SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) celebrated those with disabilities in New York State who are performing outstanding work and excelling in the workplace, and the organizations that support employment opportunities for those individuals, during its annual business meeting and awards ceremony Wednesday evening. Zach Gabriel, a gifted voice actor from Pine Ridge Industries, opened the event and NEWS10’s Cassie Hudson emceed the awards portion of the evening.

With the theme “Unity, Purpose, Change,” the event followed an October 4 announcement by Governor Hochul proclaiming October as the first New York State Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month. NYSID is a facilitating agency of the Preferred Source Program, which works to create job opportunities for individuals with disabilities by fulfilling government purchasing needs for goods and services. In its most recent fiscal year, NYSID reported managing contracts that employed more than 4,600 individuals with disabilities who earned $77.8 million in wages.

Zach Gabriel, a gifted voice actor from Pine Ridge Industries, opened the event and NEWS10’s Cassie Hudson emceed the awards portion of the evening.

The event kicked off with a musical performance from the band “Flame,” comprised of musicians with disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, blindness, and cerebral palsy.

2022 award recipients:

  • Legislative champions: Sen. John Mannion and Assemblyman Chris Burdick were honored for working to improve employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Mannion serves as chair of the newly established Senate committee on Disability and Burdick serves as chair of the Standing Committee on People with Disabilities.
  • NYSID Champion: Special Olympics New York was crowned NYSID Champion for purchasing NYSID products and services to increase corporate social responsibilities, as well as encouraging employment for athletes at NYSID member agencies.
  • Member Agency of the Year: Arc of Onondaga, a service provider for those with disabilities in Onondaga County, was recognized with this award. The organization celebrated its 30-year association with NYSID Wednesday, through its janitorial program that provided 41 contacts for individuals with disabilities in 2022.
  • Corporate Partner of the Year: Sheen & Shine, Inc., a Rochester-based janitorial and maintenance company, was selected as Corporate Partner of the Year for its work as an NYSID private sector business partner hiring more than 35 people with disabilities including veterans for custodial work.
  • State Government Customer of the Year: The Department of Motor Vehicles was selected for this award, for employing NYSID custodians at 29 DMV sites.
  • Local Government Customer of the Year: The Department of Transportation was recognized in this category for hiring more than 15 new employees in 2022 to its current custodial team from AHRC New York City’s Hudson River Services division.
  • William B. Joslin Outstanding Performance Award: Workers Gary LaPorte and Nicole Dorr were recognized with this prestigious award. LaPorte is employed by Arc Herkimer as a part-time building attendant in the production center, improving his performance, work ethic, and independence outside of work in recent years. Dorr is a custodian at the state Department of Homeland Security building through Warren, Washington, and Albany Counties ARC, where she has overcome her anxiety and learning disabilities to reach financial independence and boosted confidence.