May 15th marks the 35th Anniversary Spring Gala in support of Independent Group Home Living (IGHL) and it represents the agency’s most important fundraising event of the year. Once again held on the beautiful grounds of the Flowerfield catering facility in St. James, it is a must attend event for anyone interested in supporting the developmentally disabled.
IGHL is the standard by which all service providers to people with developmental disabilities are measured. Founded shortly after the 1972 Geraldo Rivera exposé that revealed the horrific conditions and mistreatment of developmentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School, IGHL was founded by a group of concerned Long Islanders with Walter Stockton as its Executive Director. In fact, its first six clients were indeed victims of Willowbrook.
The role that IGHL plays in the lives of developmentally disabled people and their families on Long Island is profound to say the least. IGHL is presently servicing about five thousand people with 47 group homes and 13 day programs, a nursing home, the Flower Barn, and a school. IGHL was the first agency in the country to create barrier free residence for the physically handicapped and medical frail residences for those with long term extreme medical needs. IGHL fosters independence and self-reliance while providing the pinnacle of care and support for the developmentally disabled in communities across Long Island.
Support for this non-profit agency is more vital than ever as funding at the federal and state levels have been cut dramatically. As IGHL Executive Director Walter Stockton explained, “It is a constant battle, the support is changing. It is changing away from the different programs we offered in the past. The support is away from residential setting, the support is away from organized day programs. They want people to be employed and live at home with their families as long as they can until it becomes an emergency situation. That is all well and good for some developmentally disabled people, but it is not for the bulk of the people we deal with.”
Essentially, the new paradigm for care is cheaper and therefore perceived by governmental powers that fund agencies like IGHL as better. As Stockton stated, “This is the first time in 35 years that we do not have two or three new residences on the drawing board.” Asked if he could wish one thing for IGHL what it would be, “A steady stream of funding that would allow us to meet the needs of people who are not having their needs met. All the people that have been promised things that now because of the change in the economy and funding, exactly what they were promised may not be forthcoming.” Stockton noted that what is most important now is “… community support on the grassroots levels. Support for events like the Spring Gala.”
This year the IGHL Spring Gala will honor Lon Dolber, the President and CIO of American Portfolios and once again long time IGHL supporter, WFAN, WPBB and Hamptons.com sports commentator Ann Liguori will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. This year’s gala will be particularly spectacular as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and legendary guitarist singer/songwriter Dave Mason and his band returns to provide the evening’s entertainment.
IGHL, dedicated to the dignity and empowerment of the developmentally disabled, needs your support more than ever and attending the 35th Anniversary Spring Gala is a great way to show you care and have a lot of fun in the process, all for only a $100 donation. Call 631-878-8900 for more information and to make a reservation.