Thursday, February 28, 2008

Other Articles about The Willowbrook State School


Below is the link to a New York Times article about the closing ceremony of the Willowbrook State School. The Institution was closed in 1987, but all its residents were not placed into group homes until 1992. Read below for more details.



http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE4D71E3EF931A25750C0A965958260&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=1




Click on the link below to watch a short video clip from Geraldo Rivera's film--The Unforgotten. It will undoubtedly move you.


http://www.drckansas.org/video/30thAniv/segment2.wmv


25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I work on the site now. I am working with some of the previous residents of Willowbrook State School. Some of them return for special classes that are given for them, but most refuse to step foot back on the grounds. I've heard some stories.

Anonymous said...

HI,MY NAME IS JOANNE CONTRERAS
I LIVE IN WILLOWBROOK FOR 7 YEARS.
UNTIL A WOMAN CAME KIDNAPED ME.I WENT
THERE WENT I WAS 5 YEARS OLD,AND
GOT KIDNAPED WENT I WAS 12 YEARS OLD.PHONE NUMBER IS
727-251-2147,THANK YOU.WILLOWBROOK
SUCKS

Anonymous said...

I worked at willowbrook for 30 years i started afer geraldo's story. i was a young girl when i walked into those gates.i left an old woman.i was a therapy aide we went to work every day because those people needed us to survive we had NO supplies[shampoo,deoderant,toothpaste],NO clothes,NOT even socks in the late 70's we had to feed alomost every patient.there were 80-100 patients on a ward there were 4-5 therapy aides. the state failed the patients we did the best we could with what we had.we brought stuff from home to do our jobs. we were overwhelmed too.but we knew without us those patients might not eat.things eventually got better but it took a long,long time One thing i did learn was un conditional love these Special people are the best people on the face of the earth. they are REAL no hidden agenda just them.When you feel love from them it is genuine from their heart to yours.We the aides were blamed for everything it wasnt us.The problem was much higher.it was the people who ran the school.Now they have everything they need.And 1 staff for every 4-6 patients.

Vanessa Leigh DeBello said...

I totally agree with you. The fault landed on the attendants but in fact, conditions were as poor as they were because of lack of state/federal funding and public awareness. Most attendants were loving, kind and giving people who were stuck in a difficult situation. If it wasn't for them, many children would not have survived. It was because of the care and attention of some staff, that my mother was able to get out.

It should be known, that the attendants should be honored for their support and devotion to the residents at Willowbrook. And I honor you and acknowledge the good work you have done. Thank you. ~VLD

Lisa Miller said...

my name is lisa and i work with some of the former residents of willow brook and im looking for the video that geraldo did on the facility to better understand some of my clients...anyone with any info would be greatly appreciated..thaks, Lisa

xbellaangelx said...

Lisa, we're all looking for that video. It's mysteriously "come up missing" at my employer, and at any other place that has it, anywhere near here, in NY. Hardly surprising, in my opinion, what with the State wanting to cover its tracks. That video needs to be brought back out. It needs to be seen and remembered by everyone, so that people still stuck in places like Willowbrook (And yes, they're still around, even here in the US) can get out, and taste what life really has to offer.

Starry said...

I work for OMRDD, CNYDDSO as an LPN. During training, everyone is shown the "Geraldo" clip, to give new staff a better understanding of what kind of life these people lived. I haven't found it on line, but it definately isn't missing. I hope you can find it, or maybe contact a local DDSO, staff development department, and they might help you.

Nicole said...

Hello, my name is Nicole and I watched the video on Willowbrook this afternoon at IPPI in Massachusetts. It was not the original film but a documentary with Geraldo video clips in it. I was so moved by this film that I had began to cry in the orientation along with several other people. I am starting my Masters in Special Education and would like to write my thesis on the after effects of institutions like Willowbrook.

Vanessa Leigh DeBello said...

The Willowbrook Film--Unforgotten: 25 Years After Willowbrook is available at the College of Staten Island Library (Archives Dept- 2nd Floor). You can also find it online. In reference to the original news footage from 1972, I have not found a copy yet. Please let me know where one can be find.

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching the video of The Unforgotten in nursing school. You can purchase this video on Amazon.com. I had no idea that such a place existed. I am moved beyond words at such appalling conditions that these people lived in

Jeania said...

Hello, years ago I had a sister who was in willowbrook state school. who when it was closed in 1972, she died a few months later. I feel that it was the most horrific thing they did when all the patients were put out of what was know as there home. I feel that history is repeating itself with what they are doing with the Staten Island Mental Health Society. They are going to close the afterschool program that these families have come to depend on. This is the only program on Staten Island of its kind. I know I have children in the program. I am asking for anyone who would be willing to help me keep this program going. It is unfair that every time there is a budget cut the Mental illness are the ones who are missed with. Someone has to be there voice. If you are willing to help me, by sending out letters, calling our mayor, congressman concilmen please contact me. I need all the help I can get.

Vanessa Leigh DeBello said...

Jeania,

send me you contact information. My email address is ava6205@yahoo.com

Valarie said...

I, too, have worked with some of the former residents of Willowbrook. One of them is seen at least twice in the video you posted on this site. I saw the original Geraldo expose at my former job, and I believe they either were told to stop showing it since, or it disappeared - I say this because most of the people I've talked to who started after me did not see that video. I'm pretty some some of the other men/women I worked with were in it as well...

I'm happy that the current resources for MR/DD adults have improved tremendously, but I think there is still more that can be done. I have seen how some staff treat the individuals they work with, and I think that if they were to channel more funding into the care of this population, you would have less staff turnover, and more people who care deeply in those positions.

Unfortunately, the current system functions like an upside down pyramid - the least amount of pay and the greatest workload fall on those who are actually the "backbone" of these organizations. It truly should be the opposite. The paper-pushers should not be the ones making the most money, because what is really important is the assistance and encouragement of the individuals supported by the organizations. Those people who do the hands-on work should be reimbursed in a fashion that befits their service.

I will always love the people I worked with. I miss them so much....

- Valarie

"...You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one...."

- John Lennon

Valarie said...

The following is a link to an introduction by Geraldo about a "Waiting List" television program that was aired in December of 2008. If you watch the video, after he talks about the program, it is followed by a good portion of the original expose.

http://video.aol.co.uk/video-detail/geraldo-at-large-hell-on-earth/2733495858

Anonymous said...

I was also a resident at willowbrook at age 3 and met one of the school staff who grew attached to me. She took good care of me, took me to her home and adopted me. I was fortunate enough to leave that horrible place at age 4 to receive an education, opportunies life had to offer and love. Today at 41, I am a proud US sailor, married and doing well. However, nomatter well successful I became, I can remember what willowbrook represented and the little changes after since. It still feels like I there left yesterday. I can relate to those residents and there experiences.

Anonymous said...

Willowbrook was horrible. I escaped from there and ended up getting adopted. Today, I am in the US military and a war hero.
Everytime I carry my weapons, I think of all the employees I'd like to shoot and how bad they treated residents. "WILLOWBROOK CAN ROT IN HELL! MAY THE DEVIL HAVE NO MERCY ON THOSE WORTHLESS SOULS!"

Anonymous said...

Today, as a proud US military service member, I remember Willowbrook State School and what it represented during those turbulent days of the 1960s and 1970s. I remember when My mother worked there as one of the school's staff, witnessed the horrible conditions and the abuses the residents have experienced there.
I was one of the lucky resident who was able to leave that place to receive an opportunity of an education, love, and all of what life had to offer. However, nomatter how successful I am today, It still feels like I left Willowbrook yesterday. I definately can relate to those residents and how they endured their horrible experience. Now,
It's up to us as Americans to uphold human rights of all kinds which they fought for then.
"Only the strong survive." GOD BLESS!

Anonymous said...

I wish I can catch up with all those discusting staffs who abused the residents at Willowbrook. I want to shoot those CUNT BASTARDS!

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Stefanie said...

HI I am doing a project for grad school and I am looking for information regarding the conditions and the population. If anyone is willing to help me I would be forever appreciative. My email is stych210@aol.com Thank you

SharonHopson said...

I discovered this site while reading for an Ethics in Research class for my BSN program. Years ago I worked as a PCA in a MR/DD group home. All of our residents came from the state school in North Dakota. I fell in love with this particular population and it breaks my heart to see how some of those poor souls were treated. God have bless you all!

Nechie said...

I work for thea residence under the OPWDD (OMRDD) in New York, and we had to watch both the original film when we had our first inservice when starting employement and then again a couple years later. Its still burnt in my heart. the children and adults that I work with over 10 years are my heart and soul and if someone would hurt them.....

ivy k said...

thank you for your blog about Willowbrook. We can not forget.

kelly said...

In 1961,my sister was put into Willowbrook, at the age of 2 mos old and from what I have heard, she died at 14- 18 months old? My father(and his wife before, he married my mother) placed her there because they didn't understand what was wrong with her, and Dr's told them she would never be a normal child. I would like to find out any information, about her life in Willowbrook, and a diagnosis, and if anyone on here remembers her ? Her name would have been Dina Rizzo, and she entered Willowbrook at age 2 mos..Please, if anyone has any information on her, or how I can find out anything about her, and where she may be buried today..Please contact me at inkedmema3@gmail.com..Thank You, and God bless.

Blankennick said...

Here is geraldo's original video for everyone it is seperated into 4 different videos

1: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3920538/hell-on-earth
2: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3920051/hell-on-earth
3: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3920049/hell-on-earth
4: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3920052/hell-on-earth