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Members of Peterborough ABLE Chapter honored as Advocates of the Year

From left, Kathy and Brian Manfre, with their daughter Emily, and state representatives Peter Leishman and Bruce Marcus display their awards from the N.H. Developmental Disabilities Council.

From left, Kathy and Brian Manfre, with their daughter Emily, and state representatives Peter Leishman and Bruce Marcus display their awards from the N.H. Developmental Disabilities Council.

PETERBOROUGH — Six Peterborough residents were recognized last week for their efforts to restore funding for individuals with developmental disabilities who had been on the state’s wait list.

Four members of the Peterborough chapter of ABLE-NH — Kathy and Brian Manfre, Bob English and Marie Primeau — were chosen to receive the N.H. Developmental Disabilities Council’s 2012 Virginia Bowden Advocacy Award, also known as Advocate of the Year. And Peter Leishman and Bruce Marcus, members of the current state legislature, were presented Outstanding Legislator Awards, given by the Developmental Disabilities Council “for extraordinary leadership and commitment to the cause of dignity, equal rights and full participation of people with disabilities in New Hampshire.”

ABLE NH (Advocates Building Lasting Equality) is a grass-roots group that advocates for children and adults with disabilities, via chapters in towns across the state. The Peterborough ABLE chapter was instrumental helping get legislation passed to restore Wait List funding for families waiting for services.

“ABLE really kept our feet to the fire on this issue,” said Marcus, who lost a bid for re-election to the legislature in November. “Peter and I introduced a bipartisan floor amendment to restore funding. It’s a temporary correction, but it will last about two years. Now they need to make it permanent.”

The amendment sponsored by Leishman, a Democrat, and Marcus, a Republican, restored $1.5 million to the Developmental Disabilities system for the Wait List. Marcus said it became part of a bill to create a rainy day fund, which had wide support among Republicans in the legislature, and it became law as part of that bill.

“We had to be patient, but we got it done,” Marcus said.

The group was honored on Dec. 6 in Concord at an event that included Governor-Elect Maggie Hassan and many state representatives.

At the ceremony, Kathy Manfre, speaking on behalf of fellow ABLE members, said, “We are individuals with disabilities, parents and family members, friends who have for the last few years worked tirelessly, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. This award is an inspiration to continue to fight the good fight and a reminder that victories both large and small are attainable.”

Carol Stamatakis, Executive Director of the Council on Developmental Disabilities, said, “To be able to honor this group of parents is so important. Families need to understand and see that their voices really can make a difference in Concord. Persistence is the key. The Peterborough ABLE chapter has been nothing but persistent, and this award is well deserved.”

The N.H. Council on Developmental Disabilities is a statewide independent agency that promotes greater opportunities and community inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of life. The Council has 16 members, appointed by the governor, who include people with developmental disabilities, family members and representatives of many agencies who support people with disabilities.

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