BUFFALO, N.Y. — Each week this year, we're featuring the women who are leading Western New York's resurgence in our City Shapers reports. This week’s City Shaper is leading a team of hundreds that helps thousands.
Mindy Cervoni is the president and CEO at Community Services for Every1. Cervoni grew up in Syracuse.
Community Services for Every1 serves more than 2,000 Western New Yorkers — the majority living with developmental disabilities — by helping people learn basic skills, find housing, and get jobs.
"What gives you your passion for what you do?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"I see people every day achieve goals that they weren't even sure were possible," Cervoni said. "People who live in their own apartment for the very first time. Somebody who has maybe lived in a group home for twenty years. We work with them every day to develop the skills to live independently. Help people get the job of their dreams when maybe the people who are in their families or their teachers said oh you can never do that. When they come to Community Services, we believe anything is possible."
Cervoni got her master’s degree in clinical psychology, and in 2001, started at Community Services as a team leader for a mental health treatment team. In 2015, she became the CEO.
"What's that like when you see somebody who was told no for so long get to do what they've wanted to do for their whole life?" asked Dudzik.
"It's wonderful, but what's the best part about it is then they go to what's next," she said. "Wow, I was able to live on my own, now what's next? I can get this great job? Or, I can get married and have a family, I never thought that was possible, and so, it's really that they can achieve so much more."
Community Services recently opened the Jefferson Career Center in Buffalo. It's a job training space where people try out different learning suites including a car detail shop and a mock hotel room.
Cervoni says Community Services is also big on promoting work-life balance for its employees.
"I start out every meeting that we have talking about self-care and I have employees do activities on how they are going to do things that are meaningful to them that bring joy in their life whether it be in their work or in their personal lives," she says.
"What advice do you have for someone who might want to do something like this with their life?" asked Dudzik.
"I would say that you're not going to, just know you're not going to get rich, and that's okay because you are just making a difference to so many people," says Cervoni.
If you know a Western New York woman who would be a great City Shaper, email Kelly a nomination.