The following speech was presented by Soheila Razban, Abilities United Vice President of Programs, at the San Andreas Regional Centers 22nd Annual Legislative Breakfast on May 11

Honorable Senators and Assemblymen, legislators, city officials, and ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the people we serve, their families, and all services providers I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you very briefly about a critical crisis that we are facing today.

I firmly believe (as I am sure you all do) in the fundamental principle that disability is a natural part of the human experience. It should not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to have a job, to work, to vote, and to fully participate and contribute to their communities.

For the past 18 years, tirelessly, and to the best of my abilities, I have supported this mission by serving, supporting, and advocating for people who live with developmental disabilities.

I work at Abilities United, in Palo Alto. In 1963, after President John F. Kennedy signed the Bill of Rights Act, Abilities United started to provide the first line of support toward people with developmental disabilities. At the time, they faced exclusion from many areas of public and private life that we all take for granted.

Today, I am pleased to inform you that Abilities United is a strong agency providing 15 different services from birth to senior age.

In addition to these services, we also provide parental education and family support services, participate in various advocacy activities and community events, and regularly produce national award-winning TV programs for public awareness. I would like to thank supervisor Joe Simitian in the audience for being our guest twice.

Today, we at Abilities United, like many other similar service providers in the Bay Area and the state of California, are proud of our role and our accomplishments in making our fundamental vision to become a reality.

Of course, to make this happen was not easy for us. Given our limited resources, insufficient regional centers rates, and the skyrocketing costs of living and conducting business in the Bay Area, we had to find creative ways and innovative services to ensure the continuity of our critical services. We made many personal sacrifices to meet the growing needs of the people we serve and their families.

However, our programs are facing a very difficult time. It is very worrisome for us.  We providers are financially struggling to keep our vital services for the people that need us the most that California has promised to serve. We really need your support more than ever.

Therefore, I am here today to urge you to support Assemblyman Holden’s proposal of $25M bridge funding for the Department of Development Services to address the extraordinary increases in operating costs in California. These increases include labor, housing, renting, and many other expenses.

On behalf of all service providers, I would like to thank you for your support.

Soheila Razban, Vice President of Programs

p.s. You can take action to ensure people with developmental disabilities receive the services that are so vital to their daily lives!  Simple fax, email, or mail this letter to the Budget Committee members in support of Assemblymember Holden’s $25 million bridge funding for DDS. The letters and emails or faxes can be sent directly to the Budget Committee members addresses, individually, or they can be sent all in one envelope with 4 copies to Mr. Holden’s office to be distributed to the four budget committee members.


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