WXXI AM News

Veronica Volk

Enterprise Reporter/Producer

Veronica Volk is the Enterprise Reporter for WXXI News, investigating and exploring issues impacting different communities in Rochester, Monroe County, and beyond. Previously, she reported on environmental and economic issues facing the people and wildlife of Lake Ontario for Great Lakes Today.

She is also the producer of Exited, a podcast about young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities transitioning into life after public school, and producer and co-host of the true-crime podcast Finding Tammy Jo along with Gary Craig of the Democrat and Chronicle.

Veronica got her start as a reporter in the Bronx for WFUV Public Radio, and later rose to senior producer of their weekly public affairs show Cityscape. She holds a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University and is originally from the Jersey Shore, which is nothing like how it is portrayed on MTV.

Ways to Connect

David Marshall

Opioids can have devastating consequences for the people who abuse them, affecting their health, safety and freedom – but it doesn’t stop there.

Drug abuse can ruin the lives of people who never touch the substances themselves.

Stephanie Forrester is 37, from Fairport. She has two kids: a son and a daughter. She said they grew up around her addiction.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

After the death of Trevyan Rowe, a lot of people are asking what the Rochester City School District could have done differently. Some parents are saying this is not the first time the special education system has failed its students.

On a cold, rainy afternoon in March, several parents gather outside the central office of the city school board. Anna Kasserly is holding a sign that says, "We need change and we need it now."

"Why did we have to wait for this to happen?" she yells into the microphone. "Why we have to wait for him to lose his life?"

Seneca Pure Waters Association

Several experts from across the state and the country held a summit Monday evening at Monroe Community College to try to come up with solutions to the state's algal bloom problem.

This summit is the last of four; part of a initiative by Governor Andrew Cuomo to combat the issue.

As part of his state of the state last year, the governor said, "Now we have seen a new phenomenon in water quality in many of our upstate lakes and alarming increase in water pollution that is dramatically affecting the quality of our lakes."

Tianna Mañón / WXXI News

Everyone has a Louise Slaughter story. Whether it’s running into her at Wegmans, passing her in the airport, or seeing her at a restaurant in Fairport and then ending up in a conversation about health care, the environment or the latest tax bill.

But Slaughter didn’t just talk about policy. She had a reputation for treating Rochesterians with dignity and respect, and for being both fierce and friendly – a reputation she also carried with her in Washington, D.C.

At Slaughter's funeral, former Sen. Hillary Clinton remembered her fondly.

Water is being let out of Lake Ontario at record rates, but it’s doing little to relieve high water on the south shore, in New York. Last year, flooding caused millions of dollars in damage to residences and businesses, and in some areas drove people from their homes for months.

One neighborhood in Hamlin, New York, was hit particularly hard. Now, residents there say they fear another harsh flood season.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

In the Great Lakes region, toxic algae blooms are a big problem. Every summer, they leave a green sheen on parts of the Great Lakes – and on many smaller lakes. New York State has a new campaign to find solutions. But some question the approach.

In his lab at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, Greg Boyer stands beside his mass spectrometer. This machine is analyzing the chemical makeup of algae samples, specifically, those that produce deadly toxins.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

People like Jonathan Jackson tend to have an entourage. An entourage can consist of professionals and family members who support someone with disabilities in all kinds of ways.

Often, family members do the bulk of caregiving, and as children grow up, questions arise: What will adulthood look like for them? Who will lead their future entourage? 

Veronica Volk/WXXI News

When Akin Johnson was nearing the end of high school, he was clear about what he wanted to do next. He wanted to get a job.

In recent years, there has been a push to get people with disabilities into the general workforce. But despite these initiatives, some students like Akin who aspire to work are running into a problem. They’re being told they’re not independent enough to make it in a work environment.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

Sheltered workshops, where many people with disabilities go to work, have been around for decades.

But they’re controversial for a few reasons: They’re usually segregated, and most workers earn less than minimum wage because they’re paid based on how many things they produce.

Sheltered workshops are changing now, though. Some are being phased out, and some are integrating into more traditional businesses — whether people who are working in them like it or not.

People have been asking about the name of this podcast.

Reporter Karen Shakerdge talked to lots of people for this series; listen to how some of them describe what "Exited" means.

Also, stay tuned afterward for a preview of the third episode.

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