Speaking From Experience

Mon, April 23, 2012

Edward Ciramella recently presented the following remarks at a Westchester Legislative Breakfast.

My name is Edward Ciaramella and I'm a resident in a YAI group home in Westchester County.

Eddie and Staff

I go out in the community to enjoy movies, sports events, and out to shows on the weekend. The residence is clean, the staff and residents are friendly and pleasant with one another. The staff are very conscientious. I feel that the residence is a real home, because I have a computer, TV and CD player and these are all things I enjoy.

We are all treated well, but differently, because we all have different needs and strengths. This helps us become more independent, and this is because we are given the freedom to do what we want and are able to do.

When it comes to quality, you could just go down the line. If you ask me about my medical care, it's excellent. My quality of life, excellent. My personal goals, excellent. Every service I get is excellent.

This is because whenever I ask the staff for help, they are prepared to help on whatever mission I wish to go on.

I moved to YAI about 10 years ago. Before that, I was living in a nursing home. The quality of care was OK, if I got sick, they'd take me to the hospital. But I have more independence to make important decisions now that I am at YAI. At the nursing home, I followed orders when it came to what to eat or what to do. I did not get to go out in the community. They had to take care of me, but I felt like it was my home. They didn't focus on helping me learn new skills.

At YAI, I have been given the opportunity to join the Westchester Self-Advocacy group, where we've learned about our rights and how to advocate. And it was all done with the assistance of staff, including Tracy Muhammad, the supervisor of our home, and Lisa Cornall, coordinator of the program.

On behalf of people with disabilities, I urge you to listen to our fears and concerns about future cuts to services. Cuts would limit the quality of my life. Personally, I find discussions about the budget very difficult to understand. So I am relying on you to make the budget clearer to everyone and hopefully you will support our way of life.