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Nancy Stewart of North Tonawanda made her first visit to Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara with her daughter, Stephanie, this week and said she would be back.

"I came because everything they are offering, I need to know for my daughter," Stewart said.

She said she definitely will pursue services for Stephanie, a high school freshman. Stewart said she knows people who have used Opportunities Unlimited services and has heard only good things.

The largest agency assisting individuals with developmental disabilities in Niagara County, Opportunities Unlimited held two open houses this week to attract people like Stewart and her daughter, as well as educators, health care and social services professionals.

"Parents like me need to find out every piece of information to be able to provide the best opportunities for our children regarding daily supports, education, medical needs, community living and recreation," said Carolyn Smeal, chairwoman of the board, who first got involved with the agency more than 35 years ago as a parent with a special-needs child.

Soon after, she became a volunteer. Her son now lives in one of the agency's 21 residences.

The agency helps parents and families through diagnoses and with available programs and services, such as admission; advocacy; Medicaid coordination; school-to-work transition; and clinical, residential and vocational opportunities.

The agency has just added a recreation program for people 12 to 18 still living at home, said Roxanne C. Albond-Buchner, manager of communications. Fifty local businesses provide work opportunities, where Opportunities Unlimited participants can earn a living wage and, sometimes, health benefits. People may take advantage of as many, or few, of the services as they wish. Most services are covered through Medicaid. Recreational activities involve some fees.

The agency operates two main sites, at 1555 Factory Outlet Blvd. and at 107 Heath St., off Route 31, in Lockport.

For information, call 434-4050, Ext. 222, or visit


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