Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY Makes Significant Technology Donation To Five Local Community Service Organizations – Buffalo Rising | #education | #technology | #training


Aaron Iannello (left), Operations Director for Mission: Ignite, and Dr. Michael Edbauer (right), president of Highmark BCBSWNY, with retired laptops and desktop monitors donated to Mission: Ignite.

Mission: Ignite’s Operations Manager, Aaron Iannello, and a team from Mission: Ignite recently received a generous donation of laptops, desktops, monitors, desk printers, cables, and additional equipment from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY.

Mission: Ignite strives to end the digital divide in WNY, and surrounding areas, by collecting and refurbishing technology to provide STEM training to children in the community, while also reducing hazardous e-waste often created by discarded technology. Additionally, Highmark’s donations of technology assets were given to South Buffalo Community AssociationFamily Promise of Western New YorkGerard Place, and EdTech Western New York. In total, almost 300 laptops, and upwards of 75 desktops, 228 monitors, and peripherals, desk printers, and cables were distributed among the five organizations. 

Aaron Iannello, Operations Director for Mission: Ignite, and Dr. Michael Edbauer, president of Highmark BCBSWNY, with Highmark BCBSWNY employees at the Highmark Building as they donate retired technology equipment to Mission: Ignite.

“As a community-based health plan, it’s a priority of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York to improve the quality of life in the areas we serve,” shared Dr. Michael Edbauer, president of Highmark BCBSWNY. “Providing this technology and equipment to local organizations who do so much for the region will provide access and educational opportunities for children, adults, and seniors alike. We know these donations will be put to effective use and will enrich the lives of others.”

“The technology donated by Highmark has been put to immediate use at Family Promise of WNY, an emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness, to help our staff, interns and guests complete critical work towards housing the families we serve, said Luanne Firestone, Executive Director, Family Promise of WNY. Thank you, Highmark, for your generosity!” 

“We are grateful to Highmark of Western NY for their investment in our community. This gift of laptops and desktops are of great need to our partners, families and students who are lacking computers to connect for work, education, healthcare and just everyday needs,” said Christine Carr-Barmasse, Executive Director, Mission: Ignite“As Mission: Ignite provides training and devices to serve our communities throughout Western New York, this timely donation will help us fill the digital inequity that our families are experiencing.” 


I have a passion for helping my fellow Western New Yorkers and advance the great things that are going on in this region. Buffalo Rising is a great booster and it’s a blast writing and contributing to BR about positive happenings in our neck of the woods. I appreciate the help I’ve received over the years from organizations and people who share my passion and supported me in efforts that put thousands of people to work and resulted in a community give back of more than $115M to Buffalo’s neediest during my days at the helm of AmeriCorps.

I’m especially grateful for the opportunities that enabled me to help cities devastated by Hurricane Katrina and rebuild more than 700 family homes that were destroyed. Back at home, I was able to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience as a coordinator for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition where we were able to repair, beautify and upgrade homes for an entire neighborhood on Buffalo’s Westside. Other projects close to my heart include a collaboration with Sail Buffalo to build the Cazenovia Boating Center at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, and my annual Christmas season time is spent at Buffalo’s treasure, the Broadway Market, playing Santa Clause.

In my other life, I am a workforce development, business, marketing, public relations and fundraising professional. Earned a M.S. Human Service Management from Buffalo State, and enjoy my family life that includes four amazing grandchildren!

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