According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ website*, “Advocacy on the individual or systems level is acting with or on behalf of an individual or group to resolve an issue, obtain a needed support or service or promote a change in the practices, policies and/or behaviors of third parties. Advocacy is essential for promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and for establishing, maintaining or improving their quality of life. Without strong advocacy at all levels, people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities may not have access to needed supports as well as opportunities to exercise inherent civil and human rights. Additionally, strong advocacy may be required to prevent and/or address abuse, neglect and exploitation that people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities may experience.”
We would like to recognize the late Laura Knaperek whose tireless advocacy on behalf of Hacienda HealthCare remains unmatched. “Laura was one of Hacienda’s, and those entrusted to our care, strongest and most effective supporters and an advocate for more than a quarter of a century,” stated Bill Timmons, CEO. “Whether it was an existing intellectually disabled consumer or a potential member of the Hacienda family, Laura was by his or her side, helping to navigate the often confusing state bureaucracy. As it became necessary, she was there to assure that a patient’s rights were never violated. Laura’s advocacy also played a key role in Hacienda being able to effectively address challenges and take advantage of opportunities.” Hacienda has established an annual Nurse Education Training scholarship recognizing Laura Knaperek, advocate extraordinaire, whose commitment of time and energy had a significant positive impact on the lives of Hacienda’s consumers, their parents, employees, and supporters.