A bright smile spread across Billy Jo Olkosky’s face as he shared memories from his many years at the ReHabilitation Center, which has been home, rehabilitation provider and employer for most of his 67 years.
“It’s been a long time,” he said, smiling at his mother, Estelle, and step-dad, Keith, who stop by once a week to visit him and take him home for an occasional weekend and for holidays.
“We’re so grateful to the ReHab Center,” Estelle said. “He’s safe and happy and you can’t imagine how much peace that gives me.”
“Billy started out in regular school but when he had to repeat kindergarten, the nurse told us he needed special classes,” Estelle said, recalling that Billy Jo lost some cognitive ability due to a series of high fevers as a young child.
“He was a beautiful child. Now, he’s a handsome man,” she said, smiling warmly back at her son.
“I like it here,” Billy Jo said, pausing as he reflected on his experience. “It’s nice. I have friends and I like my teacher, Sandy. I like math and can do addition and subtraction.”
“He also colors beautifully,” Keith added. “He doesn’t go outside the lines and especially likes flowers.”
“My favorite color is purple,” Billy Jo said, adding he also loves music, especially drumming, rock and roll, matchbox cars and going to old car shows with Keith.
He is an active participant in the ReHab Center’s recreation programs which have taken him to the Bahamas, Hershey Park, Pa.; Florida, Niagara Falls where he rode on the Maid of the Mist.
While Billy Jo needs to use a wheelchair, that hasn’t slowed him down. He continues to work at SubCon where he’s worked for 45 years and is now active at the Linwood Center. He enjoys bowling with his friends and attending shows and going out for dinner. He also attends St. Mary of the Angels parish regularly.
“Billy is a great guy,” Deborah Poydock-Whipple, his MSC, said. “He may take his time to absorb what has been said to him before responding, but when he says something, he speaks from his heart.”
“Billy Jo is very independent with his care,” Michael Reynolds, Agency treatment supervisor said, adding, “He does not require any treatment at this time.”
In his early life, Billy attended several local schools in which the ReHab Center held special education programs.
He began attending the Agency’s Lifeskills program in 2004.
For a few years, Billy Jo lived with others with disabilities in Rev. John and Lenore Lounsbury’s home in Olean which was one of the Agency’s first Family Care residences. About 10 years ago, he moved into the Delaware Street residence, which he shares with people he considers family.
Today, while Billy Jo could retire, he enjoys his job at SubCon well enough to still work there occasionally.
“Billy Jo set a good example to other people in his residence. He wanted to go to work every day,” Estelle said, proudly about the achievements his son has made at the ReHab Center.
“I like it. I have friends there,” he said, smiling to his mom.
Community Support helps to make these opportunities possible for people like Billy Jo. Every year The ReHabilitation Center supports over 850 individuals with developmental disabilities and behavioral health concerns, from young children to aging adults.
You can help! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Foundation, or supporting one of the our annual events!
Checks can also be mailed to:
The Rehabilitation Foundation
1439 Buffalo Street
Olean, NY 14760