Our 2020 Independence Day stories:


a smiling young man with short hair and a blue shirt

Christopher’s story was first featured when he was just 15. He continues to work with staff at CP Rochester to achieve his goals of greater independence. Christopher, who has hearing loss and cerebral palsy, has progressed from using a walker to using a cane.

His most recent achievement is mastering walking upstairs with a cane. Christopher is studying computer information technology (IT) support at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf through RIT. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in IT support.


a young man holding a cell phone looking at the camera

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges to Epilepsy-Pralid staff and the people they support, but it has offered opportunities as well. Because of the need to maintain social distance, we were all required to learn and use new technology in a very short period of time. The staff in EPI’s Sheila’s House Individual Residence Alternative have an extra resource – one of the people they support.

Rashaad, who has lived at Sheila’s since it opened in 2006, is very tech savvy and he loves sharing his expertise. He is happy to help staff hook up new equipment or troubleshoot their Zoom meetings. Rashaad is proud to be the tech expert everyone can count on.

Lamon & Inez

Young man loading boxes into Medical Motor Service van

Three times a week, Lamon and Inez of Medical Motor Service deliver food and essential items to seniors and other high risk individuals in Rochester and area suburbs. Lamon, who was once injured in a car accident, says, “I know how it feels to be unable to do things for yourself. That’s why I love doing this work.” The boxes are delivered directly to people’s homes. “We take them right up to the door.” Lamon says, “People come out to say thank you. It puts a smile on their face, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

Woman wearing a face mask, sunglasses, and blue shirt with Medical Motor Service logo

Inez has most enjoyed seeing everyone join together. The food deliveries began in March, when Medical Motor Service, Lifespan, Foodlink, and Goodwill of the Finger Lakes immediately mobilized to help those in need. To date, over 15,000 meals have been provided. “It’s not only the people receiving food who are grateful,” Inez notes. ”The drivers appreciate being able to help.”



Erika, smiling, sits holding her toddler son and daughter in her lap with her husband sitting beside her

When Erika, a teacher, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she worried that she would have to depend on others for help as her disease progressed. At a presentation sponsored by the National MS Society, she sat next to a fellow mom who asked when she had been diagnosed. Erika burst into tears. The woman immediately said, “I was diagnosed in 2015, still no relapses!” reassuring Erika’s unspoken fears.

“Finding a friend who could relate to my struggle was exactly what I needed to feel more hopeful and independent,” Erika says. That was when she began volunteering at events raising funds for MS research. “There are so many inspiring, tangible ways that people with MS have learned to navigate our physical independence, but for me, taking control of my prognosis and working to fund research has empowered me the most.”


Young woman smiles at young boy touching petals of a flower

When Early Intervention and Preschool services had to pause on-site programs in March, Carrie, an Occupational Therapist who works at Rochester Hearing and Speech Center, says, her first thought was, “Oh no, all of our clients are going to regress! These vulnerable young children are going to be at home without any support.” Carrie and the team of experienced professionals at RHSC began working on ways to provide virtual sessions. “At first, I doubted that I would be able to get the hang of virtual therapy,” says Carrie. The rapid transition required a lot of creativity. Planning for each session is very different, but the extra effort is worth it, Carrie says. “Being able to stay connected with our clients and their parents while they are at home is so important. Helping families help their children with their development now, will have lasting effects way into the future.”


Smiling young man behind a steering wheel

You may remember Russell’s story from our 2018 newsletter story about how he earned his driver’s license at the age of 17 with the help of Rochester Rehabilitation’s DriveOn program. For Russell, who uses a wheelchair, driving makes it easier to do things on his own. Russell drives to and from his job and also to and from Monroe Community College where he is studying Business Administration.

“Now I don’t have to rely on somebody to drive me,” he says, confidently, “I can do things independently, and nothing is going to stop me.”


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Al Sigl Community of Agencies is a non-profit organization. A copy of our latest annual report may be obtained, upon request, by contacting us at 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 300, Rochester, NY 14620 or from the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, located at 28 Liberty Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10005, online at www.charitiesnys.com, or by calling (212) 416-8401.