Tracey Drury Buffalo Business First Reporter- Buffalo Business First
A Buffalo nonprofit has kicked off a rebranding effort aimed at expanding its reach.
The Parent Network of WNY is keeping its name the same, but changing its logo and updating the resources it offers to the community. That includes a new website equipped with 10 fact sheets, each offered in seven different languages and in video format.
The nonprofit organization provides education and resources for families of individuals with special needs of all ages. It also serves professionals through resources, workshops and support groups. The goal is to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential.
Executive director Susan Barlow said the goal of the rebranding is to find a better way to actually reach the people it serves. If individuals don’t understand English, the agency’s existing program materials are useless. The same is true if someone speaks another language but can’t read even their native language.
“There are a lot of people who can’t read or won’t read,” she said. “Those are the families that are in some ways being taken advantage of because they don’t know the system. Their kids may be getting classified but not getting what they need in terms of services. But they don’t know what they don’t know.”
The website opens the door by providing basic information on services available to families. After the families know what they actually need and what’s available, the Parent Network can connect them with services or make referrals to other organizations that can help.
“If nothing else, it gives you some basic information in your own language. Then you’ll know what you don’t know,” she said.
Parent Network will host its Harvest Honors event Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at its offices at 1000 Main St., Buffalo, to spread the word. The event includes interactive stations for hands-on learning and opportunities to learn how to navigate the new website; as well as an awards presentation, basket and silent auction and networking opportunities for families and professionals.
Operating on a budget of about $1 million, the organization serves about 10,000 individuals annually through workshops and one-on-one events in all eight counties. Funded by the state Education Department and the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the U.S. Department of Education, it is among 105 Parent Network programs across the U.S.
“We’re all talking to each other and sharing resources,” Barlow said. “Our make-over is to increase accessibility to materials and what we’re doing not just in Buffalo, but across the U.S.”