SYRACUSE, NY – Five people received Aurora of CNYÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Excellence Awards on Nov. 19 at AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s annual meeting at the Mulroy Civic Center.
The awardees are:
Sixteen-year-old Lisa Roszyk, a junior at Paul V. Moore High School in Central Square.
She wants to be a teacher of the visually impaired. Blind since birth, Roszyk likes to read using her Pico, a compact video magnifier she got from Aurora. Her taste in books ranges from the vampire genre and Stephen King novels to biographies. She also likes to bake. Roszyk has been involved with AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Prevocational Program. At school she belongs to several clubs, including the Science Club, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance). Roszyk lives in Brewerton with her parents, her brother, her dog and her cat.
Donna Wine of Liverpool is a residential rehabilitation counselor at Transitional Living Services and editor of Siracusa, the newsletter of the Deaf Advocacy Council of Central New York. Wine is very active in the deaf community. Part of her motivation as a helper comes from the loss of her mother. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I felt empty when she died. Helping people is almost like doing for my mother,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says. Wine, who has an associate of fine arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, pursues her interest in art through her hobbies: needlework, woodwork, scrapbooking and painting.
After a mild stroke took Joyce KnightonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vision in 1996 she was down for a while, but she didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stay down for long.
Her doctor referred her to Aurora, where she learned how to use a white cane and live independently in her apartment. She got involved in AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Visually Impaired Support Group and has volunteered to help with AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mailings and other projects for the agency. She is always willing to lend a hand. But her claim to fame is her macaroni salad. Ã¢â‚¬Å“For support group picnics, Joyce makes the best mac salad in town!Ã¢â‚¬Â says support group leader Nancy Anderson. Knighton lives in Syracuse.
When Songtha Cosby of Syracuse was born deaf 20 years ago, his doctors told his mother that he would never talk. Or learn. Today Cosby communicates through spoken language as well as American Sign Language (ASL) and works in stock at the East Syracuse Wal-Mart. Cosby began receiving services from Aurora when he was seven years old. He attended AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Summer Education Program for several years, first as a camper and later as a counselor-in-training. His long-term goals include college with a possible electronics major. His mother laughs when she describes his hobby of collecting discarded stereo speakers and blasting his music Ã¢â‚¬Å“until the windows shake!Ã¢â‚¬Â
AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mattie Letham Community Leadership Award, given in memory of deaf advocate and AURORA employee Mattie Letham, went to Michael Schwartz of Syracuse.
Schwartz, an associate professor of law at the Syracuse University (SU) College of Law, is entering his sixth year as director of SUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Disability Rights Clinic. Through the clinic, Schwartz has worked with AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Marjorie Clere Interpreter Referral Service to educate legal professionals about the need for interpreters in legal settings. He has also worked with Aurora on transportation projects, helping CENTRO become more accessible to people with sensory loss, and he is a regular presenter at AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Deaf Awareness Week workshops. Schwartz says he is pleased to see the progress that has been made in serving students with disabilities, especially at SU. He calls SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor Ã¢â‚¬Å“a visionary. She Ã¢â‚¬ËœgetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ disability,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says.
AuroraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Excellence Awards are given to people and organizations who project a positive impression of the capabilities of people who have vision or hearing loss.
Aurora of CNY, Inc. is the only non-profit that works exclusively with people in Central New York who are deaf, blind, visually impaired or hard of hearing.
Aurora is a United Way agency of Central New York and Oswego and Cayuga counties. For more information, call AURORA at 422-7263 (TDD 422-9746).