Lifespire Celebrates 60 Years of Advocacy & Services

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Lifespire, an organization focused on helping individuals with developmental disabilities become contributing members of their family and community will be celebrating 60 years of advocacy and services on June 8th as part of Lifespire’s Employee Recognition Luncheon.

Lifespire, an organization focused on helping individuals with developmental disabilities become contributing members of their family and community will be celebrating 60 years of advocacy and services on June 8th as part of Lifespire’s Employee Recognition Luncheon. Over the past 60 years Lifespire has grown to be one of the largest service providers for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, serving more than 4,500 individuals. Mark van Voorst, Lifespire’s President and CEO noted; “what better way to mark 60 years of service than to celebrate the occasion with the people that make it possible, our staff.” The luncheon will be held at Antun’s located 96-43 Springfield Boulevard – Queens Village, New York at 12:00 PM.

Lifespire, formerly known as Association for CRMD has grown from humble beginnings around the kitchen table of Ida Rappaport. Ida, a Bronx mother of a child with a developmental disability refused to accept the fact that government did not provide any services to children with mental retardation. Driven by sheer determination, she galvanized support from other parents, and began a campaign of advocacy which resulted with the Board of Ed creating CRMD classes for children who had been denied an education. Community based services for people with developmental disabilities were unheard of in 1951. It is for that reason that the populations of institutions such as Willowbrook grew to many thousands of individuals confined to a life of being warehoused.

In many ways, the history of Lifespire has paralleled the development of the service delivery system in the State of New York. Today, Lifespire provides exceptional services designed to extend the dignity of employment to, and improve the quality of life, of the developmentally disadvantaged. Through an extensive array of programs, spanning the gamut from vocational and therapeutic assessment and case management, day habilitation, residential, clinic services, to job placement and supported employment, Lifespire currently provides services to many thousands of New Yorkers annually throughout the five boroughs and the greater metropolitan area.

“Reaching this milestone really allows us to reflect on who we are and where we have come from. Lifespire began in 1951 with an inspired group of parents of mentally retarded children in need of services for their children,” said van Voorst. “Over the years, we’ve truly come full circle. The organization started with children, then focused on adults, and now we’re refocusing on children. In 2007, we had the opportunity to acquire a preschool in the Bronx that serves primarily children with disabilities. It’s been a remarkable journey.”

For more information about Lifespire, its programs and those it serves, log onto http://www.lifespire.org.

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Ron Gold
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