Remembering Willowbrook: AHRC Nassau Hosts OPWDD Exhibit Commemorating History and 25th Closure Anniversary

Dec 05, 2012, 08:00 ET from AHRC Nassau

EAST MEADOW, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This year marks the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Willowbrook Developmental Center and the beginning of a movement that enabled individuals with developmental disabilities to transition out of institutions and into community-based services. To commemorate the closing, as well as the 40th anniversary of Geraldo Rivera's national expose, the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has developed Remembering Willowbrook, a traveling exhibit that depicts the timeline and progression of service delivery from Willowbrook to the present day.

Remembering Willowbrook will be on display at AHRC Nassau's East Meadow Art Gallery, 196-98 East Meadow Avenue, East Meadow, from December 4 - December 14.

Overview of the History

In 1972, Geraldo Rivera, then a reporter for WABC-TV, conducted a series of investigations at the Staten Island facility uncovering a host of deplorable conditions.

The state began deinstitutionalization efforts in the late 1970s, and since then more than 6,200 community homes have been developed, and 13 institutions closed.

OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke said, "Since Willowbrook, our system, which includes a vast network of more than 700 nonprofit providers, has gone on to enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Today, we as a society can be very proud of the progress we have made. However, we must always remember how this journey began."

Members of the Nassau County community are invited to view the exhibit and reflect on changes in the way in which men and women with developmental disabilities are supported.

"We are proud to be a part of presenting this important exhibit to the Nassau County community" said Michael Mascari, AHRC Executive Director.  "The exhibit details the extraordinary achievements of a generation and imparts the strength  upon which individuals, families and providers can draw upon as we continue this extraordinary journey."

Opening Reception:
Friday, December 7, 2012
12:00 p.m.
AHRC's East Meadow Day Hab, 196-98 East Meadow Avenue, East Meadow, NY

Exhibit Duration:
December 4December 14, 2012
Weekdays Only 10 AM to 3 PM 

The East Meadow Art Gallery is part of AHRC's Community Hubsite Program which addresses the needs of adults ready to take an active role in their community. Socialization and vocational training is provided through community volunteerism and a skills building program. AHRC currently has more than 900 volunteers who attend 30 day program sites in Nassau County, with more than 60 volunteer job sites through the community.

For directions or  more information about the exhibit at AHRC Nassau, contact Colleen Tapia at (516) 293-1111, Ext. 5492 or email to

AHRC Nassau, New York State's third largest provider of services for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities provides community-based programs and services, as well as guidance and support for families.  AHRC Nassau is a chapter member of NYSARC, Inc. Visit for more information.

Aimee C. Keegan, (516) 626-1075, x1134, 
Cindy Fagan, 315-339-0110, Ext. 442,