2019 Celebration of Stars Award Nominations

2019 Celebration of Stars

Each year The Arc of Dutchess celebrates the stars among us by recognizing the change-makers in our community who continuously work to ensure an inclusive environment for everyone who lives and works in Dutchess County.

The annual event celebrates innovation, talent, and vision among those working to make Dutchess County a better place for all. As an agency leading the charge in creating opportunities for disabled individuals, we are excited to include you in nominating the people who inspire us all to #thinkDIFFERENTLY about our work community where we live, work and play.

You can nominate someone by filling in the form below. Nomination are due by June 7, 2019.

Nomination Form

Step 1 of 3

  • Nominator’s Information

Celebration of Stars Awards Key

Click on each award title to see a description of the award.

…a humanitarian legend (Bessie Payne). Bessie Payne was a remarkable woman. When she died in 1991 at age 96, she left Dutchess County with a much richer and more diverse array of services due to her involvement. She was instrumental and considered a driving force behind the development of many Poughkeepsie civic organizations – in 1913 along with her mother and 10 other women she created the Poughkeepsie Neighborhood Club. She is best remembered by The Arc of Dutchess as the Principal of “The Little Red Schoolhouse” in Poughkeepsie. When you talk about services for the developmentally disabled in Dutchess County – you might say it began right there; with her, and other educators in our community who devoted their lives to the “children” we serve today. It is in her memory, and with her vision of service that we present this award.

…a young professional (under the age of 35) who demonstrates boundless energy. Sarah Studler was an Arc of Dutchess employee who left our world much too soon. In the span of her 25 years she enriched all who knew her with her generosity of spirit. For us at The Arc of Dutchess, Sarah represented the very best of the new generation moving into our workforce. She brought a wonderful energy and spirit to our work place. She was confident, funny, always smiling, and ready to embrace the world. She cared deeply for her family, her friends, coworkers and her community; she had a way of making everyone and anyone feel special and valuable. Within her all too short tenure at The Arc of Dutchess she developed relationships in every department and at every level. To honor Sarah’s memory and her contribution to our collective community, this award celebrates an individual who demonstrates in word and action, those wonderful qualities we cherish and remember in Sarah … spirited, motivating, inspiring, limitless, and exceptional as a colleague, employee, community member, and person.

… an individual with disabilities who demonstrates a “no excuse, can do” attitude who perseveres through life’s challenges with grace, dignity and strength (Kenny Dixon). Kenny was an empowered spirit who persevered through mounting medical challenges with strength, dignity and determination. He inspired all of those who crossed his path with his wit, his heart and his “can do” attitude. Kenny made a concerted effort each day to lift the spirits of those around him and leave life’s complaints untold. He represented “live each day” by dwelling on today’s opportunities. Kenny just wanted to keep it moving whether it was making someone laugh, playing hoops or getting through his dialysis treatment. This award celebrates an individual who defies what others may have determined as their destiny, perseveres through life’s challenges, focuses on the good in the world and doesn’t let “life” get in the way of their dreams.

…a noble ally (Mimi Stambrook)
Mimi Stambrook was well known as a volunteer in our community. She worked at the Little Red School House and later with Rehab Programs. She was considered a leader in our field in the Mid Hudson Valley, throughout her career. Since 1989, the Board of Directors of The Arc of Dutchess has presented the Mimi Stambrook Award to a Board Member, staff person, or volunteer, whose work in the field goes far beyond the scope of their job or voluntary position at The Arc of Dutchess.

…a selfless pioneer (Katz Award)
The Katz Award was created by Phyllis Rosenfield, and her late husband Herb, in remembrance of Phyllis’s parents, Jean and Louis Katz. Jean Katz, was very involved in the development of AHRC in New York City, the roots of the NYSARC, Inc. organization, and a cohort of Ann Greenburg, the parent who placed the original advertisement in the NY Times which was the genesis of this movement. For her daughter Barbara, Jean worked to ensure services for all children with developmental disabilities would exist for a lifetime. It is with that in mind that we give this next award. Since 1993, this award has honored individuals who have made volunteering a lifestyle. These folks don’t see their activities as extra tasks in their lives, but rather, as essentials parts of their existence.

…a trailblazer (Peggy Martinko)
During a time when many women had not yet found their voice, Peggy Martinko stood out as a ‘renaissance woman’. She and her friend, Kay Seeberger created a cohort comprised of educators, family members, other community activists dedicated to ensuring a rich, productive future for individuals with developmental disabilities after their school experience ended. Concerned that the only services available at time did not adequately support those with more serious challenges, Peggy and this band of advocates took their message to County and State representatives and the Dutchess County community to ensure these individuals were not forgotten. This took courage, leadership, and perseverance. Peggy had it all; she was “a force to be reckoned with”. At the same time, Peggy raised her family, maintained an extensive circle of friends, and was active in many other community groups. She is described by her children as “gifted in making others happy.” Those who worked and socialized with Peggy tell us stories of a humorous and fun-loving person with a talent for playing the kazoo and making people smile. the Arc of Dutchess is forever in her debt.

…an impassioned parent (Frank Pessia)
In the early 60’s Frank Pessia and his wife adopted 3 little triplet girls. Sadly, Mrs. Pessia passed away when the children were only 3 years of age. About 2 years later in 1967, all three girls were diagnosed with developmental disabilities. One can only imagine this level of loss within such a short period of time, especially given that in 1967, half of the nation’s 25,000 school districts offered no classes for students with special needs. But Frank Pessia became an advocate for service development fueled by the love for his daughters. In 1971 Frank Pessia became the first Chapter President of The Arc of Dutchess. It is his dedication as a parent, and innovative spirit the early years of our organization that we honor in the presentation of this award.

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Important Informational Meetings Scheduled About Medicaid Service Coordination. Everyone is invited to attend.

The current MSC program is being transformed by OPWDD to Care Coordination. This is due to a federal government requirement. As of July 1, 2018 MSC agencies will no longer provide this service since Care Coordination will be provided by Care Coordinators who will work for a Care Coordination Organization (CCO). Care Design NY (CDNY) will be the CCO in your region that The Arc of Dutchess along with many other Hudson Valley providers is choosing to partner with.

What does this mean? It means that CDNY plans to transition (hire) the MSC staff from your current agency to CDNY. All current MSC’s and their supervisors are going to be offered Care Coordination jobs with CDNY. They will continue to be based out of the same geographic area, and we hope that this will be a seamless transition where you can keep your current MSC as your Care Coordinator, if this is your preference.

How is Care Coordination different? Care Coordination is designed to enhance the current MSC service you currently have, not reduce it. It builds on the current MSC service to include the coordination of a person’s health services into the existing mix of OPWDD and other community based services.

CDNY has been created through a partnership of MSC agencies throughout New York State. We come together as agencies with a rich history of providing person-centered supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This will be done through regional hubs in your local area, so the supports will still be readily accessible to you in your own community.

Individuals with Disabilities and their Family Members/Advocates!

We are pleased to invite you to attend a meeting to learn more about the transition of MSC services to Care Coordination.  The meetings are sponsored by several Hudson Valley providers MSC agency and CareDesign NY, the new Care Coordination Organization that The Arc of Dutchess is affiliating with.

We are offering these meeting dates and times, so you can choose the one that works best for you. At the meeting we will do a brief presentation and allow lots of time to have all your questions answered.

See next page for meeting dates and times. Please join us!

 Monday, November 20, 2017, 11:00am – 1:00pm

Camp Venture Center, 230 NY-340, Sparkill

RSVP: Barbara Voellinger, bvoellinger@campventure.org 845-624-3861

Tuesday, November 28, 2017, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

HeartShare Day Hab, 159-05 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, Queens

RSVP:  Mary Scheulen, 718-422-3277 or mary.scheulen@heartshare.org

Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 6:00pm-8:00pm
YAI, 460 W. 34th St., 12th Floor, New York, NY

RSVP: Sarah Mills, sarah.mills@yai.org


Access: Supports for Living, 67 Windsor Highway, New Windsor


RSVP:  Allison Horan, ahoran@asfl.org or 845-673-7105

Thursday, November 30, 2017, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Greystone Programs, Inc., 2070 Route 52, Building 330D, 2nd Floor, Hopewell Junction

RSVP: Amanda Nuccio, 845-451-5772 Ext. 120 or anuccio@greystoneprograms.org

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

The Arc of Ulster-Greene, 471 Albany Ave, Kingston

RSVP: Connie Creeden-Muller, Connie.Creeden-Muller@TheArcUG.org, 845-331-4300 x212

Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 6:00pm- 8:00pm

The Arc of Rockland, 25 Hemlock Drive, Congers

RSVP: Anne Trovato, atrovato@rocklandarc.org, 845-267-2500 ext. 3279

Refreshments will be available.

Think Differently Dash

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Arc of Dutchess will once again participate in the ‘Think Differently Dash’ on Friday, September 6, 2019. The Dash is a 1 mile run/walk celebrating individuals with special abilities. ALL are welcome to participate. Please contact events@walkway.org  for more information and to register.

Hope to see you there!

The Dutchess County THINK DIFFERENTLY initiative spotlights people in our community with physical or developmental disabilities and ensures that every individual, regardless of ability, has access to community resources.

Please Click here to register.



Special Olympics

Dutchess County had the honor of hosting the New York State Winter Special Olympics again this year and The Arc of Dutchess was pleased to be a GOLD Sponsor. The games included alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, floor hockey and figure skating.  The opening ceremony and every event were packed and buzzing with excitement. Record numbers of spectators, volunteers, and ‘Fans in the Stands’ came out on the gorgeous late winter day to show support to over 850 athletes from all across the state.  And this year we had SNOW! We are proud to say that 9 of the athletes representing the Hudson Valley Region are affiliated with The Arc of Dutchess and competed in snowshoeing and cross country skiing. There were over 60 registered volunteers from The Arc of Dutchess working as coaches, volunteers, and fans with even more arriving as spectators.

These athletes were awe-inspiring to all of us: with determination to do their best and give all they had; their comradery before and after each event; their sportsmanship on several occasions; and the pure joy of competing and performing. Receiving medals was exciting, no doubt, but the true enthusiasm for the day was witnessed time and again during the games. Congratulations to ALL of the amazing athletes!


We were particularly proud of our own, Kathi Nolan, Coordinator of Employment Services, who received the NYS Special Olympics Coach of the Year! Congratulations, Kathi! This honor was well-deserved.