A Message to the Mainstay Community

Dear Friends of Mainstay,

On behalf of everyone at Mainstay, I hope this message finds you and your family safe and healthy. These past several weeks have brought extraordinary changes – generating many questions about how to stay healthy, how best to navigate our daily lives, and how to plan for the future. At Mainstay, we are fully committed to prioritizing the health and welfare of our community, while continuing to provide essential supports to those in our care.

Challenging times can bring out the best in people, and I have already seen that happening time and time again. With the rich social lives of the people we support coming to a halt over the past month, Mainstay staff are pivoting and adapting, supporting others in incredible ways. Our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are busy trying to keep life as normal as possible for those in our care, while often making sacrifices in their own lives in order to do so. Here are a handful of examples:

  • Program Manager Alysha Scott drove her children to Erie to stay with family so she could be available to work any unfilled shifts caused by the pandemic.
  • On top of working extra shifts, DSP Mark Homick is training new staff members beginning their careers with Mainstay during the pandemic.
  • In order to supply staff with proper protection, DSP Cindy Grimm donated 22 N95 masks. She is also thinking outside of the box to create activities, including a homemade bowling game. 
  • Several staff, including Program Manager Marlana Bayerlein and Lifesharing Provider Virginia Barella, are making homemade face masks for our staff and those we support. Other staff are reaching out to friends and family to do the same with great results. 
  • DSPs Kelley Shepherd, Ebony Roilton, Marlene McMillan and Rick Harris have all stepped up to cover additional hours, often getting only a few hours of rest between shifts.
  • Program Manager Gerri Russell has been messaging her coworkers every few days just to check in on them, even during her days off.

If you are not yet connected with Mainstay on social media, I ask that you take a few minutes to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, where you can find more uplifting stories of the selfless and creative ways our Mainstay family and broader community are supporting one another.

I am deeply aware of the economic challenges this evolving situation is creating in our community – at Mainstay, in our city and nation, and around the world. The truth is that we need your support now more than ever. If you have already donated to our special appeal, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support will assist us in dealing with the financial impact we are facing as we cancel fundraising events and increase our spending on essential supplies and protective equipment.

If you have not yet donated and if you are in a position to give, we ask that you consider making a gift to Mainstay on May 5, 2020 in honor of #GivingTuesdayNow – a global day of giving and unity in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Your contribution, in any amount, will help to ensure that people with developmental disabilities have access to Mainstay’s important services.

I am grateful for the strength, bonds and care that are so firmly woven into our Mainstay community, and I know that our connections and shared commitment to those in our care will see us through this difficult time. We hope you will please keep in touch with us.


With my very best wishes,

Kim Sonafelt