Gigliotti
hard at work.
Through a planning grant from the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York , RCIL is using Design Thinking principles to develop an innovative program that will benefit seniors in our community. The Design Team, which includes seniors in the Adult Day Services program, caregivers, and RCIL staff members, meets each week to create their project. In March of next year, they will present their ideas to a panel that will decide about additional funding to make the idea a reality.

For more information about this project, call Maureen Ghent at 315-797-4642 ext. 2983 or
And take a look at this video, presented as part of the project: RCIL Aging by Design video
Get the Facts!
RCIL has two important programs to help families of children with disabilities. The North Country Parent Assistance Center and the Early Childhood Direction Center provide resources and information that give you the tools you need to help your child succeed.

Be sure to check the NCPAC and ECDC websites for opportunities to learn strategies to help your child with a disability. From "The Paper Chase," which teaches how to organize and use all the paperwork you collect, to "Child Development and the Preschool Special Education Process," you will gain critical information that will make it easier to navigate the special education system.

For more information email or
New Role for Michelle Murphy
It is our privilege to introduce Michelle Murphy as the new Director of Quality and Compliance at RCIL. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new position as well as her cheerful enthusiasm for programs that benefit individuals with disabilities. Michelle earned her Master's degree in Social Work and has been with RCIL since 2008, first as the Director of Elderly Services and most recently providing oversight to the Employment, Open Doors, and Medicaid Service Coordination programs.

Ms. Murphy is well-known in the Utica area and has built long-standing relationships with community partner agencies through her work with RCIL and her previous employment at the Oneida County Office for the Aging and Continuing Care. We are thrilled to have Michelle move into this new position where she will be helping to ensure the safety and security of staff and participants.

Michelle Murphy's contact information: 315-797-4642 ext.2904 or .
Domestic Violence Awareness
The research clearly demonstrates that women with disabilities are much more likely to be the victims of domestic violence than women without disabilities. Women with disabilities report abuse less frequently and may be more vulnerable to abuse at the hands of a caregiver.

Since 2014, RCIL has been working in collaboration with the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley to provide training and services to end domestic violence against women with disabilities under grant funding provided by the US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. The project staff conducted a needs assessment and developed a strategic plan for a project with long-lasting impact. Specific trainings for staff have been created to help raise awareness of the problem and where to go for help. The information received at this training will give staff a better understanding of life at the intersection of abuse and disability, enabling both organizations to provide better service to more individuals.  

The YWCA 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline is 315-797-7740.

For more information, please contact Lisa Mastracco at 315-797-4642 ext. 2906 or email at .
Livable Communities Project
The Oneida County Livable Communities Project partners led by Oneida County Office for the Aging/Continuing Care , Parkway Center , and the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties invite you to complete the survey in the link below to participate in an assessment of the livability of our community for people of all ages. 

AARP established an agreement with the WHO to identify communities for membership and launch the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. This initiative focuses on areas such as housing, caregiving, community engagement, volunteering, social inclusion, and combating isolation among older citizens.

The survey is the first phase of work that will assist in identifying what is currently being done to address needs in the community as well as needs that are going unmet. 

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at: 
Tax Season Approaches
The Mohawk Valley Asset Building coalition is actively seeking volunteers to become Certified Tax Preparers for the 2017-2018 Tax Season. We also need volunteers to serve as screeners, greeters, language interpreters, site coordinators, and quality reviewers.

For information contact MVABC at 315-272-1888 or
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
RCIL goes PINK to raise awareness about Breast Cancer!
Here are a few important facts about breast cancer from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the American Cancer Society:

  • While most people diagnosed with breast cancer are female, males can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women.
  • Generally, the sooner someone detects breast cancer and seeks treatment for it, the better their health outcomes will be.
  • Certain risk factors affect the likelihood of breast cancer such as having close family relatives with breast or ovarian cancer.
  • Steps that might lower your risk include being physically active, getting to and staying at a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol intake.
  • Medical screening tests such as mammograms are important tools for the early detection of breast cancer.
  • Your doctor or other healthcare provider may have additional suggestions based on your own personal situation.

Remember to see your healthcare provider regularly and if he or she recommends that you get a mammogram, you should get one, your health is important!

For more information, you may choose to visit the following websites:

To better understand the barriers women with disabilities face when they seek breast health services, the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) has, in conjunction with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), launched a confidential on-line survey to learn more about these barriers. AAHD encourages women with disabilities to take the quick online survey at .

Disability Rights Committees
Disability Rights Committees (DRCs) are part of the RCIL fabric. Staff members, Board members, program participants, and community members are encouraged to participate in one of several committees that enable RCIL to work on systemic issues that touch the lives of the participants we serve, our communities, and our coworkers. As employees of an independent living center, we are expected to understand the issues and advocate as appropriate. The DRCs give us the opportunity to explore and investigate concerns and work as part of a team to effect positive change.

For more information about the DRCs, contact Gene Hughes at 315-797-4642 ext. 2933 or
The Employment DRC is currently working to improve employers' understanding of disabilities and the process of providing appropriate accommodations in the workplace by developing an upbeat video that seeks to eliminate the stigma related to disability.
The Community DRC investigates concerns in the local community including questions about accessibility in public places such as polling places, walkways, and facilities. The committee is currently working on voting access and ADA compliance in the Rt. 5S safety improvement project in the Utica area.
The Government DRC recently took action by writing letters, signing petitions, and protesting in support of the 911 Bill which will change NYS mandatory reporting requirements to ensure that 911 is called in instances of physical abuse, sexual assault, and unexpected death. This committee works to educate representatives about the impact of legislation on citizens with disabilities.
The Healthcare DRC has approached local medical offices about the lack of adequate facilities for individuals with disabilities and is drafting articles for local publications. Committee members review healthcare issues to bring to their legislators' attention, drafting articles for local publications and brochures to take to Subsidized Housing complexes.  
The Education DRC strives to connect youth with disabilities and their families with their school systems at all levels by sharing information about the programs offered to students with disabilities and the benefits available to them.
The Multicultural DRC hosts multicultural events at RCIL and is currently working on outreach events that will promote services to people for whom English is not a first language.