Residential Community Training,
Placing Residents In Local Jobs
By LIBBY CUDMORE • The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta
EDMESTON – When she was 16, Joanna Draper had a brain tumor removed and was in a coma for a month. Though she recovered, her short-term memory was all but gone, dashing her hopes of continuing to perform in musical theater.
But now, you can find her serenading customers at the Pathfinder Village bakery and café, where she has worked for two years. “I’m doing so well that they let me work here,” she said. “I sing to the customers. I give them a hug if they’re having a bad day. It’s about treating people how I want to be treated, with kindness and a smile.”
“Her parents recognized that she would fit in here as a hire, not as a service recipient,” said CEO Paul Landers. “And since she started working here, her neurologist has seen her memory improving.”
A couple of months ago, Gerry Benjamin, director of SUNY New Paltz’s Benjamin Center and an expert on Upstate New York, saw the region’s economic future in nurturing and growing what we have.
Craft brewing and yogurt production, in particular, are developing nicely, he said, although neither is generating sufficient jobs at sufficient salaries to begin replacing the manufacturing behemoth that was the Mohawk Valley.
The advantage to incremental growth, of course, is that it can be absorbed organically, with job along I-88 incrementally reviving the declining community centers to the north.
Springbrook, of course, is the poster child, growing to over 1,200 jobs on a simple concept: Better care for handicapped children can be provided more humanely and at lower cost in proximity to their New York State families. Win, win.
Two more examples of growing in place – growing and excelling is more like it – may be found in the two organizations that will be honored at the Otsego County Chamber’s annual Gala & Celebration of Business Thursday, May 2, at Foothills. (Reservations, call 432-4500, ext. 2.)
One, venerable Pathfinder Village, is vigorously placing its Down syndrome and otherwise handicapped residents in real jobs, filling real employer needs. For instance, with Astrocom in Colliersville unable to find workers, Pathfinder is deployer a half-dozen trainees and two supervisor daily to that aircraft parts fabricator.
Former Pathfinder residents are also working at Golden Artists Colors, Price Chopper, Silver Dollar Optical, NYCM and NBT Bank.
Two, Les Grummons arrived in Oneonta in 1970, having acquired the Rotherby-Murphy Funeral home, and knowing virtually nobody.
He quickly developed a strategy: Get on friendly terms with as many people as possible. He joined the Rotary, the Elks, Moose and Eagles. He pursued his interest in the Sons of the Legion, rising to state commander. He served on the board of Catholic Charities, St. Mary’s and Hospice. He rose to the state Funeral Directors Association presidency, cementing his reputation in the industry. He was elected to Common Council.
In the process, he solidified the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home among the front ranks of such local institutions, a solid business that has provided service and employment to many over almost a half century.
As detailed on Page B1 of this edition, Pathfinder will be honored at NBT Distinguished Business; Grummons, as Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen.
Successful businesses create successful communities.
The state Comptroller Office a few years ago reported that only 29 jobs had been created in Otsego County in 2016 but, one, state data lags and, two, it doesn’t reflect the groundwork that was being done to make way for growth we’re starting to see now.
For instance, Custom Electronics is creating 50 jobs for to make high-storage batteries, building blocks of a renewable future. A grant has ensured Corning’s 175 Oneonta jobs for 15 years. Cooperstown Distillery and Andela Products, Town of Richfield, are anticipating expansions and 10 new jobs each. Some 50 jobs are unfilled at Amphenol in Sidney. A little bit of natural gas would allow a distribution center to bring 300 jobs to Schenevus in short order.
Plus, the colleges, schools and hospitals provide a stable base.
And with Paul Landerses and Les Grummonses among us, the current downward trend, we can confidently hope, is temporary.
ONEONTA – The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce will honor Pathfinder Village and funeral director and community leader Les Grummons at its annual gala at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at Foothill Performing Arts Center.
Pathfinder will be named as Distinguished Business and Grummons as Citizen of the Year.
Pathfinder Village, based in Edmeston, has a four decades’ long commitment to providing community-based and individualized service to residents with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. It employs more than 200 people.
SCHUYLER LAKE – Eleanor L. Wightman, 78, a former home health assistant at Pathfinder Village and an active member of the Schuyler Lake United Methodist Church, passed away Monday, February 25, 2019 at Valley Health Services, Herkimer, with the loving support of her family at her side.
She was born on July 22, 1940 in the town of New Lisbon, a daughter of the late Norman and Zida Underwood Chase. She was born in New Lisbon and graduated from Cooperstown High School.
COOPERSTOWN – In all, six business, including the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Cooperstown Farmers Market and Stagecoach Coffee were selected from 25 finalists to be the 2019 inductees into the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Chamber Business Hall of Fame.
Also named to the Hall of Fame were Pathfinder Village, The Cooperstown Bat Company and the Cooperstown Fire Department.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
NETWORKING – 6 – 8 p.m. Mixer featuring opportunity to sample beers, meet other young professionals, maybe win a door prize with Young Professionals Network of Otsego County. Cooperstown Brewing Company, 110 River St., Milford. 607-432-4500 or visit www.facebook.com/YoungProfessionalsNetworkYPN/
RUMMAGE SALE – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Find good used clothing for women, girls, children, toddlers, babies, men, boys. Also, sheets, blankets, beach towels, bath towels, linens, curtains, kitchen utensils, toys, games, jewelry, more. First Presbyterian Church, 25 Church St., Cooperstown. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org visit www.facebook.com/CooperstownPres/
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, JULY 22
SUNDAY SERIES – 1 – 3 p.m. Learn about “Oneonta’s Restaurants: Memories of Former Favorites” with Big Chuck and Leslie Ann. Swart-Wilcox House Museum, Wilcox Ave., Oneonta.
TRIBUTE – 5:30 p.m. Celebrate our veterans with Eric Owens performing anthems such as “Over There,” “We’ll Meet Again,” “Goodnight Saigon,” more. Glimmerglass Festival, 7300 St. Hwy. 80, Cooperstown. 607-547-2255 or visit glimmerglass.org/events/over-there-with-eric-owens/
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, JULY 14
FRONTIER HISTORY – 6:30 p.m. Terry McMaster presents “Ethnicity, Alliance, Family & War – Defenders of the NY Frontier & The Andrustown, Springfield, and Cherry Valley Attack of 1778.” Hyde Hall, 267 Glimmerglass State Park Road, Cooperstown. 607-547-5098 ext. 6 or visit hydehall.org/event/ethnicity-alliance-family-war/
CARNIVAL – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sales day features village wide lawn sales, vendors of antiques, arts, crafts, food, entertainment, activities for all ages. Chicken BBQ by Unadilla Fire Dept. Main St., Unadilla. Call 607-369-2614 or visit festivalnet.com/53360/Unadilla-New-York/Festivals/Forty-Second-Unadilla-Carnival-of-Sales
EDMESTON – Pathfinder Village celebrated the longevity of 16 employees – 280 years combined – at a luncheon Tuesday at The Otesaga.
Honorees included Senior Director Dan Osborn and Eva Pickens of the Ancillary Department, who each have served 35 years. Those celebrating 30-year anniversaries included Pathfinder School Teacher Nancy Kelly, Direct Support Professional Cindy Holbert, and Assistant Director of Enrichment Services Charleen Orendorff.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, DEC. 10
OPEN HOUSE – 3-5 p.m. Holiday event featuring baked goods, refreshments, a performance by Gerry Falco, Steve Fabrizio & Friends. Also collecting non-perishable items for the food pantry & Susquehanna Animal Shelter. St. James Manor, 9 St. James Pl., Oneonta. Call 607-436-9974 or visit www.facebook.com/St-James-Manor-Retirement-Community-394485027409541/
MEET & GREET – 3-5 p.m. Congressional Candidate Patrick Ryan presents a brief outline of his positions, followed by Q&A session, followed by a meet&greet with the public. Free, space limited. Village Hall Ballroom, Cooperstown. RSVP, 607-547-7011 or e-mail email@example.com
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, DEC. 7
TREE LIGHTING – 5-8:30 p.m. Celebrate the season with wagon rides, music and more as we count down to lighting the Christmas Tree. Muller Plaza, Oneonta. Call 607-432-2941 or visit www.destinationoneonta.com/events/2017/12/7/tree-lighting-ceremony
NETWORKING – 6-8 p.m. Year end celebration with the Young Professionals Network. Bring a gift for toys-for-tots and receive a free ticket to the State of the State Breakfast. Stella Luna Ristorante, 58-60 Market St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-4500 or visit www.facebook.com/YoungProfessionalsNetworkYPN/
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, OCT. 20
THEATER – 8 p.m. Performance of Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink The Water.” Cost, $10-$15. The Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. Call 607-431-2080 or visit foothillspac.org
POETRY FESTIVAL – 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free reading open to the public features nationally recognized poets; Marie Howe, Major Jackson, Robert Pinsky. Auditorium, Sharon Springs Central School. Call 518-284-3426 or visit www.klinkhart.org/poetry