Spirit Newsletter

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VOLUNTEERING – A Small way to make a big difference


The Tunningly brothersFor Nate Tunningley, volunteering is something normal something you invite your friends to do on a Friday night.

“When I volunteered at Teen Night I would just take whoever I was hanging out with,” said Tunningley, who started donating his time to Heritage Christian when he was 12 and his younger brother Josh began attending respite programs and participating in the summer camp at Springdale Farm. “They all liked volunteering.”

Sometimes he has invited one or two of his friends to Springdale, too. “I’d be moving tables and other things and it helped to have more people there.”

Before he knew it, he was volunteering 60 hours a year just at HCS.

“There’s something about seeing the joy on the kids’ faces. You do it one time and it’s contagious. It’s a feeling that’s unlike any other feeling in the world.”

Now, he’s 19 and a service scholar at St. John Fisher College. He spends 200 hours each school year volunteering at places like Habitat for Humanity and Rochester General Hospital, too.

And while it’s good for Tunningley, it’s also good for the organizations. Each year Heritage Christian saves more than $400,000 thanks to volunteers. Tunningley said those who are thinking about volunteering should give it a shot.

“Just jump in,” he said. “It can be easy to think of volunteering as time consuming, but you need to change your mindset. I have the mindset that volunteering is a new experience and I can learn from it. I always ask, ‘What can the people here teach me?’”







We’re blessed by many more volunteers who help beautify Heritage Christian sites during Day of Caring. Pictured left: Harris Corporation at Respitewood. Right: Ortho Clinical Diagnostics at the Pieters Family Life Center.

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Marisa and friendOne of the most influential books I’ve read recently is “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown. In it she writes about the power of experiencing joy and sorrow together – collectively. Those shared experiences bring us together across political, religious and racial divides. They unite us.

I think collective acts of service can do something similar. Think about how close our volunteers at the Heritage Christian Stables feel to one another. Think about the families who have learned and advocated alongside one another. Think about direct support staff who have encouraged one another as they worked to make sure a person they support had the chance to experience a dream vacation.

If we let them, all of those things have the power to unite us.

In this edition of Spirit, I hope you’ll see all the ways that you are welcome to join us. Together, let’s celebrate Nate Tunningley’s dedication to his brother and to volunteering. Let’s learn what the future holds for care coordination. Let’s be grateful for all of our sponsors and donors… and grateful for the time we shared with our loved ones who have passed.

Thank you for spending time with this publication and with us, and thank you for all you do to make sure we’re all welcome in society.


Marisa Geitner, President & C.E.O.

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NEW LOCATION: Seabreeze in Irondequoit


Seabreeze logoHeritage Hero 5K logo





Saturday, September 8
5K race at 8:30 a.m.
Mile walk at 9:45 a.m.

Stick around after the race and walk and enjoy a day of rides and slides!
All participants must register for their entry at HeritageHero.org.
Be sure to check out how you can fundraise to help offset your entry into the event!

Follow Heritage Christian Services on Facebook to learn how you can earn a chance to win free Seabreeze admissions.

Like Facebook.com/HeritageChristianServices

Every month we’ll draw and announce a VIP Heritage Hero.

Each Hero will receive a VIP basket filled with two Seabreeze passes*, a souvenir cup that comes with discounted concessions, a personalized Hero cape and more!

*Seabreeze passes must be redeemed by Labor Day and do not include admission to the Heritage Hero event.

Team Addie group shotBeth wearing a cape







Team Addie (left) raised $7,000 last year. If they raise $7,500 this year, they’ll earn 20 free admissions to the event!

Beth Rood (right) and her sister Rebecca Priest walked last year. Rebecca says she she walked in honor of Beth, who is her favorite super hero.


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PCS Relaunches Care Coordination Heritage Christian – along with other agencies throughout the state – is transitioning from employing its own Medicaid service coordinators to a new system where care coordinators work separately from agencies that provide services like residential and day programs.

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities believes this change will eliminate any conflicts of interest and provide more robust care coordination for families.

HCS, through its involvement with Person Centered Services of WNY, participated in a care coordination pilot project in 2011. Now, most of HCS’ current Medicaid service coordinators are expected to begin working for Person Centered Services in July.

PCS intends to provide care coordination services across 18 counties, so many service coordinators will be able to maintain their working relationships with the families they support.

For more information about this change, visit PersonCenteredServices.com.

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Anna MulcahyANNA MULCAHY started as our senior vice president of finance on Nov. 6. Anna has experience in both publicly traded and private companies – and recently spent time in a start-up entrepreneurial environment.She brings all of that experience here to Heritage Christian, as well as her leadership, collaboration and project management skills. Most recently she served as director of the global accounting office at Sutherland Global Services, and before that she worked as the chief financial officer for IVEDiX, Inc., and directed the finance function for global research and development at Bausch + Lomb Incorporated. She is looking forward to applying her business experience and deep financial knowledge to a mission that welcomes and strengthens community.

Ruth BenjaminWe’re also pleased to celebrate RUTH BENJAMIN, director of health management and research, who recieved a Health Care Achievement Award in special needs from the Rochester Business Journal. The achievement awards are meant to recognize excellence, promote innovation and honor the efforts of organizations and individuals making a significant impact on the quality of health care in our area.

Marisa GeitnerCongratulations to MARISA GEITNER, president and C.E.O. for being honored with a Women of Excellence award from the Rochester Business Journal. The Women of Excellence awards were established this year to recognize women for their career accomplishments, community involvement, leadership and sustained commitment to mentoring. This year’s class features 34 women from a variety of industries.


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Donor Spotlight


Have you heard of A Second Thought? The store is owned and operated by Heritage Christian and all proceeds benefit the agency’s International Ministries, which includes collecting, refurbishing and matching wheelchairs to people in Third World countries and partnering with people in Guatemala to build homes and work at a summer camp for people with disabilities. The store could not do what it does without the help from their faithful donors and volunteers. The donors at A Second Thought aren’t just getting rid of unwanted things, they are donating treasures that will make an impact in their community as well as around the world.

Recently, a woman donated a very valuable collection of Barbie dolls that has made the store over $1,500. Ana Pravato, the store manager, said, “You know, that’s more than a plane ticket for our mission trips!” One volunteer makes beautiful greeting cards for the store to sell, and another takes donated towels and makes shirt covers to give away on mission trips.

Whether you are donating, buying or volunteering, you can be sure that by just visiting A Second Thought you are making a difference in the lives of those with developmental disabilities and beyond.

Jackie organizes books   Peter sorts donations   Jackie cleans jewelry

Volunteers are critical to the success of A Second Thought! Below, Jackie Jewell organizes books, Peter Aloi sorts donations as they come in and Char Ipacs arranges jewelry. 

Volunteer spotlight


Meghan and her daughter pass out medalsMEGHAN HINSDALE started volunteering with Heritage Christian Services through her employer, Seneca Financial Advisors. HCS Foundation Board Member, Scott Lefebre encouraged his team from Seneca Financial to participate in the United Way Day of Caring at the home on Yorktown Drive. Meghan coordinated the 10-person team’s efforts that day, doing yard work, mulching and planting. Meghan also coordinated an ice cream social with the people who live at that home and began fostering close relationships with the men and women.

Meghan wanted to include her family in her community service and invited her husband, Jeff, and 5-yearold daughter, Alayna, to volunteer for the Heritage Hero 5K + Mile Stroll & Roll. Alayna took her job seriously and handed out medals to all the 5K participants. She loved volunteering and is ready to help again at the race this summer.

When asked about her volunteer experience, Meghan shared that volunteering together with her husband and daughter made the experience even more valuable. She is again coordinating her team’s Day of Caring project at Yorktown and she looks forward to continuing to volunteer at more Heritage events with her family.

Seneca Financial volunteers

Day of Caring volunteers from Seneca Finanacial Advisors at a home on Yorktown Drive. 

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Ering Kate and JeriErin-Kate Walsh is ready to graduate from her 24-hour staffed apartment and be one of the first tenants at Heritage Gardens. She said if she moved to Henrietta: “I could go shopping. It’s kind of close to my parents.

And I’d be close to my doctors. It’s close to the places that I want to be.” The 84-unit complex includes affordable apartments, with some specifically designed to accommodate people with disabilities. The building is far along in its construction and on target to open this fall. Walsh said she completed her application forms and turned them in early, “So I can be more independent.” Collaborating funders that helped to provide this opportunity include Monroe County, NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and NYS Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

Visit HeritageChristianServices.org/heritagegardens or call Francine at (585) 262-6210

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Group shot at Camp KenanSave the date for HCS’s reunion weeks! We’re excited to enjoy another summer filled with hikes, crafts, bonfires, cook outs and spiritual rejuvenation. In Buffalo, we’ll be at Camp Kenan in Barker from June 18 – 22 (Family Night is Wednesday, June 20) and in Rochester we’ll be at the Rotary Sunshine Campus from July 30 – Aug. 3 (Family Night is Wednesday, Aug. 1). More information to come!

Interested in volunteering at camp? Contact Rochele Page at rpage@heritagechristianservices.org
or (716) 743-2020 in Buffalo and Kathy Potter at kpotter@heritagechristianservices.org or (585) 340-2000 in Rochester.



Bride and Groom in front of barnSpringdale Farm may be the spot to host your next event! The farm welcomes weddings, birthday parties, corporate meetings, trainings and more. It’s a unique and affordable venue option just 15 minutes outside of Rochester. The venue offers a beautiful farm setting and picturesque gardens. Whether you’re hosting a baby shower or family reunion, the spaciousness and scenery will provide your guests with a comfortable and unique experience. Enjoy the views of the pond, accessible facilities, ample parking, and our room with a fireplace.

For more information visit: SpringdaleFarm.org/rental

FRONTLINE ADVOCACY: Effects of Staff Turnover


#bFair2DirectCare is a state-wide movement to bring awareness to the wage gap that exists between direct care workers and other minimum wage and fast food employees. Through this advocacy effort, funding was successfully included in the 2018 New York State budget to offer a small salary increase to direct support and clinical workers, but not enough to close the gap. Advocacy is still needed, and you can help by following along and sharing on social media to help educate people on this important issue . George Kerson, who chooses services from Heritage Christian, shares his thoughts on a living wage for direct care workers to the right.

George KersonI don’t think it’s fair that people who work for us don’t get paid enough. I think we lose employees so fast because they don’t get paid enough. The staff have families to support. I think that they would stay if they made more, like a living wage. When they do great we should give them a raise. Bonuses are important too if a staff is doing a good job. I think a lot of staff leave because of pay.

I think of times that staff have provided great support to me. One time I went to Old Forge. I went on a hike and I couldn’t get up over the big rocks and he helped me hike over the big rocks and all the way up to the top of the mountain. Recently I had foot surgery. I was in the house too much. Staff took me out, they went that extra mile to get me out of the house to Applebee’s. That was important to me.

They also helped me plan my foot surgery and help me remember to keep my foot up. I am a big Journey fan. Staff set up going to the Journey concert then helped me get tickets and then get to the concert.

I feel sad when staff leave. When staff leave it takes a toll on us. It’s not fair to us at all. When staff leave we all miss them. They go somewhere else to get paid better. I think that if we raise wages you’ll see a difference with the residents and the staff.

I would like everyone to speak up about what is important to them. Then maybe things would change.




Kandy at work Kandy Vanderwall was going to further her degree in human services when she was recruited by AmeriCorps to contribute to the field of developmental disabilities at Heritage Christian Services.

After the 6-month volunteer program, she accepted a permanent direct support role at HCS. She said, “I found what I wanted to do. I love my job. When you love your job it’s not really working. I love seeing the things that people accomplish.” Vanderwall and six others joined the Heritage Christian workforce after their time in the
AmeriCorps program.

If you know someone who should be introduced to Heritage Christian Services, share DirectSupport.org. Our workforce of 2,400 continues to grow to meet the needs of our community!

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The Heritage Christian Services Foundation is grateful for the generous support of the following sponsors for our fundraising events.


Lead Sponsors:
Joseph and Irene Skalny Charitable Trust


Presenting Sponsor:
Parkview Health Services

Silver Sponsors:
Integrity Auto, West Herr
Automotive Group, Wegmans


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Heritage Christian has received a grant from the Rochester Press Radio Club in support of Springdale Youth Respite Camp. This club gives to many youthrelated organizations across the Greater Rochester area, and has supported youth respite programs at HCS for many years.

The Ralph and Wilma Maibaum Foundation and The Jordan Fund have both made grants to Heritage Christian Stables to provide therapeutic horseback riding lessons and horsemanship activities to riders with disabilities.

The NYS Department of Labor awarded funding to Heritage Christian through its existing employee training program. This program is part of the NYS Consolidated Funding Application, which is a statewide competition. This award will fund safety training for HCS employees during 2018.

School children will once again be able to visit Springdale Farm on field trips thanks to a generous grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation Gonsenhauser Fund. This award will provide scholarships and transportation stipends for school groups.

The Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation will again support the Employment Alliance and its work with transition and school-aged youth. Participants of the guardianship program have received a gift from the King Circle of Webster Presbyterian Church.

The Hoselton Foundation has awarded a grant to assist with the development of a wheelchair repair site. This will allow individuals who receive services from HCS to have faster, easier access to needed repairs and updates on their wheelchairs, without waiting for the lengthy government approvals process.

Press radio logo  Jordan fund logo  NYS Dept of Labor logo  The Community Foundation logo  WPC logo

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