Laurie Stengler, VOR member from Illinois, represented VOR during Illinois House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings during the week of April 9, 2013. Her testimony targeted (and opposed) proposed funding cuts to public developmental centers (ICFs/MR) and specifically called for continued funding for Murray Developmental Center which the Governor has said he will close.
Laurie's brother-in-law is a resident of Murray and she is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by families of affected residents at developmental centers across the state, and the Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled, a VOR affiliate and the statewide organization for developmental center residents and their families.
Read Laurie's testimony.
March 13, 2013
Mary Reese, VOR Board Member, on behalf of VOR
Before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
House Appropriations Committee
VOR is a national organization advocating for high quality care and human rights for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). VOR is not requesting appropriations. Instead, VOR requests the Subcommittee’s support for language to prohibit the use of HHS appropriations in support of deinstitutionalization activities which evict eligible individuals with I/DD from HHS-licensed Medicaid facilities, in violation of federal law. Deinstitutionalization activities, including advocacy, lobbying, class action lawsuits, and other tactics, by some HHS-funded agencies (discussed below) resulting in the downsizing and closure of HHS-licensed are a cruel and absurd use of federal funding. These closures often lead to human tragedy. Medicaid-licensed facility homes, including Intermediate Care Facilities for People with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs/ID), are uniquely suited to meet the residents’ profound support, health care and behavioral needs. Tragedies are widespread and predictable when fragile citizens are removed from specialized care. The legally-protected rights of families and legal guardians to serve as primary decision-makers are routinely ignored.
Read Written Testimony (For the Record)
Read Mary Reese's Statement/Testimony to the Committee
Read Letter of Support from the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians
Watch touching newscast featuring Mary Reese and her step-daughter, Ginger, and their long journey to securing appropriate services
VOR, a national organization advocating for high quality care and human rights, strongly objects, in substance and in principle, to the National Council on Disability’s (NCD) newly released “Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business” policy document (110 pages) and accompanying “toolkit” (how-to manual) (201 pages).
VOR represents thousands of individuals, families and legal guardians, organizations and advocates around the country who value individual choice and recognize that true person-centered planning begins with the individual and his/her needs. One size does not fit all. An array of quality service and support options is needed to ensure that choice, based on individual need, is accommodated.
NCD used more than 300 pages to advocate for closing specialized homes – Medicaid-licensed Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs/MR) – serving our nation’s most profoundly disabled citizens. This insensitive, reckless attitude will cause these vulnerable individuals to suffer grievous harm and even death.
Read VOR's Letter to President Obama
Read VOR's Letter to Key Members of Congress
VOR’s Nominating Committee seeks individuals interested in serving on the VOR Board of Directors
Please respond by January 25, 2013
VOR is looking for applicants who:
• Have a passion for our cause on behalf of individuals with intellectual disabilities
• Can commit time for board meetings, committee planning and meetings, assist in reaching out to current and prospective members, and attend the Annual Conference.
• Are team players who work well with others in a group
• Listen well and are thoughtful in considering issues
• Are willing and able to assist in development efforts
If you are interested in receiving a VOR Board application form, please contact Sybil Finken, Chair of the VOR Nominating Committee, at
or 712-527-3250; or Julie Huso, Executive Director at
or at 605-370-4652.
VOR has released a series of Social Media "101s" as part of its social media campaign, coordinated by VOR's Marketing/Communication Committee, to enhance advocacy efforts by VOR members and like-minded choice advocates around the country on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Social media can also assist in VOR's overall growth through greater awareness, involvement and communication by and between current members, new members and volunteers. To date, VOR has received tips on using Twitter (Parts 1 and Part 2), Facebook, and LinkedIn.
VOR will continue to distribute Social Media tips to its members. To receive these tips directly, along with a VOR Weekly News Update (distributed each Friday) and regular media and legislative action alerts, we invite and encourage you to join VOR.
If you are already a member and/or would like to learn more, here are additional ways to connect with VOR:
Linked In (Search for "VOR" under companies)
September 28, 2012
Olmstead Requires Personal Choice
Public Comments for the Proposed New York Olmstead Implementation Plan
Statement by Cristy Dwyer, VOR New York State Coordinator
New York State is developing its “Olmstead Implementation Plan.” Three public forms are being held to solicit suggestions from seniors, individuals with disabilities, families, advocates and providers of services on ways to improve the delivery of services to people with disabilities in the most integrated settings.
VOR’s New York State Coordinator, Cristy Dwyer, provided testimony on Friday, September 28, 2012 one of the three public forum opportunities.
“Olmstead requires consideration of personal choice, not just one choice. Forcing “integrated community settings” on every disabled person is the wrong starting point for Olmstead implementation,” stated Ms. Dwyer. “Instead, consistent with the decision, the Olmstead Implementation Plan should, with public input, determine how to meet its obligation to provide range of quality services to individuals with disabilities so that every individual can be served in the “most integrated setting appropriate to their needs,” from small to large public and private settings.”
Read VOR's complete testimony here.