One Thousand Rallied Virtually to Save our Services

S.O.S. – Save our Services was the war cry from one thousand Self-Advocates, families, friends and other stakeholders in the community of disability services who rallied virtually on Thursday, December 9, 2020 to ask legislators in Albany to be advocates, and to ask Governor Cuomo to be our hero and fully fund services. Members of the state legislature and the Governor were invited to hear from Self-Advocates, DSPs, Families and legislators – some with loved ones who receive services. All present to share how years of cuts, under funding and COVID has severely impacted services for individuals. Assembly Member Missy Miller who is a parent of a child with special needs spoke of the need for the Governor to reconsider cuts to the field of disability services stating the one thousand participants gathered for the virtual rally indicates how important this is to so many people across the state.

Year after year provider agencies and DSPs have committedly and creatively provided services with less and they are stretched to the limit. Assembly Member Miller said, “the Governor, OPWDD, OMH – they need to step up and accommodate us – fund the programs and services that keep our loved ones happy, safe and independent as possible. Make us a priority…”. Sen. Roxanne Persaud said, “Every year we’re fighting – social service funds are the first on the chopping block.” As reported in the Brooklyn Paper, these types of services have seen a multitude of cuts over the past decade that threaten to further devastate services and the field. The rally, moderated by Barb DeLong of the DDAWNY Family Committee, was the coalescing of groups of family members, Self-Advocates, and friends from around the state. Speakers included Assembly Members Aileen Gunther, Mary Beth Walsh, Michael Cusick, Angelo Santabarbara, Jim Gaughran; Senators Tim Kennedy, Gustavo Rivera and other advocates who addressed the work of DSPs, residential services, waiver cuts, the 20 percent withhold and self-direction. Self-Advocate Danielle Lazarra surrounded virtually by a sea of SOS Save our Services signs stated, “Please don’t cut our services because a little goes a long way”. To view the rally in its entirety on YouTube, click here.