Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saving Rainier School...Huge Effort Underway

Today, the Senate Ways and Means Committee was packed with people who, this session, will decide the future of our state's premiere facility for the developmentally disabled. Under the threat of closure citizens rallied.

I had a one-on-one with W&M Committee Chair, Margarita Prentice, before the hearing. We have been friends for many years. She has a son and I have a grandson with autism.

In December I hosted a meeting in Buckley to bring the community together in an effort to promote Rainier School. Every year some entity tries to go after it for closure or for a juvenile correction center, etc.

Here are my friends from the Federation of State Employees. They were part of a huge group to defend the school which includes Mayor Pat Johnson from Buckley, Friends of Rainier (a parents group), legislators and local chamber members.

"I'm about to lose 1,000 highly skilled jobs," the mayor said. "Four hundred citizens of my community (Rainier residents) are about to lose their home."

Not all citizens who are developmentally disabled should be at Rainier. But, there should be an option... and there is a growing need for care and also respite care for the families of clients who commit to a lifetime to care giving.


gorillamum said...

This is some important. I just don't understand how they could even consider closing this school in the first place. Are we in Hitler Germany? Keep up the good work Senator. You are a true gift to this State.

starduster said...

Our brother has been in this home for over 30years. This is his HOME, his COMMUNITY. There IS no other similar place at this time that can guarantee his safety - we know we have searched reapeatedly to full fill a state requirement in his yearly care plan. We have always been fully involved in his care plan and a part of the "family" there. He lives in a house with several other people who have lived together for nearly 30 years... this is his family.

After one of the Friends of Rainier meeting where members of the ARC came to give their speil, mys ister and I took some of them to my brother's house and walked them through the complex. We showed them that people like my brother were NOT being represented by their group but were being drug along behind the movement and misreperesented by it. These people would NOT benefit by being pulled away from the only secure palce they have know and thrust into the VERY unstable "community homes" envisioned by this over bearing group. They are MENTALLY disabled with childlike mindsand needs and won't be able to be working in an office or other workplace where supervision is at best sporadic and subject to every bit of a budget problem as the state instutions are if not more so. These places close down repeatedly. Unless the state can ensure the EXACT same environment as there is now for them, there is no virtue in moving them anywhere else. They have family, their own space and jobs and purpose there.

My sisters and I have been to some of these homes, and found the staff very thin or lacking in the ability to handle the cases who reside at the Rainier "school". When we required a contract to assure the safety of our brother they balked and after meeting him they said they could not do so. One of the places we interviewed was recently burned down by an unsupervised client.

When you look at he statistics for Rainier you see that they are a very small portion of the mentally disabled poplulation...does that mean that they do not deserve consideration?? No, that means they are there because that is where they are best taken care of. As a family intricately involved in the care and management of our brother's life, we are aware of the value of this type of community. We don't feel that our brother and his "family" should be sacrificed for the agenda of the state budget or some over powering group that does not even reperesent this type of disability. Civil rights is an issue that goes both ways; how about humanitarian rights?

Also, let's remember that for the most part, the federal govenment pays for the care for most (if not ALL) of the "clients", there not the state. The state pays for the grounds amaintenance and the employees wages, it seems they could do that much.

I realize most people do not have family members in this situation and may not even be aware of what is at stake. Someone needs to speak up for these poeple and fortunately there are some of us who will do that.

The bulk of the people at Rainier were put into there by the state many, many years ago. This situation was put into motion by the system that is endangering it. If the state won't let these people live out their lives in security and with the expectation that they are taken care of we have let them down in a very inhumane way.

After all these years at the end of their lives they deserve to be more than a "budget problem". If the state wants to hand over the grounds for developers (which aren't going so well these days), they must create a similar environment to move these people to. There is no other option, to do other wise would be serving a death warrant to some of them.

This is another resurge of an old issue, we can only pray wiser heads will prevail.