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Lives of Distinction...


Article by: Brian Klepper

I recently started a new position at ST. Camillus in which I move the supply carts to the nurses’ station.


Jamie Burke


My name is Jamie Burke and I am from Syracuse, New York. I am a senior at Syracuse University in the College of Human Ecology.  I am very interested in making communication a happy absolute in autism, simply holding the potential of everyone.


Sam Procita

Sam Procita

Sam Procita is a graduate of Onondaga Central Schools. After graduation, Sam attended a local day habilitation program. Sam had dreams of becoming a farmer and working with tractors. Sam's goals of farming could not be achieved within the confines of a traditional group day habilitation program.


Volunteering at the Manlius fire station

 By Mark Cappoletti

The best part of my volunteer job at the fire station is seeing the firemen and helping them with their duties.

Mark graduated in June 2011 which is when he began his self directed services with the help of Advocates. He volunteers at ARISE at the farm, St Ann's Church and at St. Lucys. Mark enjoys swimming and bowling as well. He has always liked to explore places in the community, such  as the airport, (a big fan of Jet Blue), the fire station and police station, where he has also volunteered over the years.



V.A. hospital

 Article by: D. Byron Lee

The Syracuse V.A. hospital is located on Irving Avenue, and is a hospital for military and war veterans. I have been a volunteer at the hospital for over 2 years. It is definitely one of the volunteer jobs that I personally like the most, even though it can be tricky at times.


Ronald McDonald House

Article by: Lindsey Ryder

I work at Ronald McDonald House every Monday. This house is for a family whose kids have cancer.


Katrina Schwanke

KatrinaSchwankEach week, Katrina Schwanke brightens the lives of many people in her community. Katrina takes pride in her volunteer work and finds joy in helping others. By sharing her time and her caring spirit, she has touched the lives of those at St. Camillus, St. Joseph's Hospital, Holy Family and Nun Better.


Kevin Gentry

kevingentryIn 2010, Kevin Gentry enthusiastically devoted himself to volunteering over 100 hours throughout the year to earn the Presidential Volunteer Service Award! The award is a prestigious national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.


Christine Gerst

Christine GerstChristine Gerst, a bright young woman with a passion for music, is a pioneer of Self-Determination. She has a love of swirling sights and sounds, and some of her favorite sensory experiences involve playing her piano and harp.


I volunteer at St. Camillus

Article by: Kevin Gentry

I volunteer at St. camillus every Monday and Thursday.


Work at Onondaga Community College

Article by: Bill Hennigan

For this article, I thought I’d tell everyone about my work at Onondaga Community College (OCC).


Working at Helping Hounds

By Tess Donaghy


My name is Tess Donaghy.  I have volunteered at Helping Hounds for two years.  My jobs at Helping Hounds include walking dogs, giving dogs attention, washing dishes, cleaning cages, stocking supplies, and folding laundry.  Helping Hounds is a non-kill dog rescue.  Most of the dogs come from the south.  Helping Hounds makes sure the dogs are healthy, then try to find them a home.

Helping Hounds is located next to Shoppingtown Mall on Kinne St. They are always looking for donations.  The need bedding, dog food, toys and cleaning supplies.  Anyone can volunteer if you go through an orientation.  You can learn more about Helping Hounds and see the dogs they have for adoption on their website  Please consider adopting and helping a dog today.  We even adoped our own dog from Helping Hounds.  His name is Ozzy.

Tess is 24 years old.  She graduated from Corcoran High School and OCC Foundation Program in 2007.  She self directs her services with the help of Advocates.  She volunteers at many places such as Helping Hounds, YMCA East Syracuse, the Golisano Children's Hospital and GiGi's Playhouse.  Tess loves animal, horse back riding and baking.


Donald Mayer

DonaldMayerMy name is Donald Mayer. I have had a dream since I was in High School to work at News Channel 9. My Advocates Service Coordinator helped me find an opportunity through the state Employment Training Program to start my dream.


New Friends at Funny Work

By Katherine Riccardi 


I work at St. Camillus.  I do stamping names on yellow doctor's order sheets, pass them out, gloves to each room and fill water pitchers for the residents on UNIT D.  When I make new friends, I introduce them to VBiki.  I make them smile by greeting them with my beautiful smile/dimples.  I have met Helen, Joan, Maria, Betty Jo, Gregory, Luke, Mary and Ida.  Everybody makes me smile.

Kathryn is 27, a graduate of Westhill Schools, and has a wonderful sense of humor.  She loves reading and music, enjoys bowling and swimming.  She volunteers at St. Camillus Health Center and NunBetter.


Danny K, the face of the “Y”

dan-headshotAs the greeter (and ID checker) at the front desk of the Fayetteville YMCA, Danny Kilbride welcomes every visitor to the building and wishes those leaving “a great day”. His supervisor Sarah Lufler, membership and marketing director at the Y, can’t say enough about the value he adds to the members’ experience.


Eyal Sherman

Eyal ShermanEyal Sherman, 28 years old, was born in Syracuse, New York. He is a recent graduate of Syracuse University. He has been quadripalegic and ventilator dependent since he was five years old when he was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor.


Scotts Sensory Shop


Scott Floyd is a man with a mission to help others.  The purpose of Scott's Sensory Shop is to make available to others the sesory toys that he loved while donating the proceeds from the sales back to organizations in our community that support people with developmental disabilities and their families; as well as local food pantries.  The  Sensory Shop is located in Advocates Fayetteville location.


Our Latest News

Advocates Residential Learning Lab

Advocates will soon be opening a “first of its kind” residential learning lab, a space for people with developmental disabilities to learn and practice independent living skills. Through the generosity of our supporters, we are renovating an existing apartment at our Fayetteville location to serve this purpose. The renovation is almost complete. Once finished, the space will be available to people who use Advocates’ self directed CSS services as a site to practice independent living. Meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, cleaning and time management are among the skills people will practice while staying at OnMyOwn. People will learn skills with the help of their Advocates Mentors.

There will be a small fee for using the apartment to help underwrite the on-going costs. It is important for each person interested in staying at the OnMyOwn apartment to work with their Broker to ensure that their CSS plan is written to support their intended goals, whether staying alone with a Mentor, sharing a Mentor with another Guest, or two Guests each with their own Mentor. Mentors supporting Guests will be required to attend an orientation prior to their first visit.

Once the apartment is ready, more information including policies, procedures, and registration forms will be distributed to everyone who has a self-directed plan through Advocates. This is an exciting opportunity. OnMyOwn will provide a unique chance for guests to begin to prepare for their own independence.

To help us furnish OnMyOwn, Advocates is creating a Target Gift List that will enable families and community supporters to assist with furnishing the OnMyOwn apartment. Items can be purchased online and shipped directly to Advocates. More details will be coming soon.

A Message From Nick

Advocates was founded by a few families of young children with developmental disabilities with the goal of making life better for their children and their families. This continues to be our primary mission as an organization.   Those children have grown up to be adults and we have grown along with them.   We have met the growing needs of the families of Advocates by anticipating and responding to their needs.   When we started as a support group, we relied on the skills and commitment of family members and  volunteers.   We knew we couldn’t do it alone so we started hiring some great people to help us and we are now over 700 families strong and we have over 300 Advocates team members.

We still need and depend on the involvement of people with disabilities and the families who are part of this organization.   I ask for your help in meeting the needs of our children and families and offer the following needs:

We need to hire good mentors to help people achieve their goals.   Mentors are direct support professionals who help people learn new skills, achieve their goals, work and live independently in the community.   Do you know of anyone who would want to work for Advocates as a mentor- first career, second career, part-time?   Please refer them to us.   Let us show them how they can make a good living and a huge difference in someone’s life by joining Advocates.

Do you know of paid employment opportunities or meaningful volunteer opportunities for people?   Please let us know.   We have many young people who are transitioning out of school looking for opportunities to learn, participate in the community through volunteerism and earn income through paid employment.

We are always looking for creative people to help us develop our plans to expand housing opportunities.   If you have any innovative thoughts or connections, please let us know.   We need to develop accessible housing options and need people who might be experienced in real estate development or housing to help us.


Together, we can continue our mission to make a life better for the children and adults we serve and their families.  We are stronger when we work together.

The Latest Edition of Our Newsletter Is Now Available!

 Click here to view our lastest edition of the Advocates newsletter, as well as our previous issues.

Our Spring 2014 Edition of the newsletter has many great articles, tips and resources! Upcoming Events and a list of all of our donors is included as well.   Be sure to check it out.

All-Star Family Picnic

August 6, 2014
Click on Events tab for details

Please support us when shopping online with AMAZON.Go to and select Advocates Incorporated as your charity.