17086 ACLD Catalyst Summer2022 FINAL2 WEB - Flipbook - Page 1
| VOLUME 8, NUMBER 1 |
ACLD CELEBRATES 65TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2022
In the early to mid-1950s, families across New York State were told by doctors that their children with brain injuries, learning
disabilities and other neurological impairments could not be educated. When these parents were presented with the harsh
realization that their children may never have the opportunity to lead what would be later described as enviable lives, a
group of these parents in Nassau and Suffolk Counties decided to take the future into their own hands. In doing so, these
parents formed what we now call ACLD.
Originally called the New York
Association for Brain Injured Children
(NYABIC), ACLD operated with separate
Nassau and Suffolk Chapters. The parents
in these programs began to notice
quickly the strength they had in numbers
and began creating programs for their
children that at that point had not
existed. In the 1960s, the Nassau chapter
began working with leaders in the
community to make vocational education
accessible to high school students
with special needs.
In 1964, the Suffolk chapter was able
to launch the first session of the
“Coordinated Development Program for
The new Board of Trustees for the newly merged ACLD at the 1984 dinner dance- (from left to right) Martin Lund, Richard Nichols, Carl
Brain Injured Children”. This program,
Wolfin, ACLD Board Member, Richard Abbett, Stanley Baldinger, Ellen Spiegel, Sandy Gropper, Hal Balk, Ellen Alexander, Arthur Engel,
curated by a combination of teachers,
Linda Blitzer, Bob Schawlson, Harold Lever, and Donald Mitzner.
community leaders, the Rotary Club, local Scout
troupes, and of course, the tireless efforts of the parents, sowed the seeds that grew Suffolk’s Saturday Recreation Program,
which lead to the creation of Camp LaMann, a summer camp for the developmentally disabled, one of Suffolk’s most
In 1972, the first Community Service Residence opened in New York State, blazing a trail that ACLD would inevitably follow.
By 1974, the Nassau chapter opened their first residential home, Terry’s Residence for Young Adults (TRYA), named in honor
of Terry Olewitz, Nassau’s Board President, fellow parent and dedicated advocate for all people with disabilities, specifically
in regards to the development of the Residential Program. This monumental moment, paired with the 1975 signing of the
New York State Willowbrook Decree, forever ending the consignment of people with disabilities to large institutions, sent
both the Nassau and Suffolk chapters on a lightning-speed trajectory towards the ACLD we know today. In 1984, after many
years of conversations, community meetings and restructuring, the two chapters of ACLD became one, and the rest, as they
say, is history.
Flash forward 65 years and that small tribe of dedicated parents has grown exponentially. What once was an army of
determined volunteers advocating has become an organization with more than 1,200 employees dedicated to keeping that
Though the ACLD of today looks quite different than it did in 1957, one crucial element remains the same—an unwavering
commitment to the mission to provide opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to pursue enviable lives,
to increase their independence and to improve their quality of life. That is the ACLD of yesterday, today and all of the
tomorrows to come.
Volume 8, Number 1