Kathrine Hamann, the Director of our Family Transition Program, and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in the Capitol meeting with Legislators and members of the media. We were sharing our message that everyone can bebefit greatly from community living. Kathrine’s sister is an example of a successful transition to community. Kathrine’s sister had lived for 63 years in state institutions and now lives a very pleasent life in a community setting. Our efforts in the Capitol were fruitful. Kathrine then headed home and I hit the road, my destination, Jacksonville and the third public hearing on the closure of the state institution.As I got closer to the hearing, more and more signs lined the road: Save JDC.
Advocates staged a press conference to support the closing of JDC and supporting the Governor’s Rebalancing Initative.
Those speaking were: Cheryl Jansen, Equip for Equality; Joe Porter Jr., former resident of Howe; Joe Bishop, former resident of JDC and me.
We then moved into the hearing . I was surprised by the small crowd. I estimated it to be about 300 or less, about half the size of the crowd the last time we were in Jacksonville. These hearings are extremely emotional with far to many stories about how disabled “these” people are and the institution is the only option. I was very uncomfortable when they paraded the residents of JDC at the hearing. Michael Gelder, Mark Doyle, Director Casey and Director Romano all did a fine job defending the balancing initative and the plan to close JDC.
Henry Bayer, AFSCME Director, called the Governor’s plan, “Dumping people in the community.”
About 75 legislators and citizens testified. Another long night .
COGFA will now consider the testimony given at these three hearings and vote to support or not to support the closing of JDC. The COGFA vote is advisory to the Governor.
The Arc supports closure and recommended that COGFA also support closure.
A vote is expected soon. The saga continues.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423