Groups from the Day Community Opportunities Program (DCOP) and the College Experience Program were on a mission when they arrived at the State Capitol in Albany on February 7. They had gift bags full of sweet Valentine’s Day candy and a message to send to New York’s Senators and Assemblymembers.

The message was simple: Make meaningful investments in the programs that support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). Along with the candy, groups had cards, decorated in artwork by individuals supported by other Living Resources programs. The cards read: “Share the Love with the I/DD Community this Valentine’s Day” along with bullets and hashtags, listing top priorities for the final version of the Fiscal Year 2025 state budget.

Chief among those priorities are a 3.2 percent Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) and a Direct Support Wage Enhancement. This added funding would help Living Resources and organizations like it keep up with inflation, keep programs operating at their most effective level, and pay Direct Support Professionals better wages.

Groups methodically made their way, door-by-door, through the Legislative Office Building. If a lawmaker or one of their staffers was available, individuals would hand-deliver the cards and candy, taking time to personally advocate for why they feel added funding is so critical. They were met with smiles, handshakes, and many assurances that their voices were being heard.

At the end of the effort, groups were feeling tired from all of the walking and talking, but happy that they could experience the excitement of government in action and meet some of the legislators who shape the financial future of our state and our programs!

To read about how DCOP, our Arts Program, and Brain Injury Program came together on preparations for this trip to the Capitol, click here: https://www.livingresources.org/coming-together-to-prepare-a-vital-valentines-day-message/