Big Changes Ahead For JRC

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Times are changing. That's the message Jefferson Rehabilitation Center in Watertown is sending when it comes to disability services.

JRC officials discussed the upcoming changes at a community meeting Wednesday night at Jefferson Community College.

With big budget cuts, no new disabled workers are being hired on at its manufacturing center, Production Unlimited.

"The issue with the workshop is that it's a segregated environment from the perspective of the federal government," JRC executive director Howard Ganter said.

"They want it to be more integrated," he said. "Currently, our facility has 7 percent people without disabilities and 93 percent people with disabilities.

As for the 68 workers already there, the state of New York is pushing to move them into the community. That could mean employment or volunteering.

That's cause for concern for Barbara Williams. Her 41 year old daughter works at Production Unlimited. She has Down's syndrome and is legally blind.

"She has been out in the community before and because of her eyesight, it hasn't really worked out," Williams said.

"So I'm really concerned with the funding now, whether she will be able to continue at the PU," she said. "That's my biggest concern right now."

Some say the change could be a step in the right direction.

Sandy Petrillose, JRC's coordinator of community-based employment, says, "the goal here is to have people with disabilities have the best life possible in an integrated setting -- making their own choices and decisions, and this is what we're moving toward." 
Saturday, November 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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