State Representative Tony Hwang (R-134 Fairfield/Trumbull) hosted a forum to generate awareness for the Fairfield County regional services for people with disabilities that is provided by the Fairfield County Disability Resource Center (DRC).
Hwang and several regional leaders joined representatives from various support organizations that are essential to the work the DRC performs for residents who contend with varying disabilities.
“There is an excellent support network in place to assist people with disabilities in the fourteen-town service area of Fairfield County, extending from Greenwich all the way to Stratford,” said Rep. Hwang. “It is my intention through this forum and through other means to continue to generate awareness about the great services and programs that are available through DRC, as well as the excellent organizations that partner with DRC. Many residents who can benefit from these services don’t use them simply because they don’t know what is available to them, and I want to change that.”
The DRC is the area’s Independent Living Center, which works on issues of independence with individual consumers with disabilities and advocates for system-wide legislation to remove access barriers.
“We are a unique organization and act as a conduit between the services of the fourteen communities in the county and the DRS organization,” said Anthony LaCava, Executive Director of DRC. “We have an opportunity because of our unique placement to reach clients that other organizations can’t. We operate under the same premise we have since the 1920’s, which is that every person who wants to work, have a job, and support themselves, should be able to do so. We change expectations.”
The event was also attended by State Representative Laura Hoydick (R-120) of Stratford who has been a longtime supporter of the DRC. “These are essential services and the DRC has a tremendous network of dedicated staff that can produce life-changing and monumental assistance, forever changing the way someone dealing with a disability lives their life,” she said. “Increasing awareness about these programs is critical so we can reach all those who can benefit.”
Kathy Marchione, District Director of the Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services, Western Division, spoke about the connection between DRS and the DRC. “There are a number of great services and there is a significant local need for people who just aren’t going to manage to get up to Hartford to avail themselves of the services available to them,” she said. “That is where DRC comes in, and can reach those people we otherwise couldn’t connect with.”
“Individual disabilities have previously been viewed as being compartmentalized in various buckets,” said Marie Allen, Executive Director of the Southwest CT Area Agency on Aging on DRC services for senior citizens. “Now we look at similar needs for people with different disabilities and try to get one-stop shopping for those needs. Our goal is to find a way to get these people to live up to 100% of their potential ability.”
Representative Hwang was presented with DRC’s “Community Partner” Award for his outstanding efforts on promoting the work of DRC locally, and as a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and independent living in his work in the state legislature.
“Tony Hwang’s background, having been born in Taiwan, coming to the U.S. and working in his parents’ restaurant, and raising himself up to be the man he is demonstrates the sprit of DRC and puts him forth as a role model,” said LaCava. “Tony shows that if you only have the desire to excel, you can be anything you want.”