Longtime Glenwood resident Sybil Finken has been elected to lead VOR, a national advocacy organization for people with intellectual disabilities. She will serve as the organization’s co-President, through June, with Ann Knighton from Augusta, Ga.
Finken is a long-time disability advocate in Iowa and nationally. She has been affiliated with VOR as a member since 1988. She has served on its board of directors since 2003 and as its first vice president since 1998. Locally, she is a staunch supporter of Glenwood Resource Center, a licensed residential program for people with profound intellectual disabilities, where her son, Seth, is a resident.
Seth, who is severely disabled due to meningitis when he was just seven months old, requires assistance in every aspect of daily living at all times. “At Glenwood, Seth can be all he can be,” remarked Finken. “He’s so well-cared for and happy. As parents, his happiness, good care and comfort are all we can ask for.”
The trend nationally is to move away from large residential centers in favor of smaller settings in the community. VOR is the only national organization that challenges this trend, supporting instead an array of services from family home, to smaller neighborhood homes, to larger residential communities like the Glenwood Resource Center.
“VOR feels strongly - and has for 27 years since it was first founded - that one size does not fit all,” said Finken. “Seth is not a good candidate for a small, unlicensed home. The lack of oversight and staff training would present significant worries for me as a parent and put Seth and the other Glenwood residents at risk due to their very complex medical and care needs. Glenwood Resource Center is federally-certified to care for people with complex needs. ”
“I do recognize that a smaller setting is right for some people,” added Finken. “A parent knows best; I would never in my advocacy threaten or question another parent’s choice. That’s what I love most about VOR - respect for individual and family decision-making”
Finken and Knighton will share the position of president through June 2012, when the next election will be held. Finken was not shy to sing Knighton’s praises.
“I’ve served with Ann on the VOR Board of Directors for many years. She is a very dedicated and talented advocate. Our respective strengths complement one another; we’ll make a great team.”
Additional information about VOR is available online at www.vor.net.