By Mary Stanley
Public Relations / Marketing Coordinator
It’s exciting to think about this year’s 50th anniversary celebration. Here in the Marketing Department we have been preparing for this milestone for several years. We have pored through old Annual Reports, newsletters, photographs, and videos, pulling some favorite images that depict the early days of New England Village and others that portray the changes and growth that occurred along the way.
As I looked through some of the earliest photographs, I couldn’t help thinking about the archaic attitudes and very incorrect beliefs that existed in 1972 toward people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. I also thought about NEV’s founding families and the courage it took for them to not accept the status quo at that time and to take bold and brave steps to change the future for their soon to be adult children with disabilities. It really was a great risk they took—but as they say, with great risks come great rewards—and what a reward it was and continues to be.
What began as a new way of life for 13 adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has morphed into a wonderful community for 180 men and women with I/DD today. As I reflected on how much has changed since 1972, I began to ponder whether communities like New England Village, with its innovative approach toward residential living options for people with I/DD, served as the impetus for bigger and better changes for this demographic on a much grander scale. Less than 20 years after NEV opened its doors, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, a national law recognizing the rights of people with disabilities.
Old photographs have a way of transporting us back in time, bringing a smile to our faces as we are reminded of clothing and hair styles of the time—ah, yes, those bellbottom pants, wide ties and the beehive hairdos we thought were so fabulous! But, they also bring to mind the people who are no longer with us and we smile at the memory of times spent with them. The photos from NEV’s early days bring a special happiness, as we consider how much change and progress has been made, not only here at New England Village, but in the attitudes and treatment of people with I/DD. Cheers to New England Village’s founding families for having the insight and courage to be so very forward thinking in 1972!