Weekly E-Mail Update

VOR’s Weekly E-Mail Update, distributed every Friday that provides members with “real time” news items from across the country.  Each week the most recent Weekly Update will be featured here. To receive the Update directly, please consider joining VOR. just $40/year for individuals. We welcome your referrals!

Note: No updates published from May 16 - June 20, 2014

An Open Invitation to Families and Advocates of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Fragmented, we are just whispers. United, we are a chorus.

The Lander Journal, August 20, 2014
By Shawn Humberson, VOR Wyoming State Coordinator

My name is Shawn Humberson. I am a State Co-Coordinator for VOR and a Friends of Wyoming Life Resource Center (WLRC) Board member.

My profoundly disabled aunt has lived at the WLRC for the past seven years after spending the first 34 years of her life at home and receiving services from community programs. She was one of the first enrolled in the Medicaid Waiver Program. I am one of her co-guardians. I also work as a home trainer in a community program.

As you can see, I am deeply, personally and professionally, vested in Wyoming’s intellectually and developmentally disabled (I/DD) population. From my perspective, our current and future DD population is at risk. The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is making critical changes across the board. These changes are in response to state legislation and new federal regulations. These changes are not necessarily in the best interests of the Developmentally Disabled.
Here in Wyoming, the DD has been fragmented into three segments: those living at home, those being served in community programs, and those who live at WLRC. Each segment, counter to each other, has been forced to grovel over funding and the quest for those rare dollars has caused dissention amongst the families of the I/DD population. While we’re bickering over who deserves the funding, the Department of Health is making changes in services that affect the quality of life for our loved ones.

Developmentally disabled need Holly Center as choice

Linda Scherer, VOR Member
August 28, 2014
The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD)

With news of some changes at Holly Center, I am writing as a family member of a Holly Center resident who is happy in his home, thrives there and receives many services and relationships enhancing his health, well-being and independence.

My brother is 58, has multiple disabilities and has been a resident since 1976, when our parents (now deceased) moved to Salisbury specifically to help assure my brother's placement at Holly Center, which was and continues tob e a top-notch home for him. 

Read full editorial here


SUNY Empire State College’s Cristy Dwyer ’08, ‘10 Wins SUNY ACT Scholarship

VOR Congratulates Cristy Dwyer, our New York State Coordinator, for her outstanding academic achievement!

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sept. 26, 2012) SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies student Cristy Dwyer ’08, ’10, has received the Association of Council Members and Trustees of the State University of New York annual Award for Excellence and Student Initiative Scholarship.
“This scholarship recognizes your outstanding academic performance and extraordinary commitment to your campus and community. Your enrollment at Empire State College, attaining an associate and bachelor’s degree while working for the Alcoholism Council of New York, coupled with your dedication to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, were inspiring to our selection committee,” said Pierre Alric, president of ACT.

The $1,250 scholarship provides the recipient with a $1,000 award and $250 toward a donation to the charity of the recipient’s choice [VOR].

Read complete release


Long time VOR Member and Pennsylvania Advocate, Offers Tribute to Polly Spare, VOR

Click here for original version of letter

September 11, 2013

Ms. Ann Knighton, President
Suite 251
836 S. Arlington Heights Road
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Dear Ms. Knighton,

We are all so pleased to see that Polly Spare is your 2013 Voice Award recipient. No matter how one might praise Polly and her work, it would be an understatement. Her energy and her impact in addressing critical issues involving those who do not chose to be care-dependent are unmatched.

In Pennsylvania, she often stood alone against the statist-driven mindset of our state's governors, human service bureaucrats, and their "advisory committees" dominated by one-size-fits-all advozealots. Polly's example continues to inspire us parents and families as we battle to protect our right to learn about and then choose options we feel are best for our sons and daughters with mental retardation, autism and related disorders of behavior and communication.

Particularly memorable was Polly's exhaustive 24/7 support in the defense of the Western Center state residential care and treatment facility against the 12-year assault by the combined forces of Pennsylvania's Association for Retarded Citizens, its Protection and Advocacy Agency, its Department of Public Welfare Secretary Feather Houstoun and Deputy Nancy Thaler, and its Governor Tom Ridge.

This fight was lost in 2001 partly due to overwhelming state funding, but primarily due to the untimely death of our magnificent attorney William Burke, another most deserving VOR Award recipient.

Polly Spare and all of us will always grieve the resultant deaths of 38 former Western Center residents, uninvestigated, during and soon after the brutal closing process. Only God knows how many more have left this earth prematurely due to theses statists, as well as the thousands more languishing on waiting lists, in unstable homes, prisons, mental health units, tent cities and under bridges.

Thanks to organizations like VOR, the nationwide battle against this inhuman, anti-family scourge is still not lost. And, I am personally grateful to have been on this earth the same time as all of you - and Polly Spare.

Daniel A. Torisky
President, Autism Society of Pittsburgh
Secretary, Autism Society of Pennsylvania
Past President, Autism Society of America
Past President, Western Center Board of Trustees

cc: Polly Spare
Tamie Hopp


Holly Center closure chilling

By Mary Reese, VOR Board Member
August 25, 2104
The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD)

The Holly Center administration recently announced the closure of another of its residential cottages. After this closure, there will only be 4 of the original 9 cottages in service; the current census is well under half of its original capacity. Holly Center is a federally regulated facility operated by the state of Maryland to serve those with intellectual and / or developmental disabilities (IDD).

I am the legal guardian of a 70 year old woman, Ginger, with profound IDD who requires 24/7 total care and is medically fragile. Ginger has lived in a facility based setting and in a group home setting; we have experienced both. The group home, or community residential program, was inadequate to meet her complex needs. The state only allowed Ginger’s admission to Holly Center after she suffered serious injury at the result of the group home staffs’ neglect.

Read full letter to editor

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