March was Developmental Disabilities Month and April was Autism Month. WCI made several visits to the State House celebrating the services of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and people with Autism. This is also the time of year that the Legislature votes on the Budget.
It started actually on January 24th at the annual ADDP Luncheon where we celebrated Representative Jeffrey Roy and Senator Jennifer Flanagan receiving the ADDP Legislator of the Year awards. We had a photo op with the Commissioner with Manny, Aida, Nathan and Robin. Then we visited Rep Thomas Stanley’s office, Rep Jonathan Hecht and Senator Barrett’s office. We discussed the FY’18 ADDP Budget Ask in hopes of gaining their support for the DDS Budget.
Next, on February 23rd Aditya K. and Paul G., along with Greg Chludzinsi, Employment Manager and Ruth Harutunian, WCI Board Member and relative of an Individual supported by WCI, went to the State House to the ADDP event to “Thank our House and Senate” for their support of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We gave each of our Senators and Reps and 17 others a Coffee Mug with an emblem of the State House and candy in it as a sweet treat and thank you for their support. We first met with Senator Brownsberger specifically from our area and many other Reps and Senators or their Aides. We also circulated the ADDP Budget Ask which included Employment and Day Services, Residential Supports, Autism and Family Support. We have some great photos as you can see.
On March 16, Nancy Silver Hargreaves, CEO, went to the State House for the DDS Recognition event celebrating Developmental Disabilities Month. Many awards were given to people who had shown great accomplishments to share. One in particular was Amanda Chalmers, who was the Northeast Regional Director for over 35 years. Congratulations Mandy!
On March 27th, our third visit to the State House was for the DD Council and The ARC of Massachusetts event. This event recognized Representative Jim O’Day and Senator Jason Lewis. It was also a time to advocate for the services of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We then visited Representative Thomas Stanley’s and Senator Michael Barrett’s office and spoke to their aides. See wonderful photos of our WCI folks who attended the event.
The final event that we attended was on April 25 for “The Caring Force.” The Provider’s
Council’s Caring Force held a rally to recognize the hard and important work of Direct Support Professionals. There are three bills that have been used to address the well-known problem.
- Provide wages to community workers that match and bridge the gap between them and State employees;
- Provide reimbursement to DSPs for educational loans; and
- Provide the GIC Health Insurance to community workers through community providers.
Both Representative Thomas Stanley’s Aide and Senator Michael Barrett’s Aides listened to reasons why this is so important to our workforce which is at risk given staffing shortages occurring over the next 10 years and low wages which cause community workers to manage two to three jobs to make ends meet.
It is so important to thank our legislators and to advocate for people with intellectual disabilities, autism and the workforce who supports them!
Nancy Silver Hargreaves, President & CEO