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

Local families stand up for the rights of people with disabilities, including autism, on Capitol Hill

For Immediate Release - June 10, 2014

For More Information Contact - Tamie Hopp, VOR Director of Government Relations & Advocacy, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; 605-399-1624 voice

Local families stand up for the rights
of people with disabilities, including autism, on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 10:  Americans with profound developmental disabilities, including autism, are being seriously threatened by the closure of their homes and reduction of services due a shift in government policy that dictates where people with profound disabilities should receive care, without regard to individual choice and level of need.  

In response, VOR (www.vor.net) from around the country came together at VOR’s Annual Conference and Congressional Initiative this week. VOR is a national nonprofit family/guardian organization advocating for high quality care and human rights for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Participants were briefed on important issues affecting people who are medically fragile and are fully dependent on 24-7 care for survival.

Medicaid, a federal benefit program, is the primary source of funding for long-term care services for people intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism . . .  [click here to read full release].


Did you participate in VOR's Conference and Congressional Initiative? If so, here's a template press release you can personalize and share with your local media. Thank you!


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


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


Delaware: Repurposing Stockley

The News Journal * October 16, 2013

Summary: State Report recommends opening access to Delaware's Stockley Center: Report proposes ways to expand public use of state-run complex

The Stockley Center, an underutilized state-run facility for people with developmental disabilities, also should be a medical training center, a public nature preserve, a community center and possibly the keystone of a mixed-use development, the state's health secretary said Tuesday in summarizing a years-long effort to re-imagine the complex.

"We do see this as one of Delaware's gems," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, at a conference on public health. "What can we do to enable the public to have access and see this gem?"

The 750-acre facility, just outside Millsboro near Sussex Central High School, is one of the largest parcels of state-owned land in Delaware outside of its state parks.

In 2009, there were 84 adults at Stockley; today, there are 61 full-time residents getting intensive care, with some more residents in a group home on the property, said executive director Adele Wemlinger.

Read more

Read the Report and Recommendations of the Stockley Initiative Task Force


2014 Jordy Engels Award Recipients Announced

May 7, 2014 - VOR joins with our Florida affiliate, DSI [Developmental Service Institutions] Supporters, Inc.; Ed and Virginia Carraway, VOR Florida State Coordinators; and David and Leni Engels, long-time VOR members, in proudly announcing the recipients of the annual 2014 Jordy Engels Award:

   Mike Fasano

   Greg Giordano

   John Stokesberry

Warm congratulations Mr. Fasano, Mr. Giordano, and Mr. Stokesberry, and sincere gratitude for their many contributions to the field of intellectual disabilities and advocacy. 

Viola Foster, President, DSI Supporters, Inc. http://www.dsisupporters.org/ 

VOR, Speaking out for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Ed and Virginia Carraway, VOR State Coordinators; Government Affairs & Legislative Liaison, DSI Supporters, Inc. 

David and Leni Engels, VOR Members and Communications Advisor, DSI Supporters, Inc. 

2014 Jordy Engels Award Recipients Biographies

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