WOODBURY – Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney last night received the Partners in Advocacy Award from The Arc of New Jersey for his continued commitment to working on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families at a workshop designed to assist families in navigating the State support system.
“While it’s very gratifying to receive recognition for your work, you don’t fight these kinds of fights for awards and honors,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “You fight because it’s the right thing to do, for the thousands of people with developmental disabilities and their families who call New Jersey home. These are folks who need our help, and as long as I’m serving in the State Legislature, I will continue to be a voice for people living with developmental disabilities in the Garden State.”
Throughout his Legislative career, Senator Sweeney has made issues concerning individuals with developmental disabilities a priority. He has authored bills enhancing penalties and cracking down on the victimization of people with developmental disabilities, however and wherever it may occur. He has been a staunch proponent of more community-based housing in New Jersey, and has fought to transition individuals from institutional settings to community-based settings when appropriate. And most recently, he fought during the FY 2010 Budget process to make sure that the budget was not balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable, and was successful in restoring some of the funding for safety net programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.
“New Jerseyans with developmental disabilities need additional support from the State in order to achieve their potential,” said Senator Sweeney. “We have a sacred responsibility to help them do their best, and to protect them from unscrupulous people who would seek to take advantage of their disability. I’ve always believed that with a helping hand, there is no limit to what a person can achieve, whether they have a developmental disability or not.”
Senator Sweeney noted that his advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities was a major motivation to get into public service in the first place, and was inspired by the assistance he and his family received from The Arc of Gloucester County after his daughter, Lauren, was born with Down Syndrome.
“I and my family have seen firsthand the sort of miracles that can be achieved with help from organizations like The Arc, and from the State’s own support network for people with developmental disabilities,” said Senator Sweeney. “We’ve been blessed to have the help and guidance we needed when we needed it most, and I’m proud to continue supporting and advocating on behalf of The Arc and programs designed to get kids with developmental disabilities the best level of care possible. For me, this is about giving something back to those folks that helped us so much already, and I look forward to continuing to partner with The Arc for many years to come.”