Disabilities advocate collecting 10k emails to end staffing crisis pandemic

(WIVB) – A local activist is leading a statewide effort to send 10,000 emails to Governor Kathy Hochul to improve the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities.

BJ Stasio is a man on a mission. He says that services for people with disabilities are reaching a crisis.

He is the president of a statewide group promoting self-advocacy for people with physical and intellectual challenges.

Their independence has declined steadily over the last 10 years, and now they plan to “Rise up together.”

Activists say state funding for the office for people with developmental disabilities has remained flat, or neutral over the last 10 years, making it nearly impossible to hire and retain direct support professionals and related services.

It is a challenge to the independence of folks like Stasio.

He told lawmakers in Albany last month, that those direct care professionals are working long hours, which for many of them is just too much – leaving group homes understaffed or forced to close.

Max Donatelli’s son lives in a group home which is grossly understaffed, but due to the nature of the home’s certification, parents or other caregivers can fill in.

“We worked 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., provided dinner, that the staff normally would be doing,” Donatelli said.

Now that Stasio has gained the ear of state lawmakers, he wants to get the attention of Governor Hochul with 10,000 emails and 10,000 stories. He wants to get those emails in before December, so he can personally deliver them to Governor Hochul.

If you have a story to share about services for people with disabilities, you can find the link to “Rise up together” here.

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