Message from AHRC New York City’s Board President, Raymond Ferrigno

February, 15, 2022

Dear Membership,

As we leave 2021 behind, I am taking this opportunity to reach out to you to thank you for putting your trust in AHRC NYC, and for being a vital part of our “family.” Recognizing the strains these past two years have put on families, caregivers, people with I/DD, our organization and workforce, I assure you that we are working tirelessly to address needs created by the COVID pandemic.

I am proud that over the last two years AHRC NYC continued supporting people and families in all our program areas. With safety as a top concern, our committed staff pivoted to working remotely in some areas, providing in-person services in others and a hybrid model in yet others. Currently, we are getting all our programs running at their pre-pandemic level. Needless to say, there is still much to do but we will do it.

The world has changed and we at AHRC NYC have reflected on who we are and where we want to go as we emerge from this crisis. We have developed a strategic plan we are about to launch, as well as a branding initiative comprising a new look and focus on advocacy. AHRC NYC has always been driven by the desire of parents to improve the lives of their children and transforming how society views people who are different. We have succeeded in being a leader in accomplishing this throughout our 72-year history. As we shape the future we will forge ahead with these efforts as our continued primary mission.

Over the last decade, the failure of government to recognize the needs of our field has created a critical situation. But we have entered a new year with strong partners in government who are committed to public service and see themselves as more than just bureaucrats. It is the first time in the last 10 years that I feel optimistic that our community might have a genuine partner in government again as we did in prior decades.

Recently it was refreshing to hear the new Commissioner of OPWDD and Director of Medicaid Services, make specific commitments to our field. Governor Hochul also voiced sincere interest in addressing the current workforce crisis and the challenges we face. Additionally, we have great champions in the New York State legislature who understand the experience and concerns of parents, because they walk in our shoes as parents. They acknowledge that the deterioration of government support over the past decade will not be fixed overnight but must be fixed. While optimistic we must remain vigilant guardians, consistently giving voice to our cause, never slipping into complacency.

AHRC NYC is vast with many services and facilities in the five boroughs but to me, AHRC NYC is the people we serve, their families, and our committed workforce, all with their own perspectives, experiences, and cultural backgrounds. As the world has tried to grapple with questions of justice, that came to the fore in 2020, we have taken a renewed look at diversity, equity, and inclusion. These were foundational principles of the organization and remain so as we refocus in meaningful ways.

The lessons of the past should be a clarion call to families to pick up the mantle of the parents in the 1950s and 60s, who would not take “no” for an answer as they moved to transform the world for their children. We need your voice to be heard in the halls of government! This way, opportunities to improve the lives of your children can continue in ways the parents of bygone years could only dream.

Together, let us embrace one of the fundamental forces in the lives of all parents, hope. It has sustained and helped AHRC NYC grow for 72 years. A great source of hope is the stories of struggle and success from other families. Share your stories with us so they can shape and sustain us for the coming decades. AHRC NYC thrives on the hope that our children will know a world filled with dignity, equity, and access to opportunity that will transform them, and in turn transform the world we share.

Ray Ferrigno signature

Raymond Ferrigno
AHRC NYC Board President

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