Colorado: VOR to Present on Rights of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and their Families

For Immediate Release:
September 5, 2014
For More Information:
Julie Huso, Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
ARVADA – Julie Huso, a national advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will give a free presentation on the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families at the Jefferson County Public Library at 7525 W. 57th Avenue in Arvada, Colorado at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. The public is welcome to attend.

Huso has served as the Executive Director of VOR, a national nonprofit advocacy organization for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for over five years. She has been involved in disability advocacy for more than 25 years.

Save our Regional Centers, a coalition of concerned families and advocates and an affiliate of VOR, is hosting the presentation. Wheat Ridge, Pueblo, and Grand Junction Regional Centers are state-operated licensed facility homes to about 250 of Colorado’s most profound disabled citizens.

A new law creates a Task Force to study and review the operations of the three centers and will consider whether any should be closed. Families of regional center residents are concerned about future closings, a trend facing other states.

“To families, the threat of closure is obvious,” said Ellen Laurence, who heads up the Save our Regional Centers coalition, is a member of the Task Force, and also serves as VOR’s Colorado State Coordinator. “Although the State has not decided whether or not to close our family members’ homes, they are studying the issue.”

VOR's Julie Huso Represents VOR at South Dakota Developmental Center’s Annual Celebration

For Immediate Release
September 3, 2014
REDFIELD - Julie Huso, Executive Director of VOR, a national organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will attend the South Dakota Developmental Center’s annual Fall Festival celebration later this week in Redfield, South Dakota.

VOR advocates for high quality care and human rights for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) across the country. The South Dakota Developmental Center provides individualized treatment services and supports to people with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviors when these necessary services are not available in other settings.

Huso, who has served as VOR’s Executive Director for more than five years and has worked as a disability advocate for more than 25 years, will speak with families and staff about national issues impacting the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and spend the day enjoying the celebration.

“The South Dakota Developmental Center such a well-run and a beautiful home for its residents. It is a gem that South Dakota citizens should be very proud of,” said Huso. “South Dakota’s support for the center is a bright spot so unlike the service and funding challenges facing many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the country.”

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.

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


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 ( 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!


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. 

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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