Every day, nearly 250 individuals with developmental disabilities in sasi residences eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks without a thought about where the food comes from or how it got there. They don’t ever have to worry about a meal, because the sasi staffers provide everything they need.
It was a process to procure supplies before the COVID-19 pandemic, but for the past year, military-like precision and organization has been required to feed and support the individuals in sasi’s 39 houses. It takes a team of highly dedicated staffers to purchase, organize, and distribute the food and supplies to each house.
It all starts at The Glen, sasi’s office in Angola, which had previously served as an administrative building. With quarantines and many residences on lockdown to prevent the spread of the disease, The Glen has been transformed into the distribution hub. Each office, now vacated by staffers working from home or in other locations, has been stocked wall-to-wall with food, cleaning products, and personal care items. Prior to the pandemic, staffers from each house would do their own shopping. They can no longer do that. Now, everything flows through The Glen.
At the center of all of this is Stacey Gura. The Glen’s director of residential is now the point person of sasi’s efforts to provide food and supplies to its houses. She works tirelessly to make sure each house’s needs are met.
“Since the pandemic began effecting the agency, Stacey has shown an unwavering commitment to ensuring that each residence has received the supplies that they need in order to ensure that all staff and individuals are as safe as possible,” said Nick Kaitanowski, vice president of residential services.
On a recent Wednesday, Stacey was already buzzing around The Glen early in the morning, before the sun began to peak over the roof of Catalano Motors across the street. It was milk day at The Glen. A truck from Upstate Farms rolled in at 6 a.m. to drop off cases of whole, 1 percent, and lactose-free milk, along with yogurt. Stacey and Diana Harenza, director of human resources, had already listed how many cases went to each house for Director of Transportation Gary Nochajski and his crew of delivery drivers. The drivers then loaded up their vans and headed out while it was still dark outside.
In the past year, they have delivered about 6,500 gallons of milk, more than 1,300 cases of yogurt, and about 7,000 loaves of bread to the houses.
“It’s a lot of milk, and it’s an early day, but I enjoy what I do,” Gary said. “I like to know that I’m helping people. It’s a good job to have.”
Elaine Mendrysa, the associate VP of finance, does most of the shopping. Thanks to strong working relationships with Tops, Save-A-Lot, Upstate Farms, and Schwebel’s Bakery, she’s able to supply each house.
“She finds the deals for us,” Stacey said. “She’ll order a quantity so we get the best deal. She is always looking out for the agency and its best interests. She really has made some strong connections in the community, getting to know people, and getting the best deal.”
As people continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19, there is hope that things will return to normal sooner rather than later. Until that happens, however, the crews at The Glen will diligently press on.
“We’re just trying to help,” Stacey said. “I personally get a benefit from this. I enjoy helping them get through a difficult time. We have a great group of people here. They get the job done. This is the group of people I would want to work with.”