Disabled Persons Action Organization (DPAO) was started in 1974 and fully incorporated in 1976.  Joseph L. Rich, an anchor for WWNY Radio and TV at that time, began the not-for-profit organization part time from his home.  DPAO is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to provide quality and effective individualized services for developmentally disabled children and adults in Jefferson and Lewis Counties.  The services are primarily geared toward helping families cope with the stress of caring for their disabled loved ones.  DPAO currently services over 500 children, adults, and their families and is the primary provider of overnight and hourly respite services in the region, offering the services to families with developmentally disabled individuals residing at home.

Mr. Rich started doing concerts as a volunteer to raise funds to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families since there was no state funding for that purpose.  A Summer Concert Series was soon established.  However, not long after the Summer Concert Series began, the state decided that it would match whatever DPAO could fundraise to help these families.  Because of the tremendous needs of the families, the State Office of Mental Retardation (now known as the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) agreed to fully fund these programs and services but only for a specific number of individuals.  Fundraising from the concerts paid for any additional needs.  While funding has improved greatly over the years, the shows have continued helping to supplement the special needs of those we serve as well as provide other assistance to our agency in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for those we serve.  The concerts are also a wonderful addition to the quality of life in our region.  Every year the concerts result in an economic boom to Northern New York and surrounding areas of over one million dollars.

DPAO has seen tremendous growth throughout the last four decades and currently employs over 150 full and part time employees serving both Jefferson and Lewis Counties Volunteers are utilized for many of our programs, in addition to assisting with our fundraising events.