another year of
successful youth job
placements at sites around
Fall 2017 Newsletter
Challenge at Ithaca’s Apple A Day To Celebrate! Perfect Partnership Honored
Harvest Festival: pg. 3 pg. 6 By State!: Back Cover
At Challenge, we envision a community where
people with disabilities and other barriers are a
valued and integral part of our workforce.
BOARD Welcome to our Fall 2017 Newsletter! We are happy A Message
MEMBERS to share some of the exciting developments about From Joe
Challenge, as we head into a milestone year for our
CHAIR organization in 2018.
Beth Mielbrecht Our cover story highlights the amazing youth in our
VICE CHAIR community who had a successful and fulfilling summer
receiving training, encouragement, and on-the-job work
Steve Savage experience as part of our Summer Youth Employment
TREASURER Program. You’ll also read about and see pictures from
Kelley Yeomans Challenge’s three days at the Apple Harvest Festival in
SECRETARY downtown Ithaca. And, we’ll take a look back to one of
our favorite days of the year, where we celebrate our
Jacob Yale participants, staff and the entire Challenge community
during our Annual Recognition Luncheon.
BOARD At Challenge, we know there is much more work to be
Todd Baker done to see our vision come to life -- a community where people with disabilities and
Derek Burrows other barriers are a valued and integral part of our workforce. Challenge continues
David Filiberto to serve more than 1,000 individuals in our community each year, partnering with
Sheila McEnery over 150 businesses that support our vision. None of this would be possible without
Kellie Page the help of our talented and dedicated staff and board, as well as long-time and new
Matthew Valaik community supporters, who have generously given their time and financial support
to the organization.
SENIOR In 2018, we will celebrate our 50th anniversary, and will do so while keeping our
MANAGEMENT commitment to the community, and the individuals we serve. Challenge has worked
in recent months to come up with a road map for our 50th year and beyond, as we
EXECUTIVE face the following realities:
DIRECTOR • Dramatic changes in funding and delivery models for serving those with
disabilities and barriers
DIRECTOR OF • Significant workforce needs for trained and motivated employees at a variety of
& VOCATIONAL skill levels
• Financial struggles from 2014-2016 depleted financial reserves and prevented
Marty Gold critical investments in staffing and infrastructure
• The need to tell our story is becoming increasingly clear as more supporters and
partners tell us they did not know the extent or reach of our work
DIRECTOR OF In response to these realities, Challenge has laid out the following imperatives:
FINANCE & • Keeping our commitment while evolving our service model, as we close our Work
OPERATIONS Center, and continue to grow and adapt to changes in programs and record-keeping
Ethan Mancil • Re-focusing and creating a more balanced mix in our Social Enterprises, while
DIRECTOR OF integrating these operations more deeply and actively with our mission
DEVELOPMENT • Building a healthy organization by attaining our financial goals, while investing
Kimberly Pugliese in staff, equipment and vehicles
• Engaging the community by dramatically increasing our visibility, continuing
HUMAN engagement with donors and volunteers, and creating systems for a robust
RESOURCES & Working together, we know that we can continue to fulfill our vital mission in this
COMPLIANCE community for another 50 years! Thank you for being a part of the Challenge family!
Melissa Chiusano Warmly,
DIRECTOR OF Joe Sammons, Executive Director
2 Fall 2017 Newsletter ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org
Challenge In The Community:
Ithaca’s Apple Harvest Festival
Challenge took part in the three days of the 2017 Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest
Festival, held September 29th through October 1st.
With a table located at the center of the Ithaca Commons, Challenge participants,
staff and board members engaged the community by asking people what their dream
job was, as well as by sharing information about programs and services. Volunteers
for the event also handed out Empire Apple Chips, a product that is cut, dehydrated
and packaged by individuals working in Challenge’s programs.
Challenge was pleased to partner at the festival with Green Fork. Challenge assists
with product packaging for the company, which prepares home recipe kits for delivery
to its customers. Challenge would also like to say a big thanks to the Hilton Garden
Inn for allowing us to store items at their hotel during the festival.
ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org Fall 2017 Newsletter 3
Challenge Helps Local Youth
Challenge’s Summer Youth Employment Program enjoyed another successful year in
2017, as youth gained valuable work experience with over a dozen local employers and
organizations, as well as through Challenge’s social enterprises.
The program includes a six-week paid work experience for youth, as well as extensive
training and support to ensure that participants in the program have success on the
job. Challenge staff also hosted a job readiness class every Friday of the summer at the
Tompkins County Public Library, inviting in nearly 20 speakers.
“Our Summer Youth Employment Program is great because it provides so many layers
of support for youth and their employers,” said Frances Mulberry, Employment
Specialist at Challenge. “Youth learn their workplace tasks and expectations from their
onsite employer in addition to having one-to-one coaching supports provided by a
Challenge staff member. Job coaches provide individualized training to youth, helping
them acclimate to their job and fostering relationships with their onsite team.”
One of the many success stories from this year’s program is the partnership with
Purity Ice Cream. Owner Heather Lane welcomed two young participants, and after the
program was over, she hired one of the young people, Izzy, to continue working at the
popular ice cream shop and restaurant.
“It was a really great thing,” Lane says. “It was great because it helped my staff during
the summertime when we are really busy. I thought it was great for my staff to
participate, and they’ve gained from that in an empathetic way.”
Todd McLane welcomed three young people during the summer at the TC3 Farm in
Dryden, where he serves as director. He says the Summer Youth Employment Program
gave their students a chance to be in a leadership role, while also providing the
opportunity to do meaningful work.
“It’s been a great opportunity,” McLane said.
4 Fall 2017 Newsletter ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org
h Shine in Summer Employment
Summer Youth participants were
placed at the following locations:
Purity Ice Cream
MHA Camp (Jenkins Center)
Coddington Road Community Center
Tompkins County Public Library
Hilton Garden Inn
Museum of the Earth
Challenge’s Ability In Bloom program
Challenge’s Imaging business
Challenge’s Administrative Office
Challenge’s Greenhouse facility
ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org Fall 2017 Newsletter 5
Challenge Celebrates In The Sun!
The Challenge family came together
June 9th for our Annual Recognition
Luncheon outside of our offices on
the South Hill Business Campus.
The day was filled with food,
music and awards, as well as plenty
For the past two years, Challenge
has held a Krispy Kreme Doughnut
Fund Raiser at the beginning of the
year to help pay for the annual
Sales for the 2018 fundraiser will
begin in January, with the
distribution date on February 16th,
2018. Money raised will once again
be used to support the costs of the
6 Fall 2017 Newsletter ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org
What’s Happening At Challenge?
In late September, advertisements for Challenge’s Contract Staffing Social
Enterprise business began running on TCAT buses throughout Ithaca and
Tompkins County. The ads highlight Challenge’s partnerships with Cornell
University Dining, Ithaca College, Sodexo, and Wegmans.
Through the end of the year, listen to
Lite Rock 97.3 FM, as well as mornings
on WHCU (870 AM, 95.9 FM) for
Challenge radio advertisements!
The ads feature our partnerships with
GreenStar Market, the Tompkins County
Clerk’s Office, and Green Fork!
Challenge will celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary in 2018!
As we continue our commitment to the mission of creating pathways to
employment for individuals with disabilities and barriers, we will also be
taking time to celebrate the people who have made Challenge such an
important and inspirational part of Ithaca for half a century!
If you are interested in being a part of our 50th anniversary celebration,
have ideas for how we should celebrate, or wish to simply share a story
about Challenge, please call us at 607-272-8990, or email Kimberly Pugliese,
Director of Development & Marketing, at [email protected]!
ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org Fall 2017 Newsletter 7
950 Danby Suite 179 NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION
Ithaca, NY 14850 US POSTAGE
www.ChallengeWorkforceSolutions.org PA I D
ITHACA, NY 14850
PERMIT NO. 34
Challenge, Local Business, Honored by State
Challenge Workforce Solutions is proud to
announce that Life’s So Sweet Chocolates has
been chosen as a winner of a New York State
“Works For Me” Award, which recognizes
businesses that hire individuals with disabilities,
as well as the contributions the individuals bring
to the workplace.
Life’s So Sweet owner Darlynne Overbaugh
began working with Challenge in 2013 when
Danya S., who went through Challenge’s
Employment Training Program, began a work experience at Overbaugh’s former shop in
Trumansburg. Danya, who is legally blind and has been diagnosed with a developmental disability,
was later hired as an employee by Overbaugh. Danya handles many tasks at Overbaugh’s Ithaca
store, including stocking, packaging, and even helping out with cutting chocolate.
“This is all a result of Danya’s hard work and positive attitude,” Overbaugh said. “The support she’s
received from Challenge has made this all possible. The strength of Challenge is finding the right
person to fit in the right environment.”
Job coaches, employment specialists and support staff at Challenge have worked with Danya to
help her develop the skills needed to be a success as part of the Life’s So Sweet family.
Overbaugh, as well as Danya, will be recognized October 19th, 2017, during an awards event at the
New York State Museum in Albany. The event is hosted by the New York State Office for People
With Developmental Disabilities.