Giving People with Developmental Disabilities the Gift of Meaningful Employment
Lifetime Assistance has added a unique new company to its portfolio of businesses employing people with developmental disabilities. It’s all thanks to a generous gift made to the agency by a former employee just before he died.
The late Bob Hickey, a 13-year employee and former Work Center Business Manager for Lifetime Assistance LAICO Industries division, donated the successful nationally recognized greeting card business he founded, Patent Press Greetings Cards, to Lifetime. He saw the donation as a marriage of two of his passions.
Lifetime Assistance is the largest and most comprehensive agency in the Rochester region helping people with developmental disabilities live with the highest possible level of independence.
Hickey passed away on April 30, 2021, at the age of 60 not long after receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Annette, and two daughters.
Having led a series of successful start-up businesses for Lifetime that created meaningful employment for people with disabilities, Hickey knew that Patent Press Greetings Cards had significant potential to grow.
Before he died, Hickey had looked back on his work at Lifetime Hickey saying, “The biggest reward was making pragmatic change for people who thought they would only work in a limited capacity reach their full potential.” He saw first-hand how important learning skills and having a job were to people with developmental disabilities.
Patent Press Greeting Cards is a unique line of more than 400 card designs featuring artwork that originally accompanied actual patent applications filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The wholesale and retail business sells cards online and in more than 100 stores and museums in major cities throughout the United States including Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. In Rochester, the cards are sold at Parkleigh and Record Archive.
“This was a most generous donation to Lifetime, and we are very grateful that Bob saw the opportunity for its growth and success within the Lifetime family of businesses,” said Jamie Branciforte Lifetimes, President and CEO. “Bob’s dedication to helping those we support to discover their abilities and put them to work in productive activities exemplify the Lifetime mission. We hope that it was a great comfort to him knowing that Lifetime would carry his unique creation forward and grow it so that it will continue to provide interesting and challenging employment opportunities for the people he and Lifetime care so much about.”
After a short pause to transfer various aspects of the business, Patent Press Greeting Cards is up and running, fulfilling orders, and providing employment for several people including three individuals with developmental disabilities, who are included in every aspect of the business. Each has artistic abilities, making them a good fit for a business built upon unique graphic designs. They are already putting their creative skills to work designing a thank you card to go out with orders and will also be designing and writing greetings for new cards.
The cards are printed by Image Printers, the same Rochester-based printer who had worked with Hickey. Pricing has remained the same.
The new company adds a unique element to Lifetime’s employment offerings of scanning, shredding, assembly, janitorial services, and catering. Patent Press is managed by a team led by Amy Mitchell, Lifetime’s Vice President of Day Services, who oversees the Work Center’s services, which help people learn new skills, and Katie Gillespie, Lifetime’s Director of Community Services. The team spent several months transitioning the business and relocating it to Lifetime’s Work Center at 426 Paul Road, a 26,000 square foot modern production facility and warehouse. Hickey’s wife, Annette, who worked with her husband at Patent Press on nights and weekends, was very helpful during the transition.
Mitchell and Gillespie said, “We are very grateful to Bob and Annette, and we will continue to honor his legacy. The people receiving supports and services at our Work Center enjoy learning the various aspect of the business and look forward to using their creative skills to continue to grow the business. Bob is greatly missed at Lifetime Assistance. His presence still exists in the work center with his cards. He continues to make us laugh as we read the humorous content inside the cards and his mission to help people find employment continues to move forward as the work center staff teach the people supported how to operate the greeting card business.”
Until his dying day, Hickey continued to think about how he could help others, sharing his ideas and strategies for running the Patent Press business in its new home at Lifetime.
Gillespie said, “He would call me to share an idea that had popped into his head. He was still so lucid and had so much energy. He wanted to be sure we had as much knowledge as he could impart so that we could take over the business, grow it and provide meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”
How to Order Patent Press Greeting Cards
Patent Press Greeting Cards are all 5″ x 7″ printed on 100# premium natural cover stock and include a 60# opaque natural vellum envelope. They are suitable for framing. The full line of cards is available to order online. Visit patentpressgreetingcards.com. Existing wholesale customers may access their accounts online to reorder. Select designs are also sold at more than 100 retail locations including museums across the country. In Rochester, the cards are sold at Parkleigh and Record Archive. All sales benefit Lifetime Assistance and provide meaningful employment for people with developmental disabilities.
About Patent Press Greeting Cards
Patent Press Greeting Cards is a boutique line of greeting cards founded by Bob Hickey from Rochester, NY, featuring artwork that originally accompanied actual patent applications filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The patents run the gamut from iconic to fantastical, and the greetings can be sweet, funny, and sometimes even edgy. Patent Press® was named 2020 Louie Award winner of the Best Father’s Day Card and Rising Star, recognizing a card line in operation for three years or less and distinguishing themselves as a “Rising Star” in the industry in terms of creativity and execution. The company is owned and operated by Lifetime Assistance Inc. LAICO Industries Division. Proceeds of all sales benefit Lifetime Assistance and provide meaningful employment to people with developmental disabilities.
About Lifetime Assistance, Inc.
Lifetime Assistance Inc. is the largest and most comprehensive agency In the Rochester, New York region helping people with developmental disabilities live with the highest possible level of independence. Established in 1978, the non-profit organization supports more than 1,800 people with developmental disabilities at over 70 sites. It provides a full spectrum of individualized services to help children and adults reach their maximum potential by promoting independence, dignity, and respect.
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