Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Lifetime Assistance announces across the board wage increases 

Lifetime Assistance has increased wages for all its employees, including a new starting wage of $17 an hour for residential direct support professionals.  


In addition to the wage increases, the organization is offering more earning potential for those regularly scheduled on overnights and weekends, as well as sign-on and stay bonuses, paid training, flexible hours, generous PTO, tuition reimbursement and career advancement opportunities. 

“Lifetime Assistance is committed to its team members; they provide the highest level of compassionate care and support, helping individuals live life to their fullest capability,” said Bryan O’Donovan, Lifetime Assistance president and CEO. “We hope that these increases will help us retain and attract outstanding employees who are seeking a meaningful career supporting our community.” 

Lifetime Assistance serves children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Greater Rochester area.   

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021

Lifetime Assistance gifted business by former staffer

The late Bob Hickey, shown here with his wife, Annette, has gifted Lifetime Assistance with his greeting card business. (provided)

A longtime employee of Lifetime Assistance Inc. has posthumously donated his greeting card business to the organization.

The late Bob Hickey, a 13-year employee and former Work Center business manager for Lifetime Assistance LAICO Industries division, donated the successful nationally recognized greeting card business he founded, Patent Press Greetings Cards, to Lifetime upon his death in April this year. He saw the donation as a marriage of two of his passions.

Hickey was an entrepreneur at heart, having led a series of successful startup businesses for Lifetime that created meaningful employment for people with disabilities. He knew that Patent Press Greeting Cards had significant potential to grow.

“The biggest reward was making pragmatic change for people who thought they would only work in a limited capacity reach their full potential,” Hickey said before his death. He saw firsthand the importance that skill development and having a job were to people with disabilities.

Patent Press Greeting Cards is a unique line of more than 400 card designs featuring artwork that originally accompanied actual patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The wholesale and retail business sells cards online and in more than 100 stores and museums nationwide.

“This was a most generous donation to Lifetime, and we are very grateful that Bob saw the opportunity for its growth and success within the Lifetime family of businesses,” said Lifetime President and CEO Jamie Branciforte. “Bob’s dedication to helping those we support to discover their abilities and put them to work in productive activities exemplify the Lifetime mission. We hope that it was a great comfort to him knowing that Lifetime would carry his unique creation forward and grow it so that it will continue to provide interesting and challenging employment opportunities for the people he and Lifetime care so much about.”

Brandon Nesmith (front) works on greeting cards as Work Center Supervisor Nate Ainsworth looks on. (provided)

After a short break to transfer various aspects of the business, Patent Press Greeting Cards is up and running, fulfilling orders and providing employment for several people including three individuals with developmental disabilities, who are included in every aspect of the business. Each has artistic abilities, making them a good fit for a business built upon unique graphic designs, officials said. They are putting their creative skills to work designing a thank you card to go out with orders and also will be designing and writing greetings for new cards.

The cards are printed by Image Printers, the same Rochester-based printer who had worked with Hickey prior to his death. Pricing has remained the same.

The new company adds a unique element to Lifetime’s employment offerings of scanning, shredding, assembly, janitorial services and catering. Patent Press is managed by a team led by Amy Mitchell, Lifetime’s vice president of Day Services, who oversees the Work Center’s services that help people learn new skills, and Katie Gillespie, Lifetime’s director of Community Services. The team spent several months transitioning the business and relocating it to Lifetime’s Work Center at 426 Paul Road, a 26,000-square-foot modern production facility and warehouse. Hickey’s wife, Annette, who worked with her husband at Patent Press on nights and weekends, helped during the transition.

“We are very grateful to Bob and Annette, and we will continue to honor his legacy. The people receiving supports and services at our Work Center enjoy learning the various aspects of the business and look forward to using their creative skills to continue to grow the business,” Mitchell and Gillespie said. “Bob is greatly missed at Lifetime Assistance. His presence still exists in the work center with his cards. He continues to make us laugh as we read the humorous content inside the cards and his mission to help people find employment continues to move forward as the work center staff teach the people supported how to operate the greeting card business.”

Hickey continued to share his ideas and strategies for running the Patent Press business in its new home at Lifetime until his death.

“He would call me to share an idea that had popped into his head. He was still so lucid and had so much energy. He wanted to be sure we had as much knowledge as he could impart so that we could take over the business, grow it and provide meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” Gillespie said.

Lifetime Assistance is the largest and most comprehensive agency in the Rochester region helping people with developmental disabilities live with the highest possible level of independence. Established in 1978, the nonprofit organization supports more than 1,800 people with developmental disabilities at more than 70 sites.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Lifetime Assistance to raise wages

Another Rochester-area nonprofit has committed to raising its minimum wage for frontline workers.

Lifetime Assistance Inc. on Thursday said it would implement a significantly higher new wage of $15.75 per hour for direct supply professionals in residential services, or group homes. The increase is being implemented immediately and all active direct service employees will receive a $2 per hour pay increase retroactively to Jan. 7, 2021. Other staffers will receive a $1 per hour increase retroactive to Jan. 7.

Jamie Branciforte
Jamie Branciforte

“Lifetime has a long history of valuing our exceptionally dedicated employees, who are the ‘heart and soul’ of our services,” said company CEO Jamie Branciforte. “New York State service funding for frontline caregivers is alarmingly deficient and seriously impacts our ability to recruit qualified employees for essential direct support positions. Underfunding frontline employee wages is a national crisis.:

Branciforte noted that the agency has been aggressive in its pursuit of multiple alternate funding sources, and recently was awarded federal COVID relief funding to support developmental disability services.

“Our success in securing new funds has positioned us to provide meaningful employee pay increases,” Branciforte added. “We are extremely proud of the amazing work of our diverse workforce, who sustain our tradition of caring and high-quality service. We hope that these increases will help us continue to attract and retain outstanding frontline employees who are compassionate and caring, and who are seeking meaningful and rewarding work and wages.”

Lifetime Assistance is the largest, most comprehensive agency in the Greater Rochester area serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. The agency serves more than 1,800 people every day at more than 75 sites that provide a full spectrum of individualized services to help children and adults with developmental disabilities reach their maximum potential.

Lifetime has openings for full-time, part-time, and relief Direct Support Professionals at several locations throughout the region, officials said.

Direct support professionals work full and part-time and on a relief basis providing daily support, assistance, and companionship to people with developmental disabilities who are served by Lifetime in all aspects of their life. They work in a variety of settings in the community including homes and day services centers.

Lifetime joins a bevy of local organizations that have committed to raising wages including the University of Rochester, Rochester Regional Health, Heritage Christian Services and several others.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Excellus BCBS CEO to retire; successor named

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and Lifetime Healthcare Cos. Inc. President and CEO Christopher Booth plans to retire on May 1, 2021. He will be succeeded by James Reed. the announcement is part of a planned succession for executive leadership of the $6 billion nonprofit health plan.

Christopher Booth
Christopher Booth

“In addition to his knowledge and talent, Chris’ commitment to building a strong corporate culture and having an engaged workforce has led to measurable improvements in business performance,” said Chairwoman Marianne Gaige. “The system of Lifetime Way values and the seven-block strategy focusing on operational excellence and stakeholder satisfaction are a testament to Chris’ vision and will serve this organization well for years to come.”

Booth has led Excellus BCBS since January 2013.

“When I took this job, I said it was an honor to lead such a talented workforce of people who provide care and coverage for their neighbors,” Booth said. “I’m incredibly proud of all of our employees, our senior leadership team and the remarkable corporate culture we have built together. That culture is built on collaboration, cooperation and communication. It is what’s helped us navigate successfully through a multi-year transformation of our claims systems, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the launch of innovative partnerships with local health care providers.”

Jim Reed
Jim Reed

Reed joined the organization in January 1996 and most recently served as executive vice president of marketing and sales, and as regional president in the Central New York market. He was responsible for line of business oversight and all marketing and sales functions for the commercial group markets, retail markets, Univera Healthcare and Lifetime Benefit Solutions. He also had oversight of the Health Care and Network Management division.

“Jim brings more than two decades of successful leadership within the organization to his new role and has been instrumental in helping shape the future of the company in today’s fast-changing and dynamic health insurance industry,” Gaige said. “Success starts with having the right people in the right roles. Jim is strategic in his approach, has a strong sense of mission and brings a wide array of experience to the job.”

Over the course of his career, Reed has been involved in the community through various nonprofit organizations. Reed serves on the board of directors for Centerstate CEO, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and HealtheConnections.

“Our focus remains on our organization’s primary mission of providing access to affordable, high-quality health care to as many people as possible,” Reed said. “As a locally based health plan, we have strong partnerships with those who provide care and those who pay for it and we want to build on that going forward.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Airport Games returns with evening event

Registration has opened for the 21st Annual Lifetime Assistance “Totally Rad Race” Airport Games, the organization’s first evening event.

airport-games-resizedAirport Games returns on June 12 at 5 p.m. with an 80s theme. The event is Lifetime’s largest fundraising event of the year and includes the USAirports 5K run/walk, Flower City CrossFit 5K, kids’ games and fun run, inflatable obstacle course, live musical entertainment, food trucks and more.

The nonprofit agency has a goal to raise $100,000 at this year’s Airport Games. Funds benefit Lifetime’s services including health and wellness programs, educational advancement opportunities, technology, essential adaptive life and transfer equipment, Special Olympics training and other things.

Prizes for runners and fundraisers include airline tickets, Visa gift cards and Rogue Fitness gift cards, as well as Seabreeze Amusement Park passes.

This year’s sponsors include Parkview Health Services, Pro Carpet, Barclay Damon, the County of Monroe, Greater Rochester International Airport, USAirports, Flower City CrossFit and Dalmath Associates.

Lifetime Assistance is the largest, most comprehensive agency in the Rochester area that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. The agency serves more than 1,800 people each day at more than 75 sites.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Foodlink, others receive grants for workforce development

Foodlink Inc. will receive nearly $1 million to support its Career Fellowship, a one-of-a-kind culinary training program that creates pathways to prosperity for individuals with barriers to sustainable employment.

New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in town Monday to celebrate the funding and announce multiple grant award winners from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Workforce Development Initiative.

“Putting people first is central to our mission,” said Foodlink President and CEO Julia Tedesco. “The Foodlink Career Fellowship epitomizes our belief that our role as an organization extends well beyond food banking. We nourish thousands of people on a daily basis, but also create opportunities for individuals to be empowered with the skills they need for a healthier future. We’re forever grateful that the state has recognized the potential of this innovative program to spur economic development and transform lives in our communities.”

The fellowship was started in 2018 to train individuals for middle-skills careers in the regional food industry. Fellows are nominated into the program, and progress through a yearlong curriculum that includes both classroom and hands-on training within Foodlink’s state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, where they help prepare after-school and summer meals for Rochester students.

Eight members of the inaugural graduating class secured full-time employment in 2019, while seven current members of the Fellowship are more than halfway through the program.

The state’s Workforce Development Initiative is investing $175 million in job training projects. Awarded projects support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities and expand workplace learning opportunities.

Other grantees include Baxter, Genesee Construction Service, Graham Corp., Lifetime Assistance, Mary Cariola Children’s Center, McAlpin Industries, Optimax, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Prestolite and Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES.

“The number one issue I hear from employers across the state is that they can’t find workers with the skills they need for 21st-century jobs,” Hochul said. “That is why we are investing $3.1 million in job training programs spearheaded by nearly 70 upstate New York businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations that will benefit 3,600 New Yorkers as part of our historic $175 million Workforce Development Initiative.

“The nearly $1 million in funding for Foodlink will expand the organization’s culinary training program and create more opportunities for individuals in the food industry. The investment is part of our overall efforts to close the skills gap and prepare New Yorkers for jobs today and in the future,” she added.

Foodlink has guided one class through the program in each of the first two years since its launch, however, it has committed to hosting two classes of approximately 15 participants each in the year ahead thanks to the state’s investment. Foodlink’s staff will begin to recruit soon for the launch of the third class in July. A fourth class would begin six months later in January of 2021, officials noted.

Foodlink launched the program with help from Wegmans Food Markets Inc., and through private funding from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, ESL Charitable Foundation and the William and Sheila Konar Foundation, which also funded the launch of the second class in 2019. The program includes nine months of training at Foodlink and three months of an externship at a regional employer.

“Before arriving at Foodlink, I wasn’t reaching my true potential,” said Da’Quan Quick, who was a member of the Foodlink Career Fellowship’s inaugural graduating class. “The Fellowship made me believe in myself, and gave me the skills I needed to launch a career.”

As a registered apprenticeship, several local employers have partnered with Foodlink as potential landing spots for program graduates. Many of the 2019 graduates moved into full-time roles at Wegmans stores and restaurants in the Rochester area. The Kelaron Group, which includes restaurants such as Salena’s Mexican Restaurant and Nox, Rochester Institute of Technology and the Del Monte Hotel Group, are collaborating with Foodlink, as well.

Foodlink was awarded funding through the WDI’s Pay for Success program, which focuses on training opportunities for underserved and underemployed populations.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Lifetime Assistance to renovate three centers with help from Golisano Foundation challenge grant

Lifetime Assistance Inc. has received a $750,000 challenge grant from the Golisano Foundation. The funding will help the nonprofit transform three-day services centers to meet the changing needs of those with developmental disabilities.

The Independence Together campaign, the largest in Lifetime Assistance’s history, will support essential renovations to its three largest day services centers: the Lowry Center in Clarkson, Paul Road Center in Chili and Weiland Road Center in Greece.

With a goal of $5.1 million, the Golisano Foundation gift will match every dollar up to $750,000 contributed by the community. It is the largest single campaign gift received by Lifetime Assistance to date.

James Branciforte
James Branciforte

“We are extremely grateful to the Golisano Foundation for this generous challenge grant,” said Lifetime Assistance President and CEO James Branciforte. “It demonstrates the foundation’s trust in our team and our vision for helping the extremely vulnerable population we serve benefit from an environment that meets their personal needs, facilitates learning skills and allows them to reach their potential and highest degree of independence.”

When finished, the three renovated centers will be one-of-a-kind centers with Learning & Works Suites that include culinary, senior, technology, health and wellness, continuing education/vocational, music and arts and enrichment. The centers will be fully accessible, motiving centers to meet the needs of the hundreds of individuals supported there.

“The rapidly changing needs of those we support requires us to change how we deliver services,” Branciforte said. “Those who depend on us for day services are medically frail and have severe physical needs.”

Those individuals are aging and increasingly have Alzheimer’s and other age-related conditions, he said.

“More than half of the people we serve use wheelchairs now and there is a tremendous increase of young people with severe autism,” Branciforte added. “Our quality facilities must always deliver upon Lifetime’s mission of service and reflect the dignity of the people we serve, meet diverse needs and assure community inclusion, independent growth and learning. With the community’s help, we can achieve our goal.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2020 and will be sequenced over the following two years in order to maintain services at each of the centers. The renovated centers will feature advanced assistive technologies, state-of-the-art technology, more opportunity to volunteer in the community and gain work skills and programs that are more community based, officials said.

“Lifetime’s designs for revisioning day services is an important project that will create more accessible and supportive environments, especially for the growing number of older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation. “The renovations, including the Learning and Work Suites in each center, will make Lifetime’s day services inviting and flexible, providing greater opportunity for continuing education, skill development, socialization and community inclusion.”

Other major gifts received to date include those from the August Family Foundation, Barclay Damon LLC, Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation and Davenport Hatch Foundation, among others.

Lifetime Assistance is the largest, most comprehensive agency in the Greater Rochester area serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. The agency serves more than 1,800 people every day at more than 70 sites in the region. Lifetime is one of 300 agencies nationwide to receive accreditation by the Council on Quality and Leadership.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Golisano Foundation awards grant for training in specialized Alzheimer’s care

The Golisano Foundation plans to fund a pilot program to train providers who serve seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities on how to care for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The two-year, $100,000 grant will be implemented by two chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association, Rochester & Finger Lakes and Western New York.

“Both chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association have a long history of conducting training for IDD agencies with a proven track record of improvement in quality of life and care for individuals with disabilities living with dementia,” said Golisano Foundation Director Ann Costello. “We are proud to support their efforts in developing an innovative training program in partnership with four of our most trusted development disabilities providers.”

Some 400,000 New Yorkers live with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, it is estimated the number of people with Alzheimer’s statewide will grow by 15 percent as the population over 65 expands. Studies show that the prevalence of dementia among people with IDD is the same as for those without disabilities, but the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is higher among adults with Down syndrome.

In the 17 upstate counties served by the two Alzheimer’s Associations, more than 6,700 adults age 50 and older live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Each chapter will deliver a train-the-trainer program to two IDD providers within their territories. The local chapter will work with the Arc of Monroe and Lifetime Assistance Inc., while the Western New York chapter will partner with Aspire of WNY and People Inc.

“With this grant award we will build upon our past successes and partner with the developmental disabilities system to train a dementia-capable workforce,” said Teresa Galbier, president and CEO of the Rochester & Finger Lakes chapter. “I’m confident our pilot will inspire similar efforts in other communities.”

Both Rochester-based agencies already work with the Alzheimer’s Association to meet specific care needs of IDD seniors who live with dementia, officials said.

“Dementia-capable professionals will be able to provide more adequate care and allow individuals with dementia live in their familiar environment in group homes longer, without having to move to a skilled nursing facility,” Arc of Monroe President and CEO Barbara Wale said.

Started by Rochester entrepreneur and philanthropist Thomas Golisano, the Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted exclusively to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes and forging partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity and independence. With more than $40 million in gross assets, the Golisano Foundation has awarded more than $26 million in grants and $2 million annually to nonprofit organizations in the Finger Lakes Region and Southwest Florida.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Lifetime Assistance plans 20th annual Airport Games

Lifetime Assistance Inc. in June will hold its 20th annual Airport Games, a family event that brings individuals with and without disabilities together to raise funds for the not-for-profit agency’s services.

Two participants in Lifetime Assistance Inc.'s annual Airport Games cross the finish line. (Photo provided)
Two participants in Lifetime Assistance Inc.’s annual Airport Games cross the finish line. (Photo provided)

In two decades, Lifetime Assistance has raised roughly $1 million, said director of development Jamie Rada. The funds will benefit Lifetime’s services including health and wellness programs, educational advancement opportunities, technology, essential adaptive lift and transfer equipment, Special Olympics training and more.

“I think it’s really a unique experience,” Rada said. “You get to run and walk beside the people that you’re helping. You can see the pride in their faces and they’re so excited. (Disabled participants) understand that the money that’s raised helps their program. I think that really makes an impact on them and they walk with their heads held high and it’s pretty cool to see.”

Last year’s 800 participants raised $115,000; this year the organization’s goal is $140,000, and Rada said she expects roughly 1,000 participants.

“It’s on an upward swing,” Rada said of the event’s draw. “We still have a lot of motivation, even though it’s been around for 20 years and people are still really enjoying it.”

The morning event will be held June 15 at the USAirports hangar on Scottsville Road. The festivities include an 8:30 a.m. Flower City CrossFit 5K, as well as a 9:15 a.m. USAirports 5K Run/Walk. A Kids Fun Run starts at 10:15. Registration runs from Feb. 1 to April 1.

Several of Lifetime’s homes bring people to participate in the event alongside other runners and walkers. The flat course is easier for those in wheelchairs to navigate, Rada said.

In addition to the runs and walks, the event will feature an inflatable obstacle course, Wegmans Mobile Zoo, food trucks and more.

Lifetime Assistance is the largest, most comprehensive agency in the Greater Rochester area serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. The agency serves more than 1,800 people every day at more than 70 sites that provide a full range of individualized services. The organization is accredited by the Council on Quality and Leadership.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

19th annual Airport Games slated for June 9

Lifetime Assistance Inc. Airport Games
Lifetime Assistance Inc. Airport Games

Lifetime Assistance Inc. is planning to host its 19th annual Airport Games June 9.

The event is the organization’s largest annual event, drawing nearly 1,000 runners, walkers and spectators who try for the fastest time on the flattest course around: the Greater Rochester International Airport USAirports Hangar on Scottsville Road.

Funds raised through the Airport Games provide life-enriching experiences and opportunities for adults and children with developmental disabilities, including health and wellness programs, educational advancement opportunities, technology, essential adaptive lift and transfer equipment, Special Olympics training and more.

In 2017, Lifetime Assistance raised a record $140,000 to provide services and experiences to those with developmental disabilities. This year’s goal is $145,000.

This year’s event features the USAirports 5K run/walk, Flower City CrossFit 5K, Gates Fire Department truck pull, junior games and kids fun run, a 62-foot inflatable obstacle course for adults and kids and music, food trucks and more.

The First Place winner of the USAirports 5K will receive two Delta Airlines round trip tickets to anywhere in the U.S.

Lifetime Assistance is the largest, most comprehensive agency in the Greater Rochester area serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. It serves more than 1,600 people every day at more than 60 sites.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer