FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARСH 5, 2020 • BUZZ • THE QUEENS COURIER 63
New York Times reporter
recently reported that
small Willowbrooks can emerge
in every neighborhood group
home for people with disabilities.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has
slashed the budget providing
funding to those group homes,
which are mostly run by nonprofi
t groups. He has cut funding
to the bone; there is no fl esh
left . Now, there is a staff shortage
that is shockingly negatively
impacting the care of our most
Life’s WORC, the organization
I founded in 1971, is operating
more than 45 group homes
and is desperate for appropriate
funding to staff the group
homes to the needs of the people
living there. Perhaps we now
need to revive the life-changing
Willowbrook Consent decree
signed by Gov. Hugh Carey in
My daughter, Lara Schneps,
a resident in the baby buildings
at Willowbrook, was a plaintiff
in the Willowbrook case fi led
in 1972 and then upon its success,
lived in a group home run
by the organization I founded.
Murray, her father, was appointed
by the courts in 1975 to be
on the Willowbrook Consent
Decree Review Panel.
I’ve lived through the scandal
created by Gov. Rockefeller’s
cruel cuts to funds for the now
Sadly we are reliving history.
Gov. Cuomo must listen. His legacy
cannot be the abuse of people
who have suff ered enough.
Th e federal court ordered that
the Willowbrook class members
were to receive “high-quality
services for the rest of their
I invite Gov. Cuomo to visit
one of the infamous group
homes in Manhattan that Life’s
WORC took over from the state.
When I visited there a few weeks
aft er we took over the management
of the home, I was horrifi
ed at what I saw.
It was similar to Willowbrook,
with people poorly dressed and
some half-naked. Th ose who
needed wheelchairs were in
chairs that were ill-fi t for them.
Th ere was no safe way to exit
from the multiple fl oors if there
was a fi re. Th ere was no bathroom
fi tted for wheelchairs. Not
one bedroom had a trace of personalized
items; the rooms were
cold and stark.
Th e Life’s WORC team fought
for and got funds to make it the
safe, nurturing home it is now.
Th e group home is a place
of dignity, safety and nurturing
for the people who live there.
But to ensure their safety, all
the funding for those homes
must be restored. Salaries must
be appropriate for the trained
staff . Now they are the same as
a McDonald’s employee, because
of funding cuts.
“Gov. Cuomo, are you willing
to have small warehouses
for people with developmental
disabilities and autism be your
Each individual has a “constitutional
right to protection from
harm,” according to the Consent
Decree. I ask all advocates for people
with disabilities and autism to
cry out! Speak up now to the governor
with letters and phone calls,
before it’s too late.
Th e state budgets are being
formulated now! We must be
heard. It takes so little to accomplish
so much. Show you care
and call the governor’s offi ce at
tweet me @vschneps
Time to act!
This can happen in your neighborhood. Photo by Eric Aerts as seen in Life
The power is in our hands
Living on Long Island, my
power is provided by PSEG
and we use a lot of it! But
on Th ursday night, there was a
diff erent kind of power. It was
the people who gathered together,
overfl owing the ballroom to
side rooms at Th e Carltun in
Eisenhower Park, selected to the
“Power List” of our media outlet
the Long Island Press and boy
did they shine!
I was thrilled to have the
most powerful man in
the region’s health world,
Michael Dowling, CEO
of Northwell Health,
be our keynote speaker. His
infl uential voice pleaded with
his fellow infl uencers — the
power listers — to use their
voices to make changes in our
society. He implored then that
they can make a diff erence.
He touched my heart by
talking about gun violence
as being a health issue, as it
He got a well-deserved standing
ovation with his calls for
Just a few days later I attended
the Women for Tom Suozzi
breakfast at the Chateau
Magazine on February 4, 1972
Briand Caterers in Carle Place.
Th e congressman running for
re-election spoke to the packed
ballroom and had a supporter
Linda Beigel Schulman speak
on gun violence.
Linda’s son, Scott J. Biegel,
was a 35-year-old teacher killed
in the Parkland, Florida, murders.
She has shown courage by
becoming a staunch advocate
for meaningful gun safety legislation
on the state and federal
levels. Tom sponsored legislation
HR8, HR717 for strong
gun safety laws.
Here is another chance to be
heard to support legislation on
the federal level.
What’s great about our country
is that each of us can be
counted. From speaking out
against cuts in the budgets, to
serve people with disabilities, to
gun violence to our schools and
the environment, we can make
a diff erence.
Voting for Queens Borough
President is March 24 — early
voting starts March 12 — followed
by the congressional,
assembly, state senate and
presidential primary votes on
April 28. It’s time to be counted.
Make a diff erence. Call
your political representatives.
Vote. It only takes minutes to
do and can make a diff erence
in all our lives.
Tom Suozzi with gun violence advocate Linda Beigel
Schulman, who spoke about the death of her son, a
teacher who was killed in the Parkland massacre.
Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health