Original article from WNYT News Channel 13:

Families of people with disabilities in group homes and day habilitation programs are calling on the state to allow visitation and programming to resume as other businesses and school programs have been given the green light.

It's a story NewsChannel 13 has been covering.

Several lawmakers and families joined in a virtual conference on Monday, urging the governor to take action.

These families say enough is enough. They are tired of the standard response that they are working on it.

They feel the state has forgotten the disabled population and with each passing day, the damage being done continues to get worse.

The Zoom meeting was led by Assmblymember Melissa Miller of Nassau County. Joining in from our area was Assemblymember Mary Beth Walsh and Mary Ann Allen, who is the director of the Wildwood Programs in and around Schenectady. Both have adult children with developmental disabilities.

Last week, NewsChannel 13 met with a family in Ballston Spa who said their daughter has been regressing without the needed supports and routines her dayhab program offers.

At the time, NewsChannel 13 reached out to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and we were told they're working on the reopening vision for the programs and what visitation to group homes might look like.

A week later that same family said a call from OPWDD gave them the same response - we're working on it. Every person in the Zoom call said they've been told the same thing. Now they are demanding a better response, saying a timeline must be laid out, and they want to know some specifics.

Read the full article and watch the videos, interviews by clicking here. 

By Rebecca Shurtleff

Earlier this spring, the Wildwood Foundation branched out with a new event: Trivia Night. The fundraiser was held in mid-March at Fort Orange Brewing in downtown Albany, and ended up being highly successful in both the fundraising and community outreach aspects. 

Only a couple weeks later, we all found ourselves staying safe at home in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. Enter Virtual Trivia Night.  Much like its precursor, Virtual Trivia Night was created as an attempt to bring people together. This time, however, it all had to be done online.

By Angela Tobin, Executive Director of Bus Stop Club

Bus Stop Club was created by Dr. Brian Sheridan, a pediatrician from Schoolhouse Road Pediatrics located in Guilderland. There was a need for an expansion in the definition of “family” when striving to provide a comprehensive care program - one that ensures each and every member of the family remains healthy and well adjusted.  Dr. Sheridan recognized that in the shuffle and chaos of caring for a child with a chronic illness or disability, the significance of the impact on the siblings in the family is too often overlooked. Bus Stop Club provides support and family memories through encouragement for the siblings of children with serious illness or developmental, physical, or intellectual disabilities. Our vision is to ensure that our siblings have the ability to feel understood, valued, and connected to each other and the community. Monthly meetings provide support to participants 5-15 years old at 10 different locations in the capital district, and recently monthly meetings have been added to  provide services on site at the Wildwood location in Latham, New York.

By Michelle A. Brown

We each have our own personal daily rhythm, which is a source of comfort and enjoyment to us. During the last several months, due to our state’s stay-at-home advisory and social distancing orders, we have experienced disruption in our routines and decreased face-to -face contact with family, friends, and neighbors. Consequently, we may sense a loss of interpersonal connection and feel isolated and lonely. It is helpful and reassuring to recognize that these losses are merely perceived. Our communities are still intact, just temporarily unable to assemble in their usual places. All our friends and loved ones are there for us, as always, and they need us as much as we need them. It is important to remember the organizations we enjoy are still there too.  In fact, they are reaching out to connect with us through websites, e-mails, and apps, among other things. Like them, we can develop creative new ways to reach out and connect with people and communities that are important to us.

By Maggie Pascucci

Jessica Velazquez came to work for Wildwood as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in the Without Walls Program (WOW) in October 2018. Growing up in a family with a grandmother who was the manager of a Living Resources community residence, Jessica’s connection to people with disabilities began early in her life. The experience of visiting the people in the house where her grandma worked normalized disability for her, and from a young age she viewed disability as just another facet of life.


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