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For the disabled, Wrentham center builds true community

Thank you to Kevin Cullen for the wonderful column about June Larner, who spent most of her life at the Wrentham Developmental Center (“The end of a ‘hidden life,’ ” Metro, July 12). Unfortunately for the residents at the center as well as many others who are living in less-than-ideal circumstances within the Department of Developmental Services system, new admissions are not allowed, unless residents are transferring from other facilities that are closing. Without these new admissions, Wrentham Developmental Center will eventually close.

The department will not discuss this reality. It is too busy with the "community first" initiative, which mandates that individuals with intellectual disabilities, no matter how severe, be housed in a community setting. Yet too often these community settings are dangerous, with underpaid staff, high turnover, and a severe lack of monitoring.

The Wrentham center is a wonderful community unto itself. Staff have longevity, but more than that, they have a dedication to residents and their family members that is touching, reassuring, and a great blessing when we cannot keep our family members at home with us.

It is my family's greatest hope that my sister Jean can end her days at Wrentham, her true home away from home, and that others like her can move to Wrentham as it becomes necessary for them and their families.

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Colleen Lutkevich
Mansfield

The writer is president of the Wrentham Family Association.