It started with a simple goal: Finger Lakes Textiles (FLT) wanted to get people back to work. The knitting factory came up with an idea that would employ workers and expand business operations beyond the millions of hats it creates each year. The answer was face masks.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic came to a head, Rob Scott, Executive Director of Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP), knew that the essential workers and incarcerated persons in New York State Prisons were vulnerable to the spread of the virus. Scott was able to reach out to the New York State Department of Corrections to develop a plan to provide face coverings to those individuals currently incarcerated in the State’s Prison System. CPEP Academic Director, Tess Wheelwright, researched mask design and identified one that best fits the needs of the correctional environment
Arc of Seneca Cayuga Executive Director, Allen Connely, said, "Arc is so pleased to be working with the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce and area financial institutions to bring about this wonderful event, which underscores our commitment to promoting inclusiveness and celebrating everyone's unique talents. We are also very excited that Arctic Gear was able to help fund part of our Art Therapy program!" Arc of Seneca Cayuga's mission is to embrace diversity by recognizing the uniqueness of each individual and by working to ensure the success of people with disabilities as they pursue lives of choice and fulfillment. The agency provides services to more than 1,200 individuals and their families in Seneca and Cayuga Counties.
Finger Lakes Textiles employs over 100 members of our community. It is a workforce that includes 60 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is also the home manufacturing facility for Arctic Gear!
Both Sayles and Sargeant have credited Arc with much of the students' success in the community, as well as Arctic Gear a headwear company founded by the Arc of Seneca Cayuga and is manufactured at Finger Lakes Textiles as many of the skills learned in the arts translate to the workplace. Additionally, the funds from the purchases of the hats made for Arctic Gear go right back into providing vital services like our Digital Art Therapy Program.