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Niagara Cerebral Palsy offers a wide array of services, including dental clinics, job search

Niagara Cerebral Palsy isn't just for patients with cerebral palsy.

That's just a small part of the agency's services.

Its leaders say the public isn't aware of everything the agency has to offer, be it clinics for podiatry, dentistry, speech therapy or physical and occupational therapy.

Joseph O. Mineo, executive director, said 10 percent or less of the agency's services are for clients with cerebral palsy. That leaves plenty of room for educating young children who may need some extra help with speech or reading, and providing hearing clinics for anyone who might not have enough cash to pay for such care.

Podiatry, wheelchair, dental and vision clinics also are available for those who need an alternative way to receive such services.

The agency has more than 20 sites throughout Niagara County, serving 4,000 people a year.

Molly Murphy, 53, who has a mild developmental disability, said the agency helped her find a job as a bagger at Tops Markets on Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda two years ago.

"They're nice people. They find you jobs. They come and see you and help you a lot," Murphy said recently.

Murphy lives with her sister and brother-in-law in North Tonawanda.

Her brother-in-law, John F. Yackamovich, said the agency has been wonderful in helping Murphy find work. She has held jobs at the Country Buffet in Niagara Falls and, before that, for 15 years at the Ponderosa in North Tonawanda.

"United Cerebral Palsy has gotten her all of those jobs, followed through and gotten her training," Yackamovich said.

Mineo said he also has a staff to provide in-home care, in which family members might need a break caring for a disabled family member. This allows the family to go out to dinner for three or four hours, knowing their loved ones are in good hands.

"We try to accommodate. Most of the time the demand is great," Mineo said.

Another service allows families to go shopping or to the movies without having to worry about a child age 10 to 14.

A dental clinic is operated by Dr. Mario Violante III. The Niagara Dental Clinic originally opened in 2001 with a different practitioner, and Violante joined the group as the dental services provider in 2002.

Prior to the opening of the clinic, families using the agency's services had to drive to Buffalo to see a dentist, Mineo said.

"They were going to Buffalo General [Hospital]," he said, "and they were there all day."

Patients who want to receive such dental care can go to the agency's Administration Building at 9812 Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara or to Violante's office at 1 Columba Drive in the town.

Mineo said patients don't have to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy to be able to go to the dental clinic or any other agency clinic.

The Niagara Hearing Clinic, at 5467 Upper Mountain Road, Town of Lockport, and at the Trott Center, 1001 11th St., Niagara Falls, is a way for people with hearing problems to receive help.

The agency also provides a podiatry clinic run by Dr. Richard Sawicki at the Town of Niagara location.

For more information on programs, call 297-1478.

John J.M. Reardon, deputy director of Niagara Cerebral Palsy, said the agency provides many services to maximize clients' abilities.

Some of those served go on to hold down good jobs, he said. "They're contributing to taxes. They're contributing to society . . . It is amazing what people are capable of doing."

Despite the wide array of services and clients, changing the agency's name is not being considered.

"It's like Coke changing their name," Mineo said. "It's like Pepsi changing their name."


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