Life’s WORC executives, Board Members, staff with State Senator Alexis Weik, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Life’s WORC Founder Victoria Schneps-Yunis. (Photo by Bruce Adler)

Life’s WORC, a Garden City-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism, celebrated the opening of its new Day Habilitation Center in Islandia on Sept. 17.

On hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the occasion were the group’s executives, board members, local dignitaries, and some of the individuals who benefit from the Life’s WORC Day Habilitation program designed to help build and develop important skills that will set the stage for a more independent adulthood. 

“The program will provide enriching activities, socialization and skill-building opportunities for teens and adults with intellectual disabilities with varying levels of support needs,” said Life’s WORC CEO Janet Koch. “These individuals will participate as members of the Islandia community. They will be good neighbors and I ask you to treat them with the same courtesies that this community affords its other inhabitants.” 

The 50-year-old nonprofit was founded by Victoria Schneps Yunis, owner of Schneps Media, the parent company of Long Island Press, after she advocated for the closure of the Willowbrook State School, where special needs residents — including her daughter — lived in squalor after funding cuts the 1970s. Today, Life’s WORC has 45 group homes and a dozen nonresidential programs across Long Island, Queens, and Manhattan that provide support for more than 2,200 individuals. 

A highlight of the ceremony was Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issuing a proclamation declaring Sept. 17 as Victoria Schneps-Yunis Day in recognition of her contributions on behalf of individuals with disabilities. The day marks the anniversary of the closing of Willowbrook. Bellone also presented a citation to Koch, acknowledging the organization’s 50th anniversary. 

-Philip Efron

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