Liberty to host rally

AMSTERDAM — With the goal to ensure the 2019 state budget provides salary funding for Direct Support Professionals working in the industry, Liberty ARC will host a #BFair2DirectCare rally to advocate for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support.

The rally will be held on Monday at the Riverfront Center in Amsterdam at 1 p.m. Those who plan on attending should enter through the doors near the intersection of Washington Street, Liberty Street and East Main Street.

Speakers of the rally will be Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort, Liberty ARC CEO Jennifer Saunders, Schenectady ARC Executive Director Kirk Lewis and Liberty ARC and Schenectady ARC DSPs to speak.

Liberty ARC, along with its state agency, The Arc New York, statewide sister agencies and the #BFair2DirectCare coalition is dedicated to fighting for a commitment of years2019-2020 of a living wage funding in the state budget. Liberty ARC will be joined by local legislators and fellow agencies, who support this rate increase, in asking the governor for his support.

The campaign #BFair2DirectCare is a statewide advocacy campaign aimed at advocating for DSPs.

“DSPs are the frontline staff who make up a majority of the work force her at liberty,” Said Sharon Holbrook-Ryan, director of public relations and development.“DSPs carry out large and important responsibilities to support and care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who we give services and programs to here at Liberty.”

Minimum wage was recently set at $11.10, however, Liberty was fortunate to be able to offer anyone entering the position a rate of $13.50.

Holbrook-Ryan said they depend on state funding such as stabilization funding which Cuomo announced he has not put that funding into the 2019 state budget.

“It’s critical that the governor restore the funding,” Holbrook-Ryan said.

She said there are also competing organizations who offer higher wages and due to that there has been critical staffing shortage.

“It’s not fair to the individuals we support,” Holbrook-Ryan said.

She said it would be nice to have continuing support on the state level.

Holbrook-Ryan said she hopes whoever attends the rally on Monday gains awareness of the situation.

“DSPs have an important responsibility and go through a lot of training,” Holbrook-Ryan said. “They deserve this.”

By Josh Bovee

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