The forum will address Governer Andrew Cuomo’s decision to halt new admissions into sheltered work centers, including The ARC’s Hilltop Industries program, with a long-term intent to completely eliminate sheltered workshops from New York State. Were the plant to close, 350 people with serious disabilities would lose their jobs to a misguided attempt to integrate them into the larger community.
“You have here a motivated workforce that is very devoted to their work,” said Jeff Thomas, Public Relations Director for the ARC of Livingston-Wyoming. “The goal on the state level is integration, but it’s unreasonable to expect employers to hire workers with disabilities over those without.”
ARC sheltered workshops like Hilltop provide 900 disabled New Yorkers not only with jobs, but an important sense of community and means of socialization. Were the facilities to close, many affected families believe that their loved ones would lose critical job opportunities.
“As a parent of a vibrant young man with a disability, I fully support the notion of integration,” said Karen Duboy, parent to a worker at Hilltop, “but I also support choice. To close work centers would eliminate a viable employment choice for my son and his peers across this great state.”
Last year’s Family Forum was attended by more than 200 people. The ARC appreciates the community’s dedication and encourages anyone interested to stop by tomorrow to show their support. The ARC also encourages community members to contact state legislators and share their insights about the consequences of closing Hilltop Industries.