BATAVIA — Batavia Downs Gaming has been selected one of four statewide recipients of the Arc New York 2021 Employer of the Year Award, acknowledging the value of employing people with disabilities in their place of business.
Batavia Downs has been a longtime friend of the agency, hosting Arc Night at the Races and Arc’s annual awards banquet, said Arc of Genesee Orleans Director of Development Shelley Falitico, Falitico said through a partnership with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, an onsite training on “The Benefits of Hiring a Person with a Disability” took place at the Arc Walnut Street location. Several employees from Batavia Downs HR Department were in attendance and were excited to begin collaborating with Arc’s Vocational Services team.
Arc Director of Vocational Services Melissa Cotter said Arc’s first request of Batavia Downs was to allow Arc work with Community PreVoc participants at Batavia Downs to assess their skills.
“A true partnership for employment and opportunities for people we serve was definitely developing,” Cotter said. “Unfortunately, COVID hit and Batavia Downs shut down along with some of our day services and the rest of the globe.”
When Batavia Downs reopened, Arc of Genesee Orleans said it had a perfect candidate, Caleb Miller, for an environmental services technician position.
“My son is 20 years old with a diagnosis of autism. When COVID hit and shut the world down, Caleb could no longer attend college. He was attending Genesee Community College for graphic arts, but online classes did not work for him. Although he did try to find a job, Caleb also knew working directly with the public would not be easy for him. Enter Arc of Genesee Orleans and Batavia Downs,” Miller’s mom, Debbie Miller, wrote in a letter supporting the award nomination,
“Batavia Downs has now hired Caleb directly – he is on their payroll now. And he is continuing to do well. His schedule is set, he knows the busy days of the casino and the slower days. He knows some of his ‘regular’ customers and they know who he is,” she said. “Batavia Downs has given Caleb a sense of pride and self-worth. Caleb is a normal, working 20-year-old adult. He has his own money now. What a difference the Downs has made in Caleb’s life.”
Arc of Genesee Orleans representatives will be at Batavia Downs at 6 p.m. July 29 for the Zoom award presentation from The Arc New York state offices. Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Batavia Downs Gaming, will receive the award.