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Disability Mentoring Day kicks off

With the sound of a whistle, Disability Mentoring Day officially began at the Canastota Public Library this morning Oct. 21.

Madison-Oneida BOCES students gathered at the library to hear the proclamation for Disability Mentoring Day, which was also proclaimed at last week's Madison County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The day, designed to encourage people with disabilities to pursue employment opportunities in a variety of fields, is in its third year of existence. There are currently 17 students participating in the program and five job seekers.

Transition Advocate for Madison Cortland ARC Renee MacDonald said the program not only benefits the job seekers, but the employers that gain the opportunity to understand that people with disabilities make excellent employees.

MacDonald said the "hands-on experience" the students will gain is one of many benefits that come with the mentoring day. At the same time, the students will be able to learn what qualities or skills they need to pursue a job in a field they like.

One of many local employers working with the mentoring program is Vernon Downs Gaming, Racing and Entertainment.

Vernon Downs was honored for its longtime role and partnership with ARC in employing individuals with developmental disabilities. In June, Madison Cortland ARC honored Vernon Downs as their Employer of the Year.

"We are proud of the relationship that has developed between Alternatives Vocational Services and Vernon Downs over the past few years, and we appreciate the efforts that they have made to keep that relationship strong," said Jim Thompson, Vocational Services Manager at Alternatives Vocational Services of Madison Cortland ARC. "We are very pleased to be presenting them with both the NYSARC and NYSRA regional certificates."

At this mornings proclamation, Executive Director of Madison Cortland ARC Raymond Lewandowski said mentoring day is important to the mission of the New York State Rehabilitation Association and providing people with developmental disabilities the job opportunities they desire in order to gain economic independence.

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