Open Arms Award

Celebrating Inclusion and Compassion in Cayuga County

Open Arms Award

Celebrating Inclusion and Compassion in Cayuga County

The Award

The Open Arms Award was introduced by Unity House in 2012 to recognize community members and organizations that welcome the organization's participants with disabilities in public and/or at their place of business. Unity House employees are invited to nominate an individual or company that exemplifies the Open Arms Award: caring, compassionate and committed to recognizing ability. 

Open Arms Award Winners

2023: Mike White - Marcellus High School
2022: Nathan Torrance - Nate's Barber Shop
2021: Sherri Campagnola - Champions For Life
2020: Lt. Michael Wellauer - Cayuga County Sheriff's Office
2019: Naomi Bernheim - Cup O' Jo Cafe
2018: Richard Pinckney - Rx City Pharmacy
2017: Carey Eidel - Auburn Public Theater
2016: Brenda Barbaglia - Walmart
2015: The staff of Lansing Xtra Mart
2014: Jay Harmon - The Haunt Nightclub
2013: Chris and Charlene Vernak - Vernak Farms Country Store
2012: Maria Fleischman - The Creation Station

Maria Fleischman
Maria Fleischman, 2012 Open Arms Award winner

Award Nominations

Award nominations are not open to the general public. This is an internal UH-wide nomination process.

Nominees demonstrate empathy and genuine delight when interacting with the people we support. They help them gain a sense of place and inclusion within the community.


  • go above and beyond in getting to know our folks;
  • demonstrate their interest and caring over time;
  • consistently greet our service recipients as valued, unique individuals
  • live or work in one of the six central New York counties served by Unity House: Cayuga, Tompkins, Onondaga, Seneca, Wayne, or Ontario.

Nominations are due by Thursday, February 15 to Nicole Hube,