A Message from the Chairman~

As we look to 2015 I’d like to reflect on the events and changes that made the past year so special for OSCEAN.

First, you’re reading this message on OSCEAN’s new website. After much work, our web designer, Connor Harrison, with the assistance of OSCEAN’s Development Team – Veronica Jones and OSCEAN vice-chair Marijane Sanchez –our website made its public debut in October. We plan on making our website the first place for employers to look for information on hiring people with disabilities, for people with disabilities to look for information that will assist them in reaching their goals and for the public and our elected officials to be made aware of the challenges that impede that quest. As with most websites it remains a work in progress. We welcome your comments.

Speaking of October – October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It’s the time of year when OSCEAN steps into the spotlight to promote our raison d’etre: assisting people with disabilities in their quest for competitive employment in the community.

 This year’s NDEAM Awards Breakfast took place on October 3 at the beautiful Villa Venezia on Goshen Turnpike in Middletown (please check them out for your special events at www.villaveneziany.com). OSCEAN played host to nearly 100 guests and honorees as we recognized 24 employers for their exceptional efforts to employ a more diverse work force. This year for the first time a Special Recognition Award was presented to ShopRite of Orange and Sullivan Counties for the continued support of all eight area ShopRite stores and a corporate policy of inclusion. The Mid-Hudson Regional Award went to Elant, Inc. in Goshen NY for the long-term relationship they have built with OSCEAN member agencies as well as their work with area schools’ vocational programs.  Achieve Rehab and Nursing Facility, Liberty; Babies-R-Us, Middletown;  Billy Joes Ribworks, Newburgh; Bon Ton, Newburgh; Burger King, Monroe; Cintas Corporation, Newburgh; Hannaford Supermarket & Pharmacy, New Windsor; La Bella Strings / E&O Mari, Inc., Newburgh; McDonald’s, Woodbury Commons, Central Valley; Monticello Casino & Raceway, Monticello; Mount Alverno Center, Warwick; Olive Garden, Middletown; Schervier Pavilion Nursing Home, Warwick; Walmart Super Center, Monroe and the YMCA of Greater NY, Huguenot round out this year’s winners. Hats off to all these fine organizations, and a heartfelt Thank You. Please patronize these employers. Also thanks to our speakers Mitch Korn of Monroe Physical Therapy and Jim Burpoe, Orange County Commissioner of General Services.  Take a look at the pictures of all the smiles on our home page.

I’d also like to Thank Mayor Judy Kennedy and the City of Newburgh, Mayor Brian Maher and the Village of Walden and County Executive Steve Neuhaus and the Orange County legislature for recognizing OSCEAN and proclaiming October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

And while I’m thanking our supporters a very special Thank You to ShopRite for a donation of $500 to fund OSCEAN’s activities. This makes ShopRite our very first Corporate Gold Sponsor. Anyone else feel the call? Donations can be made out to OSCEAN and mailed to OSCEAN c/o Independent Living, Inc., 5 Washington Terrace, Newburgh, NY 12550. You can become a Silver Sponsor for donations of $100, Gold for a contribution of $500 and Platinum for $750 or more. We are applying for status as a 501C3 Non-Profit so hopefully your 2015 donations will be tax deductible. Watch this site for more news.

In 2014 OSCEAN continued to lead the way in advocating for better public transportation in our region so people with disabilities – and others - can connect to the jobs that are out there and to enjoy a better quality of life. On December 15 Newburgh launches an expanded bus service that will, among other things, connect Newburgh, New Windsor and Cornwall. OSCEAN is working to ensure that the new routes, bus stops and busses are fully accessible.

By collaborating with other agencies and the Orange County Planning Commission and with the support of State Senator William Larkin and Assemblymember James Skoufis within the next year and a half we expect to see major changes in the way people travel around Orange County. Sullivan County is also on the way to creating a significant transportation network thanks to the hard work of the Long Term Care Council’s Transportation Committee – also an OSCEAN partner. The next step will be to link the two counties’ bus services.

Not to get lost in all the changes is our main purpose: assisting people to get jobs. In 2014 over 400 people with disabilities, with the support of OSCEAN member agencies, were hired and remained on the job for at least 90 days.

And finally:

 Thank You to the OSCEAN members and their agencies for the time, freely given, to work together to further our common goal of equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Thank you to our partners – the employers that have discovered that providing those opportunities is good for business and it’s simply the right thing to do.

If you would like to learn more about how you can participate call or email me:

Michael Kochler 845-565-1162 ext. 246 or mkochler@myindependentliving.org

Best Wishes for 2015 from OSCEAN

Mayor Judy Kennedy reads the City of Newburgh’s Proclamation of National Disability Employment Month in front of Unitex Textiles at 115 Dickson Street, Newburgh