Community Links

Pam Fingado, executive director of Community Links, center, stands with her staff this week who gathered for a meeting and celebration of National Direct Support Professionals Week, observed this week.

When Community Links employee Kelly Johnson first began working with an individual served by the McKean County-based agency, the intellectually-disabled woman barely spoke at all.

During a gathering by the agency this week to celebrate National Direct Support Professionals Week, Johnson told the other staff that her client was not only speaking, but now uses 45 different words.

It’s accomplishments such as this that uplifts the staff, who travel to homes and facilities in the area to help individuals with intellectual disabilities achieve a variety of social, employment and everyday skills.

“Tonight we’re doing a training, but we just wanted to recognize our staff for all they do for us and all they do in the community,” said Pam Fingado, executive director, prior to their meeting.

As for services provided, she said the agency provides in-home and community support in order to promote and maintain peoples’ independence in their homes and the community.

Also provided by the agency is employment-support services as well as an occasional collaboration with Futures Rehabilitation Center, which serves some of the same population of people with intellectual disabilities.

Fingado said the agency, which is based in an office at 20 Russell Boulevard in Bradford, was incorporated in 2003 and began operating in 2005.While located in McKean County, she said the agency also provides services to people in Cameron and Elk counties. Currently, the agency employs 47 full- and part-time staff and serves 90 consumers.

A veteran employee in the agency is Tom Dalton, who has worked with Community Links since 2005. Dalton said he currently works with an individual from Futures and takes him to events in the Bradford and Kane areas.

“The idea is to take (the individual) where he wants to go,” Dalton explained. “Mostly, it’s sports events … he’s a sports fan. We go to Bradford high school and Kane high school games.”

Fingado added, “(The goal) is for participation in the community — we want to make sure the folks work to their potential and participate in the community.”

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)