ARISE Visits Albany

Pictured here are from left to right Jon Michael Halsey, Rick Halsey, Sabine Ingerson, Melissa McNitt, Jessica LaPenna, Senator Aubertine and Kim VanPatten.

On February 1 staff and consumers from Oswego and Onondaga County offices of ARISE met with legislators to discuss the agenda prepared by the New York State Association for Independent Living Center. The Oswego delegation included Sabine Ingerson, Director of the Oswego County Offices, Kim VanPatten, Residential Habilitation coordinator, Melissa McNitt, Integration Specialist, Rick Halsey and his son, Jon Michael and Jessica LaPenna.

Senator Darrel Aubertine and his aides, Assemblyman Robert Oaks, Assemblyman Will Barclay and his staff, Assemblyman David Townsend’s staff and Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava met with the group to discuss issues important to individuals with disabilities and their service providers. Major issues were addressed, including the lack of accessible housing in our area. Legislators were asked to support legislation that would require state-funded housing to be made “visitable”, meaning a no-step entrance, a 36’wide front door and a bathroom on the first floor that would accommodate a wheelchair. Other topics were the importance of community based services, including consumer-directed personal assistance services, which allow their constituents to remain living in the community. The ARISE delegation asked to support legislation that would require a certain percentage of a company’s fleet of taxis, limos and shuttles would be made accessible. Accessible taxis are already in use in many of America’s large cities, allowing for much easier travel. The group was thankful for the opportunity to explain barriers encountered and to talk about solutions.

Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava invited the representatives from Oswego to the floor of the assembly, where they were introduced. For the delegation, especially for the consumers in the group, this was one of the highlights of the trip.

ARISE Child and Family Service, Inc. (ARISE) has been providing advocacy and services with, and on behalf of, individuals with disabilities for over 30 years. ARISE is an Independent Living Center: a non-profit, community-based organization run by and for people who have disabilities. A majority of our staff and board of directors are persons with disabilities. Each year, ARISE works with more than 3,000 people of all ages who have all types of disabilities, including physical, mental and emotional, cognitive, and sensory disabilities.

ARISE has offices in Onondaga, Oswego, and Madison Counties and operates ARISE at the Farm, a 76-acre recreational facility in Chittenango, NY. ARISE advocates to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected. Through more than 40 programs, we also offer services to individuals with disabilities, their families, and communities in Central New York. ARISE is a United Way Agency.