Inclusion Matters

APRIL 2024

Lives of Distinction

David Tait

By Chance or by Fate?

If you’re fortunate to spend any amount of time with David Tait, you wouldn’t think that he’s just embarked upon his 61st birthday. With the constant support of his family and his team at Advocates, David told us that his very active lifestyle has led to an overall high quality of life. Though there are several key people who play instrumental roles in David’s success, there are just as many achievements that were dependent on his own self-determination.

David was left in a precarious position when his parents passed away more than a decade ago. Because he’d always had the full support of his loved ones, he hadn’t needed or received OPWDD services to that point. David’s dedicated and loving sister, Janice Vitale, then welcomed him to live with her and become his primary caretaker.

“Janice is one of the absolute best advocates I’ve ever come across,” said David’s Community Habilitation Coordinator, Adriana Battle. “His family has always been in his corner, and many of his successes point back to them in one way or another.”

“There are no cliff notes for getting into the (disability) system,” Janice told us. “I tried to navigate the best I could, but it was difficult because I still needed to work simultaneously,” she said. While some might call how she stumbled upon Advocates sheer chance, others might call it fate. Janice worked as the general manager at Sport Center 481, an indoor sports complex located in Salina. Though the location of Advocates’ kickball league has since changed, Janice witnessed the same comradery, sportsmanship, inclusion, and supportive environment the league displays to this day. Janice’s admiration and appreciation of the kickball league led to her exploring the idea of getting David involved with Advocates.

Fast forward to the present, and David has taken many strides in his development over time and, in the process, left an indelible mark on everyone he has worked with, befriended, and interacted with through Advocates. 

“David and this role in general have changed my life,” said David’s Mentor, Jessica Odiam. Jessica was open with us when she said she wasn’t happy at her previous job, but wasn’t sure if mentoring would be the right fit for her based on her personality and tendencies. “I was kind of antisocial and had my own things I was dealing with. But this has helped me and brought me to a better place.” Overall, this snapshot of Jessica's journey underscores the transformative power of mentorship – demonstrating how it can lead to personal growth, fulfillment, and ultimately, positive change in both mentor and mentee's lives.

“David’s ability to socialize and vocalize are two of the areas he’s come the furthest,” Janice said. “He’s had his own life and own schedule for years now, and his Mentors help to keep things flowing for him.” In addition to these areas of growth, David has become extraordinarily self-sufficient and helpful in the course of his day-to-day life. He takes pride in maintaining a tidy home, has voluntarily assumed many of the household’s necessary chores, and performs all of his self-care tasks on his own. For the areas where David still needs support, dedicated people like Jessica have been there over time to help him.

“One thing that’s on our daily agenda is doing his ‘homework,’” Jessica told us, explaining that this refers to any memory-related exercises they can do to help keep David’s mind sharp and engaged. “Memory issues and things that come with aging have been his biggest challenges lately,” Adriana added. Jessica’s verbal prompting and reminders to stay on task, she continued, have helped him to do just that. Adriana also mentioned that, like so many of us, David needs assistance sticking to his diet and making healthy choices. David has lost a considerable amount of weight over the past few years, due to his all-natural diet and healthier lifestyle.

“Staying active and fit is a big goal of his,” Jessica said. “We walk every day together, adhere to a special diet, and work on things like portion control.”

In addition to having come so far with things like socialization and his health, David is perhaps most proud of his family and the role he plays in his nephews’ lives. “David is just so good with his nephews and with children in general,” Janice said. “He’ll very often care for them, play with them, and clean up after them.”

When David isn’t spending time with his family or keeping the house in tip-top shape, he enjoys caring for his several pets or delving into his extensive Star Trek and Star Wars collections. Additionally, David loves to go horseback riding at ARISE on the Farm, bowling, and swimming at the YMCA with the support of his Mentors. He also really enjoys attending Advocates-related events and spending time with the many friends he’s made through the agency.

“His Mentors like Jessica have been lifesavers for both David and myself,” Janice said. “They keep him engaged, safe, and active, and that allows us both to lead productive lives.”

And so, whether by chance or by fate, David's journey with Advocates has led to profound transformations, both for him and those around him. From the pivotal role played by his sister Janice to the serendipitous discovery of Advocates through the kickball league, every encounter and decision has shaped David's path towards growth and fulfillment. Through the dedicated support of those who care for him, David has overcome challenges presented by his disability while aging with grace and dignity. As he continues to navigate life's ups and downs, David's story stands as a testament to the powers of resilience and community.

Do you have a friend or family member who

would make a great Mentor?

If so, please encourage them to apply on our website.

We look forward to meeting them!

Upcoming Events


Syracuse Crunch Game

The Syracuse Crunch's season is winding down!

The Syracuse Crunch is offering discount tickets to people/families receiving services from Advocates along with employees.

Join us on Saturday,

Apr. 13th at 7pm as the Syracuse Crunch take on the Toronto Marlies.

Discount tickets ($18) can be purchased by contacting Annika Tyson: (315) 473-4444 ext. 126 or online at: using promotional code: ADVOCATES

The deadline to purchase tickets is April 11th.

We hope to see you there!

Advocates 6th Annual Stroll & Roll

Advocates' 2024 Stroll & Roll is rapidly approaching!

Get ready to run, walk, stroll, or roll your way through Advocates' 6th Annual Stroll & Roll 5K! On Saturday, May 18th, 2024, Advocates will be hosting its Annual Stroll & Roll 5K at Onondaga Lake Park, benefiting children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This is a fun run that includes trophies for the first, second, and third-place winners, swag, food, and music, situated in a beautiful park setting. The race also includes a fabulous online auction for our racers, families, and supporters. Everyone is welcome to participate, so invite your friends and family to support this great cause. You can also invite your friends and relatives that live out of state to participate remotely!

The cost is only $30 per racer (children under 3 are free, as are Support Staff accompanying a person served by Advocates). Your support means raising awareness for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities! Sign up or put your team together and show your support.

If you have questions regarding the race or would like information on sponsorship opportunities, please direct your questions to

Click here to register for this event!

Calling All Crafters!

We are adding a new and exciting feature to this year's Stroll & Roll event! Advocates will be hosting a craft show to coincide with our annual 5K!

The cost of a space is only $20, and $40 should you need a table and chairs provided. To register, please email with your name, email address, and billing address.

Payment may be remitted to:

Advocates Inc.

290 Elwood Davis Road, Suite 101

Liverpool, NY 13088

Questions? Please email

Click here to register!

Agency Updates

Autism Acceptance Month

April is National Autism Acceptance Month! This is a great time to acknowledge everyone who receives services from Advocates. We thank you for all that you teach the people in your life who have the honor of supporting you! We'd also like to thank all of our nearly 1,300 Mentors, whose tireless work is beyond appreciated by Advocates and the many people we support!

National ASL Day

Did you know?

National ASL Day takes place on April 15 every year to celebrate American Sign Language. Sign language is an invaluable skill set for direct support staff, and can also expand opportunities to work in fields such as education, social work, human services, psychology, counseling, nursing, or criminal justice fields, to name a few.

If you or someone you know is interested in adding this proficiency to your resume, classes are available in our area! To learn more about Onondaga Community College's ASL Program, please click here.

Reasons to Smile

Community Hero Award

The Community Heroes Program is a collaborative effort between the Syracuse Crunch and Amazon. This initiative highlights a local hero who has made a positive impact on the Syracuse community. From front-line workers to our charitable neighbors who volunteer their time, Central New York is home to many real-life heroes, whose hard work and dedication to others deserves recognition. Advocates' own Andy Franz will be the recipient of the award for April!

Andy is an exemplary member of the Liverpool community, who embraces any opportunity to spread joy and engage with those around him. Andy has been giving back to his community in many ways over the years while participating in various volunteer opportunities. Since 2021, he has done so by supporting his local police department with tasks around the station, particularly with maintaining clean police vehicles. Andy is also involved with the Liverpool Library, where he assists with sorting books and with various fundraisers. No matter what he is doing, he does it with a smile for anyone he meets along the way!

We hope you're able to attend the Crunch game on April 13th, when Andy will be paid tribute for his good works. The Crunch plan to invite Andy and his family to the game, honor him on the public address system, and present him with a $100 gift card, a team photo of the Crunch, and other assorted memorabilia, courtesy of the Crunch and Amazon.

We thank Andy for all he does

for our community, and we congratulate him on this

wonderful achievement!