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Michael and Elwyn

My brother Michael is 52 years old and has Down Syndrome. Michael is the youngest of six children and is, by far, the heart of our family. Since our parents’ passing, Michael has lived with me during the week and is “shared” by his other siblings on the weekends. I say share because everyone wants Michael at their home. Michael attended school at Meadowood and spent his “work” life at sheltered workshops. He worked at a couple of workshops, but found his true “home” at Elwyn. Michael truly enjoys working at Elwyn. He has become friends with so many of the other employees. The staff have become family to Michael. While Michael has worked at Elwyn, he has had numerous health issues and a few operations. The staff have been very caring and nuturing to Michael. When we lost our parents, Elwyn employees nurtured him and helped him through his grief.

Michael has been extremely happy working at Elwyn. He enjoys his work and is very proud to receive his paycheck. It does not matter to him if the paycheck is $1 or $10.
He feels a great sense of accomplishment on payday. I pick Michael up from work and I see the other employees coming out of work with paychecks and million dollar smiles.

One of our great joys, my brothers and sister and I, is knowing that Michael is in a safe, nurturing environment doing a job that makes him feel good about himself. He is with other people with disabilities — and that is not a crime. He is others that undertand him and love him. This is his life.

The thought that the government is looking at closing workshops is infuriating. They will tell you that they are not closing workshops. But they are and will close them. They will make them into places that train people with disabilites to go out into the community to work. What happens to people like my brother who is too old to go out into the cummunity. Well …. he’ll go into day rehab with no paycheck.

The government is making this into a “one size fits all” situtaion. Some people with disabilities can work in the community (where are the jobs anyway?), but others cannot. There will always be a need for sheltered workshops. If the government gets rid of the workshops, it will be disasterous for many of our loved ones with disabilities.

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