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Advocating to Legislators

A breakfast meeting with state and city elected officials and their aides was held at PATH’s Vocational Habilitation Program (VHP). The meeting was hosted by The Philadelphia Coalition which is an organization representing Philadelphia Community Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities Centers. In addition to PATH, the other agencies who partnered with PATH in sponsoring this particular meeting included COMHAR, Northeast Community Center for Mental Health/Mental Retardation, and NHS-Knights Road.

Nancy Greenstein

Nancy Greenstein, PATH Chairperson, speaking, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo and Rosemary O’Rourke listening

The primary focus of this meeting was to make the needs of those whom we serve known to legislators, garnering their support for increased funding for BH and ID services, and to emphasize how important stable funding is for the vital programs we provide. It was a wonderful opportunity to have a conversation with legislators and their aides regarding the importance of their support for funding of much-needed, community Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disabilities Services. This is critical because they hold the power to impact the government funding for services.

In attendance from elected offices were Representative Gene DiGirolamo (Chair of the House Human Services Committee), Representative Ed Neilson, Brian Eddis (Rep. Neilson’s Chief of Staff), Tony Stephens (Senator Christine Tartaglione’s office), Jeff Dempsey (Rep. Kevin Boyle’s office), Nick Graveley and Chelsea Schonewolf (Senator Mike Stack’s office), Linda Trush (Councilman Brian O’Neill’s office), and Jason Dawkins (Coucilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez’s office).

Rep Ed Neilson

Brian Eddis, Paul Sachs, and Rep. Ed Neilson

Meeting in Progress

Betty Andl-Petkov, PATH President and CEO, spoke regarding the need for increased funding for intellectual disabilities services. Additionally, brief presentations were given from each of the other sponsoring organizations about their respective agencies. Kathy Manderino, Senior Vice-President at Intercommunity Action in Philadelphia, facilitated a question and answer session with the officials. A tour of PATH’s Vocational Habilitation Program (VHP) was offered as part of the meeting agenda. The elected officials gladly participated and intently listened to the tour presentation given by Program Manager Lillian Otterstein, occasionally stopping along the way to speak with VHP Consumers. It was an enlightening experience for everyone to see firsthand the range of work projects the VHP completes, as well as hearing directly from the program participants about how much it means to them to have the opportunity to be employed at the workshop.

Rep DiGirolamo

Rep. Gene DiGirolamo greets VHP Consumer

Betty Andl-Petkov Rep Gene DiGirolamo

Betty Andl-Petkov, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, and Lillian Otterstein
with two VHP Consumers

Rep Ed Neilson

VHP Consumer welcomes Rep. Ed Neilson

Rep Ed Neilson

VHP Consumer speaks with Rep. Ed Neilson

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was felt that the legislators and respective aides left with a much better understanding of PATH, the other community organizations, and the importance and value of the work we do. Everyone was thanked for their cooperation and caring. Betty complimented those who were responsible in helping to put the meeting together: Jeff Brown, Bill Schoppe, Levar Green, Chris James, Alan Ehrlich, Rich Fell, Rosemarie Abruzzese, Matthew Thompson, Lillian Otterstein, and Michael Forchetti. She acknowledged Michael Forchetti, PATH’s Chief Communications Officer, for the many hours he devoted in preparing for this breakfast. “Michael did a great deal of planning with the other centers, the Coalition and PATH’s executive team to ensure that this meeting was a success,” she said. “PATH works as a team in everything we do and we can all be proud of the work we do!! Together we make a difference and this meeting was no exception,” Betty said. The event was indeed a great success!


Ginny Bernier, Rosemary O’Rourke, Betty Andl-Petkov, Nancy Greenstein,
Rep. Ed Neilson, Kathy Manderino, and Polly Schaller




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