Changing a System to Realize a Dream
John O’Brien, Ray Browning & Connie Lyle O’Brien
John O’Brien – 1995
Ray is one of the pioneers in our home state of Georgia who have worked with their allies to change the way services are delivered. They prove beyond doubt that people with severe disabilities can live safely, and usually comfortably, in their own homes, with assistance from agencies and staff that they can hire and fire. After fourteen years as a “heavy care” patient in a nursing home with more than 100 other disabled and elderly people, Ray moved into his own place. Every day for more than two years, Ray has shown that people who need a lot of assistance with everyday matters like getting dressed and eating and using the toilet and getting from place to place and reading and writing don’t have to live in institutions or nursing homes or group homes or staff supervised apartments. Like anyone else, they can live in their own home if they have adequate assistance. There have been many problems to solve and some hard times, and there will be many more difficulties. But those problems, and labels like “severe cerebral palsy” and “uncorrectable vision deficits” and “moderate mental retardation”, don’t have to determine where you live, who you live with, how you spend your day, and how you get the help you need.