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!

Most Recent Issue: VOR Weekly E-Mail Update, April 18, 2014

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


April is Autism Awareness Month: VOR Speaks Out About National Crisis: A Lack of Choice, Quality and True Person-Centered Care For The Disabled

For More Information
Julie Huso, Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Elk Grove Village, IL – April 15, 2015: Across the country, tens of thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are suffering due to lack of access to appropriate care and services.

The numbers representing present and future need are alarming. Almost all states have waitlists for accessing adult support services, with more than 280,000 individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, going without necessary care in 2013. Almost one million individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are still living with caregivers over the age of 60. In the next decade, over 800,000 on the autism spectrum will transition to adulthood.

So where do we go from 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


VOR's Michael Klurfeld To Participate at New York Family & Professional Resource Fair

For Immediate Release
December 4, 2013
For more information: Julie Huso, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
MANHATTAN - Michael Klurfeld, VOR’s New York State Coordinator, will represent the national organization at the Family & Professional Resource Fair, sponsored by the Manhattan Developmental Disabilities Council, on December 11, 2013.

VOR advocates for high quality care and human rights for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) across the country.

Klurfeld’s twin sister, Jessica, has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and like a substantial percentage of the ASD population, Jessica has some challenging behaviors.

“Because of her behaviors, Jessica has lived in New York State-approved out-of-state residential schools for the past ten years,” explained Klurfeld. 

Although Jessica is now 24 and is supposed to be moved back to an age-appropriate placement in New York, she remains at her school in New Hampshire until an alternative in her home state becomes available.

Read full 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

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