An organization which tries to break down barriers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Several hundred people gathered Friday night at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center to mark the accomplishments of Lifetime Assistance and the staff and partners of that organization which began four decades ago in the Brockport area.
CEO Jamie Branciforte says Lifetime Assistance has expanded in the kinds of housing, employment and other services it provides to people all over the Rochester area.
“Really, it’s all about providing person-centered services and including people with disabilities in our home communities, our friends, our neighbors, our family members,” Branciforte told WXXI News.
The 40th anniversary program honored Donna Lowry, one of the founders of Lifetime Assistance as well as philanthropist Tom Golisano, whose foundation has supported the organization.
Ann Costello is executive director for the Golisano Foundation and praised the kind of impact Lifetime Assistance has had.
“They’re known as a leader in the field, they’re a little bit of a maverick in that they don’t necessarily accept the status quo and they’re always trying to push for the best for the people that they serve, those with intellectual disabilities.”
Lowry says that she and her husband and other parents started the organization 40 years ago because they were having difficulty finding services like sheltered workshops for their children when they graduated from school and were looking for employment.
“We had other, younger people in our community, who, as they aged out of the education system weren’t going to be able to afford it either, and that included me.”
Costello, Branciforte and others at the event say they all realize there is still much work to be done to promote inclusion for people with disabilities, but they do feel there has been much progress during that 40 year span.
This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.