A Thanksgiving Message From Mary Reese
Thanksgiving is the time to count our blessings: family, home, security and comfort. We are thankful because soon our family will be celebrating the third anniversary of a proper home for our family member Ginger. That home is Holly Center in Salisbury, Maryland.
Ginger is my sweet and sassy 71 year old Ward who has been intellectually disabled since age 16. In one nightmare weekend of high fevers and multiple seizures, she went from being a joyful, talented, smart and social "bobby sox" teenager to a young woman with profound disabilities and ongoing medical needs.
After more than three decades of living in an Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ICF/IID), Ginger’s successful home was closed as a result of a court order to enforce Maryland’s “community only” policy. Ginger and her fellow residents were displaced without any assurance that the appropriate services would be in place for them in their new residential settings.
The results of the ICF home’s closing were tragic. Of the last 100 people to leave the ICF, one-third died within the first 18 months and many other former residents suffered neglect and injury. For Ginger’s father, it quickly became apparent that she was not receiving the consistent level of care she required in a community setting.
Her father and I petitioned the state to return her to residential care in an ICF/IID. VOR empowered us to continue this battle for 16 years by advising, supporting, informing us and finding the valuable talents of a highly respected law firm to represent Ginger pro bono. With VOR's expertise and the assistance of the law firm, we proved Ginger's case to the state. She was one of the very few individuals ever to be re-admitted after discharge from ICF/IID care in Maryland, and we have VOR to thank.
Since moving to Holly Center, Ginger’s quality of life has improved remarkably. Her seizures and infections have been dramatically reduced by the on site medical monitoring. She benefits from a diverse and stimulating social and work environment where she enjoys the affectionate company of many friends, neighbors and caregivers.
There is an old saying "God helps those who help themselves". We hold in our prayers all those seeking appropriate care for their family members and wards.
By joining and supporting VOR, you can truly make a difference in an individual’s life. You can help others like Ginger find the residential and work setting that is appropriate for their individual needs, facility-based or community-based.
Mary L. Reese
Legal Guardian for Virginia "Ginger" Massa