AUGUSTA – The State House was a frenzy Thursday as members of Speak Up For Us, or SUFU, came in to talk to legislators for their Advocacy Day.
Members of SUFU, a self-advocacy organization for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, were searching for lawmakers in the maze of the State House halls.
Member Marco Orlando said it was important to learn about state government and have their voices heard.
“It helps to put a name to a face. Knowing who to talk to, when we should have concerns in our communities, the communities we live in,” Orlando said.
SUFU is run by and for adults who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
SUFU board member Terrance Reidy stressed how important it was not only for the members to meet legislators face to face, but for the legislators to recognize the developmentally disabled as individuals.
“They just don’t want a name, they want a face as well, too. They want to be out there and they want to let basically everybody here know that they’re important just as much,” Reidy said.
Each member has goals for what they wanted to be accomplished in their conversations with lawmakers.
SUFU Vice Chairman Abbott Philson said the group went to Augusta to improve the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
“I am very adamant of not bringing institutions back here in Maine because some of our folks were in institutions like Pineland and they know what it was like to be there and how badly they were treated,” Philson said.
Orlando also had a mission.
“I’d like to tap into some resources and see what can be done about snow removal during the winter months in residential neighborhoods because some of us don’t have our wheels, we got to find our own way to get around. And sometimes it’s difficult getting some places where we need to be because there’s still snow on the ground,” he said.